Lone Pine Film Festival is coming this October!
This is the third consecutive year I'll be heading to Lone Pine, California, for the festival. My coverage of the 2014 festival is here and 2015 is here.
This year's festival runs October 7th through 9th, plus there is an opening night buffet in the Museum of Western Film History on the 6th; the buffet will be followed by a presentation titled Riding the Rails! Trains in Western Films, hosted by movie train specialist Jim Clark.
The 2016 festival theme is "A Vision of the American West: A Tribute to the Western Directors."
announcement a few days ago: Ben Mankiewicz of Turner Classic Movies will be the host for the Friday and Saturday evening "keynote" screenings. Those titles are yet to be announced.
Mankiewicz serving as the evening host is very big news, and I'm hopeful his participation will help raise the festival's profile nationally. It's a unique festival, taking place where hundreds of movies were filmed, but my sense is it needs to attract younger classic film fans if it is to continue years into the future. The TCM Film Festival has been highly successful luring fans in their 20s and 30s, and it would be wonderful to see more film lovers in that age range come to Lone Pine.
My husband and I particularly enjoy the tours given by longtime Los Angeles Times photographer Don Kelsen, and this year we're signed up for his DESERT PURSUIT (1952) and MYSTERY MAN (1944) tours. DESERT PURSUIT stars Wayne Morris and Virginia Grey; the recent Warner Archive release was reviewed by me last February. MYSTERY MAN is a Hopalong Cassidy film.
As in year's past, we'll be watching the tour movies in the high school auditorium on Friday and Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m., then hopping on a bus immediately afterwards and heading to where the movies were filmed in the Alabama Hills. You simply can't beat the experience of seeing a movie and then standing where it was shot just a few minutes after it ends!
A complete list of this year's tours is on the festival website.
This year's movie lineup is still a work in progress, but I'm happy it includes THE ROUNDUP (1941), starring Richard Dix, Patricia Morison, and Preston Foster. THE ROUNDUP is a loose remake of the silent film THE ROUND-UP (1920), shown at last year's festival with live piano accompaniment.
Other announced films include 3 BAD MEN (1926), THE STOLEN RANCH (1926), 3 GODFATHERS (1948), RAWHIDE (1951), THE STRANGER WORE A GUN (1953), and HELL BENT FOR LEATHER (1960). There will be a total of four silent films, all shown with live piano music. More titles will be announced as October draws closer! (October Update: THE STRANGER WORE A GUN has been deleted from the list, with the 1956 film STRANGER AT MY DOOR added. Sounds great either way!)
In anticipation of the coming festival, I thought I'd share a few photos I didn't include in last year's coverage.
One afternoon I took a tour of locations for GUNGA DIN (1939), a film I had seen at the 2014 festival, when it was hosted by special effects experts Ben Burtt and Craig Barron.
The GUNGA DIN temple stood here...
...and even today bits of plaster can be found on the ground where the temple once stood.
Something which made the experience extra-special was a volunteer actor recited the entire Kipling poem for us at the site.
There's a GUNGA DIN monument in the area which was dedicated by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1992.
Tyrone Power's KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES (1953) was filmed nearby.
The GUNGA DIN suspension bridge was filmed at another site...
...right where this motor home happened to be parked the day of our tour.
As the volunteer pointed out, the spots where the bridge was anchored to boulders...
...remain in place to this very day, close to eight decades later.
The next day we also took a tour of the sites for THE HIRED GUN (1957), starring Rory Calhoun and Anne Francis, hosted by Don Kelsen:
Don provides booklets with screen shots to help match up scenes in the movie with the locations in front of us. He does amazing detective work and knows the Alabama Hills as well as anyone could.
The Lone Pine Film Festival is a fun, fascinating, and educational event which should be experienced by every classic film fan if at all possible, especially fans of Westerns. It's an intimate small-town event which provides ample opportunity to chat with festival guests, who are there because they wish to be and are happy to talk with attendees.
Last year I fit in eight movies, three tours, a concert, and book signings, yet it's a more relaxed, less tiring pace than the also-wonderful TCM Classic Film Festival, where I typically see 15 or 16 movies. I highly recommend attending the Lone Pine Film Festival.
For more details on the Lone Pine Film Festival, regularly check the festival's website and Facebook page for the latest developments.
October 5th Update: Off to Lone Pine!
Update: The 27th Lone Pine Film Festival. Links for this year's coverage will be added to that post as the posts go up.