Sunday, October 01, 2017

Coming Next Weekend: The 28th Lone Pine Film Festival

The 28th Lone Pine Film Festival will take place next weekend in Lone Pine, California.

The festival opens with a gala at the Museum of Western Film History on Thursday evening, October 5th, and runs through Sunday, the 8th.

This will be my fourth consecutive year at the festival, having attended in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Please visit the links for overviews of  my experiences at each festival.

The 2017 theme is "How Westerns Shaped the American Experience." This year's impressive guest list includes William Wellman Jr., Ben Mankiewicz, Scott Eyman, Bruce Boxleitner, Bruce Davison, Wyatt McCrea, Ed Hulse, Ed Faulkner, Diamond Farnsworth, and Rob Word.

Live piano accompaniment for the silent films will again be provided by Jay C. Munns.

This year I'm signed up for two location tours. Friday morning I'll be attending a screening of NEVADA (1944), an early Robert Mitchum Western costarring Anne Jeffreys, who passed away last week. The movie, which celebrates Mitchum's centennial, will be followed by an interview with William Wellman Jr., whose father worked with Mitchum, and then a tour of the NEVADA locations in the Alabama Hills.

Early Saturday morning I'll be watching two episodes of the Richard Boone TV series HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL, both guest-starring Harry Carey Jr.; festival guest Ed Faulkner also appears in one of the episodes. Then again we'll be heading into the Alabama Hills to take a look at where the shows were shot.

First thing Sunday morning I'm hoping to fit in seeing William Holden and Eleanor Parker in ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO (1953) before we leave. It wasn't shot in Lone Pine, but it's been a decade since I last saw it and I'd really enjoy revisiting it. Seeing the film would also be a nice tribute to costar Richard Anderson, who recently passed on.

Some of the other films on the festival schedule, which can be found at the festival's Facebook page:

*WAGON MASTER (1950), introduced by costar Harry Carey Jr.'s daughter Melinda

*A Tim Holt Western (yay!), RIDER FROM TUCSON (1950)

*Roy Rogers in the very enjoyable SUNSET IN THE WEST (1950)

*SERGEANT RUTLEDGE (1960), a John Ford film I've never seen

*ULZANA'S RAID (1972), starring Burt Lancaster, which will be followed by Rob Word interviewing costar Bruce Davison

*THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB (1970), starring James Stewart and Henry Fonda, after which Ben Mankiewicz will interview Scott Eyman about his new book HANK AND JIM: THE FIFTY-YEAR FRIENDSHIP OF HENRY FONDA AND JAMES STEWART

A complete list of this year's tours may be found at the festival website; additional options include tours focused on Audie Murphy, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955), Ansel Adams, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger, John Wayne, and the annual Sunrise Tour, plus several more.

In anticipation of the upcoming festival, I thought I'd share a few random photos and memories from last year's festival which didn't make it into my 2016 posts.

We took a little drive and photographed the now-closed train depot outside town; this was as close as we could get due to fencing.

Here's the town's historic Dow Hotel, by day...

and night:

When we drove through town last summer we noticed that the hotel had a new digital sign! We have always had a great experience staying at the Dow, which has housed many famous actors who worked in Lone Pine over the years. The centrally located Dow is just a couple minutes' walk from the film museum, the high school auditorium where movies are shown, and the best food in town, available at the Alabama Hills Cafe.

Eating at the Alabama Hills Cafe is always amazing...

...and in addition to the great food, it was fun that while we enjoyed breakfast, Ben Mankiewicz was eating a couple tables over. That's pretty much what the entire festival weekend is like. For instance, one evening my husband strolled over to the high school while having a chat with John Ford's grandson Dan, author of PAPPY: THE LIFE OF JOHN FORD; and as I recounted last year, I enjoyed a sunrise with Billy King, who appeared in several Hopalong Cassidy films.

Here's Wyatt McCrea manning a table selling books and stills outside the high school auditorium:

Wyatt, the grandson of Joel McCrea and Frances Dee, participated in an enjoyable panel on "Growing Up in Hollywood." He's at the right in the photo below, with moderator Larry Maurice at the left. In the middle, left to right, are Melinda Carey (daughter of Harry Carey Jr. and granddaughter of Harry Carey Sr., Olive Carey, and Paul Fix), Petrine Mitchum (daughter of Robert), and Cheryl Rogers Barnett (daughter of Roy Rogers, stepdaughter of Dale Evans).

Unfortunately the lighting in the museum theater, where the panel took place, isn't conducive to good non-flash photography, but the above photo gives at least a taste of the event. (Click on it to enlarge for a closer look.) I recounted a couple of the stories shared at the panel in my post on 3 GODFATHERS (1948) last year.

John Ford's 3 BAD MEN (1926) was one of the films shown last year, starring one of my favorite Western stars, George O'Brien.

As an enthusiastic O'Brien fan, I was very much touched by Ed Hulse's memories of O'Brien. He said O'Brien was one of the nicest guys he ever met, always surrounded by and interested in people no matter who they were -- as likely to be chatting up the janitor or a waiter as a fellow actor. Although he turned down many film festivals he accepted an invitation from Hulse to attend one in New York City, since it was a free trip to spend time with his daughter Orin, who has played in the New York Philharmonic for over 50 years.

Hulse also said that O'Brien was in great shape for his age and a prolific letter writer. Sadly, though, O'Brien's health declined just a few months after Hulse had connected with him. I'm glad Hulse got to know him long enough to be able to share stories with us a couple decades later.

The Lone Pine Film Festival is filled with wonderful opportunities to see where countless Westerns were made and to hear from those who worked in the film business, as well as from family members and historians. I highly recommend it. If you can't make it this year, why not start planning for 2018?

Update: The 28th Lone Pine Film Festival.


Blogger SimpleGifts said...

Oh, I so wish I could me there! If you see the new documentary FLOATING HORSES on Thursday night, I'll be very interested in your reaction. Rodeo star Casey Tibbs was larger than life. Enjoy the festival! Jane

2:16 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

This festival sounds amazing. I hope you have a fantastic time and I look forward to reading your coverage.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Jane and Raquel! Really wish both of you could be there. I'm excited to return to one of my favorite little towns and immerse myself in Westerns for a few days.

Best wishes,

8:50 PM  

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