Oregon Movies, A to Z

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The Great American Cowboy (1973)

February 28th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 1970's, Oregon film, Oregon film new definition, Oregonians as inspiration

Rodeos and the people who work in them are the focus of this documentary. It demonstrates the resonance between the modern rodeo and the lifestyle of pioneer settlers of the American West. The 1973 film’s main focus is on veteran Larry Mahan and a newcomer, Phil Lyne, as they prepare for, and compete in their events. Joel McCrea narrates this film, which celebrates this form of Americana with great affection. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide

This portrait of Oregon rodeo champion Larry Mahan won first time director Kieth (yes, that’s spelled correctly) Merrill the Best Documentary Feature Oscar at the 1974 Academy Awards.

Here’s what Mahan can do that you can’t:


I hereby claim The Greatest American Cowboy as an Oregon film, because it was inspired by the life of a real live Oregonian.

This lost film is currently available streaming on Netflix, but is not on DVD.

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Savages (1973)

February 26th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 1970's, James Ivory, Oregon director, Oregon film, Oregon film new definition

Savages begins with a Stone Age ritual interrupted by a croquet ball. James Ivory’s first film made in the US is his strangest, and least narrative. George W. S. Trow ( New Yorker) and Michael O”Donoghue (Saturday Night Live) co-wrote the screenplay, based on James Ivory’s idea.

From the Merchant Ivory website:

The genesis of Savages goes back to 1970. Ivory came across a Colonial Revival mansion in Scarborough, forty minutes north of New York City, that had intrigued him. Called Beechwood, it belonged to the Vanderlip family, Midwesterners who derived their wealth from railroads and flourished in the earlier part of the century. But by the time Ivory happened onto it, the elder Vanderlip had died, his children had married and moved away, and only a grandson and great grandson still lived, or camped, there.

“My accidental discovery of Beechwood,” he writes, “led me to the making of Savages, though at the time — November, 1970 — I couldn’t have described what sort of film I wanted to shoot in it. There was something a bit unearthly in the ambiance of Beechwood, something poetic, which made it unlike other houses of the kind I’d seen in America, and this strangeness made me think sometimes of a kind of Hudson River Last Year at Marienbad.”

An influence on the film was Buñvel’s Exterminating Angel, with its trapped party guests gradually reverting to barbarity.

I hereby claim Savages as an Oregon film, as I will all films made by Oregonian James Ivory.
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Frost/Ivory

February 25th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · Interviews, James Ivory, Videos

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Isn’t It Shocking? (1973)/Lost film

February 25th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 1970's, Lost film, Oregon film, Oregon film old definition

Before John Badham came to Astoria to shoot Short Circuit ( 1986), he came to Mt. Angel to shoot this television movie starring Alan Alda and Louise Lasser.

I learned about Isn’t It Shocking? from an Oregon Movies, A to Z reader who was an eyewitness to the production. Strange but true: also in the cast was Ruth Gordon, whose first Oregon film was Abe Lincoln in Illinois, shot in Eugene in 1940.

I hereby claim Isn’t It Shocking? as an Oregon film, based upon the location shooting in Mt. Angel.

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Kansas City Bomber (1972)

February 25th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 1970's, Oregon film, Oregon film old definition, Videos

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Portland doesn’t just figure in the small talk between the two leads. Scenes were actually shot here.

For this reason, I claim Kansas City Bomber as an Oregon film.

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Bill Plympton, on flypmedia.com

February 24th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · News, Oregon animator

A wonderful article about Bill Plympton.

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We Are The City (1972)/Lost film

February 24th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 1970's, Oregon director, Oregon film, Oregon film new definition, Oregon film old definition, Oregon location (primary), Videos

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Dennis Nyback accquired We Are The City in a large lot of second hand 16mm shorts, having no idea that it had any Portland connection. He screened it when he was choosing films for a Jacob Burns Film Center commission — and was surprised to see it stuffed with oddly familiar freeways, parks and political figures.

Coming back to Portland, Dennis was using his mysterious find in the 2006 TBA project, The Portland That Was. He was complaining at a cocktail party that he couldn’t find any information about this unusually Portland-centric educational short, when the person he was talking to said “I made that film.”

Tom Chamberlin was glad to hear that someone owned a copy of We Are The City. He certainly didn’t. He had made this portrait of a city as part of a series of shorts for Encyclopedia Britannica.

What else was being made in Oregon in 1972?

  • Jody Foster and a visibly bored Michael Douglas starred in Napoleon and Samantha, shot in John Day Country.
  • Raquel Welch raced around the Memorial Coliseum in Kansas City Bomber’s roller derby scenes.
  • Robert Duvall invaded Jacksonville in Philip Kaufman’s The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid.
  • Tim Smith and Matt Groening sent up educational filmmaking as a genre with their masterfully deadpan Drugs: Killers Or Dillers.

And Tom Chamberlin made We Are The City. Who knows how many children around the world were first exposed to the concept of urban renewal by a classroom viewing of this film.

We Are The City is a lost film in the sense that it is impossible to see — except for Dennis Nyback’s copy.

I hereby claim We Are The City as an Oregon film, based on the location shooting and the director’s Portland citizenship.

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Napoleon and Samantha (1972)

February 24th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 1970's, Oregon film, Oregon film old definition

A star is born! That’s Jody Foster riding a circus lion in Southern Oregon. This completely implausible and uninspired children’s film also stars Michael Douglas.

What is this film about? Everyone knows you can’t run away with a circus lion. Jody Foster was mauled by her co-star during the production, and has said in interview she still has scars from the stitches — in her neck– today.

This is why you don’t want your kids to star in movies with lions. However Jody survived and now owns two Oscars.

I hereby claim Napoleon and Samantha as an Oregon film, based on its location shooting.

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Drugs: Killers or Dillers (1972)/Lost film

February 24th, 2009 by Anne Richardson · 1970's, Oregon DP, Oregon actor, Oregon director, Oregon film, Oregon film new definition, Oregon film old definition, Oregon location (primary), Oregon writer

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Drugs: Killers or Dillers was made by high school filmmakers Tim Smith ( Adams HS) and Matt Groening (Lincoln HS). Matt Groening appears on camera, as does yours truly (as an extra in the party sequence– easily spotted at 8:27).

Tim Smith continued to make films, Matt Groening moved to animation. Duncan Smith, who plays the beatific wanderer in the film’s opening, went on to appear in Eric Mitchell’s Underground USA (1980).

I hereby claim Drugs: Killer or Dillers as an Oregon film, under every possible method of classification.

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The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword Award

February 23rd, 2009 by Anne Richardson · News, Side Notes

Screenwriter (Milk) Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech, at last night’s Oscars:

“Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Francoand our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story.

When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.

I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours.

Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk”.

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