It’s tough to imagine a great western movie without the cowboys in it bellying up to the bar once or twice, so this year, for its 21st birthday, the Lone Pine Film Festival honors the film studio that gave so many “cowboys” their start.
The 21st Annual Lone Pine Film Festival takes place this weekend, Oct. 8-10, and as usual celebrates the movie locations in the Eastern Sierra, specifically Lone Pine, where many great westerns were filmed. In addition, the festival will also pay homage to Republic Pictures, which created the cowboy phenomena popular in B westerns and recently celebrated its 75th anniversary on Sept. 25. The studio’s very first film release was “Westward Ho!” starring John Wayne, which was filmed primarily in the Alabama Hills and the Owens Valley.
“Republic created more than 40 films in the area and created John Wayne as we know him today,” said Inyo County Film Commissioner Chris Langley, referring to Wayne’s name change from Marion Morrison to John Wayne during his up and coming days with Republic.
“Republic producers and directors loved going on location to Lone Pine as one of their favorite locations for nearly 30 years,” says the Film Festival’s website. Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were also brought up through the movie-making ranks by Republic and made films in the Lone Pine area.
In addition to recognizing Republic’s anniversary, this year’s Lone Pine Film Festival also offers four new tours.
“Our bus tours are what make us stand out from other film festivals,” said Festival Director Robert Barron.
Instead of just hearing where the films were made, festival-goers are actually driven to the sites where their favorite movie heroes once stood.
The first new tour is “The Duke Stopped By: John Wayne Film Locations,” which will explore spots where Wayne filmed I Covered the War and Tycoon, among others. Wayne’s “Image Carrier” Jake Thorn will accompany the group and share first-hand stories of the Duke.
The second tour is an in-depth exploration of the Hopalong Cassidy film locations of Dangerous Venture and the third new tour will visit film locations for three of Tyrone Powers’ films: Brigham Young; Rawhide and King of the Khyber Rifles. Powers is featured on this year’s festival button, which is your key to entry into many of the weekend’s events.
The fourth new tour this year steps away from the western genre and into the world of science fiction. “Chasing the Sand Worms: A Focus on Tremors” takes participants to the many locations where this 1990 film starring Kevin Bacon was shot.
“The sites for this tour are not close together so it will be a car caravan tour, not a bus tour,” Langley said.
The Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History plays a key role in the annual festival, which according to Barron “takes over the whole town.”
The museum, now in its fourth year, hosts many of the festival’s events as well as special exhibits, including one from actor and artist Buck Taylor.
According to the festival’s website Taylor “shares both his extended acting career and his artistic accomplishments in an exhibit of his paintings this weekend. Perhaps best remembered for his continuing role in Gunsmoke as Newly O’Brien, he also appeared in the series Dallas, The Greatest Show on Earth and even General Hospital. Some film features include The Wild Angels, Pony Express Rider, Cattle Annie and Little Britches, The Legend of the Lone Ranger and Alamo. Buck had starring roles in Gettysburg, Tombstone, Gods and Generals, The Wendell Baker Story and Truce. Buck brings an exhibit of paintings for sale as well as an exhibit from his personal collection. His painting appears on the cover of the Festival program, on the poster and the Tee shirt, which he generously donated the use of to the Festival.”
Rounding out the weekend will be one-on-one interviews with all the celebrity guests conducted by Cheryl Rogers Barnett (daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans). The interviews will be recorded on DVD and made available for purchase for those who are unable to attend the actual event or who just want to take a piece of it home with them, according to Langley.
Having Rogers Barnett in attendance also helps kick off a year-long celebration of Roy Rogers who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2011. The theme of next year’s film festival will be focused on Rogers.
Celebrity panels will also be held and moderated by Packy Smith. Both interviews and panels will be held at Statham Hall.
For more information on the Lone Pine Film Festival visit www.lonepinefilmhistorymuseum.org.