So I have previewed the Lone Pine Film Festival in the past, but this year I decided to bite the bullet and actually attend.
My mom Dorothy was keen on the idea, so with her riding shotgun (are the western references getting old yet?) we took off Saturday morning under blue skies.
After reviewing the program, I decided on an event I really wanted to attend: “Let's ask the kids!” scheduled for that morning at 11:30 a.m.
We arrived at the Museum of Western Film History in plenty of time. Parking was a concern, but when we got there a whole line of parking places were empty. Dorothy viewed them suspiciously. Where they reserved? We found the check-in office and asked. No, we were told, they were all open. We returned to the museum just in time to see someone else snag the last place. “Next time, we just park,” my mom vowed.
She let me off at the museum's front door and went to park in parts unknown. I am a fan of the museum. I love the history of film and this place does an impressive job of documenting the importance of the era to Westerns throughout the last 100 years. I have been several times, and it is usually not too crowded―allowing for easy browsing.
I don't know what I was expecting, but for the film festival it was packed. Mostly by keyed-up people wearing cowboy hats, kerchiefs and (in many cases) head-to-toe authentic cowboy wear. I struck up a conversation with a gentleman named John Gilliland, dressed in a letter-perfect Hopalong Cassidy get-up. I know this because my mom finally turned up and told me so. “He looks perfect!” she gushed. Gilliand graciously posed for a picture with her, before heading off to adventures unknown―one of which apparently involved riding in some sort of parade.
A line was forming for the museum's small theater, so we knew it was time for the main event. We managed to get good seats. The opening act was cowboy poet Larry Maurice. My mom -- a connoisseur of cowboy poetry -- said he did an outstanding job.
Then came the main event, a panel consisting of Petrine Day Mitchum (Robert Mitchum's daughter), Cheryl Rogers-Barnett (daughter of Roy Rogers), Melinda Carey (Harry Carey Jr's daughter) and Wyatt McCrea (oldest grandchild of Joel McCrea and Frances Dee).
Maurice introduced everyone, then asked for questions. For one dicey moment, it seemed like no one had anything to say. But the audience was just being shy. Once they got warmed up, the event threatened to run over the allotted timeframe and had to be graciously closed out.
The surprising thing about these Hollywood “kids,” to me, was how normal they all were. I think I was secretly hoping for some sort of lurid Hollywood Babylon revelations about their famous folks, but there where none to be had here. Instead they all described growing up in normal, down-to-earth families ― albeit with a lot of horses. (See related story this edition for more on what they had to say.)
The forum was followed by a meet and greet and book signing. My mom is great friends with Linda Lou Crosby, whose mother Linda Hayes co-starred with Rogers. Cheryl Rogers-Barnett is a mutual friend and Dorothy was chomping at the bit (sorry couldn't resist) to make this connection known.
Rogers-Barnett is a gracious and funny lady. She shared stories about the Crosby clan, then signed a book for Linda Lou and insisted my mom take it―for free. I am beginning to believe these stories about wholesome Western family values.
In the meantime, I could not help myself. I wanted to hear more about Robert Mitchum. Just what kind of a guy was he, I asked his daughter.
“He was a voracious reader,” she told me, and self-taught. She described her legendary father as someone who was “hungry for experience” but said even his more energetic youthful antics were a means of storing up experiences to draw on as an actor. She said he lived for making movies, and the film world was his whole life. I had more questions, many more, but an entire line full of people were glaring at me, wanting to get their books signed so I left it at that.
Finally, it was time for the last round-up and we headed off into the sunset.
And I will put the Western cliches away for the time-being, but I do think a similar film festival would be a good idea here.
Jessica Weston is the City Editor for the Daily Independent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @Jessica_Weston9.
The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.