1 – The first Hollywood-based film about West Virginia - Tol’able
120 M. 1921 B&W SILENT VHS/16MM M.O.M.A.
One of the finest films of the silent era. Directed by Henry King. Filmed on location in Appalachian Virginia - Bluegrass (Near Pocahontas County). Explicit references to West Virginia including the “Hatburn Clan.” Combines the Biblical tale of David with the family feud story. Starring David Barthelmess of BROKEN BLOSSOMS fame.
2 – The first Hollywood-based film made in West Virginia - Stagestruck.
90 M. 1925 VHS/16MM PARAMOUNT EASTMAN HOUSE
The Ohio River Town of New Martinsville, WV is the setting for this classic comedy starring Gloria Swanson and directed by one of the pioneers of American Film, Allan Dwan. Swanson plays Jennie Hagen, a waitress in a diner who is in love with the cook. The cook meets a showboat lady. The two ladies end up in a boxing match worthy of Buster Keaton! Swanson was one of the leading ladies of the silent film era, her masterpiece being QUEEN KELLY.
Program 3 – The first independent documentary feature –
Virginia, The Beautiful
WEST VIRGINIA, THE BEAUTIFUL - 1929
76 M. 1929 B&W VHS SILENT WV DIV. OF CULTURE & HISTORY
This film was made by amateur filmmaker Rev. Ottis Snodgrass. The black and white, silent film shot in 1929 takes the viewer on a journey along the path of US Route 60, The Midland Trail, from the Kentucky border through West Virginia and to the Virginia border. Important landmarks, from the site of the State Capitol building destroyed by fire in 1921 and the beginning phases of the new capitol to the Greenbrier and the view from the overlook at what would become Hawks Nest State Park, are included in this film. Everyday life along US Route 60 – the salt works, a chemical plant, tourist camps, colleges, and various modes of transportation – automobiles, passenger and logging trains, a ferry and steamboat are brought to life. At the end of the film, Snodgrass provided the words to the state song “The West Virginia Hills” for a sing-a-long.
4 – The first independent dramatic feature – Teenage Strangler
67 M. 1964 VHS. SOMETHING WEIRD
Directed by Bill Posner; producer and screenwriter Clark Davis. Filmed on location in Huntington, WV. The following is part of a review by Mike Weldon, editor of Psychotronic Video #7–Fall 1990: "I love obscure early 60s regional movies like this! A mystery 'lipstick' killer is strangling schoolgirls with stockings in the Huntington, West Virginia area (where this marvel was filmed). Some of the characters are straight out of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, but with Southern accents. Jimmy, a member of the Fastbacks, a pretty harmless 'gang' (they wear black jackets with bulldogs on the backs) is a suspect. He stands up for a guy everybody calls Runt, and has a girlfriend named Betty Jean. His family had to relocate because of his police record. (He had covered for his nervous little brother, Mickey, the real culprit.) Jimmy even has a drag race with Curley, the gang’s tough guy. Kids do the twist and drink pop at Marty’s where Betty Gay (not Betty Jean) announces, 'Fellow citizens and lovers of good music – For those of you that pledge allegiance to Peter, Paul and Mary...The Beatles...The Teen Queens...Paul Anka, and The Chad Mitchell Trio...' and some guy (who used to be in The Astronauts) sings 'Yipes Stripes.' Despite Betty Gay’s horrifying list, the instrumental rock on the soundtrack (by Danny Dean And The Daredevils) is fine..."
5 – West Virginia’s greatest Hollywood film – The Night of the
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
91 M. 1955 B&W 16MM/VHS
Filmed partially in Moundsville, WV, Charles Laughton’s only film as a director is considered a unique masterpiece of American cinema. A psychopathic preacher goes on the trail of hidden money, the secret of which is held by two children. A weird, manic fantasy in which evil confronts the power of innocence. Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish.
6 – Two Famous Documentaries on Destruction in West Virginia –
Creek and In Memory of the
Land and People.
BUFFALO CREEK 1972: AN ACT OF GOD?
30 M. B&W 16MM/VHS APPALSHOP
Covers the destruction and clean-up following the Buffalo Creek flood, interviews with survivors, the people’s hearing, wildcat strikes in Logan County mines, the demonstration of the Pittston Coal Company stockholders meeting, and an interview with the president of Pittston.
IN MEMORY OF THE LAND AND PEOPLE
50 M. 1978 OMNIFICENT SYSTEMS
This documentary is an independent production by Robert Gates on the ravages of stripmining. There is no script. No narrator. Music of Bartok is interwoven with songs and dialogue of people who live in the stripped regions.
7 – Daniel Boyd’s last feature – Paradise Park.
100 M. 1992 VHS BIG PICTURE HOPE VIDEO
An elderly resident of an Appalachian trailer park wakes up one morning with a vision that God will visit the park later that evening and grant all the tenants a wish. The love-hate relationship this memorable group of wonderful characters have with their impoverished existence surfaces, in funny, often bittersweet ways as the effects of floods, unemployment and family strife trigger fantasies of love, wealth, elaborate song and dance numbers and dreams of what’s yet to be. Does God make it to the trailer park? Well, one thing’s for sure – Life will never be the same in Paradise Park. With original song by T. Graham Brown, Johnny Paycheck, Razzy Bailey, Larry Groce, Webb Pierce. Starring: Larry Groce, Lina Basquette, Dusty Rhodes, Webb Pierce, Porter Wagner and Johnny Paycheck.
Program 8 – Jacob Young’s West Virginia – Dancing Outlaw and Beyond.
DANCING OUTLAW – & OUTTAKES—SPECIAL DIRECTOR’S EDITION
60 M. 1993 VHS WNPB-TV
Jesco is famous everywhere. DANCING OUTLAW has become a cult classic. Includes the original DIFFERENT DRUMMER SERIES of the DANCING OUTLAW plus never before seen footage and outtakes of the best mountain dancer left in these here parts.
HOLY COW! SWAMI
180 M. 1996 WNPB-TV
Jacob Young, famous for creating DANCING OUTLAW and the award winning PBS series DIFFERENT DRUMMER SERIES, worked years on this three-part documentary about the controversial Swami Bhaktipasda and the kingdom he created at New Vrindaban, a Hare Krishna community near Moundsville, WV. A cloud of legal troubles descended on the Swami and the Krishna community, including allegations of murder and racketeering.
9 Psychotronic West Virginia – Whispers
from Space and Communication
WHISPERS FROM SPACE
105 M. 1996 FACETS
This "engagingly deadpan" (Dennis Harvey, Variety) documentary looks at UFO lore and one rather disreputable "researcher" in particular: Gray Parker, a self-stylized "expert" on strange phenomena, who not only didn't believe in Unidentified Flying Objects, but may have perpetrated a UFO-related hoax or two himself. Stills, home movies, location shooting and interviewees, ranging from Parker's surviving relatives to a former male lover, business associates, amateur sleuths and a local folklorist, offer their insight into the man from rural West Virginia who specialized in the flying saucer trade.
COMMUNICATION FROM WEBER
15 M. 1988 OMNI PRODUCTIONS
Albert Michael Weber came to WV with his Gauley Bridge bride who returned to California. Ultimately, he died from a brain tumor. But during his few years discovering the realities of life here – and his own fantastic internal world, Weber created an amazing body of “art.” WV filmmaker, Robert Gates, and WV artist, Lyn Wyatt, made a film about this amazing “Reichian” thinker.
Program 10 – New Films – The Griffin and the Minor Canon and Ashes to Glory.
THE GRIFFIN AND THE MINOR CANON
41 M. 2001 WVPBS
Lucille DuBerry and Brad Stalnaker animated Frank Stockton’s classic children’s tale. They chose this story because Stockton lived his last years in West Virginia. Using different types of animation – rotoscoping, line-drawings, and computer animation – they tell the tale of the last mythological griffin who is looking for a last meal. He meets a “minor canon” (like a deacon) in a church with a stone griffin on its roof. The town’s people are terrified that the griffin will eat them. Eventually the griffin discovers that the minor canon is a very good man, and lets him live. Using the voices of WV actors David Selby, Chris Sarandon, John Corbett, Kathy Mattea, Ann Magnuson, Don Knotts, and Soupy Sales. Winner of best animation at the WV Filmmakers Film Festival and “Best of the Best” as best locally produced PBS program in the US 2002.
ASHES TO GLORY
60 M. 2000 WVPBS
This hour-long Emmy Award-winning documentary is an intimate look at the greatest tragedy and the greatest triumph in American sports—the Marshall University plane crash of 1970 and the miraculous comeback of the team just one year later and eventual national championships.
NOTE: These are just a few of the hundreds of films and videos that have been produced by and about West Virginia. Appalshop, the official media arts center for Appalachia, has produced many other award winning films about West Virginia and its people. The many independent filmmakers in the state have produced even more. WVPBS based filmmakers have made many more films including the international award winning series, A DIFFERENT DRUMMER – of which DANCING OUTLAW is just one. Russ Barbour, a WVPBS filmmaker working in Charleston and Huntington, has produced a feature documentary on West Virginians at War and many other films. Witek & Novak, the people who produced ASHES TO GLORY, have also produced two films about Blenko Glass. Hopefully your local public library or other community center will be able to show these films and encourage people to learn more about the many cinematic treasurers to be found at WVLC, Pocahontas County Free Libraries, and other media collections.
Additional AppLit Resources:
Films and From the Brothers Grimm
release from September 9, 2002, entitled “World premier screenings at
Flooded Out Film Festival."
All proceeds from Oct. 10 event go to flood victims.”
Winning Festival Films, background information on the first festival, local history, links to sponsors, links to information on film such as The Griffin and the Minor Canon, The Night of the Hunter, Invasion of the Space Preachers, etc.
The West Virginia Filmmakers Guild was created in 1985 to provide networking and communication between West Virginia film and video makers and those interested in these crafts in West Virginia. Central to its mission is educating the public and promoting West Virginia filmmakers and their films to the public.