Amoeblog

Show me the Mo Movies!!! - Missouri in Film and TV

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 30, 2010 10:00pm | Post a Comment
Some folk that know me know I have to see dang near err movie that's filmed in, set in or tied to Missouri (whurr I grew up). With the Bourne Trilogy, those ties were somewhat tenuous... Badass Jason Bourne is merely informed that his real name is David Webb and he's from Nixa. No wonder he joined the military. Needless to say, people are sick of hearing me talk about my home state, but most of yins are strangers so it will hopefully be only a fraction as annoying as what they put up wither pritnear err time I sip on somethin'.


I just sawl Winter's Bone the other day. What can I say? The boyz (and gulz) in the woodz is always hard! Wisely, they actually filmed in the Ozarks rather than in Canada or some other pale stand-in. Not much in the way of distracting celebrities either. Perfect music by Tindersticks' Dickon Hinchliffe. Real recognize real, ya heard? Anywho, hurr's my pretty complete timeline of Mo Films.


MO MOVIES IN THE SILENT ERA

  

Silent Movies were ideal for the people who made "Show Me" thurr motto. With outlaws from Missouri including Tom Horn, and badass cowgirls Belle Star and Calamity Jane, it's kind of surprising how many Missouri-set Westerns overwhelmingly favor popular Missourian Jesse James. Apparently, the most Missouri silent movie would have Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer joining the James Gang. Just consider the following silent films set in the state:

The James Boys in Missouri (1908), Coals of Fire (1911), In Mizzoura (1914), Tom Sawyer (1917), In Mizzoura and Shepherd of the Hills (both 1919), Huckleberry Finn (1920), Jesse James as the Outlaw (1921) and Jesse James (1927).

MO MOVIES IN THE EARLY SOUND ERA


People have always love songs about Missourians wildin' out. Just consider "Frankie and Johnnie," about Frankie Baker, who rubbed out her man in 1899 after she found him with another woman. It inspired the films Her Man (1930) and Frankie and Johnnie (1936).

Then thurr's Lee "Stagger Lee" Shelton, a Mack who killed William Lyons in 1895 after he made the mistake of touching his pimp hat. "St. Louis Blues" is relatively peaceful by comparison, and was in essence, one of the first music videos.

There were more movies about the creations of Mark Twain and Robert and Zerelda James too. Interestingly, thurr seems to've been a short-lived vogue for movies about people ('specially dames) from Missouri, probably in part due to the popularity of Missourian actress Jean Harlow. Consider the following:

 Meanwhile, the events of her famous lovers quarrel inspired films, including Her Man (1930) and She Done Him Wrong (1935). After that, her legend spread nationally and people hounded her for autographs and prank called her. Frankie and Johnnie (1936) followed.

St. Louis Blues (1929), Tom Sawyer (1930), Huckleberry Finn , Kitty from Kansas City (both 1931), The St. Louis Kid, The Girl From Missouri and Kansas City Princess (all 1934), St. Louis Woman (1935), The Voice of Bugle Ann (1936), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), I’m From Missouri,  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer – Detective, Jesse James and Days of Jesse James (all 1939).

Huckleberry Finn 1931Voice of Bugle Ann

Adventures of Tom Sawyer 1938           

MO MOVIES IN THE '40s

The '40s were pritnear a continuation of the previous decade as the nation remained obsessed with popular, racist murderer who stole from everyone and gave to himself (Jesse James). Just look at these'n's:

In Old Missouri and The Return of Frank James (1940) Bad Men of Missouri, Belle Starr, Jesse James at Bay, and Shepherd of the Hills (all 1941), A Missouri Outlaw (1942), Meet Me in St. Louis and Kansas City Kitty (both 1944), Down Missouri Way (1946), Adventures of Frank and Jesse James (1948) and Calamity Jane and Sam Bass and I Shot Jesse James (both 1949).

    

 

TV AGE MO

Finally, movies about Missouri started to get a little more interesting in the 1950s, focusing often on modern crimes and juvenile delinquents, and not just outlaws from the Old West. Consider the following:

The Great Missouri Raid, Return of Jesse James and The Missourians (all 1950), Pete Kelly's Blues (1951), The Pride of St. Louis and Kansas City Confidential (both 1952), Calamity Jane and The Great Jesse James Raid (1953), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Jesse James’ Women (both 1954), The Delinquents (1955), The True Story of Jesse James (1956), The Pride of St. Louis (1957), The Cool and the Crazy (1958) and The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959).

     True Story of Jesse James



MO MOVIES IN THE '60s

After nearly half a century, Americans seemed to have finally had enough of films about Tom Sawyer and Jesse James. As a result, movies taking place in Missouri became fewer and farther between; consider:
Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (both 1960), Hoodlum Priest (1961),  Beetle Bailey and Hottenanny Hoot (both 1963), and Ride a Wild Stud (1969).




MISSOURI IN THE '70s

After a decade away from screens, a new generation of film-goers clamored for cinematic representations of Tom Sawyer and Hollywood obliged. Missouri-loving audiences were also blessed with many new characters.

Huckleberry Finn and Kansas City Bomber (both 1972),Tom Sawyer (dir. Don Taylor), Tom Sawyer (dir. James Neilson) and Paper Moon (all 1973), Huckleberry Finn and Lucas Tanner (1974), Huckleberry Finn, Bucktown, Linda Lovelace for President and Kansas City Massacre (all 1975), The Student Body (1976), The Baxters (1977) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1979).

 
   

MISSOURI IN THE '80s

When most people think of '80s cinema, teen sex comedies often come to mind. Not in Missouri, thank you. For Hollywood, Missouri in the '80s meant a revival of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn films... and Mama's Family. Things began, finally, to change toward the end of the decade.

Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (all 1981), After MASH, The Day After and Mama’s Family (all 1983), Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer (all 1984), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1985), The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James (1986), Huckleberry Finn and Bird (both 1988) and Miss Missouri, Parenthood and Road House (all 1989).
After MASH 


MISSOURI IN THE '90s

For whatever reason, in the '90s it became somewhat popular to set things seemingly randomly in the Show Me state... that, and the subject matter began to expand in odd directions. Look the these:

The Josephine Baker Story, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, White Palace (all 1990), Child’s Play 3 (1991), Sniz and Fondue and Article 99 (all 1992), King of the Hill, Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck and the King of Hearts, The John Larroquette Show and What’s Love Got to Do With It? (all 1993), On Our Own (1994), Casino (1995), Malcolm and Eddie and Kansas City (both 1996), The "Airport" episode of Newsradio and Waiting For Guffman (both 1998) and Ride With the Devil (1999).

Josephine Baker Story        


 Article 99King of the Hill


THE NEW MO-LLENNIUM

For some reason, the new millennium brought a decrease in Missouri's star turns. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Lookout were both obviously filmed in Canada and the latter film was a steaming piece of horse pockey.

 



Living in Missouri
(2001), The Games of Their Lives (2003), Jesus Camp (2006), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Lookout (both 2007), Albino Farm (2009).


MO IN THE 2010s

I haven't been home in a while but Winter's Bone made me nostalgic; so far it's the only MO Movie of the decade that I know of. Update: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth was great too. 

Winter's Bone (2010)



The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (2012)


 
Masters of Sex

*****

To read about Missouri and music, click here

******

Country from other countries

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 23, 2008 06:57pm | Post a Comment
Country Music

In the American South, traditions from Celtic music, folk, blues, gospel and mountain music melded together into what was originally known as Hillbilly music. Hillbilly produced some incredibly popular artists like Jimmie Rodgers, who sold over a million records in the '20s, back when there were probably like 2 million people in the country.

In 1949, Billboard started referring to it as Country, since many Hillbillies began to feel like they were performing some kind of minstrelsy for urban, northern audiences who'd stick some straw baies on the stage to make these noble savages feel at home.

Anyway, it wasn't just popular at home. There are seemingly more fans of country outside of the U.S. than in it. Before long, other countries were producing their own Country, influenced by the original but occasionally tailored to their own traditions.

Canadian Country



It shouldn't really come as a surprise that Canada, our kid sibling to the north, would have their fair share of Country musicians. in fact, outside of the U.S., Canada is the Countryest country. Originally it developed out of their heavily Celtic Maritime Provinces. Most Country, however, mirrors the U.S.'s and many Canadian Country artists have infiltrated Nashville unsuspected and undetected, capable of producing Pop Country as bland as our indigenous experts. Most Canadian Country musicians sing about Tennessee this and Kentucky that, happy to not reflect their own backgrounds. Those that do have a more distinctly Canadian tone often have an elevated Folk aspect to their music.

Canadian Country artists include Shania Twain, Adam Gregory, Hank Snow, Paul Brandy, Wilf Carter, Tommy Hunter, Stompin' Tom Connors, Corb Lund, George Canyon, Don Messer, Anne Murray, Lucille Starr, Marg Osburne, Ian Tyson, Mercey Brothers, Maurice Boyler, Gordie Tapp, Carroll Baker, Bob Nolan, Stu Davis, Gene MacLellan, Myrna Lorrie, Ray Griff, Ronnie Prophet, Colleen Peterson, The Good Brothers, Terry Carisse and Prairie Oyster.


Wilf Carter (audio only)
 
Ian & Sylvia Tyson


Hank Snow


Tommy Hunter



Stompin' Tom Connors

Australian Country




I reckon it's natural that Australia (aka Bizarro America) produces a lot of country too. I mean, they make Westerns about their own wild west and their larikins and our rednecks seem to evince convergent evolution like few other species. As Australian Country-ish songwriter Simon Bonney noted:

"There are similarities between America and Australia. We ask a lot of the same questions and share a desire to hold on to some sort of cultural identity from whatever place we originally came. And Australia is all rural; it's like the classic idea of the Midwest. There are thousands of acres of wheat and barley  and incredible quantities of sheep."

Country music has been popular in Australia for a while, with roots in the bush ballads of the 19th century. As opposed to Canadian Country, a lot of Australian Country focuses on Australian subject matter and is sometimes known as "Bush Music" or "Bush Band Music." New South Wales hosts both the Grabine Music Muster Festival and the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Australian Country Musicians include Tex Morton, Slim Dusty, Simon Bonney, Keith Urban, Lee Karnaghan, Adam Brand, The Bush Wackers, Olivia Newton John, Tania Kernaghan, Beccy ColeTroy Cassar Daley, Kasey Chambers, Sherrie Austin, Smoky Dawson, Catherine Britt, Amber Lawrence, Shea Fisher, Talia Whitman, "Captain Goodtimes" Steve Forde, 8 Ball Aitken, Johnny Ashcroft, James Blundell, Tracy Coster, Wayne Horsburgh, Jedd Hughes, Gina Jeffries, Gay Kayler, Anne Kirkpatrick, Red Lindsay, Jimmy Little, Chad Morgan, Jamie O'Neill, Mary Schneider, Sara Storer, John Williamson, The Donovans, Women in Docs, Karma County, Redgum, Deep Creek and the Prairie Oysters.


Tex Morton (audio only)

 
Slim Dusty
 

Smoky Dawson
 

Johnny Ashcroft



Simon Bonney

Argentine Country



Maybe the least likely country to play host to a big Country Music scene is Argentina. But then again, what's more stereotypical of Argentina then gauchos riding the range? Every year Argentina hosts the San Pedro Country Music Festival. Country bands from around South and North America are featured in the line-up.

Argentine Country artists include Alejandro Gratzer, Coco Diaz, Botas Tejanas, Yulie Ruth, 7 Pistones, Tennessee Country, Radio Texas, Richard Lake and Palmas plus, no doubt, a lot more.


a commercial for the San Pedro Country Music Festival
 

Tennessee Country


Richard Lake
 

A brief spot about the San Pedro Music Festival featuring a few bands

Summer of Sequels Presents -- Jason Bourne

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 13, 2007 10:05pm | Post a Comment





Jason Bourne
is a guy who's trying to remember his past and figure out who he is because he suffers from amnesia. In the course of his quest he was informed that his real name is David Webb and he was born in Nixa, Missouri but he seems to totally ignore that, or at least they don't depict him trying to glean anything from this. 

So I'm here to help fill in the blanks, like it or not. No spoiler warning.

"Webb" is an occupational family name meaning (in Old English) "weaver." OK, so at least the paternal branch of Jason/David's family is from the British Isles. He looks pretty Irish. Nixa, Missouri is in the Ozark Mountains. In 1717, the Ulster-Scots, aka Scots-Irish, began to move to the area which was by then mostly abandoned or otherwise depopulated by the indigenous population after a 13th century famine.




The Ozarks, a mix of the Shire and Rivendell

Rich, slave-owning planters on the South Coast called the new inhabitants "hillbillies" because (according 
to one theory) as Protestants back in the British Isles, they had supported William III "Billy" of Orange and lived in the hills/highlands.

During the Civil War, Missouri was split between pro-Union sympathizers and those who were pro-Confederate. The state was represented by stars on both
nations' flags. Confederate sympathizers called Border Ruffians waged war the impoverished hillbillies who were often pro-Union. 

The Chicago Tribune wrote of them as “a queer-looking set, slightly resembling human beings, but more closely allied … to wild beasts…They never shave or comb their hair, and their chief occupation is loafing around whiskey shops, squirting tobacco juice, and whittling with a dull jack-knife.” The next few years, in addition to the Civil War, the state became mired in what was known as the Bushwacker War.

The Ozarks continue to have a distinct culture. They call heavy downpours "gully washers" or "frog stranglers." They say "yins" instead of "y'all." Ozarkians frequently complain about characterizations of them as poor, crazy, sleazy, gun-toting, moonshine-making, backwards folk and then they go and sell stuff like a corncob as "Hillbilly toilet paper" in every gas station. And then there is a mountain in the Ozarks called "Knob Lick mountain." And every truck has a gun-rack in the window.



And they have both Branson...

 

...and the Precious Moments Chapel, founded by born-again Christian and family man Sam Butler, who was famously always accompanied by adolescent Filipino boys.

Ozarkians held the interest of film-goers and tv watchers, radio-listeners and comic-readers throughout the 20th century but particularly in the second,  which gave us:

Lum & Abner (1932)

Lil' Abner (1934)

Beverly Hillbillies (1962)

                                                         Snuffy Smith (1934)                                                                 Ma & Pa Kettle (1947)


*****

   
Real Ozark Hillbillies

The slogan of Nixa, Missouri is "The Progressive Choice of the Ozarks." It has a Motel 8, a McDonald's, a Taco Bell, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Sonic Drive In, Otts Pasta, Smitty's Supermarket and Restaurant and five strip malls.

So, despite Nixa's wealth of riches, Jason/David gave it up and left. He must've learned to code-switch and eliminate aspects of his idiolect that would betray his hillbilly origins. He got involved with the government and the rest is detailed in the films.

The lastest Bourne film, the Bourne Ultimatum is a lot like the previous installments. It met my expectations. Jason goes to France, New York City, London, Russia, Spain and Tangier. He runs and chases and frequently metes out Krav Maga, a cool-looking fighting style developed by Jews first to protect themselves from Nazis in the 1930s, and perfected in Israel in the 1940s. 

After the Bourne Supremacy, Bourne fans' most common complaint was director Paul "shakycam" Greengrass' heavy reliance on that early 90s fad which is used, I guess, to make us feel like we're really there... like we're invisible and shaking whilst we watch the action from behind potted plants, writhing and convulsing completely unseen by the film's characters. Or maybe it's supposed to be the distracting Brechtian technique that it is, calling attention to itself, reminding us that this is a film, not real life, so remain detached and reflective. Whatever the reason, he uses it less, which still annoyed me because it doesn't need to be there at all. When my friend Hien saw it, he had to excuse himself to throw-up.

One other thing that totally confused me, and I am admittedly a bit slow, was Albert Finney as Albert Hirsh.

In the previous Bourne movies Ward Abbot was played by Brian Cox.

I spent the duration of the latest film thinking they were one in the same, whilst scratching my head trying to remember events of the previous two films. Blackbriar. Treadstone. Names and details don't seem that important but all of the sudden, Albert Finney comes in doing what seems like a Brian Cox impression with slobbery mumbles and looking over his glasses. Maybe I'm the only person that confuses them (although Brian Cox has a bit of Marlon Brando in him too).

Anyway, despite what I felt were relatively minor but annoying flaws, I came out of the theatre really wanting to get into a fight that involves whatever's in reach and to drive recklessly through the streets and alleys, and I think that's the real point.


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