Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brad Nottingham's Pale Rider memories

written 11/06

I remember Pale Rider and was here in the valley when it was filmed. I had a friend, Lon Plucknett, (since moved back to his home town of Casper, WY) who worked at Anderson Lumber on Lewis & Warm Springs, and they got quite a big sale out of the lumber used to build the set of "the bad guy's town", while in Hailey, Idaho Lumber got the lumber sales for the "good guys town."

Locals got to try out for background parts, screen testing at what was then "Slavey's" but I remember I was too chicken at the time, and definitely felt too nerdy for a rugged Western character, plus I wore glasses. Also, as always there were scads of ex-Californians living in Ketchum even then, who knew how to grease the egos in the film biz and get into the mix.

Eastwood had an old restored light yellow Buick station wagon he drove around Ketchum back then. My co-worker, LouAnn Hess (now in Challis) was at Sun Valley Motors waiting a long time for them to bring her a car part. Clint was waiting at the parts counter, and she this way of eating huge amounts of sunflower seeds, shelling them, and loading up one side of her cheek with the shells. She bent over into the spitoon, (remember spitoons?) and unloaded a wet glop of shells there, and bent back up there to see Clint, who turned to her, and muttered, "that's disgusting!" LouAnn turned beat red from embarrassment and couldn't utter a response. This was around 1988. LouAnn had a cute figure, pretty much Daniella's physique, but also an Idaho girl all the way, but she had that sunflower seed habit. I'll never forget the continual cracking sounds of her personal mini-seed processing plant next to me at the terminal (as we used to call the monitors) back at Typographics for at least 6 to 7 years.

For Pale Rider, there were some filming issues evident in the film as you see it today, which brought comment: it was filmed in our typically beautiful late Indian summer, and some of the riding scenes were filmed just before and after an unpredictable early season snow, which frosted the upper parts of the ranges, while quickly melting off the lower elevations. As a film viewer, a period of time that seemed to be about a week, appeared to toggle from summer to winter, which brought some criticism, I remember, but any of us mountain folk wouldn't give it a second thought.

Also, Clint made tremendous effort to restore the site that was disturbed by the building fronts, construction crew, and later the feet pounding of the actors and production crew on the little ridge and river drainage near the aspen groves. Winter seemed to come quickly that year and for a bunch of us, it was really hard to spot evidence of the film set trampling that next spring, though we tried. We also tried to find some kind of film crew item or something. Lon and I located "the rock" that one of the miners was chipping on in an early scene from the film.

When it finally came out, Pale Rider sort of stunned people, because it was a break from the Eastwood tradition. He played an even quieter, low-key character, and I remember people being confused about connecting a "preacher" role to him. Others, expecting the active dashing and violent Dirty Harry traditions found this movie kind of slow and spacey, features I didn't mind at all this time. I just soaked in the scenery that I knew was almost in my backyard. I had driven my old Buick Wagon up there, and forded the rocky river crossing half a dozen times, hiking up to some of the "real" old mining cabins and diggings.

Soon afterward, a local man, David Butterfield had us typeset and produce an exhausting field guide to good locations across Idaho, including information about accommodations, prices, in order to drum up more film-making interest from Hollywood. After the book was published, I remember that there wasn't much response, until the Bruce Willis engine began churning up sleepy Hailey in the 90s. I still have not rented that weird, forgotten-about movie filmed in Bellevue that included Warren Beatty that had a fly-fishing connection, nor the one about Hemingway, but I did see that odd Twin Falls picture that Willis was working on when his marriage to Demi was fast unravelling.

Butterfield is still around. He had lost all of his hearing in a wave slam while surfing out in California sometime in the 1980s. He was always kind of an entrepreneurial type that as far as I know, hasn't really stuck to anything yet, but I admire that type of drive. He might have had some family money in a bank account to "allow" him to exercise that spirit, cause you still gotta pay the living expenses.

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