July 07, 2004:
As part of the Mt. Whitney Trail Centennial celebration the Lone Pine Film Festival will be screening films that contain scenes either made at the Portals or in the high country around Mt. Whitney. The evnt will take place on July 17th and 18th and the films will be shown in the Lone Pine High School Auditorium free of charge.
"We think this event is an important part of our local culture and economy, and the Film Festival wanted to contribute its part to the celebration," commented Chris Langley, President of the Festival. "We had a surprising number of films to choose from and we had a difficult time narrowing the field to some very representative films from the different genres."
The history of filming goes back to the 1923 production of The Virginian, which just happens to survive in a very respectable version. Much of the film was made in the high country of the area. Another silent film is Tom Mix's 1925 version of The Riders of the Purple Sage, which filmed extensively at the edge of the mountains and at the falls at the Whitney Portals.
There will also be several documentaries shown as well. The popular Counting Sheep about the program to balance the big horn sheep and mountain lion populations which proved so popular among local audiences in February will be screened, as well as a premier of a film called 5 Million Footsteps, which tells the story John Muir's Whitney ascent. The biography covers his environmental work while several filmmakers and biologists duplicate the route Muir followed. The film is so new it was actually being edited at press time.
Huell Howser's documentary about the reenactment of the Wedding of the Waters describes the famous 1937 event and has many local Southern Inyo personalities shown. Included in the film are Bill Michaels, Joy Anderson, Mrs. Grace (Hopalong Cassidy) Boyd, Myron Alexander and Ray Powell to name a few.
Mike Straussman who wrote the book on bouldering in the Alabamas has contributed to shorts on Climbing Mt. Whitney he originally made for the Outdoor Channel. One piece is has a historical viewpoint while the other pictures a fourteen year old boy's attempt to pioneer a new route up the challenging east face.
Of course, no film festival of Mt. Whitney films would be complete without High Sierra, the hallmark film being shown Saturday night, preceded by the remake I Died a Thousand Times that starred Jack Palance and Shelly Winters. They make an interesting study of two films that reflect somewhat different periods in our country's culture.
The Festival will also show a television episode of Have Gun Will Travel and Man in the Saddle, a remarkable film starring Randolph Scott, which has a spectacular fight, staged on the frozen Portal's waterfall with three actors slipping and tumbling down the frozen water. The Festival closes with Brigham Young, Frontiersman starring Tyrone Power.
"We are excited by the diversity of the program, and without the help of Woody Wise who is supplying the equipment and technical expertise it wouldn't be happening for free. Local sound man Butch Berry will be using his own sound system for the weekend as well." Langley concluded. "There is truly something for every interest being shown. Everyone is invited and it is all free!"
The Lone Pine Chamber has information - Phone: 760-876-4444