Thursday, August 3, 2017

Museum of Western Film History

While John was getting our rig ready to move on yesterday our neighbor, who as performing the same tasks on his trailer, spoke to John about his trip on the same highway.  Only difference was they were going north on the road and we were headed south.  The neighbor shared with us how much he and his wife enjoyed a film museum and encouraged us to also stop and tour it.
The beginning of our trip on highway 395 that day gave us some final glimpses of the Sierras.   However, there were more mountains up the road.  Before we came to them we saw signs giving directions to Manzanar, a national historic site.  Later at the museum we learned what that was all about.  The old high school in  Manzanar has an interpretive center with exhibits and audio visual programs related to the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WW11.  As you may gather from my previous postings, history of that nature makes me furious.  And our nation never learns, just continues to treat people inhumanely in the name of protecting our national security.
On to more cheerful thoughts, like the highest mountains in our nation.  Somewhere in the range above is Mount Whitney and Mount Williamson, Mount Whitney being the highest at 1494 feet.
Above is a mural on the film museum building.  We at first drove past the museum, thinking that we would not stop.  Then we had second thoughts, and I am glad we did!   We did not realize it, but we had just traveled through the Alabama Hills where about 400-500 films and 1000 commercials had been filmed.   We saw the Portal Road as we drove into the town of Lone Pine, not realizing that a short drive on that road would take us up into the hills and where many westerns had been filmed.
  The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, costumes, props, posters, and memorabilia from classic American Western films.  Also an antique camera car is on display.
 The heyday of westerns was primarily the years from the 1920s to the 1960s.  During the 1950s and 1960s westerns films were decreasing in numbers, but there were many western series being made for television. Science fiction movies as Star Trek 5, Ironman, Superman as well as foreign films as Gunga Din and Kim were also filmed in the Alabama Hills.   Pictured below is the dentist wagon from Durango Unchained.  There is also on display a copy of that movie script autographed by Quentin Terantino, as well as the director's chair.
And pictured below is the 1937 Plymouth that Humphrey Bogart drove half-way up Mount Whitney in the 1941 movie High Sierra.  It was also noted here that Ida Lupino had the measles while the filming was being done.
Many of the artifacts and costumes were very interesting.  Ever heard of a jerk jacket?
It is a vest with multiple pick points on it and is custom fitted for the actor or stunt person.  Cables or ropes are placed on the pick points and used for snatching, pulling or dragging a person for a stunt sequence.  John and I had to call it quits after about an hour in this museum, we still had many miles yet to cover for the day.  I must say it was a stop worth making!

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