Monday, January 2, 2017

“Heartland” is the January Film Classic in Bigfork

This movie, about the realities of living in the unsettled west, will give you a perspective of how tough life was on the “real frontier” with the rewards and heartbreak such a life can bring. “Heartland” is a 1979 film, starring Rip Torn and Conchata Ferrell and directed by Richard Pearce.  This was not a high budget “glitzy” production, but one that teaches what early frontier folks had to face to succeed in life. It is a true account of the people and it was shot on location in Montana.  The mix of a great true story and a wonderful location is powerful and beautiful. “Heartland” is the January Classic Movie shown on the big screen of the Edge Theatre in Bigfork by Jack Nachbar. It will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the 1910 time period of the movie.  Date: Thursday January 12th. Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge.

As said earlier, the story is a true one. It is about a hardy, ambitious young widow who packs up her life and daughter to move to the West and start a job as the housekeeper on a ranch. It is based on a memoir by Elinore Pruitt Stewart of her life in Wyoming. You will soon find out just how resilient and tough she is and how demanding the real west can be on the pioneers of 1910. At first it seems that communications between the widow and rancher can never happen, and it ends up being a story of endearing love for the land, the rancher and her situation.  I can’t tell you more except it is, once again, one of those film gems that can only be best appreciated on the big screen like the one at the Edge Theatre.

The movie is in the category of a “hidden gem.”  The “stars” and director have had careers primarily in Television Work.  This movie seems to have slipped in among their other work and yet is an outstanding film.  It was featured as a “Buried Treasure”, and was featured on an episode of Siskel and Ebert's “Sneak Previews" in 1980. This film treasure received little attention during its initial run.

Conchata  Ferrell (1943) was born in West Virginia and raised in Ohio. Her acting career spans four decades as a successful character actress. She was a movie newcomer for this film and is still best known for her role in it.  Her other accomplishments include an Obie and Drama Desk awards for her acting, and two nominations for Prime Time Emmy awards. With her experience in Television shows and off-Broadway productions, it is ironic that she is still best known for her acting in this movie.

The director Richard Pearce (1943) was born in San Diego and went East to attend high school and Yale University. He is also best known for his work in Television series’.  He has only directed six movies, including “Heartland”, and it is one of his most recognized works.  It won the Golden Bear Award at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival.

Rip Torn (1931) has had an interesting career. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Cross Creek” and his work includes six Emmy nominations, winning one in 1996. He has an American Comedy Award, Funniest Male in a Series, Two Cable ACE Awards and a Satellite Award.  

Reviewer Richard Canby of the "New York Times" was quite enthusiastic about “Heartland” when the film came out in 1979.  “...The nicest thing about 'Heartland', a new, low-budget, uncommonly beautiful film written by Beth Ferris and directed by Richard Pearce, is that even though it celebrates the people of the American frontier, with emphasis on the women, it largely avoids sentimentality… Mrs. Stewart survived just about everything the frontier could throw at her."

So come and see the beautifully filmed story of rugged pioneers for yourself free of charge. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn.  Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday January 12th at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period will give you some laughs.

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