Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MEET JOHN DOE in Bigfork

If you need a break from the political ads blasting out of TVs and radios, here is one way to “decompress”. Right after the election you can watch a comedy drama from 1941 called MEET JOHN DOE. The things done to him in the name of politics make what went on this year like mild warm milk. This American comedy drama shows how a “money man” wanting to be president uses our hero to try and get there. Staring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, this one might help put in perspective every generation’s political shenanigans. It will be shown at The Edge Center Theater in Bigfork Thursday, November 8 at 6:30PM free of charge.

Learn more about John Doe when you see the movie along with hearing an informative discussion about the movie. The movie is presented by the CLASSIC MOVIE SERIES with a cartoon from the same year and a background presentation by Jack Nachbar.

Meet John Doe was the first of director Frank Capra's independent productions (in partnership with Robert Riskin). It was also was screenwriter Robert Riskin's last film collaboration with Capra. The film derived from a story, "The Life and Death of John Doe", was written by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell. It was a huge success and would go on to be the film's sole Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story. Capra always wanted “the Coop” to play John Doe, but Barbara was his third choice for the hardened reporter after Ann Sheridan and Oliva de Havilland offers feel through.  Here is a photo of Barbara Stanwyck. How could she be anyone’s third choice for anything.

Basically the film is about a "grassroots" political campaign created unwittingly by a newspaper columnist and pursued by a wealthy businessman. It became a box office hit. Though the film is less well known than other Frank Capra classics, it is highly regarded today. It was ranked #49 in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers. In 1969, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimants' failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after release.

The film also includes other notable stars:
Edward Arnold - D.B. Norton

Walter Brennan - The Colonel

Spring Byington - Mrs. Mitchell

James Gleason - Henry Connell

Gene Lockhart - Mayor Lovett

Here is a photo of Walter Brennan adding his talents and charm.

And for a real shocker, the New York Times film critic of the era, Bosley Crowther, gushed over it.. He often did his job as a “critic” with inspiration picking apart some films that, since then, have withstood the test of time. This one he loved. Here is some of what he said in 1941 and here is the URL for the whole review:

March 13, 1941
'Meet John Doe,' an Inspiring Lesson in Americanism, Opens at the Rivoli and Hollywood Theatres -- "The Roundup' and 'Mr. Dynamite' Also Here

Call him Joe Doakes or George Spelvin or just the great American yap—he is still the backbone of this country and as sturdy a citizen as there is. You've seen him at the ball parks, on buses, at county fairs and political rallies from coast to coast. You've even caught glimpses of him—and seen him squarely, too—in films once and again. But now you will see him about as clearly as Hollywood has ever made him out in Frank Capra's and Robert Riskin's superlative "Meet John Doe," which had its local premièere last evening at the Rivoli and Hollywood Theatres—you and countless other John Does. For, in spite of a certain prolixity and an ending which is obviously a sop, this is by far the hardest-hitting and most trenchant picture on the theme of democracy that the Messrs. Capra and Riskin have yet made—and a glowing tribute to the anonymous citizen, too.

Actually, this is not our first introduction to John Doe. Mr. Capra has already presented him under the names of Longfellow Deeds and Jefferson Smith, the fellows, you remember, who went to town and to Washington, respectively. He is the honest and forthright fellow—confused, inconsistent but always sincere—who believes in the basic goodness of people and has the courage to fight hard for principles. When he went to town, he was fighting for a vague but comprehensible social ideal; in Washington, his adversaries were those who would use the United States Senate for corrupt and venal purposes…”

Come and join us for a viewing of this old classic, a good cartoon and treats…it will help you forget the election ads and you might find out how this one passed the time test.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October Bluegrass in Bigfork from Monroe Crossing

One of the country’s best Bluegrass bands will be in at The Edge Center in Bigfork this month to present their special music. Minnesota-based Monroe Crossing will both entertain and educate audiences during this visit with their artistic blend of classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and heartfelt originals. Known for their precise harmonies, sharp arrangements, and on-stage rapport, they are audience favorites across the United States and Canada. A no charge history of Bluegrass student performance in the afternoon and public evening concert will round out a full day of entertainment for the community. The date is Friday October 26. The evening concert at 7PM is $10 for adults, $5 children.

Since 2000 Monroe Crossing has released 11 CDs, a live concert DVD and has made over 1250 concert appearances throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The band is made up of five very distinct personalities with differing musical backgrounds and tastes combining for a very unique ensemble sound.  Above photo by James Guy.

Eighteen year old David Robinson joined Monroe Crossing in 2012. From a musical family, he developed an interest in folk music early. Inspired by musician and storyteller David Holt, he taught himself how to play many different instruments, including harmonica, mandolin and guitar. David took up the banjo at the age of 14 and has stuck with it ever since.

Singer/guitarist Derek Johnson joined Monroe Crossing at the beginning of 2011. From Moorhead, Minnesota, he moved to Minneapolis in 1993 and, for many years, he performed in a variety of rock and roll bands. Around the "turn of the century" Derek discovered bluegrass music and there’s been no turning back.

Originally from Nigeria, Lisa Fuglie learned mandolin from an old Bill Monroe 78rpm record. Excelling on many stringed instruments, she plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar with Monroe Crossing. She is an accomplished vocalist, prolific songwriter, solo performer, studio musician, and educator. She received the 2000 Female Vocalist of the Year Award (in the Related Music category) from the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association.

Mark Anderson came to Bluegrass after twenty years of playing bass and drums in a series of "alternative" groups. Nominated by the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association as 2000 Bassist of the Year in both the Bluegrass and the Related Music categories, he is one of the best Bluegrass bass players in the Midwest. Mark wrote "He Did Rise" on the band's second gospel project, Into The Fire, and several other songs for Monroe Crossing. .

Matt Thompson is the band’s MC and arranger, is a superb singer, plus plays Mandolin and twin fiddle with the band. He received the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association's Bluegrass Mandolin Player of the Year Award in 2000.

Bill Monroe pictured below.

The 60-minute Bigfork afternoon multimedia History of Bluegrass presentation will discuss the origins of bluegrass with slides, video and audio clips of the 1st generation masters of bluegrass (Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse, The Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin and others) with band renditions of artists from the 1940s to the present. Included is the decline of bluegrass in the 50's, the 60's folk music revival, impact of the bluegrass festival and movie/TV’s impact (The Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffith Show, Bonnie & Clyde, Deliverance, O Brother, Where Art Thou?).

The band demonstrates the sound and versatility of all five instruments, how each contributes to the ensemble sound, and “brother duet” and 3-part harmony as they relate to a simple chord. Monroe Crossing’s paths crossed through the music of Bluegrass founder Bill Monroe so they like to say they had a “Monroe Crossing.”

Monroe Crossing Performing in a the Bluegrass Mass below (unknown location).

And if all this is not enough, Monroe Crossing will be the orchestra for the Carnegie Hall premier of "The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass" under the direction of Nancy Menk on February 18, 2013.

This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Arts Board through the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

Friday, October 19, 2012

“Stories for the Stage”…Presentation of Anne Frank in Bigfork

The Stages Theatre Company (STC) of Hopkins presents "Stories for the Stage", an arts-integrated residency and touring project in Bigfork this month. Stories for the Stage provides selected middle schools with 60 hours of theatre arts residency programming. Concluding the arts residency is a free, public performance of “The Diary of Anne Frank” produced by STC. Eight adult actors and two STC perform this professional production. Although this is a school event, the performances will be at The Edge Center in Bigfork. They will be on Thursdsay Oct. 25 with a student performance at 6:15PM and general public at 7 PM

"The Diary of Anne Frank" was selected because it is required reading for many middle school students and the story provides a non-fictional depiction of a period in world history that had a major impact on world history. It also relates to the Minnesota State Arts Board’s desire to increase "understanding of the role that the arts play in daily life". The script for "The Diary of Anne Frank" is well written and time tested, and the film adaptation is also exceptional. Viewing the film provides an additional learning tool for students.

This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s general fund and its arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dr Strangelove Comes to Bigfork in October

This movie is made to give you belly laughs no matter how you end up feeling about it. “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” is a black comedy to say the least. Peter Sellers goes above and beyond playing three different bizarre characters that show his comedic talents extremely well. And with costars George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, and Slim Pickens the film is packed with talent.

Because the movie, released in 1964, is about a mad US General who orders the first strike option on USSR during the cold war, you’d think the movie would include some sanity around to stop him. But sadly most of the other key characters are somewhat unhinged or inept too. Learn more when you see it along with an informative discussion about the movie at The Edge Center Theater in Bigfork Thursday, October 11th at 7PM. The movie is presented by the CLASSIC MOVIE SERIES with a cartoon from the same year and a background presentation by Jack Nachbar.

Peter Sellers must have had a ball playing three different characters: Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffey and Dr. Strangelove. The director Stanley Kubrick probably had lots of challenges during the production making some sense of the chaos. But then it was his own fault being a co-writer with several others who eventually got into a squabble over who did what for the script. Who really did write Dr. Strangelove is so complicated that this blog would be too long to just clear up that one simple question. You can read more about who wrote it in this blog:

Here is the pie fight final scene that got cut.

And the whole production thing was chaos too, and probably would make another strange film on its own. Things like having to be made in England because its star, Peter Sellers, could not leave the country, why the final scene was changed from a huge pie fight to a mushroom cloud of the bomb, and how Dr. Strangelove’s black arm with a will of its own came about are some of them. By the way Peter Sellers, as the President tells his staff at one point “Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.”

Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove

Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffey

Peter Sellers as Group Captain Lionel Mandrake

If you need any more reasons to come to Bigfork to see this movie, below read some of what the New York Times reviewer had to say in 1964 and see for your self why he was so frazzled by it. He even called it “dangerous”. Then read what the same newspaper said about it in 2004 with a different reviewer. The movie has passed the test of time and on its 40th anniversary in 2004 was called “…one of the greatest satires in American political or movie history….” Which is a considerable complement from the same newspaper by the different reviewer, Fred Kaplan.

New York Times By Bosley Crowther

Published: January 31, 1964 in the New York Times

“Stanley Kubrick's new film, called Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, is beyond any question the most shattering sick joke I've ever come across. And I say that with full recollection of some of the grim ones I've heard from Mort Sahl, some of the cartoons I've seen by Charles Addams, and some of the stuff I've read in Mad magazine.”

“For this brazenly jesting speculation of what might happen within the Pentagon and within the most responsible council of the President of the United States if some maniac Air Force general should suddenly order a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union is at the same time one of the cleverest and most incisive satiric thrusts at the awkwardness and folly of the military that has ever been on the screen. It opened yesterday at the Victoria and the Baronet.”

“My reaction to it is quite divided, because there is so much about it that is grand, so much that is brilliant and amusing, and much that is grave and dangerous...”

Read the rest of the review at:

2004 New York Times review by Fred Kaplan

Dr. Strangelove," Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film about nuclear-war plans run amok, is widely heralded as one of the greatest satires in American political or movie history. For its 40th anniversary, Film Forum is screening a new 35 millimeter print for one week, starting on Friday, and Columbia TriStar is releasing a two-disc special-edition DVD next month. One essential point should emerge from all the hoopla: "Strangelove" is far more than a satire. In its own loopy way, the movie is a remarkably fact-based and specific guide to some of the oddest, most secretive chapters of the Cold War...

Read the rest of the review at:

The War Room from Dr. Strangelove

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October Art Exhibit in Bigfork Shows A Different View

A unique collection of paintings will be on display at The Edge Center Gallery in Bigfork this October. The colors outside may be fading, but they certainly are bright in the very colorful collection by Minnesota artist Mary Lingen. Tour the seasons of our wonderful Northern Minnesota environment in art that challenges the eye as well as lifting the spirit. On October 5, there is an Opening Reception where you can see the wonderful paintings, talk to the artist and enjoy complementary refreshments. The work can be seen from October 4 through October 27 at the Edge Center Gallery next to the Bigfork School. The Gallery is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00-4:00.

Mary Lingen was born in North Dakota in 1959. Her family moved to Minnesota in 1965. Lingen studied art at Augsburg College, graduating summa cum laude in 1981. She continued to paint, while working various jobs. Mary and her husband built their home on ten acres of woodlands in Backus, Minnesota. This landscape changed the focus of her painting and helped to shape the style of her work. In 1995, she began to paint full time.

Lingen has exhibited her work across the country and received several awards in juried competitions. She has been listed in Art in America’s Guide to Museums, Galleries and Artists four times. Online, she was featured in and , and has two web-sites featuring her work: and . Her art is represented by Douglas Flanders Art in Minnesota, and galleries in Pennsylvania and Oregon. Her work can be found in many public and private collections.

From the artist, “I always work on five paintings at once, mainly because I work in oil and this allows time for the paint to dry between workings. I like this slowing down because it forces me to study the work, think about it while it’s sitting there drying. This stepping back helps me see potentials that I might have missed or corrected if I dove in too quickly. The five paintings are not a series or related to each other in any way other than they are landscapes and I painted them. The past is not something to escape from but something to build on. My development has been slow and steady, change is gradual but I wouldn’t say it’s progress---today’s work is different from earlier work.” More of her thoughts on her work can be found at:

As usual we had a wonderful group of volunteers joined by Mary setting up the exhibit. With so much color and variety it was an extra challenge to decide which goes where, but in the end it brightens up the gallery in a beautiful display. A special thanks goes to the volunteers for their hard work. Pictured above are Karen Kerlaak, Karen Haberle, Sandra Petersen, Mary Lingen and Kathy Champoux.

It’s always a treat to see the way the gallery changes from lots of people and work to the finished product. Hope to see you all at the exhibit opening October 5th.

You may find yourself agreeing with Mary, “I’ve found calm in walking in the woods and seeing the world around me, observing its changes, looking forward to the way the light looks at certain times. This is what I paint. It is a place that I know well and yet it often seems a strange land to me, as if I’ve never been there before. [The paintings] remind some of stained glass, mosaic, quilts, maps of city streets, or digital technology.”