Wednesday, March 26, 2014

“Never Knew Your Ma Had Feathers”

That’s from W. C. Fields in what many call his funniest film, “It’s a Gift”, showing at The Edge Center in Bigfork on April 10th. It will be the last of the Classic Movie Series this year. “It’s a Gift” was the 16th out of 28 sound films Fields made and by this time his movies had become showcases for his popular comedic skill.  Paramount Studios was happy to oblige the public’s need for his unique humor, and in “It’s a Gift”, W. C. Fields was at his best. This Classic Movie series presentation will be shown by Jack Nachbar on April 10th at The Edge Center in Bigfork.  Jack’s presentation will give you a better understanding of the film and the film industry at the time of the picture. Time 6:30PM. Free of charge.

Made in 1934, “It's a Gift” is touted as one of the greatest film comedies of all time.  It may not be as well-known as some of Fields’ other classics, but its effect will surely bring laughter to audiences! The character Harold Bissonette ("mysteriously pronounced biss-on-ay by Fields") lampoons all of the things in life he supposedly dislikes such as children, nagging wives, salesmen, neighbors and anything else he encounters. It is a collection of his gags and antics housed in the thin veil of a plot. Even though none of Fields’ movies were nominated for Academy Awards, the test of time has certainly put an exclamation mark on the quality of his work. “It’s a Gift” is in the 2000 American Film Institute’s 100 years of laughs (ranked #58), has a Rotten Tomato rating of 100%, and in 2010, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The other “star” in this movie is Baby Leroy. He was paired with Fields in three films: "Tillie and Gus" (1933), "The Old Fashioned Way" (1934) and "It's a Gift'" (1934).  From Wikipedia, “By the time of ‘It's a Gift’, Fields had wearied of the youngster, who was now getting second billing in the credits. ‘Fields had a phobia about the baby’, said director Norman McLeod. ‘He not only hated infants in general, but he believed that Baby LeRoy was stealing scenes from him…’". Whether that is true is certainly in question. Could it be studio hype and a necessary part of the public persona Fields needed to be so successful? Read more at:

W.C. Fields

Born William Claude Dukenfield (January 29, 1880[1] – December 25, 1946), he will forever be known to his audiences as W. C. Fields.  He was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer.  To the public, his comic persona overcame any “real” character traits he possessed. This stage personality of a hard-drinking, self-involved character who hated everything from women, to children to people, and society in general did not stop audiences from loving him because it was all within his humor and expected of him. In reality, he was married, then separated, then reconciled, all the while financially taking care of his family and his beloved grand children. He did have a drinking issue that developed after his juggling days (that would be dangerous) reportedly due to the hard life of being on the road so much. Of course the “on-stage” Fields was more interesting to the public and the studios (Paramount and Universal) encouraged the on-stage side of his reputation.

Baby Leroy

Baby LeRoy, born Ronald Le Roy Overacker (12 May 1932 – 28 July 2001), was a child actor who appeared in films in the 1930s. His film claim to fame was being the youngest film actor to receive star status with second billing in this movie.  At sixteen months old, he was the youngest person to ever be put under contract by a major studio. He is best known for the three films he made with W.C. Fields but his film career ended in a rather strange way.

At eight years old he landed a lead role in Paramount’s “The Biscuit Eater”, filmed in Georgia.  This was to be his “comeback” movie. In the opening scene, Baby LeRoy was to swing on a rope over a lake but he lost his grip and fell twice, eventually catching a cold and losing his voice. Paramount sent him back to Hollywood promising another film. It never came and he retired at age four.  Overacker became a merchant seaman and in 1957, and as an adult, appeared as a guest challenger on the TV panel show “To Tell The Truth”.

Come and see the trials and tribulations of a grocery store owner as he battles a shrewish wife, an incompetent assistant, and assorted annoying children, customers, and salesmen. Showing at The Edge Center in Bigfork, presented by Jack and Lynn Nachbar on Thursday April 10th. Time 6:30PM. Learn and laugh—all in one place!    You also get to see the cartoon from the same period and enjoy snacks.  All this is free of charge.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Broadway Music Past and Present Can Warm Your Heart in Bigfork

“A Night on Broadway at the Edge” is a staged concert in Bigfork at The Edge Center featuring decades of Broadway tunes. This early spring collection of music from 1926 to contemporary Broadway productions will include three performances and feature the talents of local singers and instrumentalists.  Put on by the EdgeWild players, the program is a concert under the musical direction of piano and voice teacher Cris
Brown. Friday and Saturday April 4 and 5 at 7PM and Sunday April  6 at 2PM. $12 adults. $5 children.

The show’s Music Director Chris Brown studied piano, voice, and flute at Bemidji State University. She started accompanying at 15, is a member of the Itasca Music Club, the National & Minnesota Federation of Music Clubs, and has been in the Itasca Community Chorus. She worked in the Aztec District Music Department in New Mexico, has worked with the Grand Rapids Players as a rehearsal pianist, and currently works as the music director at her church. She gives private piano lessons in the area, some in conjunction with the school district.

“I come with years of experience directing music, spent too many hours to count accompanying vocalists and instrumentalists, as well as coaching, teaching, and preparing them for performances, contests, and judging. This is something that I absolutely love. It gives me great pleasure to be able to work with the wonderful talented people that we have in our communities.”

The oldest music hails from the 1920s with each decade following represented.  With all of these years of music available, choosing a good fit for each performer certainly was a challenge. Performers have a wide range of ages with the youngest eight years old, and are from Bigfork, Bovey, Effie, Grand Rapids, Greenway School district, Lawrence Lake, Northome, Marcell, Sand Lake, and Talmoon.  The music will range from funny and heart-warming to serious and thoughtful. Audiences will be treated to the wonderful sounds of the Northern Lights Trio before, during intermission and after the show.

Brown adds, “I wanted a variety of music from several Broadway shows. I want to present new, old, familiar, not so familiar, fun, sentimental, jazz, standards, etc. There was so much great music to choose from, it was hard to decide. The musical goal of the show was to provide a performance that would be fun for the audience as well as the performers.  We also wanted some music that might not be familiar to all who hear it, but is special and worth hearing. Two of our newest songs are from Disney Broadway musicals, ‘Wicked,’ ‘Suessical’ and ‘Aladdin’ opening this year.”

Cris says, “I love the age spread the most because Broadway involves all ages of people and in order to be true to that format, we needed all ages. It has been amazing working with the young people and their enthusiasm and energy and equally amazing working with the whole group. The joy they give while singing leaves everyone feeling touched/blessed.”

The “Night of Broadway at the Edge”show tentative musical lineup.  Changes may occur before show time.

The 1920’s

1926 Oh, Kay  Someone To Watch Over Me
1927 Ziegfeld Follies  Shaking The Blues Away
1927 Showboat  Ole Man River

The 1930’s

1932 Face The Music  Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee
1935 Porgy And Bess  Summertime
1937 Babes In Arms  The Lady Is A Tramp
1938 Knickerbocker Holiday  September Song

The 1940’s

1945 Carousel  If I Loved You
1946 Annie Get Your Gun  There’s No Business Like Show Business
        Annie Get Your Gun  Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
1947 Finian’s Rainbow  Look To The Rainbow

The 1950’s

1959 The Sound of Music  My Favorite Things
The Sound of Music Edelweiss

The 1960’s

1964 Fiddler On The Roof  Far From The Home I Love

The 1970’s

1970 Company  Being Alive
1976 Phantom Of the Opera  The Place Is Mine
        Phantom Of The Opera  Music Of The Night


The 1980’s

1985 Les Miserables  Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
        Les Miserables  Castle On A Cloud
        Les Miserables  I Dreamed A Dream
        Les Miserables  Bring Him Home

The 1990’s

1997 Jekyll & Hyde  Once Upon A Dream
1997 Lion King  Be Prepared

The 2000’s

2000 Suessical  Notice Me, Mr. Horton
2008 The Little Mermaid  Part Of Your World
        The Little Mermaid  Poor Unfortunate Souls
2003 Wicked  Popular

The 2010’s

2014 Aladdin  One Jump Ahead

Les Miserables  Can You Hear The People Sing?

That's the music, but what about the performers?  Who will play and sing what music?  That will be in the performance program. Come to one of the performances and find out for sure.  You can then take a program with you. “A Night on Broadway at the Edge” staged concert in Bigfork put on by the EdgeWild players. Friday and Saturday April 4 and 5 at 7PM and Sunday April  6 at 2PM. $12 adults. $5 children.

Monday, March 3, 2014

“One Flew East, One Flew West and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest'” in Bigfork

The film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" will be playing this March at The Edge Center in Bigfork. When released, it met with overwhelming praise by both audiences and critics. In 1975 it won all “Big Five” Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay), one of only three films in history to do so. The only other two movies in the history of the Academy Awards to sweep the Big Five were "It Happened one Night in 1934" and "Silence of the Lambs" in 1991.  It won six Golden Globe awards and 7 BAFTA (British) awards. The film, starring a young Jack Nickolson, is based on the book with the same title and tells about the happenings of an out-of-control 1960’s era mental hospital security ward.  It is a powerful story, relying on many of the author’s own experiences and containing an interesting interplay of tragedy and humor. Showing at The Edge Center in Bigfork March 13. Time 6:30PM. Cost: Free.

In the 1960’s, mental hospital staff used what was then modern medical technology such as electric shock, sedation, lobotomies and, in some cases, even government sanctioned LSD trials. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" is about a new “patient,” who is trying to work the system and get out of a real prison.  He gets sent to a much worse place then he expects for mental evaluation and rebels at his situation and the conditions in which everyone is being treated.  This unique “hero” succeeds in disrupting the calm states of the medicated patients with often funny results at the expense of the staff.

The book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), written by Ken Kesey, is set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital and was adapted into a successful Broadway play in 1963. Kesey, as a student, volunteered for the CIA-sponsored experiments of LSD.  He was influenced by his friendship with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg who turned him on to Timothy Leary, a psychologist who was known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of psychiatric patients.  It is thought that, when he was under the influence of LSD, he interviewed patients at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital and used those experiences for his book.

The main character, Randle McMurphy, is played by Jack Nicholson as a rebel trying to get out of hard time in a real prison. Randle believed the patients were not insane but that society removed them because they did not “fit” the norms nor behaved in expected ways.  John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson (born April 22, 1937), is one of America’s most famous film actors, directors, producers and writers.  He is the most nominated male actor in the history of the Academy Awards, with 12 nominations and one of only two actors nominated for an award every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s. He has won three awards tying him for second place in total with several other actors. He is in the California and New Jersey Hall of fame and has a Doctorate from Brown University.  His career continues to amaze audiences.

Nurse Ratched (also known as "Big Nurse") is played by Louise Fletcher (born July 22, 1934). She is the tyrannical head nurse exercising near-total control over those in her care, including her staff. Louise initially debuted in the television series Maverick in 1959 before being cast in Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us (1974). For One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. Her other notable films include roles include "Brainstorm" (1983), "Firestarter" (1984), "Flowers in the Attic" (1987), "2 Days in the Valley" (1996), and "Cruel Intentions" (1999). She returned to television in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and had Emmy nominations for guest roles in Picket Fences and Joan of Arcadia. Most recently she played a recurring role as Frank Gallagher's mother, serving a prison sentence for manslaughter, in the Showtime television series Shameless in 2011 and 2012.

Jack Nickelson is certainly an outstanding star in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest", but the huge, quiet presence of Chief ‘Broom’ Bromden,  played by Will Sampson, is the glue holding the story together. At six foot seven inches tall he is hard to miss on screen or in real life. His character is the son of a Columbia Indian Chief and a white woman.  He pretends to be unable to hear or speak, has been in the hospital for ten years, and feels compassion and respect for McMurphy. Chief Bromden suffers from paranoia and hallucinations and is treated with electroshock. McMurphy’s courage helps Chief Bromden overcome his fear of the system. One way to understand Sampson’s performance in "One Flew Over the Cockoo’s Nest" might be from film actor Brad Dourif (who played Billy Bibbit in the film) who said that…”Sampson had been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. After he was pardoned, after serving ten years, his release came without apology or compensation. Sampson reportedly observed the cast on set and noted, based on behavior, which only he and Dourif truly understood what it meant to be institutionalized.” More at:

“Ting. Tingle, tingle, tremble toes, she’s a good fisherman, catches hens, puts ‘em inna pens…wire blier, limber lock, three geese inna flock…one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest…O-U-T spells out…goose swoops down and plucks you out.” A nursery rhyme from Chief Brohman’s past gives the movie its allegorical title and part of it is in the movie. The rhyme was part of a childhood game played with him by his Indian grandmother. What movie characters can you tie to the rhyme?

Will Sampson was an actor and painter, his true love being his artwork. He has said, “Painting is my life. I am first, last and always a painter”. His most famous pubic painting,  a large image depicting the Ribbon Dance of his Muscogee people, is in the collection of the Creek Council House Museum in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

Come and see all the drama at The Edge Center’s Classic Movie Series shown by Jack and Lynn Nachbar on Thursday, March 13th. Time 6:30PM. This is an R rated film. Jack Nachbar’s great presentation will give the audience a better understanding of what this film meant for its time.   Don’t forget: you also get to see the cartoon from the same period and enjoy snacks.  All this is free of charge.