“The Only Tough Part about Having To Film in
Enlightening Eastwood's Pale Rider
By Jim Banholzer
And special lights from Brad Nottingham & Professor Tom Trusky
Watching Clint Eastwood movies, particularly his well-crafted Westerns are almost like enrapturing religious experiences for some big screen buffs. Each of his movies project priceless lessons; even when he portrays an antagonist, such as the callous elephant hunter in White Hunter, Black Heart. Astoundingly enough, Clint filmed much of Pale Rider right here in
Each time I watch Pale Rider, I focus on the recognizable background terrain, sometimes freezing specific frames to find my way around in the mountains. As Brad Nottingham was a local then, he reminds us:
“For Pale Rider, there were some filming issues evident in the movie as you see it today, which brought comment: it was filmed in our typically beautiful late Indian summer, and some of the riding scenes were shot just before and after an unpredictable early season snow, which frosted the upper parts of the ranges, while quickly melting off the lower elevations. As a film viewer, a period of time that seemed to be about a week, appeared to toggle from summer to winter, which brought some criticism, I remember; but any of us mountain folk wouldn’t give it a second thought.
In addition, Clint made tremendous effort to restore the site that was disturbed by the building fronts, construction crew, and later the feet pounding of the actors and production crew on the little ridge and river drainage near the quaking aspen. Winter seemed to come quickly that year and for a bunch of us, it was hard to spot evidence of the film set trampling that next spring; though we tried. We also tried to find some kind of film crew artifact. My friend Lon and I located “the rock” that one of the miners was chipping on in an early scene from the film.
When it finally came out, Pale Rider sort of stunned people, because it was a break from the classic Eastwood tradition. He played an even quieter, low-key character, and I remember people being confused about connecting a “preacher” role to him. Others, expecting the active dashing and violent Dirty Harry way of life found this movie kind of slow and spacey; features I didn’t mind at all this time. I just soaked in the scenery that I knew was almost in my backyard. I had driven our old Buick Wagon up there, and forded the rocky river crossing half a dozen times, hiking up to some of the “real” old mining cabins and diggings.
Soon afterward, a local man, David Butterfield had us typeset and produce an exhausting field guide to potential filming locations across
While reading Brad’s insights, it struck me that the filming of Pale Rider was a significant enough event that we should commemorate it with a historical sign. Folks at The Idaho Transportation Department were receptive to this idea and revised the Wood River Mines sign to include such a tribute.
Soon, after we relayed this information to Boise State University English Professor Tom Trusky, head of the Idaho Film Collection, Tom became enthusiastic about the Pale Rider tribute and expanded the idea with a “Statewide Movie Signage Proposal.” To quote Professor Trusky:
“The tourist / publicity value of such signage is apparent and locals might appreciate such knowledge, too, if they are unaware of their cinematic heritage. As well, given the recent interest in bringing film production to the state, such signage would not only be public acknowledgement of Idaho’s considerable contribution to the film industry but also serve as a reminder to contemporary filmmakers of the Gem State possibilities.”
Although we now face tough economic times, and are sometimes unsure where money will come from to fix and maintain highways, Tom’s Statewide Movie Signage proposal is precisely the type of project with which we can enrich
As technological capabilities continue to advance in affordable ways, it would be uplifting to see
For instance, when traveling up Highway 75 past the North Fork Store, when reaching the perimeter of interest where Marilyn Monroe starred in Bus Stop, we could make an alert available for interested travelers’ digital devices. A short holographic film of Marilyn hypnotically dancing with a billowing skirt on driver’s dashboards would keep dozing dads chipper and alert, lending to driver safety. Then, for the next fistful of history, when reaching Pale Rider’s Phantom Hill, we could create the sound of bullets whizzing by your ear, for a subsequent alert. After a quick Galena Lodge pit stop for perusal over photographs stuffed with
Eventually, we could develop inexpensive solar powered information kiosks for our pullout areas. Our transportation department R&D teams could further engineer signposts to include efficient emergency communication devices such as the new smaller cell phone antennas currently under development. Additionally, we could imbed a camera within the untouchable hologram-eye to thwart vandals. When tampering is detected, we could program the sign to announce in Clint Eastwood’s sternest voice, “Go ahead! Make my day! Because you are now being filmed by an interactive sign commemorating
Certainly, ITD already has some technologically savvy leaders aboard. This is my third positive experience with ITD leadership, which proves to me that they utilize a high level of innovativeness in their daily working environment. I hope that someday soon, our leaders will advance these landmark ideas past the incubation stage to transform these signpost pullouts into something that truly enhances our landscape. And when that day comes; since Professor Trusky has ascended into that grand script in the sky, Brad Nottingham and I would be delighted to see our Transportation Department name the Statewide Movie Signage Proposal in Tom’s honor.
(End Part Two)
You can read more of Brad Nottingham’s insights on the “good guys” in the Idaho Film Archive on Pale Rider: http://www.boisestate.edu/hemingway/film.htm
Complete text here:
Lastly a related poem:
I know about where it is
this big rock with a candy vein of gold in it
scintillating under the stars
I want to find this Idaho Sword of Shannara
and lay me down under the silver fruit
Press the gold of my ear to the vibration
to sense if I can detect the echo of
when Lurch -or was it Jaws?
Split this baby in half
with an old 1863 hickory stick sledgehammer
I’ll bend up over the hill tonite
too itchy and scratchy for a truck in that rough spot
to see if I can’t see how these hills have changed
Yeah that’s it
I’ll pack up the DVD player
better bring a spare battery juice-pack
Cause it’s cold in those Idaho hills
I’ll freeze frame on the DVD
sections of Mountains in that backdrop
and compare it to our current status
I think of the nameless preacher in the movie
and for some reason the Beatles real nowhere man
jangles my juices like Satchel Paige on opening day
On spectacular evenings like these
Sometimes it feels like we’ll still be standing strong
long after these hills have fast eroded away
Original URL for Enlightening Eastwood story:
Footnote: Not long after posting the earlier missive to my personal blog, I noticed that it was getting twice as many visits as the rest of my stories combined. A year ago, Dave Worrall from the
Footnote 2: With the Senate recently passing a bill, to create a fund to offer incentives to film movies and TV shows within the state, and with the newly created Idaho Film Bureau ready to offer these incentives as soon their funding comes through, perhaps portions of this funding could help with such a program. As the next logical step in the evolution of
Elaborations on vision for Statewide Movie Signage proposal
When ITD amended the Wood River Mines sign to include a tribute to Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider it was not a full commemoration as we had hoped, however, they did recognize the historical significance of the movie. From my previous experience with Idaho Transportation Department personnel, I sense they have some highly capable leaders aboard and would likely be open to a proposal, which better honors
We should start with a prototype interactive movie sign, sticking with Pale Rider. After developing it, we then present it to ITD and the Idaho Historical Commission; perhaps even the governor. Besides the gimmick, I suggested earlier, of utilizing Clint Eastwood’s stern voice; we could design the sign to be vandalism resistant. Although millions of tourists have driven by the mountain goat observation telescopes near the same highway area as our proposed Pale Rider tribute, those instruments have been left mostly unscathed, since installed fifteen years ago. Interactive kiosks featuring short movie clips, designed in a similarly excellent manner, would automatically gain respect from most passerby. An editor I spoke with recently mentioned that arts and humanities grants are readily available to help jumpstart such projects.
Once we install the first interactive sign, we should have a press release. The movie industry will take note and want more of the same. This might be all we need for the project to take on a life of its own. After the movie signage proposal merges better with
If this highway project takes off, eventually the Idaho Tourism Bureau could develop
Another thing the project could focus on is the surrounding areas where scenes from the various movies were filmed. For instance: When there is a diner where a breakfast scene was filmed, or a dance scene at a lodge, those places could be mentioned in the interactive signs / companion guidebook / interface devices and might be encouraged to display a plaque or aptly named items on their menus relating to silver screen scenes filmed in their establishments.
JEREMIAH ROBERT WIERENGA wrote a recent in depth article for Boise Weekly about
From the article:
“Although a late contender in this cinematic boxing match, the
“The film offices in individual states are economic development agencies,” Kathleen Haase (an industry specialist at the
The passage of the bill represents a major coup for the filmmakers who call
“We’re still hoping to have ours funded,” Haase said. “We’re at the mercy of the governor, our department and the Legislature as to funding.”
“We had to be very clear that indeed we have not yet been funded, so we’re sort of in a bit of a holding pattern until that does happen … [We're] ready to go out there in anticipation of it being funded sometime,” Haase said.
There is hope that financing for the measure will be approved by next summer. Because the incentive is funded through the Idaho Department of Commerce’s budget, which in turn is approved by state government, passing the measure is merely the first step in implementing the program. Haase encourages local voters to call their legislators in support of budget approval. While the bill received a good deal of support from local filmmakers and public figures, she hopes that the public will now take an active hand bringing the backing necessary to expand Idaho’s film industry.”
Full article here: