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A look at Route 66 in 1985 August 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Movies, Music.
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This 1-hour, 42-minute documentary film from 1985, “Route 66,” has been making the rounds on the Internet since it was uploaded it on YouTube a few days ago and Route 66 yahoogroup creator Greg Laxton posted it on Facebook.

Roadies praise it because it provides the Mother Road’s most comprehensive look just before U.S. 66 was federally decomissioned. You’ll see things that have long since disappeared, including the Will Rogers Court in Tulsa (pictured above). You also will find footage of the abandoned John’s Modern Cabins near Arlington, Missouri, before its deterioration became severe.

Route 66 was in a sorry state. Many of the small towns had long since been bypassed, and the renaissance that came with Michael Wallis’ bestselling “Route 66: The Mother Road” was years away.

I also like the film because it offers an unflinching and unsentimental look of the time. You’ll see a few things that some may find disturbing, including cattle being killed at a meat-processing factory in Amarillo and scenes of inebriated American Indians in Gallup, New Mexico, back when public drunkenness in that town was epidemic. You’ll encounter great folks, and you’ll encounter people you’d never want to see again.

A bit of Internet sleuthing reveals “Route 66″ — subtitled “A Nostalgic Ride Down America’s Mother Road from Chicago to L.A.” — was produced for the United Kingdom’s United Central Television, now known as ITV Central. The film was skillfully directed by Belfast native John T. Davis, whose credits include other documentaries and television work.

The film also proves notable for using snippets of A.M. radio of that time and a lot of original music, including Johnnie Lee Wills, Lone Justice and a very young George Strait.

Don’t look to easily buy this film on the Internet. It’s apparently long out of print, and an eBay search proved fruitless. At the risk of a product plug, I found the best way to view it is on my television using a Google Chromecast device. It beats watching it on the PC, for sure.

Run Route 66 with Forrest Gump August 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Computer games, Movies.
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Marking the 20th anniversary of the Oscar-winning film “Forrest Gump,” Paramount Pictures and Genera Mobile have developed a “Run Forrest Run” game app you can download for free for iPhones and iPads.

And, yes, the app includes a section of Route 66, just like the film.

Here’s description of the game from the developer:

Recreating the famous scene in the film, Forrest Gump, sets off across the country collecting a band of followers. But the road isn’t as easy as he expected, and Forrest encounters unpredictable obstacles through different scenarios.

Guide Forrest on his trip and take control as he sets off from the humble countryside of Alabama, along the famous Route 66 and beyond.

Remember the world will never be the same once you’ve seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump.

Here’s a trailer for the game:

And, for good measure, here’s the key scene from the film, with a brief appearance of Twin Arrows in Arizona and the Santa Monica Pier:

(Hat tip: AppAdvice)

“Route 66″ casting director will receive posthumous Emmy August 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Television.
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Marion Dougherty, who assembled casts for the acclaimed “Route 66″ and other television shows and movies, will receive a posthumous 2014 Governors Award at the Aug. 24 Emmy Awards, reported The Wrap and other media outlets.

The news site said:

Dougherty’s pioneering work in the casting industry made her the subject of the 2012 Emmy-nominated documentary “Casting By,” which premiered on HBO. She began serving as a casting director in 1949 with the NBC series “Kraft Television Theatre” and worked on shows that included “Naked City,” “Route 66” and “All in the Family.”

Dougherty, who was among the early champions for such actors as Robert Duvall, Warren Beatty and Jack Lemmon, died in 2011 at the age of 88.

Here’s the trailer for “Casting By”:

She also cast actors for more than 100 films, including “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Sting,” “Pretty Baby,” “The World According to Garp,” “Batman,” “The Killing Fields,” “Gorillas in the Mist” and “Full Metal Jacket.”

Dougherty got her start in casting for live television in New York City. That experience became valuable when Hollywood came calling, reported the New York Times.

Drawing on her experience in New York, Ms. Dougherty had a strong hand in reshaping the way Hollywood casts films as it moved away from the old studio system and its “cattle calls” in the 1960s. When she arrived in Hollywood she brought her index-card file filled with the names of promising actors she had spotted Off Broadway, in regional theaters and in summer stock. [...]

After spotting a glimmer of stardom, she could be insistent. Juliet Taylor, a protégée of Ms. Dougherty’s perhaps best known as the casting director for more than 30 Woody Allen movies, recalled how her mentor had once struggled with the director John Schlesinger. Mr. Schlesinger wanted someone other than Jon Voight to play the Texan would-be hustler on the streets of New York in “Midnight Cowboy.”

“She adamantly disagreed,” Ms. Taylor said, “and kept badgering Schlesinger and bringing Voight back again and again until Schlesinger agreed that Voight was the better choice.”

For “Route 66,” Dougherty cast what turned out to be a veritable who’s who in Hollywood during the 1970s and ’80s: James Caan, Robert Duvall, George Kennedy, Ben Johnson, E.G. Marshall, Walter Matthau, Ed Asner, Lee Marvin, Tina Louise, Darren McGavin, Jack Lord, Kent McCord, Suzanne Pleshette, Anne Francis, Tuesday Weld, Susan Oliver, Robert Redford, Leslie Nielsen, Martin Sheen, Rod Steiger, Barbara Eden, Julie Newmar, William Shatner, Gene Hackman and Burt Reynolds.

“Route 66″ ran only four seasons and rarely filmed on the Mother Road, despite its title. However, the cultural and tourism impact of the show endures even a half-century later. Go here to read my 2007 interview with “Route 66″ co-star George Maharis.

(Image of an Emmy Award by NASA HQ Photo via Flickr)

A message from our sponsor … August 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Motorcycles, Movies, Road trips.
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A few years ago, Julian Audic of France took a Route 66 trip to produce a documentary for French television.

His efforts to get the film broadcast are ongoing. If television doesn’t work out, Audic says he’ll make the documentary available via video-on-demand on the Internet.

In the meantime, Audic was able to use a bit of the footage for a commercial for a travel agency, All Ways on Wheels. Audic also received help from Nicolas Grendena with visual effects, plus a drone — which are becoming increasingly common in such usage — for aerial footage.

ALL WAYS ON WHEELS from Julian Audic on Vimeo.

Disclosure: I was interviewed by Audic for his documentary. It didn’t make the cut for the commercial.

A chat with Melba Rigg July 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Movies, People.
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Melba Rigg, one of the original proprietors of 4 Women on the Route, now Cars on the Route, in Galena, Kansas, explains the region’s Route 66 tie-ins to the Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie and makes some other observations.

This video is part of KC Keefer’s Genuine Route 66 Life video series.

Rigg didn’t always talk that fast. But her delivery sped up as she polished her spiel, and it sorta became its own thing — and why she calls herself “Melba the Mouth.”

But, in all honesty, Rigg is one of the nicest and most interesting characters you’ll meet on Route 66. If run into her, she’s one of the many reasons Route 66 travelers go back home with great memories.

(Image of Melba Rigg in 2011 being interviewed by a Disney film crew for a documentary)

Albuquerque’s most popular filming locations July 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Railroad, Restaurants, Television, Towns.
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KRQE-TV in Albuquerque produced this fascinating story about the city’s most popular filming locations for movies, television series and commercials.

Not surprisingly, several exist on Central Avenue, aka Route 66 — Lindy’s Coffee Shop and Loyola’s Family Restaurant.

The station reported:

So why are Lindy’s and Loyola’s attractive for filmmakers?

“They’re still period, they still look like they did maybe in the 50′s or 60′s,” said Ann Lerner, the city’s film liaison. “So they don’t have to build a set… they can go to a practical location.”

Score another one for historic preservation.

(Image of Lindy’s by Glen’s Pics via Flickr)

La Posada owner commits to buying Plaza Hotel June 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Movies, Preservation, Railroad, Television.
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Allan Affeldt, co-owner of the historic La Posada hotel in Winslow, Arizona, announced Tuesday night in a Facebook post that he signed a contract to buy the historic Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Affeldt’s wish to own the Plaza Hotel had been known for weeks. He had said owning the Plaza would complement his recent purchase of the long-closed Hotel Castaneda, a former Harvey House a mile away across town. Affeldt had explained that modernizing Castaneda — basically adding bathrooms to every room — would give it only 20 guest rooms and wouldn’t be economically viable by itself. So Affeldt wanted Plaza Hotel for more revenue.

The Plaza Hotel had been in bankruptcy receivership since 2012, although it had continued to run. Deemed “The Belle of the Southwest,” the hotel was built in 1882. It underwent a $1 million renovation in 1982, and in 2009 bought the next-door Charles Ifeld Building for more guest rooms, a ballroom and meeting areas. The hotel also is home to the popular Landmark Grill, and has hosted everyone from western star Tom Mix to scenes in the Oscar-winning film “No Country for Old Men.”

In fact, in Affeldt’s Facebook post, he posted a photo of a film crew preparing to shoot a scene for the A&E network’s western series, “Longmire.”

Affeldt completed the purchase in April of Hotel Castaneda, which was built in 1898 and closed as a hotel more than 60 years ago. Because of Affeldt’s well-known success in reviving La Posada, the town and state officials celebrated the purchase of Castaneda, including a visit from the governor just days after the deal closed.

Affeldt bought La Posada, built in 1929, during the 1990s and restored it into one of the most popular and praised lodging properties in the Southwest.

Las Vegas sits a few miles from old Route 66, but has become a popular side trip for travelers on the Mother Road’s Santa Fe Loop.

(Image of the Plaza Hotel by S.A. Sanabria via Flickr)

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