©Bert Gildart: Because of an overwhelming amount of work and other obligations I have gotten way behind on my normal blog postings. That’s to my detriment as postings later serve to trigger my thoughts when I write magazine stories. In the past few years, blogs have also helped with the creation of books.
Despite my negligence, Janie and I have recently visited some fascinating areas in American, areas certainly worthy of comment. Specifically these include the small dusty towns of Alpine, Fort Davis – and, now, Marfa – all located in the high plains of west Texas. Once these settings were Hollywood magnets.
Marfa is, according to Internet research, “…a tiny town in West Texas with just 2,000 residents, about 60 miles from the Mexican border and nearly three hours by car from El Paso. But it’s been the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most notable movies.” It was, according to signs posted throughout the town, a site for production of the 1956 epic Giant, which starred James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson. As well, the town more recently served as the setting for Oscar winners, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Over the years I’ve seen all these movies and was delighted I could tour the town with friends mentioned in my next-to-last posting.
L to R: Lee, Janie and Marie; Janie standing in archway of Hotel Paisano, the hotel which served as summer residence during filming of movie “Giant”; Janie examines poster
recalling postage stamp that commemorated famed actor James Dean.
In the summer of 1955, production of the movie Giant consumed Marfa, and vestiges of Hollywood’s presence remain. The Hotel Paisano, where the cast and crew stayed, has a room off the lobby with Giant memorabilia and a DVD of the film on a continuous loop. To further commemorate the presence of Dean, Taylor, and Hudson the Paisano renamed the rooms after the stars. The hotel continues to retain a décor reminiscent of those times. The hotel also provides background information on James Dean, who was an icon for many of us back in the ‘60s.
DEAN’S ENDURING FAME
Dean, as many may recall, personified the image of teenage disillusionment, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause. He also stared in East of Eden, the John Steinbeck novel which focused on Cal Trask, a troubled loner. Dean’s enduring fame and popularity rests on his leading performances in just these three films. His premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status
West Texas has always been a Hollywood magnet, and the question, of course, is why? Critics respond by saying that Texas is a land of limitless desolation and possibilities… “onto which they [the directors] can project greed, lust and violence.]” And that is exactly what they did, in ways that have endured in these epic films.
David and Lee, Brian and Marie, Janie and I have enjoyed the backdrop of these west Texas towns as we continued to recall memories which we’ve shared over the years. In fact, we’ve enjoyed it so much that we all agree West Texas would work well for another reunion.
THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Sometimes the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy