Hollywood Theatre to host anniversary screening of 'Paint Your Wagon'

Hollywood Theatre - Photo by KATU's Tristan Fortsch

The Hollywood Theatre is getting ready to celebrate some of Oregon’s film history.

This Thursday, the theatre is hosting a screening of “Paint Your Wagon.” The musical western stars Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Jean Seberg. What viewers may not know is that the film was shot in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, about 2 hours outside of Baker City back in 1968.

Doug Kenck-Crispin is a local historian, and hosts the podcast “Kick Ass Oregon History.” He says the crew had the difficult job of creating an entire town to be used in the film.

"It's just this huge city that they built in the middle of nowhere. They spent $2 million with the construction workers and folks in Baker City so it was a huge economic boost to that community," he said.

Fifty years later, there’s not much left but a few cinder blocks and maybe some rebar.

The movie was not well received by critics when it opened in 1969, but Kenck-Crispin says it still has its fans today.

“People were kind of coming of age, you know, teenagers in what was just after the summer of love. And they kinda have this very romantic version of this adventurous film that was shot in the woods. Some folks will say, that’s my favorite movie, and you’re kinda like, huh," he said.

Then-Governor Tom McCall assigned a coordinator to the film project in 1968, and that laid the groundwork for the formation of what has become the state’s film office, Oregon Film.

“I think it’s very auspicious and Oregonian that ‘Paint Your Wagon’ was sort of our first foray into the administration of this sort of field,” Oregon Film’s Executive Director Tim Williams said.

The screening Thursday is a 50th anniversary celebration for Oregon Film and "Paint Your Wagon."

It's open to the public, and is also serving as a fundraiser for the Baker Heritage Museum. Museum staff will be on hand with some memorabilia from the film. Kenck-Crispin will also be sharing stories about the movie and the crew’s time here in Oregon. As for the film itself, it’s a musical, and because of its age, copies have been hard to come by.

“If you want an opportunity to see this film on the big screen, this is it. I honestly don’t know how many more opportunities there will be," Kenck-Crispin said. “It’s a movie that is both amazing to watch on many levels and it’s also jaw-dropping on many levels. And I think that’s a nice little duality for us.”

Plus, you get to hear Clint Eastwood sing!

Tickets are available through the Hollywood Theatre.

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