Movie Manuscript Donated for Observance

Thursday, April 14, 2016
Dr. Steve White (right) presents the manuscript for A Face in the Crowd, sent to his father by director Elia Kazan, to Joe Cole.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Local planning continues for the 60th anniversary celebration of the filming of A Face in the Crowd, set for Sept. 9 and 10, in Piggott. Organizers have a variety of special activities in the works, including a re-enactment of the famous football field scene which involved marching bands and majorettes from across the region.

"On Friday, Sept. 9, during halftime of the Mohawk's high school football game with the Portageville Bulldogs, the Piggott Marching Mohawk Band will re-enact one of the iconic scenes from the movie where the Piggott Band marches to the formation "WE LOVE LR" (Lonesome Rhodes)," noted local organizer, and historian, Joe Cole.

Also highlighted at the game will be the baton twirling competition, which in the movie featured local and regional majorettes twirling to the Lonesome Rhodes recording of "Mama Guitar."

"Many of the majorettes that appeared in the movie will be invited to attend and recognized for their contribution to the filming," Cole added.

During the filming of the movie the man charged with coordinating the bands, and majorettes, was PHS Band Director Ed White. As part of the preparation for the celebration his son, longtime local dentist Dr. Steve White, has donated an original manuscript presented to his father back in 1956.

Accompanying the manuscript was a letter from director Elia Kazan, providing instructions and requests for the anticipated filming of the movie.

The letter read---

Dear Ed:

Would you tell Amanda (I can't recall her last name) that if she really would find it convenient and really would enjoy it, my young actress who is going to play the baton twirler part, Lee Remick is her name, would love to stay with her. Amanda did drop this invitation and I usually don't pick up casually dropped invitations quite this fast. But I'm awfully anxious that Lee seem exactly like one of your H.S. girls, and talk like a native, act like a native, look like a native, dress like a native and so on. Lee is a sweet girl of twenty and a coming young star, in my opinion, and maybe the girls really would enjoy having her around and getting to know her well. It certainly would be a big break for Lee. Let me know.

Should I sum up what we decided. The bands come forward to form a W E L C O M E. As they march forward they play a piece called Jes Plain folks which I will send to you very soon. The composer is sketching an arrangement that He think will be suitable for H.S. bands. Actually the largest and best band you can get down there will record it and the boys and girls will march to what we call a "playback" and pretending to play as they march. At the same time, the Baton twirlers -- about sixty odd kids will come in the side and make L R. As soon as the Welcome and the LR are in place -- an achievement which should be simultaneous, Andy Griffith's recording should be bumped on while the members of the band stand at some attitude of salute, the twirlers gyrate or vibrate or swoop or generally make like the two initials were made of human sparklers. This isn't for too long. And that is that. Then we need five or six bits, flashes of the contestant's, the best bits of the best girls doing their best to pieces like DIXIE and BEAUTIFUL ARKANSAS. I've asked Glazer our composer to dig up some similar pieces. I'd appreciate it if you would have ideas on this too.

I don't know if this sums it up or not. We had several talks there and its likely unnecessary to even write you what I did above. But I wanted to write you anyway about Lee Remick staying with Amanda etc. Also to thank you in advance for your help. Look forward very much indeed to being down there again. My best to you and convey my thanks to Harold. Tell him he'll be hearing very soon from my publicity man on the OMNIBUS business.


(signed) Elia Kazan

On Saturday, Sept. 10, the City of Piggott will host a filming location tour around the community giving visitors a chance to see where specific parts of the film were produced. The Piggott Visitor's Center, where the Piggott railroad depot and a passenger train created the movie set where the citizens of "Pickett" said farewell and 'good luck' to Lonesome Rhodes will also be featured. "And, we have planned a special dedication of photo-art which will be permanently displayed for the public," Cole offered.

The Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum will also host an open house, as the location where Lonesome Rhodes gets the call to transition from radio to television. Photographs from that scene of the movie and the "swimming pool" scene will also be dedicated as a permanent display for visitors to the local museum.

Other sites will also be visited during the Saturday scene location tour in an effort to further educate visitors about the history of the filming.

The evening of Saturday, Sept. 10, the Piggott Mohawk Band will host a special event at the Piggott Community Center. "The band event will feature guests from the movie, a concert and an auction that will include memorabilia from the movie," Cole explained. "And, the evening will be highlighted by the unveiling of a permanent art display which will become a featured exhibit at the community center."

Final plans are still being worked out and those wanting additional information, or those who are interested in sponsoring an event, may contact Cole at 901 246-7647.

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