Monday, January 7, 2013

Mainers Making Movies

“You can’t get there from here."  - Legendary advice from native Mainer to person ‘from away’ who stopped to ask for directions

I’ve mentioned a few times on this site that I am from Maine.  For the non-Americans (and for those Americans that haven’t looked at a map in years because they have GPS), Maine is the state in the northeastern corner of the country.  It is located as far as you can get from Hollywood and still be in the continental United States.  Combine this with a total state population which is less than many U.S. cities, and the number of Maine people who have made a name for themselves in movies is small enough for me to cover a key dozen or so with this category.

I knew of some Maine movie people off the top of my head like John Ford, who actually followed his older brother Francis to Hollywood.  Francis has nearly 500 acting credits on his resume, and also directed almost 200 silent movies, but he never achieved the fame of his younger brother.  To bolster my knowledge, though, I did some research on IMDB and found well over 400 people born in Maine who have movie credits.  Some credits are the kind that don’t really lend themselves to a single movie review (i.e. James Pierpont, who wrote the song Jingle Bells, which has appeared in thousands of movies.)  More modern Maine songwriters with movie credits include Juliana Hatfield, Howie Day, and Patty Griffin.

Other credits I can’t use are for people mostly known for their television work.  These include Victoria Rowell (The Young and the Restless), Noah Gray-Cabey (Heroes), Andrea Martin (SCTV), Linda Lavin (Alice), John O’Hurley (Seinfeld), David E. Kelley (creator of Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, and many other shows), Erin Andrews (sports reporter), Stephanie Niznik (Everwood), Anna Belknap (CSI: NY), and Katie Aselton (The League).

And while Maine has had many writers, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Harriet Beecher Stowe, it’s the more modern ones such as E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little), Richard Hooker (MASH), and of course, Stephen King, who have had the largest impact on movies.

There is a long-standing maxim among many Mainers that you have to be born here to be a “real” Mainer, and when people say it they are usually at least half serious.  While I don’t necessarily subscribe to it I will be bypassing such people as Glenn Close, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Jonathan Frakes, Stockard Channing, David Morse, and many others who live part of their year in Maine.  However, I am going to include Liv Tyler, E. B. White, and Richard Hooker.  Although not born in Maine, Tyler was brought up here and she has often credited that upbringing with keeping her grounded when dealing with all the craziness of Hollywood.  White made his home in Maine and raised his family here, including noted Maine Naval architect Joel White.  Hooker (real name H. Richard Hornberger) settled in Maine after serving in the Korean War and saved many lives as a thoracic surgeon in Mid-Maine Medical Center in Waterville, Maine.

Some Mainers that I know of I can’t include simply because I haven’t seen the movies related to their work, or what I have seen is not something I would recommend.  This includes Laurence Trimble (directed over 100 silent films), Charles W. Goddard (wrote The Perils of Pauline, which every cliffhanger owes a debt to), Kevin Eastman (co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, 2011’s Conan the Barbarian), and Althea Currier (star of some early Russ Meyer films). 

Finally, I was amused to find out that there are even some Mainers in the adult film industry.  Among others they include director Jake Malone and actress/model Jayme Langford.

As I post the reviews, I will come back and add links to the movie reviews associated with each one:

Actor Christopher Daniel Barnes – The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
Screenwriter Harry Brown – A Place in the Sun (1951)
Songwriter Frank Churchill – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Writer Walter Van Tilburg ClarkThe Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Actor Patrick Dempsey – Enchanted (2007)
Director John Ford – The Searchers (1956)
Actress Gladys George – The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Writer “Richard Hooker” – MASH (1970)
Actress Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air (2009)
Writer Stephen King – The Green Mile (1999)
Comedian/Actor Bob Marley (not the reggae singer) – The Boondock Saints (1999)
Actress Liv Tyler – Empire Records (1995)
Writer E. B. White – Charlotte's Web (1973)

On to the reviews…


  1. Growing up, I loved listening to "Bert & I." While I technically did not grow up in Maine, I did grow up 20 minutes from the Maine border. And New Hampshire ain't exactly setting Hollywood on fire, so I hear ya on that whole "few claims to fame" thing.

    1. Well, off the top of my head I know of Mandy Moore and Sarah Silverman as being from New Hampshire. You can do an Advanced Name Search at IMDB and put in New Hampshire for birthplace to see who else pops up. That's what I did to find more Maine people.

      I've done some hiking in New Hampshire, but I've avoided the more congested, touristy areas like Lake Winnipesaukee. I did drive the Kancamagus Highway one fall, though, and I know my way around North Conway well enough to avoid the traffic backups on Route 16 in the summertime. I also saw the Old Man of the Mountain a few years before it finally fell.

      Ah yes, Bert & I. "How do you get to East Vassalboro?" "Don't move a goddamn inch." True story - I grew up in Vassalboro.

      You know the funny thing about those Bert & I stories? The man who did them, and who popularized the Maine Downeast accent - Marshall Dodge - was actually from Massachusetts. Dodge had a Maine protege named Tim Sample who carried on doing Maine humor in the Downeast accent, though.

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