Entertainment from the PA Wilds
As I write this, we’re still in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Here in the Pennsylvania Wilds, most of the counties have entered the Green Phase for reopening, which means that we can begin easing restrictions, but there are still some in place. And, of course, nobody knows what’s going to happen, and many people are still keeping to themselves, distancing for their own safety. I can’t say I blame them for that.
So if, for whatever reason, you’re staying at home, chances are you’re getting a little bored right now. Here’s hoping I can help with that a little. Even if we can’t get out into the Pennsylvania Wilds right now, we can still enjoy the Pennsylvania Wilds through our media. There are plenty of books and movies that have some PA Wilds connection — either they’re created by someone from here, or were created here, or take place here.
Let me share a few with you.
Margaret Sutton & the Judy Bolton mysteries
Margaret Sutton was the famous author of the Judy Bolton mystery series. She was born Rachel Beebe on January 22, 1903 in Coudersport, where many of her books were set. The first book, “The Vanishing Shadow,” was published in 1932. Sutton passed away in Lock Haven, also in the Pennsylvania Wilds, in 2001. This means she had connections with both Dark Skies and the I-80 Frontier.
PJ Piccirillo & ‘The Indigo Scarf’
Author PJ Piccirillo not only lives in the Pennsylvania Wilds, but has also written books set here. His most recent novel, “The Indigo Scarf,” is a gripping read about escaped slaves in present-day Clinton County in the pre-Civil War days. It takes place mostly in Keating Township but also involves Williamsport, giving it ties to both Elk Country, where the author lives, and Pine Creek Valley & the PA Grand Canyon. It’s also thoroughly based on real events, which makes it all the more interesting.
If you’re in the mood for a movie instead, how about “Unstoppable”? Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, and Rosario Dawson, the movie involves a runaway train. It was filmed in several areas of the Pennsylvania Wilds, including McKean County, Centre County, and Clinton County. This places the film throughout the I-80 Frontier and Allegheny National Forest & Surrounds. If you’re familiar with the areas, you can easily pick out the local spots as you watch the movie. Director Tony Scott has been quoted as saying that he loved filming in Pennsylvania. (While it was being filmed, I overheard a guy in a bar talking about his plans to meet Rosario Dawson. Keep dreaming, pal.)
If you’re into older movies, how about “Unconquered”? (Also, what is it with every movie in the area starting with the prefix “un”?) This 1947 classic was directed by Cecil B. DeMille, and it was partially filmed in Cook Forest. It stars Gary Cooper and Boris Karloff, and it involves the rescue of a woman sold into slavery. I’ve written about it before, and at the time, I sat down and watched it with my son. I was impressed by how much the Cook Forest & the Ancients scenes stand out. As you watch, you can very easily pick out the spots that were filmed in Pennsylvania.
James Bacon & Planet Of The Apes
If you’re looking for something more along the lines of science fiction, with a Pennsylvania Wilds connection, try the old classic Planet Of The Apes line. Each one has an actor who grew up in Clinton County.
James Bacon grew up in a home on Sixth Street in Lock Haven, and became a famous Hollywood writer and actor. He had small parts in all of the old Planet Of The Apes movies, but he never forgot his Pennsylvania roots. His parents are buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery, very near where the I-80 Frontier meets Elk Country.
The Pennsylvania Wilds has a lot to offer. Outdoor activities, art, food and drink, and fun events. This area has contributed its share to entertainment as well. Lights, camera, action!
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