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Bob reports on reader’s suggestions for the best made-in-Oregon movies. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to see Oregon’s exploding whale come up in that discussion. The exploding whale video actually placed 17th and was submitted on a write-in ballot. (No, I did not submit it!)

And the top Oregon movie goes to...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Register-Guard

The great thing about reader-response columns is that you get way more than you ask for. You ask for people’s top four made-in-Oregon movies, with the results to be unveiled here on Academy Awards Sunday, and you learn that:

  • In a scene in “Bandits” (2001), a prison escapee (Billy Bob Thornton) wakes up and screams “Beavers and Ducks!” (Who knew?)

  • One reader's nomination for the best flick was "The Exploding Whale," that KATU footage of the State Highway Department's seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time solution of using dynamite to dispose of a rotting sperm whale in 1970. (Two thumbs gone.)

  • Though IMDb, the world’s largest movie database, says “The Shining” was filmed, in part, on Mount Hood, some readers believe the exterior shots of Timberline Lodge don’t qualify it for “made-in-Oregon.” (We disagree; if you’re a little bit pregnant, you’re pregnant.)

  • Register-Guard readers don’t lack passion. “I am mortified by the ill-placed groundswell for the horrid little film `Stand by Me,’ ” one reader wrote after my Feb. 13 column, in which two of our three movie experts chose it No. 1. The reader pointed out that the movie was supposed to have taken place in 1956 but baseball cards on the wall in one scene are from 1958 and 1959. (Duh.)

But amid this passionate swirl of debate, digression and trivia comes this conclusion: As a whole, readers believe the top movie filmed in Oregon is “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

The 1975 film, starring Jack Nicholson – and based on Ken Kesey’s book – is about a brash rebel who rallies patients in a mental hospital to take on the system. It was filmed in Salem and Depoe Bay, the latter where Nicholson leads his friends on a fishing trip that I still think about whenever I drive over the Depoe Bay Bridge.

The rest of the readers’ Top 10:

2. “The General.”

3. “Animal House.”

4. “Sometimes a Great Notion.”

5. “Stand by Me.”

6. “Paint Your Wagon.”

7. “Bend of the River.”

8. “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”

And a three-way tie for ninth between “Five Easy Pieces,” “The Goonies” and “Rooster Cogburn.”

What surprised me, frankly, was how few recent movies made the list; only three of the top 11 were post-1978. Goodness, “The General,” a silent movie filmed around Cottage Grove, was done in 1926.

“I’m guessing the typical newspaper demographic of more older readers vs. fewer younger readers played a part,” Lloyd Paseman, The Register-Guard’s former film critic, says. “Or it could be – and I tend to subscribe to this view – that there simply aren’t as many well-done movies being made generally these days.”

Though “Cuckoo’s Nest” won, “The General” garnered the most first-place votes (11) and “Animal House” received the most total votes (19) of 46 people who voted. (We gave four points for first, three for second, two for third and one for fourth.)

“Obviously, Oregon is a good place to film Westerns,” David Lund, owner of Premiere Video, says, citing the number of highly ranked films of that genre.

David Mendonca, owner of Flicks & Pics, looked at the reader’s list and fired me a bunch of cool trivia, including the Oregon edition of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”:

Buster Keaton (“The General”) starred in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” with Jim Farley. Farley starred in “The Postman Always Rings Twice” with Lana Turner. Turner starred in “By Love Possessed” with Jason Robards. Robards starred in “Julia” with Jane Fonda. Fonda starred in “Julia” with Meryl Streep. And Streep starred in “The River Wild” with – of course – Kevin Bacon.

The same Kevin Bacon who, of course, got his 61-movie acting start in Oregon’s own “Animal House.”

Thus do we hoist a tub of well-buttered popcorn in honor of Oregon, the movie state.

© 2007 Register-Guard