Tom Hanks' "News Of The World"

James N.

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Tom Hanks' new western News of The World is yet another contemporary semi-political diatribe with a tenuous connection to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Hanks portrays a character named Captain Kidd - but obviously no relation to the legendary pirate of the same name! - who is a veteran of the 1st Texas Infantry who is now "getting by" reading semi-current newspapers to audiences of settlers on the Texas frontier in 1870, hence the title. I don't know just how authentic this mode of support might have been, but since various lecturers, evangelists, and hucksters performed in a similar manner, it is at least plausible. Among his travels from community to community he encounters many rough "frontier" types, among whom many are former Confederates who are, other than the Captain himself, almost universally portrayed as racists at best and outright pedophiles at worst who naturally get what's coming to them.

The best thing about the film is Hanks' co-star, a presumably twelve year-old actress named Helena Zengel who plays a German immigrant captive rescued from the Kiowa and whom Kidd takes on a long journey to reunite with her relatives in the Texas Hill Country. The worst thing - other than the mangy ex-Confederates, that is - is that like both movie versions of True Grit the makers of this made NO effort at all to accurately portray the topography where it allegedly takes place, North and Central Texas in 1870. It begins in a reasonable facsimile of Wichita Falls along a much-too-large and flooding river that I suppose is supposed to be the Red where Kidd first encounters the girl, who is much too clean-looking to have been a captive of the Kiowa. From there they go first to Dallas, complete with a cattle drive passing through it and MOUNTAINS off in the distance! He has taken her there to find the nearest Federal Reconstruction troops to turn her over to. Failing that, he decides to take her to her relatives in Castroville in the Hill Country. Along the way they follow some river through the desert with those same mountains still off in the distance; on their trip they encounter more Kiowa. Naturally Castroville looks NOTHING like the Hill Country; San Antonio comes off a little better, though there's no sign of the Alamo anywhere. I stayed through the credits to see where this was in fact filmed: NEW MEXICO, which as we all should know looks little like North Texas, especially the mountains!

The story itself isn't bad, assuming you can pretend it's happening somewhere else, and Hanks and especially the girl are very good, believable and ultimately likeable characters. After my recent reading about conditions on the Texas frontier during Reconstruction and desperadoes like Ben Bickerstaff, Bob Lee, and John Wesley Hardin it makes some of the characters they meet seem more plausible, though as usual for a movie they're far too exaggerated. Also, the stupidity of bringing them to Dallas - what happened to Fort Worth, where the cattle drive belongs; or even better and more correct, Fort Griffin, which I doubt the novelist who wrote the book this was taken from had even heard of. There is also a Hell-roaring camp of buffalo "hide skinners" that might've also not been too out-of-place in the Fort Griffin area, though once again the shenanigans that occur there strain credulity a bit too much. I won't bother you with any more details of the plot in case you decide to check it out for yourself, but you get the idea; surprisingly, I enjoyed it overall and recommend it for the acting and characterizations of the principals, but with the obvious reservations I've mentioned here.
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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I've been wondering about this movie. I was kind of hoping it'd be good, but the mention "semi-political diatribe" and I'm assuming mangy ex-Confederates are the bad guys is kind of a major turn off. Those too factors combined is a bummer I don't care to sit through in this day and age.

Speaking of the remake of True Grit, I found it funny that its set in Oklahoma, but they filmed it almost mostly in South Texas! That movie was okay, but it'll never hold a candle to the original John Wayne film! I don't care if they filmed it in Colorado, its still a good one.
 

James N.

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I've been wondering about this movie. I was kind of hoping it'd be good, but the mention "semi-political diatribe" and I'm assuming mangy ex-Confederates are the bad guys is kind of a major turn off. Those too factors combined is a bummer I don't care to sit through in this day and age.

Speaking of the remake of True Grit, I found it funny that its set in Oklahoma, but they filmed it almost mostly in South Texas! That movie was okay, but it'll never hold a candle to the original John Wayne film! I don't care if they filmed it in Colorado, its still a good one.
The most recent version was filmed partly in New Mexico too - in case you somehow missed it, THIS is what the country depicted in True Grit should've looked like:

Le Flore County, Oklahoma - Scene of the Real "True Grit" | The Traveler's Companion - Visit Historic Sites (civilwartalk.com)
 

Rusk County Avengers

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The most recent version was filmed partly in New Mexico too - in case you somehow missed it, THIS is what the country depicted in True Grit should've looked like:

Le Flore County, Oklahoma - Scene of the Real "True Grit" | The Traveler's Companion - Visit Historic Sites (civilwartalk.com)

Never knew of that thread, and would love to know more about the old cabins.

I've run around that area a time or two. I personally prefer the Boston Mountains north of Fort Smith. I WILL own land there one day!

Colorado looks a lot different than the mountain of Oklahoma, but they always could've filmed it in California.
 

Kurt G

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I really dislike it when Hollywood uses the worst stereotypes to characterize any group , but I can live with the scenery not being 100% correct as long as it seems believable . Consider the awful Gettysburg show on the History Channel a few years back that was filmed in South Africa . To me the absolute winner in the awful scenery category was a short-lived TV series called "The Fitzpatricks" back in the 1970s. It was supposed to be about a working class family in Flint , MICHIGAN , but featured palm trees in some exterior shots. As far as the new Tom Hanks movie , I think if James N. can recommend it , it must be pretty good.
 

Grant's Tomb

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I really dislike it when Hollywood uses the worst stereotypes to characterize any group , but I can live with the scenery not being 100% correct as long as it seems believable . Consider the awful Gettysburg show on the History Channel a few years back that was filmed in South Africa . To me the absolute winner in the awful scenery category was a short-lived TV series called "The Fitzpatricks" back in the 1970s. It was supposed to be about a working class family in Flint , MICHIGAN , but featured palm trees in some exterior shots. As far as the new Tom Hanks movie , I think if James N. can recommend it , it must be pretty good.
The filming locations they used for Cold Mountain in Romania seemed pretty good as a stand-in for the mountains of North Carolina
 

Kurt G

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The filming locations they used for Cold Mountain in Romania seemed pretty good as a stand-in for the mountains of North Carolina
Yes ,I agree but I think there were European hooded crows in it. I liked the movie Last of the Mohicans , but a friend pointed out that some of the plants in it didn't grow in upstate New York .I think that was filmed in the Carolinas.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Yes ,I agree but I think there were European hooded crows in it. I liked the movie Last of the Mohicans , but a friend pointed out that some of the plants in it didn't grow in upstate New York .I think that was filmed in the Carolinas.

Oh just wait till James N. gets back to this thread, and your comment. Your in for a treat.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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When it comes to film locations big and small, it all comes down to several factors:

1. Incentives offered by the State, and actual location.

2. Amenities. (Real big consideration when you got a big budget with big names. Comfort when working always matters.)

3. Proximity to cities and large population centers. (This is a big consideration when your filming a period film, you got to look out for power lines, air traffic in the sky, and highways with large amounts of traffic are a nightmare to the Sound crew, and you don't want the public to see what your doing now more than in the past as they'll post photos and videos all over the internet. There's a lot more I'm not mentioning as its a LONG list.)

4. Costs measured against the other factors.

5. Permits, or rather taxes...

As someone who's worked in today's film industry, in Texas, I can be forgiving of what I'm hearing on News of the World on locations. The Texas Hill Country is a nightmare to film a western in due to the massive influx of Californians and Yankees, (I seriously just got done working on a western there last month). North Texas has also suffered this fate, mainly on account of the oil industry, plus large swaths of it are covered in windmills. Texas is fast becoming the new "Hollywood" along with Georgia, but its gonna be hampered on period films. Especially since there's zero Federal Land compared to other States, Georgia has us beat.

Now History filming Grant and other programs like Gettysburg in South Africa had to be a bribery, I'm sorry "incentivized" induced decision, and the end result was terrible. I've been to Fort Donelson and can confirm, IT IS NOT A DESERT!

Now, Romania looking like North Carolina in Cold Mountain, and the West Virginia/Kentucky border in Hatfields & McCoys, I've been told by folks that live over there it only looks like those places, if you've never been there. But these films count on city folks who rarely venture from their urban centers, and folks that've never been to these places for their profit. And I don't see that ever changing....
 

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When it comes to film locations big and small, it all comes down to several factors:

That's a great rundown of factors that enter into site selection. Whoever has that job has really got it cut out for them! At some point, I imagine somebody has to just stand up and say, "Come on, folks, it's never gonna be perfect. We've gotta get this movie made!"

Roy B.
 

John Hartwell

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Tom Hanks' character, a 'good guy,' (the 'goodest' of all, in fact!) is a former Cofederate.
Some mangy outlaw villains are former Confederates.
Actually, the great majority of veterans in postwar Texas would have been ex-Confederates, be they good guys, bad guys, or indifferent guys. To look at that movie and see only that "mangy ex-Confederates are the bad guys," and conclude that that is a "predictable Hollywood bias," seems a little bit myopic -- if not paranoid. Hollywood has had plenty of ex-Confederate heroes, and plenty of ex-Union villains.
 

Irishtom29

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From what I recall of Robert Caro's first LBJ book the current brush and scrubby tree infested Texas Hill Country bears little resemblance to the Hill Country of the 19th Century, which was grassland before the Americans overgrazed it and ruined the soil.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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That's a great rundown of factors that enter into site selection. Whoever has that job has really got it cut out for them! At some point, I imagine somebody has to just stand up and say, "Come on, folks, it's never gonna be perfect. We've gotta get this movie made!"

Roy B.

Take it from someone who's tagged along on of those scout trips.

IT SUCKS!!!!!!!

Worse part is, you can get begged or hired to do it, put a ton of time and miles into it, then a studio axes it deciding to not make the movie. In the world of Independent films its a real problem.
 

lupaglupa

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Yes ,I agree but I think there were European hooded crows in it. I liked the movie Last of the Mohicans , but a friend pointed out that some of the plants in it didn't grow in upstate New York .I think that was filmed in the Carolinas.
Thai's one of my favorite examples - as a native New Yorker who has spent lots of time in the South I can tell you it looked nothing like our mountains! I got about 10 minutes in the film and thought - did they film this in the Carolinas?
 

James N.

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Yes ,I agree but I think there were European hooded crows in it. I liked the movie Last of the Mohicans , but a friend pointed out that some of the plants in it didn't grow in upstate New York .I think that was filmed in the Carolinas.
I have three months' experience working on Last Of The Mohicans as well. it was indeed filmed in the Asheville area of western North Carolina, and for very good reasons. Firstly, N.C. is a right-to-work state, thereby eliminating a good deal of the Union stranglehold in Liberal states like N.Y. and Calif. - simply stated, that's the main reason so few films are made in Hollywood or L.A. anymore! As far as the setting is concerned, what was desired was old-growth forest with majestic stands of large trees with little undergrowth. Although admittedly the wrong species, the Adirondacks - where Cooper's novel is set - has been so logged-over in the latter Nineteenth Century and subsequently developed in the region around Lakes Champlain and George it made filming there difficult if not impossible. There was also extensive logging in and around Asheville, but the important scenes were filmed in remote pristine areas of the Joyce Kilmer and Pisgah National Forests in Tenn. & N.C., around Lake James, and the Linneville Falls Unit of the Blue Ridge National Parkway.
 

James N.

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Tom Hanks' character, a 'good guy,' (the 'goodest' of all, in fact!) is a former Cofederate.
Some mangy outlaw villains are former Confederates.
Actually, the great majority of veterans in postwar Texas would have been ex-Confederates, be they good guys, bad guys, or indifferent guys. To look at that movie and see only that "mangy ex-Confederates are the bad guys," and conclude that that is a "predictable Hollywood bias," seems a little bit myopic -- if not paranoid. Hollywood has had plenty of ex-Confederate heroes, and plenty of ex-Union villains.
I once took your viewpoint, but after travesties like Matthew McConaughey's and other recent "slave" pics and even back as far as silly Cold Mountain I've become VERY jaundiced in my old age. Not every Southerner has to be Ashley Wilkes, but they don't have to be Simon Legree either, and today in our smothering climate of Political Correctness the tendency of Hollywood is far more towards the latter than the former.
 

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