The exhibit feature objects, furniture, clothing, photos, movie posters, and other memorabilia related to the film. Objects for the exhibit come from local collectors as well as the museum, which owns a small-but-important collection that includes one of the early scripts signed by director Elia Kazan.
The exhibit, sponsored by Bank of Cleveland, will be on view through July 3.
Some 51 years ago in 1959, Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County became “Hollywood East” as the cast and crew of a major motion picture descended upon the quiet communities.
Bradley County’s “Wild River 50th Anniversary Celebration” is being observed in the community.
While the filming of a motion picture might have been excitement enough, Director Elia Kazan, an innovative director who desired local realism in his movies, did something rather daring for the time. He cast scores of untried locals in speaking parts and used countless others as extras in his quest to capture the authenticity of the rural South prior to World War II.
“Wild River” was filmed in Charleston, McDonald, and Harrison and released to the public in 1960. The movie starred Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick and Jo Van Fleet.
As a result of the number of locals involved, the movie became deeply ingrained into the hearts of the people of Bradley County as they poured their lives into the picture. Whether they had a part in the movie or owned the bakery that delivered bread each day for the cast’s lunch or provided the cars and other props for “authenticity,” each and every person involved in the movie feels it is “their movie.”
David Swafford, the exhibition’s guest curator for the “Wild River” exhibition, estimates that “Wild River” is the one Hollywood movie that used more locals in its cast than any other film to date. He estimates that around 200 locals contributed to the film.
The Museum Center is working with the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber and the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society to help create a “Wild River” Days Festival on June 5 in Charleston.
The Museum and the committee have planned a series of events and programs at the Museum Center to coincide with the “Wild River” Celebration. They include:
n “Wild River”: Then and Now Photography Contest — May 24 through 29: Submissions accepted at the Museum Center at Five Points
n June 1 through 12: Exhibition of contest entries and winners at Museum Center.
Youth, amateurs and professionals may enter in this judged photography contest for prizes of $100 for first place, $50 for second place, and a museum family membership for third place ($50 value). Photos must be of rivers in East Tennessee.
Entrants must read and follow the guidelines which can be downloaded on the Museum’s Web site at www.MuseumCenter.org or may be picked up at the Museum Center.
The contest is sponsored by CPQ Professional Imaging and GuestLine Tennessee.
n June 1 — Elia Kazan Film Festival — “Gentleman’s Agreement” at 7 p.m. at the Museum Center at Five Points and co-sponsored with Cleveland State Community College.
The film stars Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire. After the movie, Cleveland State history professor Bryan Reed will provide background commentary on the movie. The event is free of charge.
n June 2 — Elia Kazan Film Festival — “On The Waterfront” at 7 p.m. at the Museum Center at Five Points and co-sponsored by Cleveland State. The film stars Marlon Brando and Karl Malden. After the movie, Cleveland State history professor Bryan Reed will provide background commentary on the movie.
n June 3 — Elia Kazan Film Festival — “Streetcar Named Desire” at 7 p.m. at the Museum Center at Five Points. The film stars Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. After the movie, Cleveland State history professor Bryan Reed will provide background commentary on the movie.
n June 4 — Hometown Hollywood Party at 7 p.m. at the Museum Center at Five Points. The party is co-sponsored with the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society and the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. This will be a fun evening of food and memories as the community relives “Wild River.”
Included in the ticket price will be dinner, a chance to see the Museum’s exhibit, the opportunity to meet visiting members of the “Wild River” cast and get autographs, and chance to preview the documentary being made about the movie. Proceeds from this fundraiser will be shared between the Museum Center and the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society. Tickets for the evening are available for purchase at the Museum Center, $35 per person.
n June 11 — “Wild River” — the Story Continues. Artistic Expressions of the Tennessee River by Ron Lowry will be presented at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum Center at Five Points.
Reception at 6:30 to give awards for the Museum’s “Wild River” photography contest.
Following the reception, aerial photographer and pilot Ron Lowery will offer a multimedia program of his beautiful photographs of the Tennessee River. To capture the many moods of the Tennessee River, Lowery goes airborne before dawn to photograph sunrises and on many flights returns after sunset.
Lowery and his unusual flying lifestyle were recently featured on an episode of PBS’ Nashville Crossroads and in a story in Southern Living magazine. Free of charge.