There are many things to celebrate in and enjoy about Alaska - including its dabblings in film.
Celebrating Southeast Alaska's part in film 101712 AE 1 Capital City Weekly There are many things to celebrate in and enjoy about Alaska - including its dabblings in film.

Click Thumbnails to View
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Story last updated at 10/17/2012 - 1:56 pm

Celebrating Southeast Alaska's part in film

There are many things to celebrate in and enjoy about Alaska - including its dabblings in film.

Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater Manager Collette Costa has been wanting to feature films with Alaskan ties for several years. This year, as a tribute to Alaska Day, she's kicking off a showing of films with Southeast Alaskan ties.

"It's something I'd like to do every year," Costa said. "I decided this year I was specifically focused on Southeast Alaska. There's not a lot of history of film in Alaska, certainly not like California or New York. When I started digging around I was surprised with how much I found. I started really digging into Southeast, I knew about Chuck Keen, really well known in Southeast. It really germinated from there. I chose 4-5 pieces that all dealt with Southeast. It's something we could build on year after year and have different themes every year."

Films are being featured through Thursday.

On Monday, Oct. 15, the Alaska Robotics crew featured a compilation called "Some Movies We Made," which detailed several short films they made throughout the years, discussion and shooting techniques for Alaska.

Tuesday featured the event's first Chuck Keen film.

"We've gotten a lot of his stuff in the original 45s," Costa said. "Claws. It's about this injured bear that goes on a rampage. A lot of that was shot in Wrangell or Ketchikan. It was shot in Southeast."

Costa said Keen's widow, Karen Keen, hosted the evening and spoke about Chuck Keen and his work. Their nephew Clay Good also moderated the evening.

"Chuck Keen has got a really interesting past," Costa said. "He's got four tours in Vietnam as a cameraman, and has the largest private collection of footage from the Vietnam War. He's travelled all over the world."

Limbo will be featured in Juneau for the first time since its 1999 debut, on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Costa said it was filmed in Juneau in 1998 and debuted at Gross Alaska.

"Half of the town was in the movie," she said. "It was really sort of a thing back then. There was a wedding scene at the top of the hill with 100 Juneauites in the scene."

On Oct. 18, Chuck Keen's film "Timber Tramps" will be shown. It was filmed in Wrangell.

"Their library has an entire section on timber tramps," Costa said. "Chuck Keen also did a short series of enactments of Robert Service poems, produced in conjunction with Perseverance Theatre. Costa said Gold Town will be showing the stars of some of the past luminaries of Perseverance.

"We've got these two other films, one is called 'Flying Saucer,'" Costa said. "It's a Super B movie. It was shot in 1949 and shot in Juneau and down at Taku Inlet. It's a really terrible movie but it was the first movie to use the term flying saucer and approach the story of an alien invasion. It has some really great scenery and it's completely ridiculous."

The other film is "Road to Utopia" with Bing Crosby. It was made in the 1940s, and part of a "Road Pictures" series with Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Costa said the film was originally titled "Road to Skagway" but in initial film reviewers had no idea where Skagway was.

"It's pretty hokey, but there's some great silly jokes and puns," Costa said. "It's got this great set that's fake - that's so great it actually looks like Skagway."

Even if the films aren't all A-list quality, the showings are intended to be fun and take a look back at past films of Southeast Alaska.

"This whole Alaska thing is a thing for people to come and see some films made in Alaska," Costa said. "I'm pretty sure that all those movies played at the Gross Alaska Theatre. I know "Flying Saucer" did. It's neat it bring it back around. When "Limbo" came out everyone was so pissed because it was kind of a terrible movie. I figure it will be fun; everyone can have a goof and a laugh. It should be a good time."

All showings are $7. The events for the remainder of the week will be:

• 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, John Sales' "Limbo"

• 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, Chuck Keen's "Timber Tramps"

• 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19, "Flying Saucer"

• 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, "Flying Saucer"

• 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, Chuck Keen's "Road to Utopia"

• 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21, Chuck Keen's "Road to Utopia"

Sarah Day is the editor of Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at