More than a year in the making, the documentary, “Mud on the Stars.” features many local residents as they reminisce about the filming of Wild River, the first major motion picture filmed entirely in Tennessee.
“Mud on the Stars” is also the title of the William Bradford Huie novel, one of the two books on which the movie was based.
“Wild River” was filmed mostly in Charleston on the Hiwassee River and at locations in Cleveland in 1959 and was released May 25, 1960. The movie starred Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick, Jo Van Fleet and many local citizens of Bradley County. More than 40 local residents were chosen for speaking roles in the movie and more than 100 local extras were involved in some way.
Almost everyone around Bradley County in 1959 has a story about Hollywood coming to their hometown.
Local author and history buff David Swafford realized two years ago that the 50th anniversary of the movie release was approaching in 2010.
Swafford began researching the movie and gathering fun stories about the filming for a book he is writing. Swafford had the idea to celebrate the milestone and approached the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society for help.
The documentary follows Swafford and the community celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Wild River that was held in June 2010.
In addition to the book he is writing, Swafford also had dreamed of a documentary collection of the stories to bring this historic time to life as well as archive the community’s Hollywood experience.
“When David had the idea of the documentary, the first production company I thought of was The Media Center at Life Care Centers of America,” said Melissa Woody, vice president for Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“I know the quality of work they produce as well as the heart for community that this corporate citizen has always demonstrated. David and I visited with Life Care’s president Beecher Hunter and he really liked the project and the idea of preserving the stories of Hollywood in our own hometown.”
“Mud on the Stars” was produced at Life Care’s Media Center and directed by Allison Inman of Nashville.
The documentary’s producer was Barry Schuck. Executive Producers of Mud on the Stars were Bob Grayson and Scott Lingerfelt of Life Care’s Media Center. Life Care Centers of America Media Center and directed by Allison Inman of Nashville. The documentary celebrates the personal experiences of residents during the making of the movie and features many hometown faces and locations.
The Museum Center will be showing the movie “Wild River” on May 31 at 7 p.m. with the documentary showing the next Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. Both presentations are free and refreshments will be sold. A brief panel Q&A session will follow the documentary.
These film presentations are scheduled for the week prior to the Hiwassee River Heritage Festival in Charleston, which is set for June 3 and 4. Though the focus for this year’s event is the 100th birthday of Charleston School, a Wild River display will still be set up on Market Street at the filming location.
The Wild River Retreat on Upper River Road will be also hosting an open house complete with pole-operated ferry rides at the same location as filmed in the movie.
For more information about the events at the Museum Center at 5ive Points, call the Museum at 339-5745 or the Chamber of Commerce at 472-6587.