Texas Monthly recently brought together five experts, including Alamo Drafthouse CEO/Founder Tim League, to debate the ten greatest Texas movies of all time. The long and fascinating argument is featured in the June 2011 issue of Texas Monthly, in an article titled “No Country for Bad Movies.” This distinguished panel chose their top 10 Texas movies, which then became the basis of the Alamo Drafthouse’s 2011 Rolling Roadshow.
For this month-long tour (June 4th through July 1st), the Alamo Drafthouse and Texas Monthly will be screening some of the best movies that have originated out of the Lone Star State, in the iconic locations and settings where they were filmed or actually took place. For instance, they will be showing Joel and Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple at Dessau Hall in Austin, the landmark music venue that doubles as Marty’s bar in the film. They’re also screening Bonnie and Clyde in Pilot Point, Texas, at the bank where the first major heist scene was filmed.
Another destination is the historic Paisano Hotel in Marfa, which served as the residence of the cast and crew of GIANT throughout the film’s production in 1955. Other stops will include Old Fort Parker (The Searchers,) the Junction House (Texas Chainsaw Massacre,) and the Fort Worth Stockyard Exchange (Red River.) The Alamo Drafthouse will bring their mobile movie-going experience to each location, complete with a 40-foot screen and projection system.
Do512 sat down with Alamo Drafthouse CEO/Founder Tim League for a quick interview to find out more about the 2011 Rolling Roadshow:
League: We started planning this about a year ago. The spark to do this was Texas Monthly’s idea, because they wanted to have an editorial piece to go along with the roadshow tour. Texas Monthly moderated and set up the panel, which was four film experts and myself. So what we did is we each came to the table with our top 10 lists, and then a few weeks before the panel they circulated everyone’s top 10 lists and said you must, at the very minimum, see everything on everyone’s list. It was great actually. There were a couple of holes that I had to fill in, a few things I’d never gotten around to seeing. Then we just sat down to dinner and started the debate.
Do512: What films were in your top 10?
League: I think maybe five or six of the ones that I chose for my list ended up making it into the Roadshow. It’s funny, I came to the table, like several other people did, with Dazed and Confused on my list. The first part of the discussion was a more general, 50,000 foot view of like, what exactly are we here for? What does it mean to be a Texan? What is a ‘Texas movie?’ And through that discussion we decided that Dazed and Confused, for example, was a great movie, and a really important movie that was shot in Texas, by a Texan, but not quintessentially ‘Texan’ in its story. It’s more of a general story that everybody can relate to, whether you’re from Texas or not, so we ended up taking it off of the list.
Do512: Did you have a number one?
League: I don’t know if I rank ordered them. I can tell you that only me and Joe Bob Briggs had Texas Chainsaw Massacre on our lists, and everybody else was pretty opposed to it. So it became our number one, because we said, you know, we’re not leaving this table until we drill this into your heads. The film’s got a big fan base, and it had this sort of ripple effect, becoming an incredibly important piece in terms of film history. It is a landmark movie that has Texas archetypes as characters, so it worked on cylinders. I think maybe the others didn’t want it on the list because they thought it was too gruesome and…low. (laughs)
Do512: That one is going to be shown in Kingsland, Texas. Was that an important location to the film?
League: It was actually shot in Round Rock, but the house where it was shot was moved from Round Rock to Kingsland, so we’re doing it at the actual Texas Chainsaw Massacre house, which now for whatever reason lives in Kingsland.
Do512: And will that be the first film of the Texas Monthly Rolling Roadshow?
League: The very first one is The Searchers at Fort Parker. The Searchers was filmed in Monument Valley, but it’s the actual true story of a girl who was abducted by Comanches and the chase to get her back to her family. By the time they had gotten her back she had turned Comanche, and that actual story happened on a raid at Fort Parker, so that’s where we’re going to do the screening, inside the walls of the fort.
Do512: Are you personally going to be in attendance at any of the Roadshows, and is there any one you’re looking forward to more than others?
League: I’m actually going to be at all 10 of them. I don’t want to miss out on any of it! I’m really excited about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre because we have several of the cast members coming (Ed Neal and Marilyn Burns), and we have a VIP option where you get to have dinner inside the house with some of the cast of the movie, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Do512: Is this a money-making venture at all?
League: It’s mostly passion, because it’s hard to make a lot of money on a set of 10 free screenings. This is one of those things where do it because we love it. We’re movie fans at heart, and that’s why we got into the business and continue to do things like this. We usually try to find a sponsor to underwrite some of the costs, but this one is in our backyard, so we wanted to be the headline sponsor. We’re doing the screenings on weekends, so hopefully we’ll get some Austinites that make the journey and follow us along for the whole thing.
For further reading, visit drafthouse.com/texasfilms