Batman, Tarzan and Country Music?

There’s a famous story about how Stephen Spielberg loved crashing his train set locomotives so much that it lead to a filmmaking career. You see, to avoid damage to his beloved trains, he could film them in action and edit the “crash” scene so it looked like a big collision took place. And he could watch and create these scenes over and over again with no harm to his train set.

The second inspiration for Spielberg’s budding filmmaking career were the weekly cliffhanger serials that would play before feature films at his local movie theater. Long before Pixar brought back short films to the big screen, audiences used to get to the movie early to enjoy short films that always ended on a cliffhanger. Just as the train crashed, or a gorilla pounced or some other great calamity happened, the story would end. Next week, the story would continue. Except this time, it would start a few seconds before the great train crash or gorilla attack and we’d see how the hero escaped so the story could continue.

Spielberg was a great fan of these films and now folks in Southwest Louisiana can see a bunch of them in one afternoon! The director of Louisiana Film & Video Art, Patrick Bennett says, “Cliffhanger Serials are a lost art. These fun, action-packed short films were the inspiration behind movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Also, serials were the first live action appearances for some of the super-heroes we see at the movies today like Batman, Superman and the Lone Ranger.

On Saturday, July 16, you can watch Cliffhanger Serial Chapters all day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Brimstone Museum on 900 S. Huntington Street in Sulphur. The 3rd Annual Calcasieu Serialfest is a free, family-friendly, film festival and this year’s focus will be on serials made with Larry “Buster” Crabbe. Olympic Games trivia buffs will recognize him as a gold medal Olympic swimmer in 1932 who went on to start an acting career in over 100 serial, film and TV shows. The end of the festival will feature a bunch of his Flash Gordon serials edited together into a full-length movie called Rocket Ship. (Editor’s note: Buster Crabbe was gorgeous! Google him and see for yourselves!”)

Cameras are encouraged at the festival where cosplayer Bill Necessary will be dressed up as different serial characters. So come on out to the fest and enjoy short films featuring The Green Hornet, Captain Marvel, the Lone Ranger, Tarzan, Buck Rogers and more!

If the festival has whet your appetite for more unusual movie fare and you like discussing films with your friends, the Imperial Calcasieu Museum is holding a special summer movie series throughout the rest of July and August. Each showing will be hosted by a lecturer to present the film followed by a question and answer session.

If any of the following topics sound interesting to you, then these movies should be right up your alley! One of the most decorated soldiers of WWII starred in a movie about himself in battle in To Hell and Back, which will be screened Thursday, July 21.
Controversy hit Hollywood hard when screenwriters, directors, actors and others in the entertainment industry were refused employment if they were accused of being members of the Communist Party. Dalton Trumbo was one of those screenwriters banned from working, but he fought back and without giving anything away, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve actually seen some of his movies whether you are aware of it or not. The movie Trumbo will screen Thursday, July 28.

What would you do if you thought you found the key to understanding everything that exists in our universe? That’s the question to ponder on Thursday, August 4, when Pi will be shown.
And the final film of the series take a look at a country-music legend not only as a talented musician but what it’s like to battle with Alzheimer’s disease in this Oscar-nominated film Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me screening on Thursday, August 11.

These screenings are $5 per show for non-museum members. Museum members get in free. Refreshments will be available to purchase and popcorn is free. And on that note, until next time save me some (museum) popcorn!