Many of you have read JUDGE LYNCH!, the historical novel Peg and I wrote about the lynchings of four Black men on the campus of the Posey County, Indiana courthouse in 1878. And several of you even participated in the making of our short movie about the murders. That was our first effort at movie making and probably yours too.
To those of you who volunteered to endure the cold, rain and tedium of my directorial debut, thank you! Please do not forget the compensation you received; wasn’t Shawnna Rigsby’s bar-b-cue good? You might be interested in some of the behind scenes manipulation I engaged in to get my friends to commit suicide, get shot, get chased by night riders on horseback and to even get lynched.
For example, early on I called our sons’s one-time boxing teammate and our good friend, Danny Thomas, and said, “Danny, I need some Black men to shoot and lynch on camera.Would you, your family and friends care to do that?” Danny did not hesitate. Then there was our neighbor, Chuck Minnette, who was minding his own business when I told him he surely must feel depressed and possibly even suicidal. Chuck thought I was kidding until we filmed his suicide scene. The scene involved Chuck firing a pistol with a blank cartridge near his head while my wife, Peg, laid on her back on the floor puffing on a cigar and blowing the smoke up toward Chuck’s face.
Chris Greathouse was called upon to have his neck broken by Danny Thomas and several “soiled doves” played their parts with such enthusiasm I will leave them unnamed. Jerry King generously offered his amazing Pioneer Village for several scenes and Jerry and his wife, Marsha, even donned their costumes of General and Mrs. Hovey. Dan Funk, whose father was a minister, played his preacher part convincingly. Dr. Bill Etherton and his wife, Judy, attended Dan’s frontier church and Dr. Bill along with Nurse Bonnie Minnette attended to “injured” patients. Through it all the only person who actually knew anything about video cameras, Rodney Fetcher, managed to get the whole nineteen minute movie filmed and, along with Peg, edited. My eldest brother, C.E. Redwine, is a professional musician and he wrote and performed a marvelous score for the film. There were numerous other budding Academy Award winners who contributed time, talent, tips and immense patience; I appreciate you all!
Now, Gentle Reader, you may have noticed that I had little to do with the finished product. But let me suggest the same is often true in other movies where those who get the acclaim may not be those who do the real work. In my defense I just wish to state, “Hey, I wrote the book!”
Anyway, our little movie does tell the horrific story of murdered African Americans by the powerful white community of Posey County, Indiana in 1878 and brings to light the long hidden tragedy. I am proud of our effort and will always treasure the experience. However, it is not JUDGE LYNCH! that is the impetuous for this week’s column but Peg’s and my attempt to research the making of a full-length movie about the infamous Osage Reign of Terror that occurred in Osage County, Oklahoma where I was born.
Author David Grann has written an excellent exposé of the murders of numerous Native Americans of the Osage tribe in Osage County, Oklahoma in the 1920’s and ’30’s. Peg and I were at our cabin in Osage County when the casting call came out for extras for the Martin Scorsese directed film that will star Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. While growing up in Pawhuska, the county seat, I often heard whispered rumors of these crimes. Kudos to Grann, Scorsese, DiCaprio and De Niro for having the courage to lift the veil from this great evil.
In preparation for this column Peg and I did go to the Osage County Fairgrounds on Sunday, November 10, 2019 for the advertised casting call for movie extras. Our purpose was to gain information about the making of the movie that we could include in this column. We were met by several extremely polite and pleasant people who were not authorized to answer our questions but they did suggest we might want to experience the casting call process from the inside by filling out applications ourselves. We did so and had an interesting and fun time. Of course, the staff at the door, the numerous tables and chairs, the clear directional signs and the four enclaves of people photographing, taking prospective extras’ measurements and interviewing the hundreds of hopeful locals was just a little different than the process I used for getting actors for JUDGE LYNCH!. My method was pretty much, “You are my friend. I need you to lynch someone (or be lynched), shoot someone (or be shot) or stand out in the cold rain and try to fathom my directions.”
In my opinion Peg is a possible Barbara Stanwyck double and after a beer or two I can find a remarkable resemblance between myself and Robert Redford. Of course, we both have movie experience. herefore, we are excited and waiting by the phone to be discovered. Hey, it happened to Norma Jeane Mortenson didn’t it? And while you may not know it, before Gone With The Wind, Clark Gable worked as an oilfield roustabout in Barnsdall, Osage County, Oklahoma which is the nearest town to our cabin. Can you say kismet? Further, since I am an experienced fellow director, maybe Marty will want another perspective for a scene or two. Next week we may dig a little deeper into the film noir that has Osage County, Oklahoma buzzing.