Photo of The Month – Mar 2008
Picture contributor: Phillip White
It’s not a photograph, as such, but a frame from the 1937 Cliffside movie by H. Lee Waters, which we are presenting this month. We chose this particular frame from the film, not for the young boy in the foreground, whom we haven’t been able to identify, but for the car in the background. Sam Davis discovered it at the end of a long panoramic shot of kids in front of the Memorial Building. The car was included in just a few frames, and was practically invisible when the film is played at normal speed.
This is not just any car, it’s H. Lee Water’s car, the man who brought the most excitement to Cliffside since the circus came to town in 1913. This was his vehicle for promoting his “Movies of Local People.” He drove it around town during the shooting and, two weeks later, during the two-day run at the Cliffside Theater. No doubt, the folks in town were in a frenzy with the expectation of seeing themselves on the silver screen.
The car (a 1937 Pontiac) had a large billboard on either side promoting the event, and a large speaker mounted on the front and rear. Presumably Mr. Waters would ride up and down the streets announcing the dates and times of the showings. This side view of the car was taken in front of Waters’ home in Lexington, N.C. Waters gave this photo to Phillip White in the 1970s.
(There’s more on how Phillip White discovered, obtained and protected the Cliffside movies (and others taken in nearby towns) in the Mar-Apr 2008 Cliffside Chimes, the Cliffside Historical Society newsletter.)
Not to leave any historical stone unturned, the feature film showng at the Cliffside Theater on that day in 1937 when the local film was being shot was “Park Avenue Logger,” starring George O’Brian and Beatrice Roberts, about a rich New Yorker whose father sent him to the Great Northwest to make a man out of him. As the studio publicity department put it, the story was “Hewn from the Heart of the Timberlands…a Tale of Rugged Men!”
Research by Phillip White, Sam Davis