Vermont-shot Hitchcock film remembered

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(Host) The new Simpson’s movie isn’t the only major motion picture to have its world premiere in Vermont.

More than a half century ago, another movie debuted here and, unlike the animated Simpsons, it was made in Vermont.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) In 1954, a film crew virtually took over the village of Craftsbury Common to shoot “The Trouble With Harry” – a darkly humorous story about a group of people trying to dispose of a corpse.

The movie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred a young Shirley MacLaine.

Everyone in the village was involved in the filming.

Horace Strong says a few members of his father’s dairy herd made a brief appearance in the film.

(Strong) “Well dad went to work and cleaned the cows all up and had them shiny and nice, you know. I don’t suppose they showed those cows for ten seconds, but it looked like there were cows on the common.””

(Zind) Strong says one of the film’s older stars took a nap on his mother’s couch every afternoon.

(phone rings)
(man) “Montpelier 2000.”
(woman) “That’s the state police number.”

(Zind) Although the references to locale are fleeting in The Trouble With Harry , it’s unmistakably Vermont. The brilliant fall foliage, the mountain vistas, the apple cider and the occasional badly done Vermont accent are all giveaways.

Barry Snyder is Chair of Cinema Studies and Film Production at Burlington College. Snyder says Hitchcock chose Vermont not just for its beauty, but because the director wanted to convey something with the film.

(Snyder) “The Trouble With Harry is the most interesting take on Vermont and a certain kind of puritan ethos. And I think speaks most clearly to the image of Vermont and ties it to certain perceptions of New England.”

(Edmund Gwen) “I’m going over for some blueberry muffins and coffee by her own invitation. And possibly some elderberry wine.”
(John Forsythe) “Do you realize that you’ll be the first man to uhh cross her threshold?”

(Zind) “The Trouble With Harry” had it’s debut at the Barre Opera House in 1955.

Loranne Turgeon is Acting Director of the Vermont Film Commission. Turgeon says it’s getting more difficult to draw major films to Vermont. The competition from other states is stiff.

(Turgeon) “Just in the last year over 19 states have passed pretty intensive film incentives to attract production to their states.”

(Zind) Vermont offers modest incentives like exemptions on some state taxes.

Turgeon says the Film Commission is adjusting to the changing movie landscape by looking for ways to attract the burgeoning independent film industry.

She says the Commission also wants to work to promote Vermont’s own film makers.

For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind.

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