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Capturing Classic Moments of Film

by on December 29, 2016 1:57 PM

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”

 The scene featuring a young Dustin Hoffman looking at the leg of Anne Bancroft in The Graduate is one of the most iconic in movie history. Now picture this — instead of Hoffman and Bancroft, it’s 66-year-old Tim McMullen staring at the leg of 82-year-old Carolyn Tothero.

 The two residents of The Village at Penn State took part in The Village’s 2017 calendar, “More Golden Moments of the Silver Screen.” It’s the second calendar residents of the State College retirement community have done where the participants dress in costumes and pose as if they are reenacting scenes from famous movies. The Village sells the calendar with proceeds going to The Village at Penn State’s Benevolent Care Fund, which helps support residents who “outlive their resources, through no fault of their own, and can no longer afford the cost of care.”

The first calendar was done in 2015, and the idea came from Karen Bergey, who was director of communications at Liberty Lutheran and has since retired. She had heard of a similar calendar that was being done in Germany and talked with resident Helen Manfull about it.

“I am a lover of films,” Manfull says, “and I immediately wanted to share the idea with my friend, Richard St. Clair.”

St. Clair is the head of costume design in Penn State’s School of Theatre. He took to the idea right away. After he and Manfull came up with the list of movies, St. Clair pulled costumes from the School of Theatre’s collection. Then, 27 Village residents “auditioned” to be in the calendar.

“It was a little like putting on a Halloween costume or playing dress-up when you were kids,” Manfull says. “We tried to fit the film choices to the people who auditioned. … We weren’t doing parody. We were shooting a single moment, like in Casablanca, ‘Here’s looking at you, kid.’ ”

David Jackson, a photographer from Philadelphia, shot the residents in their costumes, while Heather Challenger, a graphic design specialist for Liberty Lutheran, designed the scenes around Jackson’s photos using Photoshop.

Manfull and others decided to do another calendar for 2017. She and St. Clair met in the the spring to go over what movies to show.

“We wanted famous movies or iconic movies. We wanted romance and drama,” Manfull says. “Early on, I thought we’d do a moment from Bonnie and Clyde, but I simply didn’t want a scene with guns. We chose two iconic film noir flicks — The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity. I can’t always say why we chose something, but we have a resident, Marge Stoner, who looks a lot like Barbara Stanwick.”

Stoner, 73, appeared with her husband, Max, in the Double Indemnity scene.

“Someone said to me, ‘What about Citizen Kane, possibly one of the finest American films ever shot,” Manfull continues. “I looked and looked at the film and couldn’t find a perfect moment, so we invented one — Kane standing alone in his vast mansion wondering what he had done with his life, while his girlfriend sits at a table working a jigsaw puzzle. You just get the feeling that life has passed them by. Riches, yes, but happiness, no. So it was a process of finding the great films, all older ones, and fitting them to the right people.”

St. Clair says auditions were held in July, and, as he and Manfull met people, they started thinking who might be right for each character they had chosen.

“There were a number of couples that came to audition this time, so we tried to cast some of them in scenes together,” he says. “Sometimes Helen would say, ‘I want to show you this person. I think he would be the perfect Citizen Kane.’ And sometimes I would meet someone and say, ‘He would be the perfect Chico Marx, don’t you think?’ We really worked together as a team on this batting ideas back and forth. Two classic movie geeks trying to come up with the perfect titles for our cast!”

Some of the other classic movies that are part of this year’s calendar include Rear Window, Now Voyager, Singing in the Rain, and The African Queen.

Of course, the shoots provided some fun and funny moments.  

“Riggs and Gloria Griffith got to do a love scene from Now Voyager — what’s not to be fun!?” Manfull says. “We were having a hard time shooting Singing in the Rain. We had three different umbrellas, and we couldn’t make them fit in the space, so Heather Challenger suggested we film each one separately with the same umbrella. I laugh every time I see this picture because Jim Keiser and Edith Kimmel are both beaming, but Jim Scott looks dead serious, like, ‘I don’t like this rain one bit!’ He makes me laugh.

“It seems to me we were laughing all the time, and then being really quiet when the moment was shot. Then we would all rush to look at the computer. Until Davie Jackson got the right shot, we howled with delight at the rejects!”

When asked if the calendar could become something the residents do every year, Manfull didn’t think that could happen.

“Right now, it doesn’t seem possible,” she says, “but gosh, it might be fun to do one for 2020! Time will tell.”

To purchase The Village at Penn State’s calendar, visit libertylutherandonatenow.org/calendar.

 



David Pencek is editor of Town&Gown magazine, Town&Gown's Penn State Football Annual, and Town&Gown's Penn State Winter Sports Annual.
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