Shortly before Thanksgiving I made a stop in Longmont, Colorado which is about a 45 minute drive north of downtown Denver. I’d never been there before, nor had my wife who spent a good deal of her life in Denver. On the Visit Longmont website they call the town “Colorado’s Best Kept Secret.”

I think the town first got on my radar a few years ago from hearing an interview with the author of the Mr. Money Mustache blog. It sounded like an interesting place and so I made it a point to make a stop there while in Colorado briefly. Seems like a nice place to live. Not far from Denver, Boulder, and the Rocky Mountains, yet its own little town. I took the photo below of the Longmont Performing Arts Center on Main St. which was built in 1939 as the The Fox Theatre. The art deco design would fit right in on Miami Beach.

In the 1960 it was renamed the Trojan Theatre and today it has multiple uses including a community theatre and showing classic movies under under the name the New Trojan Movie House & Art Cinema. This month they will run a Christmas Movie Series featuring Scrooge (1935), Die Hard, It’s a Wonderful Life, and White Christmas.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles 

Today Ohio State University and the University of Michigan football teams play against each other for the 117th time. What makes this game extra special is both teams are undefeated this season (11-0) and Ohio State is ranked #2 in the county and Michigan is ranked #3. I wish I could be in Columbus, Ohio today to watch the classic rivalry game.

Because my mom and dad met at Ohio State I was force feed watching Ohio St. and Michigan football games at an early age back in the Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler era. I remember being bored as a eight year old because neither of those coaches were known to throw the ball very much. “Three yard and a cloud of dust” was Woody Hayes strategy of grinding out wins. I wanted action—long touchdown passes.

And even though Ohio State wasn’t known for its passing game, I dreamed of playing football at Ohio State. Was it even possible for a skinny kid from Central Florida to play at Ohio State? The answer is yes—just not me. My senior year of high school I was a decent enough of a player to be named to the all-conference team. I’m #42 in the bottom right corner photo below. If you look at the top left corner you’ll see #39, Cedric Anderson who received a full scholarship to play at Ohio State. A cruel twist of fate.

And Anderson not only played at Ohio State but he actually held the record for average yard per catch in a single season for over 30 years. Ohio State has had some great wide receivers over the years including Chris Carter and Paul Warfield who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Warfield was the reason I wore #42 in high school.) But there are others: Michael Thomas, Joey Galloway, Terry McLaurin, Santino Holmes, Ted Gina, Jr. And starting today for Ohio St at wide receiver is Marvin Harrison Jr. who is regarded by some as the best receiver in the country. Ohio State’s other standout receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 95 catches for 1,606 yards last year.

But with all that talent, and over more than 100 years of football tradition, it’s Cedric Anderson—a kid from Apopka, Florida—who is second only to Devin Smith in the Ohio State record book. In 2014, Smith had a better average catch per season than Anderson did in 1982. (28.2 vs 27.6).

As a nice bookend to this story, I walked-on to the football team at the University of Miami and walked-off after dislocating my shoulder in practice and having it operated on. I then moved to LA to finish film school and called Anderson when he was still with Ohio State and they were playing BYU in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego and he got me tickets to the game. And if I recall correctly, he blocked a punt in that game. Anderson was also that rare athlete who was not only an all-conference football player, but also all-conference in basketball and baseball. He briefly played pro football in the USFL.

Should be a great game today. Go Buckeyes.

P.S. My second connection is my uncle, Jack Wilson, was a captain of the Ohio State football team back in the 1949 and drafted by the Detroit Lions. And a third connection is back in the 1980s I was working for Yary Photography and helped setup the team photo of the Michigan football team when they played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was a little surreal to see Coach Bo Schembechler in the flesh. And lastly, I was once cast to be on camera talent for a Domino’s Pizza commercial that was shot in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ll never forget meeting Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan in his office (the only two story office I’ve ever been in) nor driving by the impressive Michigan Stadium—the Big Blue House where the Michigan Wolverines have played their home games since 1927.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Over the years I’ve probably shots a few dozen photos of old movie theaters in my travels around the United States. They made a fitting metaphor for life. For change. A few weeks ago on the way to see the Tampa Bay Buccanneers play I purposefully took a side street in Tampa just to see some things I’d never seen before. About 10 miles from Raymond James Stadium I came upon on the Springs Theatre.

According to the Cinema Treasures website in opened o December 7, 1944. Three years to the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and while World War II still nine months from ending. According to the Cinema Treasures website, the double feature that opening day was “Tyrone Power in The Rains Came & Linda Darnell in It Happened Tomorrow.

The Rains Came (1940) also featured Myrna Loy and. The movie won one Oscar—Best Effects, Special Effects.Philip Dunne and Julien Josephson based on the novel by Louis Bromfield. Duane received two Oscars nominations in his career including the John Ford directed classic How Green Was My Valley (1941). Josephson received an Academy Award nomination for Disraeli (1929).
As I point out in my book Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles, Frances Marion became the first female screenwriter to win an Academy Award for writing (and the first screenwriter to win two)—her script for The Big House won over Josephson’s script for Disraeli. You just never know what kind of info you’re going to unearth when you finally go to see Tom Brady play a football game.

I’ve never seen The Rains Came, but the storyline appears to involve a love triangle. Casablanca came out two years later and also involves a love triangle. And there have been a few move love triangle movies since then. Nothing new under the sun folks, except fresh ways of telling old stories.

It Happened Tomorrow (1944) was nominated for two Oscars (Best Sound and Best Musical Score). It was written by Dudley Nichols and the director René Clair. And there are five additional people credited with things like ideas and originals. I’ve not exactly sure what “originals” means. Perhaps some kind of original source material the script pulled from.

Here’s the entire movie found on YouTube.

The Springs Theatre has had several lives. A first run theater, a second run theater, a porn theater, a church, a print shop, and a recording studio. I tried the website on the theatre sign and it just says, “We are making something exciting.” So the metaphor I alluded to at the start of this post is that movie theaters, like the movie industry itself (and humans—even Tom Brady) are in a constant state of change.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles 

A funny thing happened on my way to see Tom Brady play in Tampa against the LA Rams….

Actually, it wasn’t funny but I found it interesting. Instead of taking I-4 from Orlando to Tampa (which is usually slow and go with tourists coming and going from the Central Florida theme parks), I decided to take the backroads. One of the small towns I drove though was Dade City, Florida and I found this jewel: The Joy-Lan Drive In Theatre & Swap Shop. It’s one of the few working drive ins in Florida and has been in operation for more than 70 years.

So if you need a drive in for a movie or production, I’ve done some free location scouting for you. And while you are able to listen to movies on your radio, I love how Joy-Lan left the old school speakers in place.

According to the history page on their website, the theatre opened “March 9, 1950, with the showing of Challenge to Lassie, starring the legendary collie. Admission was 35 cents per person.” That screenplay was written by William Ledwig (1912-1999) based on a book Greyfriars Bobby by Indiana-born Eleanor Atkinson. Ludwig, along with Sonya Levien, won an Oscar for their script Interrupted Melody (1955).

And according to Wikipedia, in Dexter episode “Father Knows Best,” Dexter Morgan goes to Dade City after he father dies. And part of Edward Scissorhands (not sure if it was a scene with Johnny Depp or not) was filmed in Dade City. See what what kind of things you find when you take the backroads.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles 

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”
—James Taylor (Secret O’ Time)

Yesterday I drove from Orlando to Tampa to watch Tom Brady play for the first time in person. Widely considered the greatest football in history, I was hoping the 45 year old QB showed a little of his seven-time Super Bowl winning greatness. And while this was just regular season game, it was against the most recent Super Bowl winners—the L.A. Rams.

And a great day it was. I got my money’s worth. And one of those rare times when an event superseded my expectations. I got to see Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp catch eight passes including a 69 yard TD. I got to see Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey do what they do best on the Rams’ defense. Tampa Bay had their own stellar defense. And I saw a 74-yard punt by Jake Camarda that tied the Bucs franchise record.

But most importantly I saw Tom Brady cross the threshold of 100,000 career passing yards. A sports record never likely to be beaten. And to top it off he led the Bucs to a come from beyond victory throwing a TD in the last few seconds of the game. It was classic Tom Brady. And to make it all the more special, that TD just happened to be in the corner of the end zone where I was sitting. I may never go to an NFL game again because everything after this is going to be a letdown.

It was all the more special in that my dad took me to my first ever NFL game in 1976 to watch the Bucs play. It just happened to be the first home game Tampa Bay ever played in franchise history. A preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. I still have the ticket stub.

Here are some of my iPhone photos that capture the day. From my arriving early to make sure I didn’t miss a single play because of a traffic/parking snafu, to the end of the game. (There were no shortage of Brady jerseys.)

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles 

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!

—Katharine Lee Bates
Lyrics to America the Beautiful 
(When’s the last time you dropped the word halcyon in a casual conversation?)

On my recent trip to Colorado I picked up a nail somewhere on my drive. Thankfully the tire held air until I got to Colorado Springs which was the only place in several states that had my exact tire in stock. Life is full of little adventures and we tried to make the best of our slight detour. We arrived in Colorado Springs at night and didn’t realize until the next morning that our hotel had a great view of Pikes Peak.

I took my dog out for an early morning walk and found the mountain range framed some sunflowers nicely. The second photo of my dog gives a little better angle of Pikes Peak in all its glory just as the sun is hitting the summit. Getting a nail in your tire on the road is a pain, but you got to keep your eyes open for the silver linings. (Or in this case, the yellow flowers and blue sky.)

P.S. According to one website, Pikes Peak is known as America’s Mountain and “Named for Lt. Zebulon Pike — who never actually reached the peak — and the inspiration for Katharine Lee Bates’ iconic American anthem, America the Beautiful, Pikes Peak is an American icon whose 14,115-foot summit challenges and inspires visitors from around the globe.”

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles 

I took the photo of the Gothic Theatre a couple of weeks ago when I was in Denver. It was originally built as a movie theare in the 1920s, the exterior got a modern update in the 1940s, and in the late 90s the interior was totally remodeled for it to be a live music venue, which is remains as its main use today. It holds a max of 1,100 people and is also used for wedding, special events, and things like a live event of Not Another D&D Podcast.

I’m going to put doing live events at these old theatres on my wish list of something I’d like to do someday. I did a zoom talk on a sweeping overview of film history that I’s like to develop further for a general audience.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles 

I’m going to continue into November with some photo stories from a recent trip I took to Denver, but since today is Halloween I’ll share a passage from a classic Stephen King book about a family in transition:

She went upstairs and into the kitchen. She put on the teapot and laid a couple of Oreos on a plate for Danny in case he decided to come up while she was lying down. Sitting at the table with her big pottery cup in front of her, she looked at the window at him, still sitting on the curb in his bluejeans and his oversized dark green Stovington Prep sweatshirt, the glider now lying beside him/ The tears which had threatened all day now came in a cloudburst and she leaned into the fragrant, curling steam of the tea and wept. In grief the loss for the past, and terror of the future.
The Shining, the last paragraph in chapter two
(And an early sign that things weren’t okay at the Overlook Hotel.)

In the 1980 film version of The Shining, the wife’s fear of terror is realized when she checks on the novel her husband has been working.

And since Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are credited on writing the script for The Boogeyman (2023)—based King’s short story with the same title—it’s fitting to mention they have a book coming out this year centered around their movie Haunt. It’s called Haunt, Screenplay & Filmmakers Diaries.

And while a lot of filmmakers dream of owning a movie theater someday, earlier this month it was announced that Beck and Woods will being opening the Last Picture House in downtown Davenport, Iowa. You can read about it here.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles (The forward was written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.)

According to Wikipedia, the Mayan Theatre ”is one of the country’s three remaining theatres designed in the Art Deco Mayan Revival style.” It opened in 1930 as a large single screen movie theatre. It’s gone through a couple iterations, survived destruction, and is now both a live venue and a three screen movie theater. Tonight you can see The Shining there. (That’s fitting because the book takes place in Colorado. In fact, The Stanley hotel that inspired King to write The Shining, is just an hour and a half drive north west from the Mayan in Estes Park.)

The 1997 three episode TV version of The Shining did use The Stanley hotel, where the other Stanley (director Stanley Kubrick) shot the version starring Jack Nicholson in the Timberline Lodge in Mt Hood, Oregon. i just starting listening the the audible auto version of The Shining, and I’ll watch the TV version when I’m done listening.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Sunday night I drove through Limon, Colorado (pop. 1,161 ) and took this photo of the Lincoln Theatre. It was built in 1938 as The Cactus Theatre. It’s one of the few movie theatres in the United States that was designed “backwards”—where the entrance is on the screen side of the building. It’s still an operating movie house and run by the non-profit group Your Community Foundation.

It’s a movie theatre that would feel right at home in the old tv show Northern Exposure which was set in a small town in Alaska.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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