Cinema

Entry Category: Cinema - Starting with D

Daddy and Them

Daddy and Them is a comedy-drama written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton that stars Thornton and Laura Dern as Claude and Ruby Montgomery, a passionate but antagonistic married couple from Arkansas. Insecurity about measuring up to one another’s past romantic relationships stands as their biggest point of contention, which is further complicated by Claude’s past relationship with Ruby’s older sister, Rose, before he married Ruby. Claude travels with Ruby, Rose, and his mother-in-law Jewel to support his extended family when his Uncle Hazel is arrested for attempted murder. The plot largely centers around the chronic dysfunction of the Montgomery family. In the DVD commentary, Thornton remarked that “one of the things about this movie, one of the things I …

Day It Came to Earth, The

The Day It Came to Earth is a 1977 horror/science fiction feature film directed by Arkansan Harry Thomason. It was filmed in and around Little Rock (Pulaski County). Running at eighty-eight minutes and rated PG (for violence), the movie features a number of local Arkansas actors, such as Little Rock advertising executive Robert (Bob) Ginnaven (1937–2008) in addition to comedian George Gobel near the end of his career and actress Rita Wilson at the beginning of hers. The story, written by Paul Fisk, begins with a glowing meteorite falling into a secluded pond. Gangsters have dumped the body of one of their victims into the pond. The water takes on rejuvenating powers from the meteorite, causing the dead body to …

Devil’s Knot

Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three focuses on the facts of the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and the controversial court case that followed. One of the teenagers of the so-called West Memphis Three convicted in the case was sentenced to death, while two others were condemned to life in jail without parole; the three were freed in 2011. The murders remained unsolved. The book depicts a bleak picture of small-town Arkansas in the 1990s, providing background for how, in the author’s view, this case assumed a level of hysteria that in many ways equaled the Salem Witch Trials. The book provoked a larger discussion about …

Dexter, Maury

aka: Morris Gene Poindexter
Maury Dexter was a film and television director and producer perhaps best remembered for his work on low-budget horror films during the early 1960s, as well as his long professional association with television legend Michael Landon. Dexter’s career paralleled that of an elder Arkansas-born film maker, Jean Yarbrough of Marianna (Lee County). Both were known less for their artistry than for their efficiency, directing or producing numerous competent but unexceptional films for “Poverty Row” studios within the constraints of tight budgets and deadlines. Reflecting on his career, Dexter observed: “I’m first and foremost a filmmaker. Even when I first started out, my intent was to take a script, whatever that script was, and do the best I could under the …

Dial, Rick

Rick Dial was a character actor, musician, and businessman from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Dial acted in fourteen Hollywood films, first appearing alongside childhood friend and fellow actor Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade (1996). In addition to his acting, Dial was part-owner of a furniture store in Malvern and was “the Voice of the Malvern Leopards,” announcing high school football games. Richard Halley Dial was born on March 9, 1955, in Malvern to Bill J. Dial and DeNora VanDusen Dial; he was one of three children. He graduated from Malvern High School in 1973, where he earned All-Conference honors on the Malvern Leopards football team. Dial married Phyllis Voss on September 22, 1973; they had three children. After high …

Die Goldsucher von Arkansas

aka: Massacre at Marble City
aka: Conquerors of Arkansas
Die Goldsucher von Arkansas (literally, The Gold Seekers of Arkansas), produced in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1964, is based loosely on Friedrich Gerstäcker’s novel Die Regulatoren in Arkansas, which is set in Arkansas. Fitting into the genre of the spaghetti western, the film was released in Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Spain (under two separate titles), Sweden, Finland, and the United States. The title in the United States was Massacre in Marble City, while in the United Kingdom, it was released as Conquerors of Arkansas. Directors were Paul Martin in Germany and Alberto Cardone in Italy. Although both the novel and movie take place in Arkansas, considerable license was taken in adapting the novel, and in the …

Dillon, Melinda Rose

Melinda Rose Dillon is an American actress who has appeared in dozens of movies, plays, and television shows. She has been nominated for several major awards, including an Academy Award and a Tony Award; in addition, the Screen Actors Guild recognized her for her role in Magnolia (1999). Other memorable films include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), A Christmas Story (1983), and Harry and the Hendersons (1987). She has also appeared on television in episodes of Bonanza and the TV movie A Painted House (2003). Melinda Dillon was born on October 13, 1939, in Hope (Hempstead County). Information about her early life is sparse, as Dillon remains an intensely private person. She studied acting with both Lee Strasberg …

Down in “Arkansaw”

B-movie studio Republic Pictures shot hillbilly situation comedy Down in “Arkansaw” (1938) in California. The only Arkansan in the film was Pinky Tomlin, who was born in Eros (Marion County) but raised in Oklahoma. The film was the first in a series of eleven comedies made by Republic from 1938 to 1943 featuring the Weaver Brothers and Elviry (consisting of Missourians Leon, Frank, and June Weaver), a popular “rube” vaudeville and radio act. The Weaver series also included Arkansas Judge (1941). In his book Hillbilly, Anthony Harkins noted that the years 1937–1945 saw “the hillbilly stereotype at high tide” in popular culture, with the Weavers and Judy Canova making pictures at Republic, Arkansan Bob Burns appearing in films for Paramount …