Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Story of the Story of 'Get Low'

I'm looking forward to 'Get Low' with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray. Reviews are very good and the movie has that energy -- you know it'll be fun.

This LAT piece about Dean Zanuck (Darryl's grandson) producing 'Get Low' mentions it's based on a (really) true story. The poster's tag is 'A true tall tale' but I thought that was just schtick. Turns out the events in the movie actually happened.

About the script's genesis, Zanuck says:

It came about a decade ago. My wife was showing houses to a young lit manager and I got to know him, and he told me this story he was working on with his writer client.

A Google search resulted in this interesting article from ECLA pastors, which starts:

Felix "Uncle Bush" Breazeale sat in the front passenger seat of the hearse headed to his funeral. In back was the coffin he'd made himself from walnut. The 73-year-old recluse was a man of few words but not even close to death on that hot June day in 1938.

Uncle Bush is played by Robert Duvall. The article continues:

A movie version of the event is expected in theaters later this year, in part because of the persistence of a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The Rev. Scott Seeke of suburban Atlanta first heard the funeral story from relatives of his wife, the Rev. Beth Birkholz, also an ELCA pastor. Her great-grandfather, Frank Quinn, owned the Loudon, Tenn., funeral home that handled the service. Her grandfather, Frank "Buddy" Robinson, drove the hearse. Both men are now deceased.

"When Mr. Robinson told this story I thought it would be a really good movie," said Seeke, pastor of The River Church, Alpharetta, Ga., an ELCA congregation. "I called a buddy from college who was a Hollywood writer. He liked the idea. We worked on it together."    

IMDb lists 'Get Low' as being based on a story by Chris Provenzano and Scott Seeke, the reverend in the ECLA Pastors article. Beth Birkholz's great-grandfather, Frank Quinn, is played by Bill Murray. The driver, Buddy Robinson is played by Lucas Black. The buddy from college reverend Seeke called is Chris Provenzano.

Scott Seeke tells his version of how the idea for the movie came about at his blog:

While it’s a great website, Sony got the story wrong about where the movie came from. I first heard the story at lunch with my wife’s grandfather. He’s the real Buddy Robinson, played by Lucas Black. I had the idea for a movie and emailed Chris Provenzano, an old college friend working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. We got to work creating a fictional story based on the actual event, but we only knew three things: there was a funeral for an old man who was still alive, there were rumors of a murder, and ten thousand people came. That was it, but that was all we needed to create the story of Get Low.

The ECLA article links to the Tennessee State Library archive which has the above photo of Felix Breazeale at his 1938 funeral, which he attended while still alive. Bush died in 1945.

'Get Low' is expected in theaters December 26.

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