Thursday, April 5, 2012

Making Movies in 1945

The Making of “Don’t Try Anything”

The making of the 8mm TSG film on the tank-training grounds of old Camp Bowie, Brown County, Texas, in 1945 was an event that went unnoticed by the public. It was not not expected to have a wide release. Using black and white film was a major decision. Who with TSG could afford color? TSG name comes from the major share-holders, actors and writers: Towery, Swan and Graves.

Work on the picture could only be done when school was out and some sunshine left. The three of us (Britt Towery’s comparades Joe Swan and Bob Graves have since passed away) created the story idea from our second floor office in the old Southern Building on Center Ave., in downtown Brownwood, county seat of Brown County, Central Texas.

Before the Southern Building was made into an office building it was the Southern Hotel. The three of us were employed now and again by the Lyric Theater, catty-cornered from the Southern Building. The Lyric, revived at the close of the last century, is now a community theater with all sorts of good entertainment. But no films, not ever the kind TSG once produced.

It was a very different world back in the first half of the 20th century. Not so many people and families owned most of the farms and neighborhood grocery stores. The county was dry, meaning that spirits could not be bought or sold. Unless you went into a frowned upon profession something like what Al Capone involved himself much earlier.

Bootlegging took talent, but our firm did not feel it wise to do a film or stories on them because it was just too risky.

Getting back to the film and major point of all this historic era of Texas westerns review there is not much to tell. It was not long until 8mm film was moving into Super-8 and with that an increase in film-making.

As far as known, the photo still from the movie is all that has survived. Audio was being put on a wire recorder which today’s media and public probably do not recall. It was a great invention that was later replaced by the reel to reel tape invention. No wire remains. If it did what could you play it on?

The film would without doubt been a trail-blazing success had it not been misplaced once our years as ushers and popcorn poppers at the Lyric ended and we all had to go to work for real

Bob Graves, whose sister-in-law Harrette Graves of New York City wrote for the Brownwood Bulletin forever, lived and died in John Steinbeck country. Wrote one magazine story that sold, had lot of wonderful kids and lovely wife.

Joe Swan was professor Photo-Journalism at San Jose State University, a little north of Steinbeck country, nearer home area of writer of “Call of the North.” He too had fine kids and wife. Laura was from Dallas and they met at Howard Payne College (now a university).

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