Old State House To Screen 1977 Movie Shot In Arkansas

Jul 30, 2014

KUAR and the Old State House will present  a screening of September 30, 1955 (1977) on Friday, Aug. 8,  at the Old State House Museum, as part of the Second Friday Cinema series.

Movie poster for "September 30, 1955"


Arkansas-born writer and director James Bridges found success in 1973 with his adaptation of The Paper Chase, about a first-year law student struggling with a tyrannical professor played by John Houseman. Houseman won an Oscar for his performance, and Bridges was nominated for his screenplay. For his next movie, Bridges decided to come home to Arkansas and make a very personal movie about his experiences in college.

September 30, 1955 is about a college student, played by Richard Thomas, who is devastated by the death of his idol, James Dean. Bridges had been a student at Conway's Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in 1955 when Dean died, and according to his college friend Tom Bonner (former Channel 4 weatherman), many of the incidents portrayed in the movie are "simulated versions" of what happened in real life.

Bridges shot the film at the UCA campus and other locations around Conway. Many Arkansans had roles in the film, including Bonner, who played a radio announcer. It was the first screen role for Fayetteville-born Lisa Blount, who would go on to appear in numerous TV and film roles and produce movies with her husband Ray McKinnon, including the Oscar-winning short The Accountant, before her untimely death in 2010.

The film also features early performances by Dennis Quaid and Tom Hulce. Director of photography was the legendary Gordon Willis, whose works include The Godfather, All the President's Men and Annie Hall. The film received mixed reviews when it premiered, but Bridges' biographer Peter Tonguette calls it a masterpiece, describing it as "among the very greatest of American films of the 1970s."


The screening will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Old State House Museum, 300 W. Markham. Reception starts at 5 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Old State House Museum at (501) 324-9685 or info@oldstatehouse.org.


Second Friday Cinema is a collaboration between KUAR and the Old State House Museum to screen a series of Arkansas-related movies on Second Friday Art Nights. KUAR General Manager Ben Fry, who also teaches courses in film history and criticism at UALR, introduces the movies and leads a discussion after each screening. Second Friday Cinema is presented in celebration with the Old State House's exhibit "Lights! Camera! Arkansas!" The screenings take place on the second Friday of the month at the Old State House Museum.