Dozens fill Theilman Opera House for unique film showing - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Dozens fill Theilman Opera House for unique film showing

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THEILMAN, Minn. (KTTC) -- Dozens of cinema buffs packed the Theilman Opera House on Sunday to take a step back in time with a local Hollywood star.

It was a lot of noise over a silent film. Wabasha County cinema enthusiasts were seeing black and white as they crowded the recently restored Theilman Opera House for a look back at an old Hollywood hometown hero.

"William S. Hart, whose movie we're showing, Tumbleweeds, actually spent part of his childhood in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota," said Terry Helbig of the Wabasha County Historical Society.

Hart is one of the most acclaimed actors, directors and producers of the early 20th century.
"He was very well respected and a good actor and made some very fabulous movies they just don't make them this good anymore," said Helbig.
However, for the 21st century audience, Hart's local connection was a little known fact.

"You know, I grew up in the area and I had never heard of this guy, so it was really fun to see that," said Shawn Kennedy-Lee who grew up near Zumbro Falls.  The movie depicts Hart as a cowboy during the Oklahoma land rush, striving to capture some land for his love interest.

All conveyed through marquees and music.

"I mean you had to concentrate because you had to read the whole thing," said Kennedy-Lee.

Hart is also recognized for being one of the first to portray native Americans as the protagonists during a period where most films made them villains.

"Some Native Americans actually helped him move some of their materials across the Zumbro," said Helbig.

Inspired by his past, William Hart most likely didn't know he would still be captivating audiences this far ahead in the future.

The Wabasha County Historical Society is hoping host at least two more showings of the film in Zumbro Falls and Wabasha this winter.

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