“I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this.”
You probably recognize that quote from the 1994 movie, Dumb and Dumber. You probably also recognize those Rocky Mountains as the ones in your own backyard, as the movie takes place in Aspen, Colorado. What you probably don’t know is that Dumb and Dumber is only one of over 500 movies filmed in the Centennial State.
A new exhibit at the Boulder History Museum called Hollywood, Colorado showcases the state’s largely underrated film history. From Die Hard 2, to the original True Grit, to Warren Miller’s numerous ski movies, the exhibit captures the rich variety of Colorado-set films as well as the people associated with them.
The display is a modest, winding path that takes up just one hallway in the small museum. In the very front is a giant Simplex Super Projector, one of the first film projectors from the late 1920s, which was used at CU in 1941.
From there, the exhibit progresses chronologically, beginning with a five-minute film that shows scenes from a handful of the films shot in Colorado. The state’s film history starts as early as 1898, but the first major film shot entirely in Boulder was The Girl from Boulder in 1920. A film crew descended on the town, shot the entire film in a matter of weeks and even used a mostly Boulder cast.
The exhibit itself is put together well and is aesthetically pleasing. It includes a variety of display items including vintage movie posters, cameras, film, news articles, photos and movie paraphernalia such as a popcorn box sold at the Boulder Theater in 1960.
The content is also varied. Not only does the exhibit focus on the films, but it also draws attention to the zealous culture surrounding them. There are displays on the history of Boulder’s theaters, biographies of famous Boulderites in film and a showcase of the many film festivals that take place in town every year, including the Boulder International Film Festival, which was recently named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by Movie Maker Magazine in 2009.
Some films receive more attention and more space in the exhibit than others. These films include The Glenn Miller Story, Catch & Release, and The Cove. the award-winning documentary by Louie Psihoyos, the executive director of Boulder-based Oceanic Preservation Society. Catch & Release stars Jennifer Garner and follows her journey of overcoming the death of her husband. Film stills in the exhibit show the actors on Pearl Street Mall and at various locations on the Hill. These sections are the most interesting to look at as the viewer is able to delve into the film rather then just reading a placard with the location of the shooting.
Overall, Hollywood, Colorado is a rather underwhelming display. However, it does provide an interesting look at the mostly unknown history of Colorado’s film industry. If you have nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon, it would be worth a visit.
Check out these famous films that were shot partly or entirely in the great city of Boulder.
- The Girl from Boulder (1920)
- The Glenn Miller Story (1954)
- Sleeper (1973)
- American Flyers (1985)
- About Schmidt (2002)
- Catch & Release (2006)
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Natalie Proulx at email@example.com.