Monday, January 13, 2014

Olana in the Movies

The mention last week of the 2013 animated film Epic, for which Olana is the setting, prompted Bruce Mitchinson to share the story of another movie filmed at Olana.

Screen capture from Epic
In 1975-1976, Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy was filmed at the Olana State Historic Site. It starred Kristine DeBelle, a one-time Ford Agency model, who was born in Chatham and appeared on the cover of Playboy in April 1976, five months before the film was released.

The X-rated Alice was shown at Fairview Cinema, back when it was a single theater. Watching the film, Mitchinson recognized the Olana grounds and the mansion and decided to use the line "Filmed at Olana" in his promotion of the movie, thinking it would be of local interest. Mitchinson recalls, "This created a fury of legal action." The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Taconic Region went to the Attorney General to get an injunction to stop Mitchinson from mentioning Olana in his advertising. It turned out that the movie had been filmed at Olana without permission from the state, and the staff at Olana may have been aware that an unidentified film crew was on the site but did nothing to stop it. The legal action went no further than keeping Mitchinson from mentioning Olana in his advertising because it was felt all the brouhaha was bringing too much attention to the film.

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