Monday, May 19, 2008

Jonesing for some Indy

Indiana Jones fans return to scene of the adventure

By William Kaempffer
Register Staff
— Indy-mania invaded the city again Saturday, albeit considerably less manic than last summer, when the filming of the latest installment of the archaeologists’s big-screen adventures gave the town some Hollywood flavor.
It was lucky for city resident Scott McLean that he still had the fixings for a nice little Indiana Jones costume in his closet.
“I get all excited every time I see in the (movie) trailers something that looks like it was filmed here,” said the Westville resident, who paused Saturday with his son, Charlie, to check out the vintage vehicles parked along Chapel Street. Donning Jones’ trademark leather jacket and fedora (his wife suggested it so his son could wear his safari hat and fit in), McLean said he plans to see the movie, to be released Thursday.
“We’re real proud of that,” he said. “It’s a great thing.”
Sure, there’s reason for New Haven-lovers to crow over “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which should include scenes of the Elm City, filmed over two exciting weeks last summer.
On Saturday, the city looked to recapture some of that hype with a “Jonesin’ for Adventure” celebration.
Two blocks of Chapel Street were closed down and lined with classic cars, some of which were used during filming. Merchants set up tables in front of businesses. Bands played.
Robin Dutcher, 18, of Middletown, walked around on stilts and occasionally juggled for the kids. A few blocks away, on York Street, kids could bounce in the bounce house and climb a rock wall.
“Harrison Ford leaned on that fender,” noted Robert Gasparri, whose 1957 Chevy Bel Air was used in several chase scenes during the filming. Gasparri drove in all of the scenes except one, when a youngish stunt driver took the keys.
Like Chapel Street, his car had to undergo a little era-sensitive makeover to its tires and headlights, and it was in Essex, not New Haven, where Ford graced his fender and checked under the hood to inspect the engine that, as Gasparri proudly described it, “sounds like 20 motorboats running.”
“He shook my hand and said, ‘Nice car. Good motor,’” the collector recalled. “I said, ‘Good acting.’
“Hell of a nice guy,” Gasparri said.
Saturday’s event was sponsored by the city’s New Haven Office of Cultural Affairs, Market New Haven, University Properties and the Greater New Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It’s great. Anything to promote the downtown is advantageous,” said Mike Rosenthal, one of the owners of Savitt Jewelers, which has been on Chapel Street since 1919 and reclaimed its identity since it was transformed into a circa-1950s variety store for the movie.
“We try not to be Woolworth’s every day,” he said.
Back to Dutcher. She stands 8 foot 8 inches in stilts, juggles a variety of props and can stay on the stilts for hours at a time, although the straps that secure the stilts can chafe.
How does one learn to walk on stilts and juggle? At an elementary school festival, Dutcher got a first taste when the Middletown Children’s Circus performed. That led to circus camp at the Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown, where she learned acrobatics, dance, juggling and the unicycle. She went on to be a counselor there and now is a member of the environmental-themed ARTFARM Circus for a Fragile Planet, which explains her fossil-fuel inspired stage name: Coalette.
She rarely falls anymore but wears knee pads just in case. And, no, she wasn’t dressed like Indiana Jones.

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