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‘Flashback’ returns to the RFV

Locations: News Published

Once upon a time — in 1989, to be precise — the lights of Hollywood followed hotshots Kiefer Sutherland and the late Dennis Hopper to the Roaring Fork Valley to shoot a film called “Flashback.” 

The movie is about a fictional hippie activist, Huey Walker (Hopper), who is being arrested for a stunt he pulled on Spiro Agnew, Nixon’s vice president, 20 years prior. Twenty-six-year-old FBI agent John Buckner (Sutherland) is tasked with transporting the fugitive, but things go haywire and the audience is treated to a raucous and nostalgic journey. 

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Enticed? You’re in luck! The Carbondale Historical Society will screen “Flashback” at the Crystal Theatre on Wednesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. All proceeds from the event go right back to the historical society. 

The idea came about amid planning for the summer opening of the historical society’s “history theater” in the back room of the historical log cabin on Weant Boulevard, explained board member Sue Gray. Gray conducted a search for movies that had been filmed in Carbondale and came up with “Flashback,” among a few others. 

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“I thought, ‘Well that would be fun because it’s got scenes in Carbondale and Glenwood, so it would appeal to a broad spectrum of people in the Valley,’” said Gray, adding that it would be a good way to advertise the history theater. 

“What really surprised me,” she began, “was when I  posted it on Facebook, how many people started commenting about their experiences during filming and sharing their memories.”  

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For instance, Josh Lent, who grew up in Carbondale, after being caught spying on Hopper, whose character from “River’s Edge” he and his buddies idolized, was invited to be an extra in the movie. He and a friend cut class to collect on the opportunity which is forever memorialized in the bar scene, shot at Doc Holiday’s Saloon in Glenwood Springs. 

“The excitement my friends and I shared sneaking around and taking it all in was fueled by youthful curiosity and small town boredom,” Lent reminisced. He also included a bit of local trivia, stating, “The funny thing was they jumped off the Satank bridge in the movie but got out of the water at Catherine Store bridge — the opposite of how the river actually runs.” 

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Laurie DeMent was a teenager at the time and recalls hanging around in downtown Glenwood Springs in hopes of seeing Sutherland. She was in luck and took the opportunity to snap a couple of photos of the actor, which DeMent recently posted in the comments of a Facebook post promoting the screening.  “I had him autograph a jacket of mine as well,” she shared with The Sopris Sun. “He seemed kind of irritated by the whole thing, but put up with me anyway.” 

Janice and A.O. Forbes own the property up Cattle Creek Road where the barn scenes were shot. The barn still stands today and even has some lasting marks from when they filmed there more than 30 years ago. The payment the Forbes received from the producers was enough to nearly pay off the property, a sum they were chipping away at at the time. The couples’ favorite scene is when part of the cast is walking across a “rainbow zen” bridge —  constructed over the creek in their backyard specifically for the film — to the Jefferson Airplane song “Comin’ Back to Me,” which also happened to be their favorite song.

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Barbara Bush worked with Sirpos Company, providing heavy equipment operations on set. According to Bush, Carol Kane had trouble driving the old school bus so they helped “jerryrig the bus so someone could sit behind her as she drove down Cattle Creek.” She added that it was amazing to see the Carbondale Rural Fire Protection District’s swift water rescue team help create the river scenes. 

Audience members are encouraged to dress up in ‘60s hippie attire or FBI agent-passing threads. Tickets are $15 and can only be purchased with cash at the door. Proof of vaccination is required for entry and the film is rated R.

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Janice Forbes (left) and Sopris Sun youth correspondent Marlo Bowman peek over whimsical drawings that still remain in the Forbes’ barn from the time of filming. Photo by James Steindler

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Tags: #Carbondale Historical Society #Dennis Hopper #film #Flashback #hippies #History #Kiefer Sutherland #nostalgia #retrospective
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