Moving in the mountains of immortality

Romancing the Rockies: Mountaineers, Missionaries, Marilyn & More was my fifth book. Fifth House published it in 2005, and it sold 4,004 copies. Not my biggest seller, but a worthy contender all the same. It won the first Dave Greber Freelance Writers Award and landed on the shortlist for another prize.

In 2017, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, the parent of Fifth House, declared Romancing the Rockies out of print. A year later, I put it back in print as an independently published title. I hate to see my books die. Thanks to print on demand, I no longer have to. I promoted the new edition on my home page and on social media, and it began to sell again.

An Edmonton service club bought a dozen copies of the new edition to give to its guest speakers. The book also caught the eye of a television documentary film-maker in Paris. He was doing a program on the movies of the Austrian-born film director Otto Preminger and decided to interview me because I had included a chapter about a Preminger film in Romancing the Rockies.

With cameraman Cyrille on the banks of the Bow

The Preminger film was called River of No Return. Shot mostly around Jasper and Banff during the summer of 1953, it was a western starring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. I had written about trouble on and off the set during the filming – Monroe fracturing her ankle, Mitchum getting drunk in the Banff Springs Hotel bar – and film-maker Thomas Cazals wanted me to talk about some of that. But mostly he wanted me to comment on Preminger’s use of the new CinemaScope wide-screen technology to make the scenery a co-star in his film.

Monroe and Preminger on the set

He interviewed me on Wednesday at Bow Falls, where one of the movie’s key scenes takes place. Thomas’s cameraman, Cyrille, shot me from different angles and had me moving around the site like a film actor, strolling along the banks of the Bow, looking off to my left, admiring the scenery. I can’t wait to see how this will show on the screen.

The documentary will appear in France in Germany on the European culture channel, ARTE, which offers programs in several languages, including English, Spanish and Italian. Voiceovers will turn my spoken words into French and German. I’ll let you know when the show is available for viewing. Who knew that a piece I wrote fifteen years ago would now reach a new audience through European television?