Carlisle Indian School has been of interest to Hollywood since the movie industry’s earliest days. In 1901, American Mutoscope and Biograph shot a documentary short at the school. Footage included both male and female students swinging clubs. Still photos of this type of exercise can often be found on ebay. Also included in the documentary were a military-style parade of the students including the renowned school band, girls doing a dumbbell drill, boys demonstrating gymnastics events, boys playing a basketball game, and members of the track team high jumping and pole vaulting. No, Jim Thorpe was not filmed because he was not at Carlisle at that time.
In 1913, Selig Polyscope filmed The Tie of the Blood at the school. Little is known about the film other than its main cast members. In 1915 Pathe Weekly filmed the installation of the first Indian Boy Scouts of America troop at the school. Also participating in the parade, exhibitions and ceremonies were local boy scouts and the Indian School’s Campfire Girls. And other films that I do not know about may have been filmed at the school.
Several alumni worked in motion pictures as actors, stuntmen and in other capacities. Lone Star Dietz even invested in the Washington Motion Picture Company and lost his investment. Jim Thorpe not only worked in pictures but had his life story told on film in the 1951 Warner Brothers release, Jim Thorpe – All-American. Interest in putting the Indian school on film waned but in recent years has grown.
In April 2002, Variety Film reported, “Fox 2000 has snapped up a pitch by Craig Sherman and Bob Jury on legendary football coach Glenn S. “Pop” Warner and his first season at the Carlisle Indian School.” In April 2004, Walden Media announced that John Sayles would be bringing Carlisle School to the big screen. In 2005 Steven Spielberg brought Carlisle Indian School to the little screen as part of his Into the West miniseries. And there’s more, so much more interest that Freddie Wardecker has lost count of how many filmmakers have come into his store to look at artifacts. Barb Landis at the Cumberland County Historical Society thinks that she gets at least a call a month from someone interested in doing a movie about the school or Pop Warner or Jim Thorpe or … I even ran into one of them in the Dickinson College archives last year.
The problem is that a historically-accurate film needs to be made but, despite all the talk, no one has stepped up to make it. Do you have any ideas?