Extras feel 'richer' for film role Premiere: Whether it's to see their county, livestock or themselves in cameo roles, Carroll residents embrace 'For Richer or Poorer.'

December 14, 1997|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

With Maryland as its backdrop, local livestock as comedic props and a handful of area residents in split-second cameos, "For Richer or Poorer" opened to applause and cries of "Hey, that's me!" in theaters around the state this weekend.

Shot primarily on farms and in towns in Carroll and Harford counties, the movie -- starring Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley as a wealthy New York couple on the run from the Internal Revenue Service who end up hiding among the Amish -- has turned a national spotlight on the picturesque Maryland countryside.

A Friday night premiere party in Westminster attracted 185 people who paid $35 to hobnob with the movie's local stars -- all easily identified by their bright yellow name tags. Some in the crowd sported their Saturday night best while others, such as Donald Marlowe Jr., 30, of Dover, Pa., turned out in the everyday clothes that likely got them noticed by the casting agents in the first place.

Marlowe, a sheet metalworker who took four days off from work during the filming while hoping that his scenes wouldn't end up on the cutting-room floor, looked as if he could easily pass for Amish with just a few costume changes. Wearing jeans and his dusty cowboy boots, Marlowe admitted he has let his hair and mustache grow since the filming in the spring.

Urged on by his father, who accompanied him to the screening, Marlowe was among a small group of bidders determined to take home a poster advertising the film autographed by Tim Allen.

The Carroll County Arts Council -- which sponsored the premiere as a benefit for its youth scholarship program -- auctioned the poster and a few other items from the movie. Most sold at prices just barely beyond their opening bids. But the poster went much quicker, with bids jumping in increments of $15, $20 and $25.

Tom McPherson, general manager of the Westminster Days Inn motel, finally bought the poster for $325. McPherson, who was not in the movie, plans to display the poster in the lobby.

Marlowe, who spotted himself in an arm-wrestling scene at a barn dance and as a guest at the wedding where Allen and Alley's sham is discovered, said afterward that if he had known he made the final cut, he would have continued to bid on the souvenir.

But the experience -- of being in a movie and just yards from two Hollywood stars -- is a priceless memory, Marlowe said.

Extras Richard Hubbard of Linwood in western Carroll County and George Brookes of Baltimore agreed.

"Once you're in there, you're a part of history," said Hubbard, who played the bridegroom's father in the wedding scene.

Hubbard and Brookes, who had not met before the film, greeted each other like old friends at the party. "It's a brotherhood," Hubbard joked, referring to the local extras who stood through take after take for days at a time during the two months Universal Studios filmed in Maryland.

Brookes, a 45-year-old tractor-trailer driver whose brother urged him to try for a part, looked decidedly Amish in his black suit and black felt hat Friday night. Previously a star "only in home movies," Brookes was thrilled to see himself in two scenes.

Though many critics have panned the film, saying Alley and Allen have no chemistry and director Bryan Spicer's portrayal of the Amish is patronizing and inaccurate, the local crowd seemed pleased, for the most part.

Meg Smith, a New Windsor farmer whose draft horses, Donald and Samantha, are seen often in the movie, said she thinks the film is cute family fare. Smith -- who as a paid member of the film crew helped manage livestock and provided all of the Amish food, including the liver, lung and kidney casserole that is the subject of one of the film's funniest scenes -- attended one of the first matinees at Cranberry Mall on Friday, eager to see how the movie turned out.

Smith's son, Neil Parish, saw the movie early last week at an invitation-only premiere at the Senator Theatre in Baltimore. Parish, a farmer and cattle fitter who for two months was a livestock wrangler on the film crew, spent much of his time running cows, chickens and horses into scenes.

"They cut out a lot of good stuff," Parish said, adding that the credits are worth watching because some of those scenes were shown behind the cast and crew list.

Few people left their seats before the houselights came on. Loud applause sounded when downtown Westminster appeared on the screen for the first time -- in the role of Intercourse, Pa.

Locally shot scenes like Allen's run-in with a huge draft horse named Big John and Alley's fall into cow manure and then later, a hog pen, brought much laughter. And there were even a few sniffles in the crowd during the wedding scene and the finale.

Pub Date: 12/14/97

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