Bravo! The Project - A Documentary Film

Documentary Film,Film Screenings

January 6, 2012

On the Road Again

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Recently Betty and I took Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor and hosted a private screening in the old theater in the town where I grew up. The town, a cotton, cattle and one-time copper mining location, is Casa Grande, Arizona, which sits midway between Phoenix and Tucson in the Santa Cruz River plain. When I was a kid it had about a thousand people and eventually grew to fifteen or so thousand by the time I vacated the place for good in the early 1980s. Now the town has grown and changed so much, it seems strange to drive along streets that were once dirt roads lined with ancient cottonwood trees or mesquite thickets where we used to roll in the sand and caliche around huge bonfires and tarantulaed to tunes penned by John Lennon and dirty Jim Morrison as we got stumble-bum drunk.

The theater when I was a kid seemed dark and dank with hard chunks of old gum jammed onto the bottom and back of every seat. I saw my first movie there with my father:  Marlon Brando and Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb and Rod Steiger and Eve Marie Saint in On the Waterfront. I must have been about six or seven years old when I saw that one. That film built my appreciation for good, thought provoking movies. Then I fought Chuck Gillespie about eight rows back from the front of the theater when I was ten or eleven. We fought a lot with each other back then. Sometimes we went up into the balcony and dropped big cold Coca Colas on the lovers down in the dark corners at the back of the theater.

On this trip, when we went into the Paramount Theater to do a tech check and scope out the facilities, I was shocked by what I saw.  Instead of a clammy, dank and smelly place patrolled by grumpy ushers armed with flashlights, the theater was open and clean, renovated back to the fine showplace it had been before it was remodeled in 1940, eleven years after it was first built. There were curved walls and ceilings that created a magical array of acoustics. The decor was Egyptian, and below the lobby, the remains of a speakeasy, and underneath the stage, dressing rooms for the old Vaudeville performers who put on shows there in the late 1920s and early 1930s. When I was a kid watching Saturday double features and creating mayhem, we had no idea that the place had been an illegal drinking establishment, or that anyone had played an organ while silent movies were shown, or that live performers had pranced on the stage and who knows, got the hook when the audience showed their dismay.

We screened the film on a Sunday afternoon right before Christmas and had a crowd of about one-hundred-thirty spiced with both young and old, men and women. A fair contingent of my old high school mates and friends attended as did some of the local military veterans from not just Casa Grande, but also Phoenix and Tucson. Our good friends Greg (a former Marine who also survived the Siege of Khe Sanh) and Connie Gibbons, themselves former denizens of the Sonoran Desert, flew down from the Seattle area and invited a bunch of their family and friends to join us.

One of the men in the film, the late Dan Horton, was represented by his Uncle Ken who lives in Tucson. Adding to the flavor of authenticity was Tom Steinhardt, who was in Bravo Company before and during the Siege. He and his wife live in Camp Verde, Arizona, which is about two-and-one-half hours north of Casa Grande on a good traffic day, so we really appreciated the effort they made to drive south and see the film.

Special thanks go to our son, Jim Rodgers, for his special work on the technical end, and to his uncle and my good compadre, Stephen Miller, who agreed to emcee the affair. And Debby Martin of the Paramount Foundation of Central Arizona, the visionary who saved the theater and went out of her way to make our screening the best that it could be.

And the screening went very well. I suppose there are people out there who are not or will not be moved by this film, but I don’t think I’ve met them yet.  The reactions at the end of the movie were what they have been everywhere we have shown it, so it is with great anticipation that we move forward.

The local newspaper, The Tri-Valley Dispatch, wrote a piece about the screening that you can find at

The article states that there were about fifty viewers, but we are certain there were about one-hundred-thirty.

Coming up and on the docket are two private screenings for the staff at the Boise VA facility in early March and a showing in February in Garden Valley, Idaho for a benefit for our troops and the native children that live around them in Afghanistan. We are being considered for a private screening before the eight-hundred-strong Cinema Society of San Diego.

On the film festival front, Sundance turned us down, but undaunted we have submitted the film to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, in mid-March. We have also entered Tribeca in New York which occurs in April, as does the San Francisco Film Festival. For May, we have entered the GI Film Festival in Washington, DC, and for June, the LA International Film Festival. And there are more to come.  We wait with great anticipation to see where this film…this story…will go.

  1. Kind of reminds me of getting on a runaway horse that just doesn’t want to stop. Enjoy the ride my good friend, I am sure it is a very healing process. S/F

    Comment by Michael E. O'Hara — January 6, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

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