The Film, A River Runs Through It, Twenty Years Later

Midcurrent Fly Fishing News alerted me to a great article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.  Written by Carly Flandro, the article is about the 1992 film adaptation of Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through Itand its impact.  A copy of Maclean’s 1976 book, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, always had a presence on our shelves in Helena and at our family cabin near the Big Blackfoot River.  The book, and particularly the title story, had special meaning to me, because I was the son of a Presbyterian Minister, and he was the one who introduced me to fly fishing (see my previous post).

I remember well, when the movie came out.  Many people, as the Chronicle article points out, bemoaned the attention it brought to fly fishing and to Montana.  Personally, I think the movie was a good thing for the sport and for the state.  I was more upset by two articles published around the same time,  in major outdoor magazines, about fishing my home water in the Big Blackfoot drainage.  Admittedly, though, it may have been the movie that prompted such articles.  Fortunately, the fishing pressure on my home water has leveled out or even declined a bit.  The main Blackfoot River, however, is a busy one indeed.  Still, as the article mentions, along with the desire to fish the Big Blackfoot came the successful effort to restore it.

If you are a fan of the movie, A River Runs Through It, be sure to read the Chronicle article: Reflecting on the film “A River Runs Through It” and how it changed Montana – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle: News.  And if you haven’t read Maclean’s book, be sure do so.

2 Responses to “The Film, A River Runs Through It, Twenty Years Later”

  1. Sandy Pittendrigh Says:

    I spent much of that summer guiding fly fishermen up on the
    CA ranch, the summer they filmed the movie. It was interesting to watch. It took three days to film the scene were the future Jesse MacLean drove the old model T ford through a railroad tunnel (the old Milwaukee Road runs through the CA ranch). I was down below the high railroad trestle with two French fly fishermen. Someone up on the trestle kept waving his arms. I was working for tips and I’ll be damned if I’ll let them bad-vibe me off the movie set, I thought. And then I heard a bellow. I looked again. It was Robert Redford, up on the trestle, waving his arms. “How’s the fishing?” he was yelling. A few days later the octogenarian car mechanics from Butte–who kept all the Model Ts running–all left at once to go to a car rally in Idaho. They had to shut the set down until they returned.


  2. Kenov Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Sandy. I think I might have been living in Idaho while they were filming, but my sister spotted a few celebrities.

    The scene you mention is a thriller. It must have been interesting to watch. Hopefully, though, you’re clients caught some fish in the meantime.

    I often visit your website. It’s an amazing resource for identifying Montana flies. I think a lot about those boats, too…


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