SCARECROW ON SEATTLE
In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.
When word of Ted D'Arms' passing started circulating just before Christmas last year, the reactions were almost uniformly the same. People who even just casually knew Ted were stunned and very, very sad. Ted was a great presence, a larger-than-life character who was at the same time humble and genuinely kind. His generosity of spirit was so great that I always felt like you could actually see the twinkle in his eye when he looked at you. Ted was a Scarecrow regular since the beginning, and was always a pleasure to talk with. After he died, we mused about putting up a tribute section for him and in the scramble to make sure we had all of his films discovered one we had missed. Thanks to Randy Nargi, the film's director, we obtained a copy of a lovely comedy/mockumentary called G-Sale.
Like Best In Show and Waiting For Guffman, G-Sale delves into a subculture of Americana the average person might not even know exists; in this case it's the culture surrounding garage/estate/yard sales. We meet and spend time with an estate sale planner, a family whose treasured items are being sold, a serious collector, a casual collector, and a professional collector. We also meet local historian Malcolm Urnbaden (Terry Johnson,) who happily introduces us to Bogwood, a fascinating town located somewhere near Seattle (it's mainly Bellevue is disguise) that's built entirely on top of a bog. In addition to having an abundance of moss, lichen, and fungi, Bogwood has more garages per capita than any other city in the country; it's known as the "Garage Sale Capital of the U.S.A."
As in the aforementioned mockumentaries, the denizens of this subculture know their stuff. The characters talk with such passion and affection that one never gets the feeling that the filmmakers are merely mocking them or their obsessions, however ridiculous they might be. Every single member of the mostly local cast (Jessi Badami, Tracey Conway, Robin Douglas, Scott Burns, Jimmi Parker, Wantland Sandel, Mary White, and Henry Dardenne) is excellent and hilarious, helping to balance the fine line between reality and ridiculousness. But the heart of the movie rests with our old friend Ted. He plays Dick Nickerson, one of the less obsessive garage sale bargain hunters. Dick is a semi-retired actor who hit it big in the '60s playing Uncle Angus the leprechaun in the sitcom Pot O' Gold. (The very notion that the massive presence of Ted D'Arms would play a leprechaun is a brilliant conceit in and of itself.) He spends his days doing voiceovers for commercials, wistfully recalling the stardom he once knew, contributing to the arts community in such productions as "Bogdance," (a Riverdance-like extravaganza) and, of course, going to garage sales. Among the items the other garage sale obsessives are after is a board game based on Pot O' Gold. Dick is also looking for it, in an effort to connect with a happier time in his life. In large part then, Dick Nickerson and his "pot of gold" are the connecting human threads that corral G-Sale's major players. Like Dick Nickerson, Ted was a wonderful artistic presence in Seattle, whose talents connected the arts of film, theater, painting, and photography all in equal measure.
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