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Joan Micklin Silver
Mary Tyler Moore,
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The film is not an urban myth; I'm one of (at least) five people who have seen it.
Co-written and co-directed by, and starring, Alexis Kanner and filmed in Kleinburg, just north of Toronto, Canada, four of us discovered it when it was periodically broadcast in the late movies slot by a Toronto independent television station (CITY-TV) in the late 1970s.
Released in the US under the title MAHONEY'S ESTATE, the film (starring Alexis Kanner, Maud Adams and Sam Waterston) tells the story of a young man (Kanner) who leaves the city to live off the land.
While many people are aware of the film's deservedly well known soundtrack (written and recorded by Ron Wood and Ronnie Lane), the film has some hilarious moments, such as when, browsing in the local General Store, Mahoney decides to grow peas. Picking up a small envelope from the rotary seed display, he asks the proprietor "How many rows of peas will I get from this package?" "Depends how far apart you plant them." A long silence. Mahoney shakes the package by his ear. "How many pea seeds are there in this package?" "Open it up and find out." Mahoney slowly tears the top off of the package and pours the contents out into his open hand. A look of surprise, followed by indignation crosses his face. "Hey!" he complains, "These are just dried peas !"
There's also a remarkable cinematographic moment when, to the accompaniment of a rhythmic percussive 'riff', the camera sweeps slowly across Mahoney's estate; finally coming to rest on the house and gradually zooms in to reveal Mahoney: sitting in an old wooden chair on the porch, lazily rolling the handle of a hoe between his fingers, making the metal blade of the hoe roll rhythmically back and forth across the wooden porch. This is the sound we've been hearing.
While still in Toronto in the early 1980s, my wife and I saw it again on the same station.
Then it disappeared off the rotation of films for which the station had the broadcast rights.
In the late 1980s, I attempted to purchase a VCR tape of the film, only to find that it was unavailable and, in many quarters, entirely unknown.
Eventually, I found a mailing address for Alexis Kanner in California, and wrote to tell him how much I enjoyed the film, and to ask if he could advise me how I might acquire a copy.
In his reply (since lost), he expressed (mock) surprise that "anyone had actually seen it" and thanked me for my kind words about his film. Unfortunately, he explained, even he didn't have a copy of it, but suggested that his agent in London might, and promised to contact him on my behalf.
Well, the fellow went and died didn't he? a couple of months later in London. (Without, apparently, having tracked down a copy of the film for me.) I expect that his mind was on other things.
Anyone know how I can get a copy of this lost masterpiece?
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