November 16, 1988: Movie “Far North”—filmed in Duluth—premiers in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1988, the movie Far North premiered at the movie theatre within Miller Hill Mall. The film was shot in and around Duluth and starred Cloquet native Jessica Lange, Charles Durning, and Lange’s husband Sam Shepard, who also wrote and directed the piece. Laurie Hertzel and J. P. Furst of the Duluth News Tribune didn’t mince words about the crowd’s tepid response, leading their story with “Far North didn’t wow the critics in New York and it wasn’t a big boffo hit with Duluth moviegoers Wednesday night, either.” They reported that over 750 people, not a few dressed in formal wear, braved the show to see one of three simultaneous first screenings in Duluth. Mayor John Fedo, decked out in a tuxedo, tried to dodge a reporter’s question by referring it to his attorney, who happened to be in attendance, but when pressed said the movie represents “a different perspective.” Actor Charles Durning, the only non-local actor to attend the event, told the crowds that “the real star of the film is Duluth and the people of Duluth. I loved the film, and I loved working here.” The crowd apparently agreed and were reportedly “excited to see the city and its landmarks on the big screen. The audience went wild at each shot of the Aerial Bridge and harbor, and most enjoyed the humor in the picture ads distinctive to this area.” By the way, Rotten Tomatoes give Far North one star.

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