Monday, May 08, 2006

Wanda (1971)

Those who believe that independent films made in Scranton (or any amateur film) have to be "artsy" or "pretentious" have never heard of writer-actress-director Barbara Loden or her 1971 film Wanda, a crime drama filmed entirely in Scranton and Carbondale at a budget of $110,000.

Barbara Loden (who was also married to director Elia Kazan until her death in 1980) stars as the title character, an uneducated Pennsylvania coal-country woman who divorces her husband and gives him sole custody of her two children because, as she admits, "I'm just no good." After a series of self-destructive episodes and one-night stands, she has a chance encounter with Higgins, a neurotic thief who first takes her hostage before she submits and begins working as his accomplice. When they both decide on pulling one last job before leaving the "business," tragedy forever changes their fates.

Albright Memorial Library can be seen in the distance (as is Courthouse Square and Shokey's - now Trolley's) during a drive down North Washington Avenue to the robbery location--The Third National Bank of Scranton at 100 Wyoming Avenue (which is actually spoken near the end of the film). In addition, the end credits thank both the Scranton Police Force and the Third National Bank of Scranton.

Wanda won acclaim as a "moving and insightful" character study at several film festivals, including the International Critics' Prize for Best Film at the 1970 Venice Film Festival.

Wanda was released for the first time on DVD on July 25, 2006. It is available to borrow at Albright Memorial Library. To place a hold, click here.

For more information on Wanda, check out its page on the Internet Movie Database.