Mother Lode (1982)

PG | 106 mins | Drama, Adventure | 27 August 1982

Director:

Charlton Heston

Writer:

Fraser Heston

Producer:

Fraser Heston

Cinematographer:

Richard Leiterman

Production Designer:

Douglas Higgins

Production Company:

Agamemnon Films
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HISTORY

End credits conclude with the following statements: "Filmed entirely on location in British Columbia"; and "The producers wish to thank the following: The British Columbia Film Promotion Office, Mr. Justis Greene, Mr. Leo Ziffren, Mr. Wayne O'Blennis, Cessna Aircraft Corp. of Canada, Ltd."
       The 25 Jun 1980 Var announced that actor Charlton Heston would star in two upcoming films for the newly-formed Canadian company, Finefilm, headed by former distributor, Daniel Fine. The first of these was Mother Lode, a $5 million production scheduled for principal photography in late Jul 1980. More than three months later, the 1 Oct 1980 Var reported that photography would begin in Jan 1981, with a script by Heston’s son, producer Fraser C. Heston. The film’s title was referred to as Motherlode.
       Fraser Heston complained to the 13 Oct 1980 Cinemag about new rules by the Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC), requiring all filmmakers seeking tax incentives through the corporation to hire only Canadian cast and crew. Heston also reacted negatively to rumors that location filming would be required to take place in the actual region being portrayed, saying that this sort of nationalism would ruin the nation’s film industry. However, he added that Mother Lode was not a CFDC participant, but would feature Canadian actors. No director had been selected at the time, although the producers were giving serious consideration to “one they think is special.”
       Mother Lode was Fraser Heston’s second production starring his father, whom the filmmaker described as “damn expensive” to hire. Citing negotiations with his father’s agent ... More Less

End credits conclude with the following statements: "Filmed entirely on location in British Columbia"; and "The producers wish to thank the following: The British Columbia Film Promotion Office, Mr. Justis Greene, Mr. Leo Ziffren, Mr. Wayne O'Blennis, Cessna Aircraft Corp. of Canada, Ltd."
       The 25 Jun 1980 Var announced that actor Charlton Heston would star in two upcoming films for the newly-formed Canadian company, Finefilm, headed by former distributor, Daniel Fine. The first of these was Mother Lode, a $5 million production scheduled for principal photography in late Jul 1980. More than three months later, the 1 Oct 1980 Var reported that photography would begin in Jan 1981, with a script by Heston’s son, producer Fraser C. Heston. The film’s title was referred to as Motherlode.
       Fraser Heston complained to the 13 Oct 1980 Cinemag about new rules by the Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC), requiring all filmmakers seeking tax incentives through the corporation to hire only Canadian cast and crew. Heston also reacted negatively to rumors that location filming would be required to take place in the actual region being portrayed, saying that this sort of nationalism would ruin the nation’s film industry. However, he added that Mother Lode was not a CFDC participant, but would feature Canadian actors. No director had been selected at the time, although the producers were giving serious consideration to “one they think is special.”
       Mother Lode was Fraser Heston’s second production starring his father, whom the filmmaker described as “damn expensive” to hire. Citing negotiations with his father’s agent as a conflict of interest, Heston relegated such duties to Daniel Fine. Principal photography for Mother Lode was planned for late 1980, although Charlton Heston was not expected on set until early the following year.
       The 28 Oct 1981 Var noted that the production was “designed to qualify for Canadian capital cost allowance certification,” financed through a “share-unit offering.”
       On 27 Aug 1981, DV announced that Charlton Heston would direct, as well as act, in the $6 million film. Eight weeks of principal photography were scheduled to begin 28 Sep 1981 in British Columbia. The 7 Sep 1981 LAHExam reported the budget as $4 million, which the actor-director believed would adequately finance a quality picture, providing amenities for the cast and crew were limited. The 16 Sep 1981 HR noted that Mother Lode was Heston’s second directorial effort, his first being Antony and Cleopatra (1973, see entry). Because he only appeared onscreen for half the picture, and filming would be preceded by two weeks of rehearsals, Heston was confident that his dual duties would not be too great a challenge. Excerpts were to be screened the following month at the International Market for Cinema and Multimedia (MIFED) in Milan, Italy, to raise awareness of the production. One week into principal photography, the 5 Oct 1981 HR announced the acquisition of foreign distribution rights by Manson International Pictures.
       An article in the 4 Feb 1983 HR described the picture as “family entertainment,” based on the participation of Heston family members Charlton, Fraser, Lydia, and Marilyn, as well as former stuntman Joe Canutt, a family friend, hired as second unit director. Interior scenes were filmed inside a Vancouver, Canada, warehouse, which housed the cabin and silver mine sets.
       Following the completion of photography, Charlton Heston made a series of personal appearances to promote the sale of investor shares in the film, starting 30 Nov 1981, according to the 24 Nov 1981 HR. The 16 Dec 1981 Var reported that Heston made appearances in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, on behalf of Yorktown Securities and First Alberta Securities, the two financial entities offering shares in the picture, with the goal of raising $6 million. The actor-director attended a cocktail party in each city, where he discussed the film with potential investors and signed autographs. A total of 1,200 share units were being offered at $5,000 each, and the Canadian government offered a 100% tax deferment for investors. It was reported that Charlton Heston would receive $177,000 for directing, $400,000 for starring, and seventeen to twenty-one percent of net profits. Fraser Heston would be paid $129,050 for his screenplay and $118,000 as producer, plus eleven percent of net profits.
       The 12 Mar 1982 HR reported Charlton Heston’s plans to appear at the American Film Market (AFM) in Los Angeles, CA, to promote Mother Lode. Heston was scheduled to participate in the 25 Mar 1982 opening ceremony, and as a speaker at the “black-tie closing gala” on 2 Apr 1982. The film was still in post-production at the time and would not be available for viewing until May 1982, when it would be screened at the Cannes International Film Festival in France. The final cost of production was $5.5 million, $200,000 below the anticipated cost. Principal photography was completed one day behind schedule, due to inclement weather. At the time of the article, negotiations were said to be underway with several major distributors, though no names were mentioned.
       In the 2 Apr 1982 HR, Manson International president Michael Goldman announced $3 million in advance foreign sales for Mother Lode. It premiered in Kansas City, MO, 26 Aug 1982, with screenings the following day in St. Joseph, MO, and the Kansas communities of Leavenworth, Topeka, Lawrence, and Ottawa. Charlton Heston and costar Kim Basinger gave interviews to news media throughout the region, and appeared at the premiere, as well as other screenings. Tickets to the premiere were available though local radio station KBEQ-FM. Heston was advised to open in the Kansas City area by a consulting firm and several distribution professionals, all of whom recommended the region as having the ideal demographic to determine the film’s appeal for the rest of the country. While there were no immediate plans for a general release, Fraser Heston stated that his family’s production company, Agamemnon Films, was prepared to open the picture “region by region” in the absence of a major distributor. Overseas openings were planned for Australia and Western Europe throughout Sep 1982. A full-page advertisement in the 8 Sep 1982 Var announced gross receipts of $51,244 from the opening weekend in the Kansas City area, as well as the film’s European debut at the Deauville American Film Festival in France, 10 Sep 1982.
       The 20 Oct 1982 Var reported the film’s 8 Oct 1982 release in TX, OK, NM, and MO, accompanied by personal appearances by Charlton Heston. Agamemnon budgeted $5 million to facilitate its release schedule. According to the 4 Feb 1983 HR, regional openings continued into the following year with “good, if not spectacular, results.” The Hestons screened Mother Lode at the University of Southern California (USC) prior to its Los Angeles, CA, opening the following week, and were heartened by the enthusiastic response of the audience.
       The 4 Apr 1983 DV reported that the film had so far grossed $7.2 million domestically, and $3 million in foreign markets. Ancillary rights were purchased by Atlantic Television, Inc. (ATI), which planned a pay television debut in 1984. The 11 May 1983 Var announced the formation of RKR Releasing, a company founded by producer Richard K. Rosenberg, which acquired domestic distribution rights to Mother Lode. Rosenberg was dissatisfied with the title, and planned an initial engagement in Seattle, WA, which would include a contest challenging audience members to give the film a new title. Charlton Heston was expected to make appearances at upcoming openings in New York City and several Midwestern cities.
       Mother Lode opened to mixed reviews. While the 8 Sep 1982 Var complimented Heston’s directorial effort, the May 1983 Box described the film as a “dull attempt at a cliff-hanging adventure.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
May 1983.
---
CineMag
13 Oct 1980.
---
Daily Variety
27 Aug 1981.
---
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1981.
---
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1982
p. 3, 6.
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 1981
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1982
p. 1, 48.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 1983
p. 3, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1983
p. 18, 50.
LAHExam
7 Sep 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Aug 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Feb 1983
p. 4.
Variety
25 Jun 1980.
---
Variety
1 Oct 1980.
---
Variety
2 Sep 1981.
---
Variety
28 Oct 1981.
---
Variety
16 Dec 1981.
---
Variety
8 Sep 1982
p. 11, 16.
Variety
20 Oct 1982.
---
Variety
11 May 1983
p. 6, 46.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Atlantic Television Inc. presents
A Martin Shafer/Andrew Scheinman presentation
of an Agamemnon Films Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
3rd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Panaglide op
Still photog
2d unit dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Cam op/Aviation seqs
Asst cam, 2d unit
Asst cam, 2d unit
Negative processing by
Best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Apprentice
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
2d asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Props asst
Set dec
Asst set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus wrt and cond by
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Dial ed
Foley eff
Foley eff
Sd asst
Post prod sd services by
Post prod sd services by
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opt eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Asst spec eff
Asst spec eff
Process projection specialist
Process projectionist
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Spec makeup eff
McGee's makeup des by
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst to the dir
Prod controller
Asst controller
Financial services
Marketing and advertising
Public relations
Unit pub/Asst to the prods
Canadian pub
Stunt pilot
Stunt pilot
Cam pilot
Helicopter pilot
Transportation coord
Driver capt
Driver capt
Craft service/1st aid
STAND INS
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Search for the Motherlode - The Last Great Treasure
Motherlode
Release Date:
27 August 1982
Premiere Information:
Premiered in Kansas City, MO: 26 August 1982
Los Angeles opening: 4 February 1983
Production Date:
28 September--late November 1981 in British Columbia
Copyright Claimant:
Agamemnon Films
Copyright Date:
14 September 1982
Copyright Number:
PA151058
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Reflex Camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Canada, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26665
SYNOPSIS

In the Cassiar region of British Columbia, geologist George Patterson is trapped inside a mine. An unseen figure digs through the rock to reach George and kills him with a pickaxe. Weeks later, airplane pilot Jean Dupre and his boss, Gerrard Elliot of the Mollyco mining company, discuss George’s disappearance, noting that neither the geologist nor his airplane have been located. Gerrard suspects Jean of withholding information and threatens him with dismissal. Jean lands the plane and abandons the cockpit, as the vessel wanders aimlessly around the runway with Gerrard inside. At dawn the next morning, Jean visits George’s girl friend, Andrea Spalding, to learn of George’s whereabouts. Although George never divulged his destination, Andrea remembers him studying a map of northern British Columbia, confirming Jean’s suspicion that George was seeking gold in the Cassiar. When Jean announces his intention to find George, Andrea insists on joining him, despite the dilapidated condition of Jean’s floatplane. Along the way, Jean and Andrea discuss the Cassiar gold rush of 1875, during which $10 million in gold was found in the Stikine River. Although the gold supply appears to have been exhausted, the source, or “mother lode,” was never discovered. This is what he believes drew George to the region. As they reach the Stikine River, an engine failure forces Jean to land the plane. An elderly Native American fisherman named Elijha approaches in his motorboat, diagnoses the problem as a clogged fuel line and removes the obstruction. When Elijha notices mining equipment inside the plane, he warns Jean of impending danger, exemplified by a floatplane that disappeared in ... +


In the Cassiar region of British Columbia, geologist George Patterson is trapped inside a mine. An unseen figure digs through the rock to reach George and kills him with a pickaxe. Weeks later, airplane pilot Jean Dupre and his boss, Gerrard Elliot of the Mollyco mining company, discuss George’s disappearance, noting that neither the geologist nor his airplane have been located. Gerrard suspects Jean of withholding information and threatens him with dismissal. Jean lands the plane and abandons the cockpit, as the vessel wanders aimlessly around the runway with Gerrard inside. At dawn the next morning, Jean visits George’s girl friend, Andrea Spalding, to learn of George’s whereabouts. Although George never divulged his destination, Andrea remembers him studying a map of northern British Columbia, confirming Jean’s suspicion that George was seeking gold in the Cassiar. When Jean announces his intention to find George, Andrea insists on joining him, despite the dilapidated condition of Jean’s floatplane. Along the way, Jean and Andrea discuss the Cassiar gold rush of 1875, during which $10 million in gold was found in the Stikine River. Although the gold supply appears to have been exhausted, the source, or “mother lode,” was never discovered. This is what he believes drew George to the region. As they reach the Stikine River, an engine failure forces Jean to land the plane. An elderly Native American fisherman named Elijha approaches in his motorboat, diagnoses the problem as a clogged fuel line and removes the obstruction. When Elijha notices mining equipment inside the plane, he warns Jean of impending danger, exemplified by a floatplane that disappeared in the region three weeks earlier. Certain that George was the missing flier, Jean and Andrea continue to the headwaters, but find no sign of the aircraft. In a failed attempt to land on the water, Jean capsizes his plane, leaving him and Andrea stranded in the wilderness. From their campsite, they hear the sound of bagpipes, and follow it to the mountainside cabin of Scottish miner Silas McGee, who greets them enthusiastically, and offers to take them to a town downriver in two days. Silas says that he has been mining the area for thirty years, and despite the legends, has never found gold, only silver. Jean assures him that their search is for George, not gold. When Jean asks about the bagpipe music, Silas expresses his disdain for the instrument, insisting that they imagined the sound, then gives the couple a tour of his mine. After returning to camp, Jean tells Andrea of his distrust for Silas, certain that he lied about both the bagpipes and the gold. Early the next morning, Andrea is awoken by a noise in the woods, and when she investigates, a stranger grabs her hand, then disappears as Jean comes to her rescue. Later that day, Jean dons SCUBA gear and explores the lake, while Andrea mans the air pump. As he discovers an underwater tunnel and a gold nugget, the pump ceases to function. Jean returns safely to shore, but finds the pump has been sabotaged. Andrea returns to the cabin and distracts Silas while Jean removes ore samples from the mine. Later, Silas tells them of his late brother and partner, Alistair Ian McGee, who died fifteen years earlier in a cave-in. At camp the next morning, Jean throws a stone in the river, and the parting waves reveal George’s submerged plane. When Andrea confronts Silas about the plane wreck, he claims ignorance,but warns Andrea to leave with her companion while they are still able. Andrea follows Jean into the mine to tell him of the threat, but he is preoccupied with a virgin wall of rock, which may contain the mother lode. As Andrea discovers a burning dynamite fuse, an unseen figure removes her from the tunnel before the explosion occurs. Jean finds his way back to the cabin and is attacked from behind. He clubs his assailant to death and goes back to camp, believing both Silas and Andrea are dead. Despite Elijha’s assurances that no gold is left in the mountain, Jean continues his search and discovers an underwater cave, but only finds a human skeleton, a wall of mud, and a ladder that leads him directly to a trap door under Silas’ cabin. When Jean emerges from the mine, Silas pours him a glass of whiskey, and explains that the man he killed was Ian, who murdered both George and Andrea for trying to steal his gold. Silas admits that there is gold in the mine, and invites Jean to assist him in finding it before the rising waters make it inaccessible. However, Jean is despondent over Andrea’s death, and hesitates to accept the offer. He encounters Andrea outside the cabin, who reveals that Ian saved her from the explosion. Jean realizes he killed the wrong man, and insists they leave in the morning. Silas abducts Andrea, and Jean follows them into the mine armed with a shotgun, promising to assist Silas if Andrea is released unharmed. Silas knocks down a support beam, and as the tunnel collapses, water rushes in, revealing a wall of gold ore hidden under the mud. Jean clings to a rock until the water subsides. Inside the cabin, Silas threatens Andrea with an axe while telling her of his quest for the gold, and denouncing his parasitic brother. As Silas is about to strike a fatal blow, Jean appears and dispatches him with the shotgun. Elijha returns in the morning, and asks Jean if all he endured was worth the trouble. Jean tosses him a gold nugget, saying that he found the mother lode, and offers it to Elijha. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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