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Rarely Seen Film By New City Playwright To Be Screened In Rockland

For the first time ever, the film "High Tor," which is set in Rockland County, will be shown here at the Lafayette Theatre in October.
For the first time ever, the film "High Tor," which is set in Rockland County, will be shown here at the Lafayette Theatre in October. Photo Credit: Historical Society of Rockland County

Considered the first "made-for-TV' movie, "High Tor" was originally broadcast on CBS on March 10, 1956.

It was part of the Ford Star Jubilee evening movie series and was based on a play of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner Maxwell Anderson, who used to live on South Mountain Road in New City. The film is set in Rockland and loaded with local references but ironically it has never been shown in the county. This is about to change.

The Historical Society of Rockland County has announced the film starring Bing Crosby and Julie Andrews will be screened at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern on Oct. 1. The screening is part of Rockland County Historical Month and the Haverstraw 400 year anniversary.

Anderson wrote the play in 1936, a tale of bribery and the supernatural. At the time the United States Traprock Company--now called Tilcon--had already purchased and torn down the mountain peak directly south of High Tor.

The company wanted to purchase the High Tor peak with plans to remove the rear side of the mountain for aggregate before the Palisades Interstate Park Commission stepped in and preserved the land.

In the film Crosby plays Van Van Dorn, who owns High Tor Mountain but is being pressured into selling it before a rockslide traps him underground with realtors. He meets the spirit that night of a Dutch girl, Lisa, played by Andrews.

Portions of the film were shot in Haverstraw and at High Tor Mountain but the bulk of filming took place on the west coast. However, there are plenty of local references.

"They talk about a bank robbery in Nanuet. Crosby is reading a newspaper, and he says, 'the bank robbers got $5,000. I didn't think they had $5,000 in Nanuet,'" said Joe Yranski, who collaborated with the HSRC to make this happen. Other references include the Haverstraw Empire Chair Factory and Sing Sing prison.

"High Tor" was not shown again until a 2006 members-only screening for the Film Society of Lincoln Center and last year in Fort Lee after Crosby's widow, Kathryn, granted Yranski access to the film.

Members of the HSRC thanked the family of Bing Crosby, HLC Properties, and specifically Kathryn, whom they are grateful to, for the chance to screen the film, HSRC Executive Director Susan Deeks said.

"High Tor" will be screened at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern on Saturday, Oct. 1. The film will start at 11:30 a.m. with a special Wurlitzer Organ recital at 11 a.m. Admission is $5 per person for the screening; tickets can be purchased here.

In addition, tickets are also being sold for a VIP post-screening panel discussion with film experts. These VIP tickets are limited and include theater admission and a luncheon at Marcello’s Ristorante, and cost $69 per person ($64 for Historical Society members). For more information, visit the Historical Society of Rockland County website.

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