For five days last August, upstate New York (the Aerodrome in Rhinebeck and the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge) ably stood in for the fictional small Texas town, Harrison, for actor Tim Guinee‘s assured directorial debut, “One Armed Man,” adapted from the play, set in 1928, by Horton Foote.
With miracle workers (the budget was probably less than that for craft service on one of the blockbusters, “Iron Man,” that featured Tim) production designer Jesika Farkas and costume designer Ingrid Price (and a cast and crew of colleagues and friends–including me, shooting stills), Tim meticulously created the cotton fields (even placing crickets by hand on the plants that had arrived Fed Ex), gin and office, presided over by owner C.W. Rowe (Charles Haid–pitch-perfect, as are the other two member of the cast), Harrison’s most prosperous citizen.
C.W.–wealthy, with a too healthy self-regard and a robust admiration for capitalism, is domineering and dismissive, endlessly pressing his morality and wordview on Pinky (Terry Kinney), his weary bookkeeper. But while Pinky (and one assumes other employees and members of C.W.’s church and local civic associations), deals with his boss with resigned near-silence, the power of C.W.’s loquaciousness to intimidate reaches its limits when Ned (John Magaro), a young former cotton gin worker, destabilized by the loss of his arm in the machinery, shows up demanding the return of his limb.
“One Armed Man” premiered at SXSW on Friday in the Texas Shorts Competition section and will have two additional screenings at the festival, tonight at 7:00 pm, CDT, at the Topfer Theatre at ZACH and Saturday, March 15, 2:00 pm, CDT, at SXSatellite: Marchesa.