Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Always ...

This is a shot I took way back in 1994, of what looks like an old Forest Service fire lookout tower now surrounded by trees. But it's actually a movie prop -- it was constructed in 1989 at the municipal airport up in Libby, to serve as a mock control tower during the filming of the movie Always. John Goodman had some of his best scenes up in that thing.

Always is the story of a pilot for the Forest Service, who flew tanker planes filled with water to fight forest fires. He's killed in a crash during one of the film's first scenes, and Audrey Hepburn brings him back to earth as an unwilling ghost who needs to do a good deed or two. It's an unquestionably sappy film, but I still like it, and it's got some nice northwestern Montana scenes ... along with my very favorite rendition of the song, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."

As for the control tower, they had to move it a bit after the filming so it wouldn't interfere with airport activities, but as of a few years ago at least it was still up there ... one of the few physical reminders of Montana's long connection with Hollywood.


  1. Is it a functional structure? I know there are a number of similar dis-used places in ID/WA/MT that are rented as rustic accommodation for backpackers, cross country skiers, etc. Himself's former boss used to rent such spaces for his excursions.

  2. Nope, it was just a piece of quick-and-dirty construction for the movie, and I'm sure it would have never held up to that sort of use. If I remember right, when I saw it in the 90s it was already blocked off for alleged safety issues. And anyway, it was just a few miles from town, right by the airport and near other development, so it wouldn't have been a very exotic getaway.

    I've rented a couple of those Forest Service backcountry cabins before, and it's a wonderful experience ... pretty close to idyllic in lots of ways. Someday, I need to rent one of the lookouts!

  3. Ah, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes....
    I didn't know that the lookouts could be rented! That would ease my worries about Ursus horribilus or whatever the grizzly bear's real, true Latin name is.

    I did like that movie. And it was terribly sappy.

  4. Mark,

    I've heard the football games at Libby are a real hoot too... haven't seen one myself (Class A), but apparently the pregame activities has much to do with chainsaws! Quite a ruckus I'm told.


  5. Yep, those rental lookouts and cabins are wonderful places ... definitely worth reserving one for a weekend sometime. (And I know what you mean about the bears -- two friends of mine were killed by a bear in Glacier a number of years ago, and I'm always leery. I still go hiking, though.)

    And I've heard about Libby, Morgan ... my sister lived there for a few years back in the 90s, and I've seen photos of high-school boys playing with chainsaws midfield! It would absolutely be something to see, provided nobody loses a limb. :)