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Sun April 14, 2013
Pike County Historical Society and ZGWS team up for Riders of the Purple Sage movies
Robert J Lentz

The Pike County Historical Society will be hosting a Zane Grey “Riders of the Purple Sage” double feature over the weekend of April 19. Two movie versions of Grey’s most famous western, which just celebrated its one hundredth anniversary, will be presented, introduced by a member of Zane Grey’s West Society. The films will be shown on Friday evening, April 19, at 7:00, and Sunday afternoon, April 21, at 3:00.

April 19th’s showing will spotlight the 1925 silent film version starring Pennsylvania native Tom Mix (and his saddle partner Tony the Wonder Horse). This entertaining and historically significant feature will be presented in the downstairs viewing room of the Columns museum in Milford at 7:00 p.m. The showing is free to the public and refreshments will be available.

April 21st’s showing will present the 1996 made-for-cable version starring (and produced by) Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. This modern version is considered to be the most faithful of the five movies derived from the book, and is the only Zane Grey adaptation to be made since 1956. It will be presented in the downstairs viewing room of the Columns museum in Milford at 3:00 p.m. The showing is free to the public and refreshments will be available.

Both showings will be introduced by Robert Lentz, member of Zane Grey’s West Society and author of three movie reference books. Lentz contributed an essay regarding all five movie versions to the newly published Centennial Edition of “Riders of the Purple Sage” by the ZGWS, which presents background information on Grey, his process of writing the book and why the book is still important to readers of today. That book will be on hand at the film screenings, along with assorted publicity material from the films.

“These two movies are as distinct as night and day, even though they share a common source,” says Lentz. “Watching them closely together demonstrates just how differently movies were made back in the silent days compared to our era. Both are very good examples of a classic story skillfully adapted to the medium of film, even with their variances. And they would not exist but for the vivid, visual imagination of Zane Grey, who wrote ‘Riders’ while living nearby in Lackawaxen.”

The PCHS’s Columns Museum is located at 608 Broad Street, Milford, Pennsylvania. It endeavors to maintain and perpetuate the historical legacy of Pike County through exhibits, educational initiatives and social programs like this one. To volunteer or become actively involved in the important preservation of our past, please contact Lori Strelecki at pikemuse@ptd.net or phone the museum during operating hours at 570-296-8126. The Columns museum in Milford is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.


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Historical images of Zane Grey used with permission of Dr. Loren Grey and Zane Grey, Inc.
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Historical photos of Zane Grey used with permission of Dr. Loren Grey and Zane Grey Inc.