Idaho Nearly Won 1940 War Film An Academy Award In Cinematography
Idaho has a surprisingly rich history in the Hollywood motion picture industry. The state has provided the cinematic backdrop for celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, and Will Smith. The beautiful landscape of central Idaho was also used to depict a fictional, eighteenth-century expedition and conflict between Native Americans and soldiers in an Oscar-nominated film starring Spencer Tracy.
Pale Rider, Bus Stop, Wild Wild West, and Napolean Dynamite are perhaps the four most recognizable films ever to use Idaho in Hollywood cinematography credits. When we're talking war movies, there's only one that showcased the rugged beauty of the state as a primary focus in its story-telling.
Payette Lake is located in Mccall, which is just a couple hours' drive northwest of the Magic Valley. More than 80 years ago, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) released a film loosely based on a French and Indian War novel that was later nominated for an Academy Award (1941) in the cinematography category, which was thanks to Idaho. The movie didn't win any awards, but it did show the world the beauty of the McCall area.
Northwest Passage starred Hollywood heavyweight Spencer Tracy. It's been described as one of the most physically demanding shoots in Hollywood history. My father, a Vietnam veteran, was a big war film buff, and I seem to remember the movie being on our television more than a few times growing up. The shots of Payette Lake are amazing considering the film came out in 1940.