In June 1970, the biggest movie star in the world traveled to the Oregon Coast to film an epic novel about a defiant family of loggers written by a home grown counterculture hero. The star was Paul Newman. The author was Ken Kesey. The story was Sometimes a Great Notion and it has a fanatical following in the Pacific Northwest.
What ensued was a wild working vacation between Hollywood and Oregonians involving beer, sex, scotch, loggers, beaches, and perhaps, a spectacularly vandalized pool table. In Sometimes a Great Movie: Paul Newman, Ken Kesey and the Filming of the Great Oregon Novel, author Matt Love documents the legend of that magical summer and presents over a 125 never-before-seen photographs, including many in color.
“I first became interested in the story after Ken Kesey died in 2001, when I heard a remarkable tale from an eyewitness who claimed that during the movie shoot, Paul Newman cut the legs off a pool table with a chain saw in a Toledo bar,” said Love. “I wanted to discover if the story was true. In the course of four years, I interviewed close to a hundred people connected to the filming and collected hundreds of incredibly candid photographs. I think I’ve ended up with a truly fun and poignant narrative about a unprecedented earthy collaboration between Hollywood and a place where they went on location to make a movie.”
In the third installment of his Newport Trilogy, preceded by Super Sunday in Newport: Notes From My First Year in Town and Love & The Green Lady, Meditations on the Yaquina Bay Bridge: Oregon’s Crown Jewel of Socialism, Love blends reportage, memoir, primary documents, oral history, film criticism, and photographs to produce a unique, entertaining, visually rich work of non fiction. In the book, Love also presents the daring thesis that the filming of Kesey’s literary masterpiece may have helped re-elect Governor Tom McCall, who in his second term (1971-75), led the state to pass a series of progressive governing initiatives that created modern Oregon and one of the most desirable places to live in the country.