Lights! Camera! Arkansas: From Broncho Billy to Billy Bob Thornton, by University of Arkansas professors Robert Cochran and Suzanne McCray, is the first book to chronicle the roles played by Arkansas and Arkansans in Hollywood’s film industry. Cochran and McCray screened close to 200 films in their research for the book—from laughable box-office bombs to laudable examples of great filmmaking. Their spirited chronological narrative is enhanced with an appendix on documentary films and a ratings section (including top ten lists for both authors).
On Wednesday evening, August 9, the book’s authors will be present for a discussion prior to a screening of Jeff Nichols’s 2013 film Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and actor/playwright Sam Shepard, who passed away this week. Part coming-of-age quest, part redemption story, Mud takes place in a small town on the Mississippi River, where two boys befriend a mysterious fugitive living on an island. Before the screening, we’ll take a look at where Arkansas film is today, discussing some famous examples like Sling Blade, Winter’s Bone, and more.
The film is free, but please register online or with Guest Services.
Robert Cochran is a professor of English in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, chair of the American Studies Program and director of the Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies, He has lived in Arkansas for 30 years and produced many articles, books and documentary films devoted to the arts in Arkansas, including Our Own Sweet Sounds: A Celebration of Popular Music in Arkansas and A Photographer of Note: Arkansas Artist Geleve Grice.
Suzanne McCray, a Fort Smith native, is a faculty member in the College of Education and Health Professions, vice provost for enrollment management, dean of admissions and director of the office of nationally competitive awards.