Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Morgan Griffith on Movies

Two movies about our part of the world? Well...sort of. From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith:

Fightin’ Ninth in Film
In recent weeks, two films have given the nation the opportunity to learn some about the Ninth District.

Big Stone Gap, released nationwide on October 9, was shot on location in Wise County.  It is based on the novel set in the 1970s by Adriana Trigiani, a Big Stone Gap native.  Actor Patrick Wilson has family ties to Big Stone Gap as well.  Near the end, the supporting actor suggests visiting the Hob-Nob Drive In, a real-life Gate City family diner still in business, owned by my Emory and Henry fraternity brother Ross Jenkins.

Also in the news is Steven Spielberg-directed Bridge of Spies, which was released nationwide on October 16.  In one of its subplots, Bridge of Spies – set in the Cold War era – tells of pilot Francis Gary Powers, who spent his childhood in Pound before his family moved to Buchanan County.  After graduating from high school and college, Powers joined the Air Force and was recruited by the CIA.

While on a spying mission in 1960, Powers’ U-2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory by a Russian missile.  He was captured, interrogated, and held prisoner for two years.

During this time, Powers was put on trial in Moscow.  In Southwest Virginia’s legal circles, it is well known that Powers’ parents obtained the services of Norton attorney Carl McAfee.  According to the Roanoke Times, below McAfee’s office was Powers’ father’s shoe-repair shop.

Bridge of Spies gets its name from the 1962 prisoner swap in which Powers was exchanged for a convicted Russian spy.  The two walked from opposite ends of the Glienicke Bridge – the so-called “Bridge of Spies,” which links Berlin with Potsdam – to freedom.

Not mentioned in the film is Norton resident Kim Mullins.  Ms. Mullins, a local official who is Powers’ second cousin, told the Roanoke Times Powers took her on her first flight.  She is now a licensed pilot, and spearheaded successful local efforts to rename the terminal at the Lonesome Pine Airport in Powers’ honor.

Powers’ son, Gary Powers Jr., told the Roanoke Times, “The Powers family is very honored and humbled that my dad is considered an American hero of the Cold War.”  Mullins tells us she and others are hoping to collect memorabilia for use in an exhibit at the airport.

As always, you can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office by email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.