“High Stakes: The Life & Times of E.W. Marland” premieres May 6

Ponca City Now - February 19, 2016 11:43 am

By Beverly Bryant/News Director

"High Stakes: the Life and Times of E. W. Marland" will have its premiere May 6 at The Poncan Theatre.

The documentary was filmed by Scott Swearingen and Steve Herrin Products and was funded by a grant of $100,000 from the Marland Estate Foundation. Oklahoma author Michael Wallis is the narrator for the film.

It was shot in the format of an OETA/PBS production with the intention of it being shown on public television.

“ The idea for this film started at a table conversation at a Historic Preservation Conference in Perry a few years ago,” Keathly said Friday morning.

“ The project was completely funded with no city funds used,” he said. “We have been working on it over a year.”

The first order of business, Keathly said, was to get those who knew Lydie on film to record their memories.

“ The producers came up several times and went through the interviews,” Keathly said. “We do have the rights to the product and everything auxiliary to it. They will go into the permanent files. We will have the rights to sell CDs in the gift shop.”

Major scenes were shot on several dates, he said.

“ At the end of October, we literally recreated a grand 1928 ballroom scene with 70 to 75 people in the ballroom,” Keathly said. “J.D. Hanks and Mayor Nicholson loaned us vintage cars. An early scene shows people driving up to the door with a footman helping people out of the cars and into the mansion.”

Another session filmed a banquet or hors d’oeuvres gathering which featured a 1920s band with a vocalist who sang 1920s songs.

“ We had 75 people in 1920s clothing gathered. Some had a few lines. The scene showed that was the night E.W. Marland was introducing Lydie as his new wife,” Keathly said. “The microphones moving through the crowd picked up certain conversation areas where people were talking about what a surprise it was.”

Filming also took place outside of Ponca City, he said.

The City of Bartlesville allowed the filmmakers to film at the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 – Oklahoma’s first commercial oil well. They recreated Marland’s first oil strike with darkened water pumped to appear as oil, Keathly said.

Rod Bodick played E.W. Marland Jayne Detten and Leisha Combes portrayed Lydie Marland at different life stages.

Keathly said several boys from 7 to 9 year old played marbles as E.W. and his friends at that age.

Even college students from the University of Tulsa were included in the film, recreating a poker scene representing Marland as a young man.

Two late scenes were recreated at a 1960s run-down motel. This was where C.D. Northcutt met Lydie on the motel steps after she contacted him to come home to Ponca City. Another scene shot late in the production shows Lydie driving away from Lydie’s Cottage in a 1950s-era Buick convertible, Keathly said.

“We are very excited about the film and getting it done,” Keathly said.

He said the film’s debut on May 6 will be for donors, members of the Marland Estate board, and those who acted in the film. These will be the VIP celebrities for the red-carpet event.

“ There will be a red carpet with search lights in the sky. It will be a great evening,” Keathly said.

Public tickets also will be for sale and a matinee will be shown for the public following the premiere.

After the film shows here, Keathly said, “Then we get the product to OETA. They can’t sign a contract without seeing the final product, but there is a letter of intent.

“ Our real hope is once OETA shows it, the regional states will eventually pick it up. Our ultimate goal is to A. tell the correct story, and B. tell it as authentically as we can.”

He said the filmmakers have gone through the files at the estate.

“ We hope our product will be as accurate as possible,” he said.

Rod Bodick and Leasha Combes in a camera shot as they portray E.W. and Lydie Marland announcing their marriage.


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