Compass Inn

The Compass Inn in Laughlintown, shown Dec. 1, 2021, is one of several settings that will be featured in an upcoming Christian Bale film based on the novel "The Pale Blue Eye."

Our region has a long history with the movie industry, so we were pleased but not at all surprised to learn that Netflix had chosen to shoot scenes for a new film in Somerset County and elsewhere in southwestern Pennsylvania.

As our David Hurst reported this week, scenes from “The Pale Blue Eye” will be shot in areas of Somerset County and at the Compass Inn in Laughlintown, along Route 30 in Westmoreland County.

The picture – with a possible release in late 2022 – is a murder mystery set in the 1800s and will feature actor Christian Bale as detective Augustus Landor, who is seeking clues to killings at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

We expect “The Pale Blue Eye” will join the likes of “Slap Shot” and “All The Right Moves” – both filmed in Johnstown – in bringing an immediate boost to the local economy and then providing a source of civic connection and tourism marketability in the years to come.

“This is a really exciting project to come to our region,” Anna Weltz, public relations director for GO Laurel Highlands, told Hurst. “It’s always wonderful to see the Laurel Highlands in the limelight and we’re all eagerly awaiting a chance to see the final production on our Netflix screens at home.”

Weltz predicted that cast and crew members will spend hundreds of dollars each day at local restaurants, motels and area destinations. “They want to experience the local culture,” she said.

The rural scenery and the Compass Inn – which dates to 1799 – will provide a more realistic backdrop for the movie than would modern West Point, New York, publicist Peter Silbermann told The Tribune-Democrat.

“The director (Scott Cooper) and producer did location scouting all across the northeast and Canada – and even visited West Point,” he said.

“But over the years, it’s become a bit too Silicon Valley for the period they are trying to capture. Ultimately, it led them to the Pittsburgh area – and Christian (Bale), who is also the producer, knows the area.”

This is Bale’s third film to be shot in western Pennsylvania, following “Out of the Furnace” and the popular Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Other cast members will include Gillian Anderson, Robert Duvall and Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley in the “Harry Potter” films) as a young Edgar Allan Poe.

As our friends at the New Castle News reported, filming will also take place at two Lawrence County locations – Westminster College in New Wilmington and McConnells Mill State Park off Route 422.

Interim Lawrence County administrator Joe Venasco said he was among local officials who met with representatives of the movie project to plan for shooting there on Dec. 13.

“It’s a really big operation,” Venasco told the New Castle News. “That’s what was most shocking to me. You’re talking about hundreds of people involved in the production, set crew, preparations, all of those things. We’re hoping they’re staying in Lawrence County hotels, eating in local restaurants and patronizing the local businesses.”

This is an exciting development for the entire area, further solidifying our ties to filmmaking.

We continue to celebrate the legacy of the Paul Newman hockey comedy “Slap Shot” (1977) and the Tom Cruise high school football drama “All The Right Moves” (1983). Local gridiron teams have played games decked out in the colors of the Ampipe Bulldogs and rival Walnut Heights, while the beloved Hanson Brothers of “Slap Shot” fame are part of Johnstown lore.

“People are passionate about this kind of stuff,” Weltz said.

“They call it pop culture for a reason – because it’s popular.”

The Denzel Washington thriller “Unstoppable” was shot in Blair and Centre counties, but we’ll take credit for that one, too.

The Pittburgh region’s film credits list is long and includes “Flashdance,” “Gung Ho,” “The Deer Hunter” and the horror classics “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”

The next chapter is “The Pale Blue Eye” – which landed flyers about the production in the mailboxes of Laughlintown resident Roger Campbell and his neighbors. Campbell told Hurst he recalled a historical documentary about the French and Indian War being shot locally decades ago.

This new film “could have a good (impact) here,” Campbell said.

Yes, it certainly could – now and in the future.

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