THE LAST RIDGE - The Inspiring Story of the 10th Mountain Division, A Compelling PBS Documentary Based on the Book by McKay Jenkins
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Filming Blog

TEAM 10TH FILMING REPORT FOR SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2005

LOCATION: MILAN, ITALY

MOUNTAIN DIVISION IS BACK IN ACTION IN ITALY
Beginning Saturday, January 29th, the 10th Mountain Division is back in action in Italy, including a climb of Riva Ridge. But this time, the only shooting is by a seasoned camera crew for the public television national documentary The Last Ridge.

Produced by Abbie Kealy, niece of Stuart Abbott, 86-L, KIA, the documentary is based on the Random House book by McKay Jenkins. The ten days of filming include limited re-creations on major 10th battlefields from Riva Ridge to Riva del Garda to the Slovenian border, under considerably better conditions than 1945. The goal is to help today's viewers better understand the terrain, the physical barriers and how the 10th over came mountain warfare conditions.

Filming in Italy will match hundreds of hours of comprehensive interviews by Kealy with 80 troopers of all stripes and from all states, recorded over the past 18 months. The program also makes extensive use of archival letters, film & photos from the 10th Mtn Resource Center in Denver.

When cameras aren't rolling, Kealy agreed to email updates so we can track their progress across northern Italy. Other warmly dressed members of Team 10th 2005 include:

*Bob Parker, 87-E-HQ, instrumental in formation of Vail & Skiing Magazine, among many other things;

*Myrna Hampton, daughter of Col. Henry Hampton, 86-HQ-1, tireless oral historian & Descendent Board Member at Large;

*Sgt. Cain Claxton, 10th Mtn Division Public Affairs Specialist, Fort Drum, NY, recently spotted on 10th Mt. Washington climb in August, 2004 & in Afghanistan;

*Richard Chisolm, Emmy award winning Videographer Extraordinaire.

The 1st Team 10th 2005 "Grazie" goes to Dave Little, Honorary 10th Lifer, for his stylish re-enactor uniform outfitting. Look for pictures soon.

Stay with us, Always Forward, in the best tradition of the 10th, Team 10th 2005
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm

TEAM 10th FILMING REPORT FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 2005

LOCATION: VIDICIATICO, ITALY

FIRST DAY OF FILMING
Comfortably lodged in Vidiciatico, Team 10th is preparing for our first day of filming on Mt. Belvedere. On the list of scenes to be filmed are shots evoking the February 19th, 1945 command to "Fix bayonets! Move out" without artillery preparation.

Tuesday Tease: the Riva Ridge climb up Route 3.

Which of the following is NOT true:

1. The luggage of Bob Parker, 87-E-HQ, takes a wrong turn and is re-routed to a Mystery Location.

2. SGT Cain Claxton realizes you really do need a valid driver¹s license to rent a car in Italy.

3. Videographer Richard Chisolm, during a jet lagged brain freeze moment, nearly tosses Abbie Kealy's credit card in toll both change bucket.

4. Myrna Hampton decides to leave her busy life in Carmel, California to open a B & B in the Hilltowns.

A Big Team 10th "Grazie" to Bruno Bartholmei at Hotel Montegrande in Vidiciatico for his warm hospitality, putting us up & putting up with us:)Stay Warm, Stay Standing,
Team 10th
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm

TEAM 10th FILMING REPORT FOR MONDAY, JANUARY 31, 2005

LOCATION: QUERCIOLA, ITALY

UP TO MOUNT BELVEDERE
Today's crystal clear weather was perfect as the filming progresses for the 10th Mountain documentary, The Last Ridge.

Starting with filming of our own 10th Mtn ascent to the heights of Belvedere, we progressed along Mt. Gorgolesco and della Torraccia with ease. By late afternoon we had also taken Rocca Corneta, Iola and Mt. Vedetta. We also simulated early patrols in snow ... not bad for an afternoon, even though we're a little out of order from the original events.

Today's Team 10th "Grazie" goes to Giovanni Sulla, for his gracious loan of precious 10th Mtn artifacts -- what a guy!

Which of the following is NOT true:

1. Our Alpini guides break into concert Live at Rocca Corneta after 3 bottles of wine.

2. Richard Chisolm perfects phone imitation of Bruno to scare wits out of Abbie.

3. Giovanni Sulla takes a vow of silence.

4 Sgt Cain Claxton earns more stripes by not getting carsick in back of van driven by a very fast Italian.

Gotta Blaze to prepare for tomorrows climb of Riva Ridge!
Team 10th 2005
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm

TEAM 10TH FILM REPORT FOR TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2005:

LOCATION: RIVA RIDGE, ITALY

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE
Time to tap out a few notes as filming continues for The Last Ridge film documentary. The uphill event today was a climb up Riva Ridge via Mt. Serrasiccia, aka Route 3 during the original operation on Feb 18, 1945.

Another beautiful day dawns on Riva. Although our route was slightly altered to accommodate for safety, snow and visual considerations, the gradient hasn't changed a bit over the past 60 years. Steep!

Our re-enactors pulled their weights and more during filming and it was no surprise that everyone walked down the mountain tired, but with excellent scenes shot.

Our age 70 + Alpini Guides knew every footstep, and might have passed for sprightly wood nymphs. Ever prepared for anything including wine and cups for 2-3 dozen or more.

A great "Grazie" to the fabulous Alpini Guides: Sergio Tamarri, Fioresi Remo, Franco Torri, and Fab Fabrizio, for leaving us breathless‹literally.

Which of the following is NOT true?

1. Parker's luggage is still lost, but any one who has loaned him clothes no longer wants them returned.

2. After climbing Riva Ridge, Giovanni Sulla is no longer interested in the 10th Mtn Division.

3. Cameraman Richard Chisolm's secret weapon turns out to be electric socks.

4. Re-enactors seem genuinely surprised to hear they've carried 30 pounds of live ammo all day.

Stay Vertical,
Team 10th 2005
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm

TEAM 10th FILMING REPORT FOR WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2005

LOCATION: VIDICIATICO, ITALY

RETURN TO MT DELLA TORRACIA
Today's filming for The Last Ridge started in the snow banks of della Torraccia and ended in the mud of the Spring Offensive, with several courses of pasta between.

Filming included scenes with radiomen and medics, POWs and faux fighting, the best kind.

While there wasn't exactly equal time for the 3rd Reich, we also focused on properly dressed German soldiers.

Myrna Hampton has been able to see first hand her father's headquarters at the base of Riva Ridge, and the site of his wounding at Sassomolare.

Ever present are thoughts of the fallen whose luck ran out on the battlefields before us.

Today's Team 10th "Grazie" goes to Massimo Berti: architect, Renaissance man, re-enactor, for his stellar performance in snow and mud.

Which of the following is NOT true:

1. Filming Outtakes in the mud make PigPen look tidy.

2. Italy's long tradition of lost luggage is finally broken, as Parker's bags turn up.

3. Thanks to several rounds of drinks, Myrna Hampton is now engaged to two locals at the same time.

4 Abbie's daily production schedule tires even The Energizer Bunny.

In Remembrance,
Team 10th 2005
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm

TEAM 10th FILMING REPORT FOR THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2005

LOCATION: VIDICIATICO, ITALY

ON THE MUDDY ROAD TO REALITY
It's definitely mud season for The Last Ridge filming. From the stone walls of Sassomolare, to the foxholes of Punchboard Hill, to the soggy slopes of Hill 913, it was a day of uphill battles, culminating with filming at the Aid Station near Hill 913.

All the while, the re-enactors are mesmerized by their 10th coach, Sgt Claxton, about all things military. And Bob Parker continues to faithfully advise us and photograph scenes matching 1945 pictures.

Today's Team 10th "Grazie" goes to re-enactor Felipo Fulvio, for his rapid uniform changes on the heights of della Torraccia.

Which of the following is NOT true:

1. Team 10th turns down wine at lunch.

2. Myrna Hampton is wounded in action after slipping on a patch of black ice.

3. An authentic 10th helmet takes a tumble during filming, and Giovanni nearly kills Abbie.

4 Bob Parker takes a mudbath in a farm field.

For those who did not return,
Team 10th 2005
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm

TEAM 10th FILMING REPORT FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2005

LOCATION: VIDICIATICO, ITALY

Team 10th is wrapping up the filming in the Hilltowns for The Last Ridge by re-creating scenes at the destroyed Malandrone Bridge, which is still destroyed at the moment, sorry to report.

Through the magic of cameras we were able to move quickly to the stillness of Torre Iussi, now a beautiful National Historic Park with medieval roots, and a scene at Mt Moska, near the end of the Spring Offensive. As the routes of the 85th, 86th and 87th unfolded before us, it's become so clear how exposed to deadly enemy fire the regiments were during the jump off of della Spe.

We've been able to re-supply the needed original 10th articles we use every day for filming from the incredible warehouse of Giovanni Sulla, who scours the hills with a metal detector digging up lost treasures. If 10th troopers lost anything during the war, Giovanni may have it! Rings, pins, uniform pieces, parts and much more fill a 2 story warehouse attached to his home in Montese. This definitely proves that one man's trash is another man's treasure, if you wait 60 years or so.

Today's Team 10th "Grazie" goes to the Pieramgela, incredible chef and wife of Bruno Bartholomei at the Hotel Montegrande. Her dinner menus raised the bar on fine food.

For the next 5 days Team 10th will be offline and unable to report in, as we'll be moving around a lot from the Po, to Garda to Slovenia. We apologize in advance for the communication blackout but promise a summary after the end of the trip.

For Inquiring Minds Who Want to Know, we can't sign off without disavowing a few "facts" in the daily quiz. Here's a clue to which faux facts are NOT true:

1. Is Myrna Hampton leaving her easy life in California to open a hotel in the Hilltowns? No way.

2. Will Giovanni Sulla take a vow of silence? Not.

3. Did Team 10th passed up wine at lunch? Like never.

4. Is Myrna engaged to two local lovers simultaneously? Nope, she likes men with teeth.

5. Has Giovanni lost interest in the 10th after climbing Riva Ridge? OK, that's a big fib, but he said he lost 20 kilos.

It's Been a Blast, Over and Out,
Team 10th
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm

TEAM 10TH "LAST RIDGE" FILM REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 11, 2005:

LOCATION: LAKE GARDA, ITALY

THAT¹S A WRAP!
Apologies for being missing in action but Team 10th has been off the grid and offline during the last days of filming in Italy for The Last Ridge.

Our own breakout across the Po Valley included a stop at the own of San Benedetto Po, where Bob Parker recalled seeing General Hayes directing traffic 60 years ago in the shadow of the old Romanesque basilica. And we mean old, as in the year 1151 old, which lends perspective in case you have any aches and pains. At the site of the 10th's Po River crossing, the abutments of the blown bridge are the foundation for the modern one, a fitting‹and practical homage.

Life in the Espresso Lane continued up to Lake Garda, now a scene of post-war and off-season serenity. The overall impression of the tunnels, the DUKS crossing and the 86th's mountain route to Nago was "You've got to be kidding, no way!" Yes way, just a little tricky if there's any 2nd thoughts about heights, claustrophobia or fear of water while under fire from the Germans. A flock of ducks, not DUKS, now swim near the tunnel entrances, I'm not making this up.

Finally, filming followed the 10th trail to the mountains of Slovenia, exploring their post-war assignment there in the early days of the Cold War. Even though our Slovenian language skills were bad enough to start an international incident (we couldn't buy a vowel to save our life) the incredible scenery works in every language. No wonder the 10th loved it there, besides all the 1945-era sports and the liquor allotment.

A great big "Grazie" to all of you tagging along with The Last Ridge filming and Team 10th. Your interest and encouragement have been heartening, and it's great to know so many recognize the value of preserving and sharing the 10th legacy with a wide audience. We wish you all could be here to add to the excitement & confusion.

While there's no more tall mountain tales to tell from Italy, filming for The Last Ridge continues in Colorado beginning February 22 with re-creations of maneuvers around Camp Hale, filming on Chicago Ridge and aerials over 10th training grounds.

Salute,
Team 10th
Abbie Kealy, Bob Parker, Myrna Hampton, Sgt. Cain Claxton, Richard Chisolm



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For More Information Contact:
Abbie Kealy, 5316 Glen Falls, Reisterstown, MD 21136
(443) 570- 9482 | E-mail: AbbieKealy@hotmail.com

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Outreach, Promotion and Development for The Last Ridge have been made possible by the R.C. Baker Foundation, honoring the extraordinary legacy of World War II veterans.