Mother Lode (film)
Mother Lode is a 1982 adventure film made by Charlton Heston´s own production company Agamemnon Films. It was directed by Heston and produced by his son Fraser Clarke Heston (who also wrote the screenplay) and Martin Shafer.
The film stars Heston in a dual role (twin brothers Silas and Ian McGee), as well as Kim Basinger and Nick Mancuso as a gold-hunting couple in title roles. The movie was shot near Vancouver, British Columbia. The film had a very limited cinematic release in the United States, had a limited VHS release shortly after and was released on DVD on March 29, 2011. The movie has yet to be released in Blu-ray format.
When her husband George disappears after a flight up to northern BC's interior wilderness to search for gold, Andrea Spalding (Basinger) contacts Jean Dupre (Mancuso) for help, who is serendipitously available for hire after intimidating a surly Mollyco corporate superior/passenger with aerobatics in a company Cessna 206, then landing, exiting and walking away from the aircraft as it continues to taxi onto an active runway with said superior still aboard and into the path of a landing Cessna 185. Together, Dupre and Spalding embark on their search in a neglected de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, along the way encountering a mechanical breakdown and gypsy fisherman Elijah (John Marley), who earnestly urges them to stay away from "Headwater".
On arrival at Headwater, Dupre accidentally crashes the plane during the water landing, yet he and Spalding survive, shaken but unhurt. From there the movie evolves into a plot of suspicious activities and a hermitous prospector (Heston), and then into a whodunit mystery/adventure, involving mistaken identities (Heston's second role), the truth about Spalding's husband, greed and murder.
- Filming was primarily focused at Lake Lovely Water near Squamish, British Columbia, with most aerial scenes filmed along the Fraser River Valley.
- The Beaver floatplane used in the movie was not intended to be crashed, nor was a crash part of the original storyline. The pilot attempted a "glassy water landing", wherein the glass-like surface can lead pilots into misjudging relative height and rate of descent during landing. This was the case as the film clearly depicts the plane descending at both a high sink rate and a high rate of forward speed. The pilot reduces the plane's descent too late as the left float contacts, creates drag and hooks, followed by the right float doing the same, whereas all control is lost and the plane slews around and flips over, sinking. With no fiscal options remaining, the producer and writers were forced to incorporate the crash into the plot. The scene is regarded by many fans to be the highlight of the film.
- The plane which is landing when the Mollyco Cessna 206 wanders onto its runway is a Cessna 185, which performs an abrupt "firewall" (application of full power) and pull-up to clear the 206. The plane is seen again seconds later, performing a normal landing with Mancuso's character walking in the foreground. A Cessna 185 on floats is the Mollyco aircraft in which George Spalding was last seen before disappearing, which Dupre discovers submerged in the lake.
- The Cessna 206 is not normally rated for such aerial maneuvers as depicted in the movie.
- The Beaver floatplane was recovered from the lake and transported to Kelowna, British Columbia where it was fully restored, put back on wheels and sold to an American business entity, which licensed the aircraft as N323RS.