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Movie filmed in Selma turns 50

Buddy Swift was just a senior in high school when “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” was filmed in Selma. The movie, originally a novel written by Carson McCullers, was filmed in the city in 1968. 

This year marks 50 years since it was filmed, and Swift remembers it like it was yesterday. 

“We were really excited to see them make a movie here cause we’d never seen anybody make a movie before,” Swift said.

The crew used the Holiday Inn as their headquarters for the movie, and kept a chalkboard in the building with the filming schedule written on it. Buddy and his friends would check the chalkboard every day after school and then go to the location to watch the movie being filmed.

“They didn’t really care if you watched as long as you were quiet when you were supposed to be quiet,” he said. “It was just fun to watch.”

Swift was casted as an extra in the large fair scene with hundreds of other local residents.

“It was a big deal for the town,” he said. “We really enjoyed it.”

Although filming was a fun experience, one of the challenges was filming in the winter for a movie that was set in the summer. Swift remembers having to hold ice in his mouth so his breath wouldn’t be shown on screen when he breathed.

Filming until early hours in the morning and then having to go to school the next day was another challenge students participating in the movie faced. The school system would not allow the students to skip school due to filming, so they had a lot of long days ahead.

P. Vaughan Russell was also a student, and amongst the few residents to have speaking lines in the movie. He enjoyed every minute of it.