What do Bozeman, William Baldwin, a frog and a puppeteer have in common? All were featured in locally made movie, “A Plumm Summer” (2007), which enjoyed a special screening last Tuesday at the Procrastinator Theatre.
The movie tells a heartwarming story of a small town in Montana devastated by the kidnapping of local puppet celebrity, Froggy-Doo, who stars in the popular children’s series “Happy Herb and Froggy-Doo.” It is up to young brothers, Elliott and Rocky Plumm, to solve the mysterious “frog-napping,” all while learning about family, friendship and the trials of growing up.
The movie brings you through the highs and lows of Rocky’s love and determination to find Froggy-Doo, Elliott’s struggle with his peers and his alcoholic father and admiration for the Sheriff’s daughter next door. Combine that with an eccentric puppeteer, two FBI goofs and ransom, and it somehow becomes a charming family movie enjoyable for all ages.
“A Plumm Summer” was filmed locally in Billings, Livingston and Bozeman. Not only does it feature an A-list cast (William Baldwin, Henry Winkler and Brenda Strong), it also includes appearances by local actors, as well as a cameo by Governor Brian Schweitzer.
The screenwriter, T.J. Lynch, is a native of Billings and is currently serving as the screenwriting professor for the School of Film and Photography. He grew up watching “Happy Herb and Froggy-Doo,” which originated from the area. Lynch used the real-life kidnapping of Froggy-Doo as the basis for his script, and interviewed Herb McCallister for his side of the story.
The evening was ramped up by a special appearance by Herb McCallister and the original Froggy Doo, who joined a panel of professionals afterward who worked on the film. Featured were T.J. Lynch, Mark Vargo, the Director of Photography and cinematography professor, as well as local casting director Tina Buckingham. Discussion ranged from specifics of making the film to the “true” kidnapping behind Froggy-Doo.
Though Froggy-Doo has long been off the air, the story of his kidnapping and the children’s enthusiasm in finding him resonates across generations. “My dad grew up watching ‘Froggy-Doo’,” said Alex Miller, a senior in the film program. “It was great to hear what the panel had to say about the process of making a feature film in Montana. I’m also very glad that Happy Herb made an appearance, and it was fascinating to learn more about an obscure piece of Montana pop culture history.”
Miller’s tribute was taking out his cell phone and snapping a picture of Froggy-Doo performing in front of the audience to send to his father.
If you’re ever looking for a fun film that can be watched with younger family members, or just to reminisce about a childhood long past, “A Plumm Summer” is worth checking out.