Sex, Death and Bowling

Sex, Death and Bowling writer/director Ally Walker and actor Joshua Rush. Photo Courtesy: International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame/Ellman Photography
Sex, Death and Bowling writer/director Ally Walker and actor Joshua Rush.
Photo Courtesy: International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame/Ellman Photography

By Mark Miller

Movie Screening Launches Project to Save Bowling Museum’s Fragile Film Collection

What most likely is the world’s largest collection of films about or including bowling resides with the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in Arlington.

The approximately 1,400 canisters containing a half-million feet of film range from short instructional pieces, full-length television shows, movies, and of course, bowling tournaments. Some date back more than 60 years with many in formats long ago considered extinct.

While all this celluloid can be found in one area, much of it can only be used once because the films likely will disintegrate. The only way to save the collection for future generations of bowling fans, researchers and others to utilize it is to digitize it.

Trouble is, to do it right will cost plenty of money – about $1,000 for every two hours according to Gregg Williams, the museum’s director of development. That’s the reason why the IBM/HF has undertaken a new initiative called the Frame 4 Frame project to raise $200,000 to digitize the collection, making it available for future public use. Funds also would be used for grants for future filmmakers who choose to include bowling in their artistic works.

A year-long festival honoring such filmmakers kicked off Dec. 3 with the unveiling of a new exhibit about bowling in films and on television. Highlighting the evening was the private screening of the new independent film Sex, Death and Bowling which includes vintage footage provided by the IBM/HF.

The special gala at the International Bowling Campus featured one of four of the film’s producers Jodi Schoenbrun Carter, writer/director Ally Walker and stars Joshua Rush and Lyle Kanouse. Also in attendance were bowling industry leaders plus Arlington civic and political dignitaries.

Originally titled Where’s Earl Anthony? the movie was produced by Libelula Entertainment. It centers on a time in Walker’s life when she lost several people to cancer, including her father Jim, and her children asked where they went after death. Following his death, she was at her father’s house where in a corner was a bowling trophy he and some college buddies had won more than 50 years earlier.

“He was so proud of it,” Walker told the gathered crowd. “He kept that bowling trophy for some 50 some-odd years and we thought it was crazy. Though he wasn’t a bowler he would watch it on Saturday afternoons on Wide World of Sports. So I started really thinking about that trophy when I was getting ideas for this script and I started looking at some bowling greats such as Dick Weber and Earl Anthony.”

The movie, which stars Adrian Grenier of Entourage, features a family’s past and current relationships with each other at a time when one member is dying from cancer. His son, played by now 13-year-old Rush, keeps score for his grandfather’s bowling team as it seeks to retain the fictional Fiesta Cup signifying supremacy in a local bowling tournament.

“Bowling was always on the television in the 70s when I was growing up so we always used to watch it,” Walker said. “It harkened back to a sweeter time when we did stuff together rather than being on our phones. It’s something sadly lacking in our society and I thought to write about it.”

The movie, completed for less than $1 million and filmed in 20 days in Southern California, is being shown in select markets in California, Idaho, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, Florida, and South Carolina. It is available in the IBM/HF gift shop with part of the proceeds being donated to the Frame 4 Frame project. Walker said it also is scheduled to be available soon on Netflix and iTunes.