Films We’ve Watched: Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain (1995)

30 Oct

The Things You Miss When You’re Eight…

When I was a child I repeatedly watched the 1995 Kevin James Dobson film Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain. I wanted to be Christina Ricci because of Casper (“Can I keep you?”), and I wanted to date Anna Chlumsky because she looked like Ryder Strong. More than anything though I wanted to go on adventures, sailing on rivers and dancing with friends, exploring caves and swinging on a rope across gorges down which if I fell I would die. Again – with a best friend who looked like Ryder Strong.

Hit the break to continue…

The story follows Beth Easton (Ricci) who moves from LA to a small town where she knows no one, and she falls in with Jody Salerno (Chlumsky), the “trashy” girl who was held back a grade and steals anything she can. They bond over Winnie the Pooh, and it’s pretty much immediately true love. Jody takes Beth with her on a quest to find gold in Bear Mountain – gold discovered by frontier woman Molly Morgan who made her way from Ireland to America and disguised herself as a boy in order to make her fortune. And supposedly they discover friendship! Here’s the thing. I think they discover that they are in love with each other.

I watched this movie a few weeks ago (coincidentally on Coming Out Day, which I didn’t realize until Gizmo said “Is this for Coming Out Day?”) with my housemate Gizmo because I hadn’t seen it in about ten years, and I told him “THEIR LOVE PREVAILS AGAINST ALL ODDS!” He pretty much said no. Then he watched the movie & said, “Okay, I’ll give you against all odds.” It seems like he barely gave it to me, but seriously… AGAINST ALL ODDS. I didn’t even realize how in love with each other they were. I remembered that their friendship is steadfast and strong, and I remembered they have complete faith in each other. However, as a child I simply did not pick up on this blatant and wonderful relationship that happened before my eyes. Anna Chlumsky and Christina Ricci should have kissed at least five times in this film, and they could have died a couple times, too. If Jody Salerno and Beth Easton are not madly in love with each other, I don’t think I will ever be able to recognize true love. And that is sad. Anna Chlumsky ran fifteen miles and stared at a bear for goodness sake! TRUE LOVE.

Anna Chlumsky or Ryder Strong?

Notice the resemblance?

It’s not just that I want it to be there though. Their relationship follows the arc of a love story. Upon first meeting, they argue and can’t stand each other. Then they realize they have something in common, a sort of poetry if you will. Winnie the Pooh! That they read with their fathers, who are gone! And the attraction begins. So Beth runs into the woods to hang out with Jody even though the other girls in town disapprove. She’s from the wrong side of the tracks after all! Her mother drinks a lot, and she’s been held back a grade! She always gets into trouble! Well, Beth sees the good in her, and by golly, no one chooses her friends! So then they begin their whirlwind romance, which is sublimated by the adventure story. The shots themselves are blocked so that Beth and Jody pose like people who are dating. If this were not a movie for children and were instead a movie for teens or an independent film, any second those two would have started making out. Instead of two middle school girls, just pretend they are a high school couple. The difference is that in mainstream culture children are not allowed to be gay, especially in content designed for them. It’s a problem. Let’s think about it.

So what I’m saying is: I love this film. By the end of it, Gizmo and I were chanting, “Kiss her! Kiss her!” because seriously – true love.  You can find the whole film on YouTube. Do it.

PS Look at baby Jewel Staite pre-Disney’s Flash Forward!

– Susan G.

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