By Megan Powell
FRANKLIN, Ind. – It’s time for movie goers to hit the gym. The Historic Artcraft Theatre will show the 1986 movie “Hoosiers” to commemorate Indiana’s bicentennial.
An Indiana Classic
“It’s a great Indiana tale and it’s filmed in Indiana,” said Dave Windisch, advertising and public relations director for the theatre. “There are people that live locally that the filmed was based on and if someone asks you to say show a movie that people identify with Indiana and its history—there’s not much else outside of the Hoosier bubble that people think of right away.”
The historic movie theater will show “Hoosiers” during the weekend of September 23 and 24 with showings at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., according to Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Mary Foreman.
“We will be showing the movie that weekend because that is when the torch relay will be coming through Johnson County,” said Foreman. “We thought that it would be a nice tie in with the community and show the Hoosier spirit.”
That same weekend the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and Discover Downtown Franklin also will be holding events in the downtown area for families and the community.
Gene White, original member of the Hoosiers team, and Diana Wilson, owner of Ann’s Restaurant and film sponsor at the Artcraft, are pictured in the front of Ann’s Restaurant where White came to eat from time to time while he attended Franklin College back in the late 1950’s. Photo by Megan Powell, TheStatehouseFile.com
Adding more reason to celebrate, the movie will have its 30th anniversary this year.
“We thought that ‘Hoosiers’ was such an iconic movie and certainly represents small town America and how it can really achieve greatness,” said Diana Wilson, the owner of Ann’s Restaurant and the local sponsor of the showing at the Artcraft.
Fact vs. Fiction
Wilson is lifelong friends with Gene White, who played on the famous Milan High School basketball team. She said some of the team will reunite on stage. Those in the audience will be able to hear memories as well as differences between what happened in history and the movie.
For example, White said the classic movie scene where the team measures part of the court in Hinkle Fieldhouse to remind the players the big game is the same as playing at home did not happen in real life. But what is true—many players were unfamiliar with the massive arena.
“I would say that two-thirds of our team had never seen Butler Fieldhouse. That was one of the largest venues for basketball in the country,” said White. “It held almost 15,000 people and that’s not counting all of the people who stood around.”
White continued to play his last two years in high school, where he never played in front of an empty 500 seating capacity gym.
“Basketball was Indiana at the time and now it’s nationwide,” said White. “But our team won and we got a lot of publicity.”
The team was known as the Miracle Five and “knew basketball by Ripley County basketball.”
File photo of the Artcraft Theater in Franklin, Indiana. Photo by Rachel Hoffmeyer, TheStatehouseFile.com
White graduated from Milan High School and continued to Franklin College were he graduated in 1958. He was in the army for two years then took up teaching, first teaching at Milan and then Franklin Community High School. He retired from Franklin high school and became an active instructor at the Franklin College teaching for another 25 years as well as being the coach for the women’s basketball team for 10 of those years.
“You can travel across the country or across the world and if you say that you’re from Indiana, most of the time if they don’t know anything about Indiana – they know Hoosiers,” said Shilts.
How to see “Hoosiers”
When: September 23 and 24
Showings: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Where: The 1922 Historic Artcraft Theatre on Main Street in Franklin. The theatre is owned by the nonprofit Franklin Heritage, a non-profit organization, that serves the community of Franklin with weekly movies and historic preservation projects through volunteers.
How much: Tickets cost $5 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under. Buy them at the box office or on the Artcraft’s website.
Megan Powell is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.