Shreveport Producers’ “Bernie” Movie Pokes Fun at Carthage, Texas
The movie “Bernie” is having a mixed reaction among the residents of the small East Texas town of Carthage. The movie recently had its final showing at Tinseltown in Shreveport.
It’s based on a true story about a funeral director in Carthage, who murders a wealthy unsuspecting widow, and hides her body in a freezer for nine months. The movie has an all-star cast with comedian Jack Black starring as Bernie Tiede, Shirley McLaine plays the widow, Marjorie Nugent, and Matthew McConnaughey stars as Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson.
Shreveport movie company, Millenium Productions produced the film and shot some scenes in Carthage, where residents were used as extras. In fact, the last night of the movie’s run in Shreveport, the theater was full and people watching their friends on the big screen and staying for the closing credits just to see their pictures and names.
Scenes were shot in Carthage in front of the post office, outside the local radio station – KGAS, where Bernie read obituaries on the air, and exteriors of the local BBQ restaurant, Daddy Sam’s, which is still a popular feeding trough for locals.
The movie makes fun of Texas. I would say “Bernie” is to Texas what “Forrest Gump” was to Alabama. It wasn’t uncommon to see people from Carthage on the screen and wonder, “Where have I seen them before? In Walmart?”
The real-life murder of Mrs. Nugent happened in Carthage in 1996, and the people couldn’t believe it because they all loved Bernie and didn’t like Mrs. Nugent because they thought she was mean.
The movie shows short interviews with towns people, saying how much they liked Bernie and how he gave so much to the community. Bernie spends $600,000 of Mrs. Nugent’s money after he kills her, and keeps her death hidden for nine months. Tiede takes expensive vacations all over the world and gives away much of Mrs. Nugent’s money to people all over town, the churches, the schools, and youth programs,
That’s one of the reasons people believed he couldn’t have killed the widow and want him to be acquitted. In the movie, prosecutors say its the first time ever in the State of Texas that a murder trial had to be moved because of FAVORABLE pre-trial publicity.
It was nine months after Mrs. Nugent’s death that police discovered her body in her freezer and charged Bernie with her murder. The real Bernie is still serving time in a prison about 100 miles ftom Carthage in New Boston, Texas. He has at least 15 years or more left to go.
While some movie-goers who are not from Carthage thought the movie was brilliant, funny and very entertaining, other mainly older Carthage residents declined to even see the movie and posted on facebook their dismay that people thought it was funny.
Some thought it made Carthage and Texas look bad, but others took it for what it was – a black comedy. So, what is your favorite comedy movie of all time? Vote during my online poll all this week.