Remember This? ‘Wisdom’ shoots in Auburn, Placer County in 1986
“Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore, who are real-life boyfriend and girlfriend, do a fair job of portraying puppy love, but their Robin Hood adventure film, “Wisdom,” is a dog of a feature flick.”
So said Journal reporter John Trumbo in his frosty summation of a film released in early January 1987 that contains a distinct Placer County look in places.
Trumbo’s words of wisdom were echoed by reviewers throughout the world of movie punditry - and even the star. Esteves was 24 when he made “Wisdom,” the youngest person to have starred, written and directed a major motion picture. He had veteran director Robert Wise (“The Sound of Music,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still”) on the set as executive director and mentor to help guide him. But it didn’t help. Estevez would say in his later years that it was nothing more than a vanity project.
The “Remember This?” photo was taken during an April 1986 shoot in Newcastle that turned the then-vacant Bank of America building on Newcastle’s Main Street into the Stapleton Bank of Nebraska - and a target for John Wisdom. Estevez’ character doesn’t pilfer from the rich to give to the poor, he robs banks of records for loans by needy farmers, turning him into a 1980s folk hero.
The Newcastle bank building gets about 2½ seconds onscreen despite filming that lasted two full days. About a dozen Newcastle-area residents or business people got bit parts but only one - New York Life insurance agent Joe Rogers, was recognizable in the final print.
Also making it onto the screen - for the few brief days “Wisdom” played in movie houses - were the Foothills Motel in Bowman, the Westamerica Bank in Auburn, the former Bank of America building in Old Town Roseville, a variety of countryside settings off Highway 193 between Newcastle and Lincoln subbing for Iowa, and the Cherry Creek Cafe off Highway 49 in Nevada County.
Bowman filming too
The Foothills Motel’s three-day shoot involved a shootout, with a motelroom’s front door and windows blasted by law-enforcement firepower zeroing in on the two Brat Pack desperados. The cast and crew were put up at the motel free of charge during filming.
Trumbo’s words rang true as the movie debuted on screens around the U.S. Moviegoers stayed away and it never recouped its costs.
“In case you want to see this picture … you’d better hurry,” he wrote. “I suspect this one will not survive much beyond its initial release.”
“Remember This?” and Gus Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.