By Julie Pendray
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. —The abduction of one of Palm Springs’ richest women in the 1970s is the subject of a movie that will premiere at Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 4. “Do It Or Die” tells the story of Elaine Chaddick’s near death after being kidnapped from her home and held in the desert by a disturbed Vietnam veteran in 1979. It screens tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. at Annenberg Theater.
Much of the movie takes place in the desert, depicting a remote area near Pinto Mountains where a couple asking $1 million ransom held Chaddick. This suspenseful film shows us that no one is beyond the possibility of crime in their lives. Chaddick was taken by a man posing as a collector of signatures for a petition supporting increased crime prevention, as she was honored for her charity work. She was the wife of Harry Chaddick, owner of Palm Springs Tennis Club at the time. She was 65 when kidnapped.
“Do It Or Die” is the fulfillment of a promise to the FBI agent who broke the case and later wrote about it in his book “Night of the Full Moon” (Criterion House, 2008, 2010). Executive producer and director Jorn Winther says he told retired agent Herbert D. Clough when Clough was dying of cancer in 2012, that the film would be made. Clough lived his final years in Indio. His widow, Ruth, is expected to attend the screening, DuBarry says.
Independent movie makers led by lead actress and producer Denise DuBarry (Being There, Black Sheep Squadron, Charlie’s Angels), came together with no budget for this effort. They’ve praised the local community for its support. Many local businesses are shown in the film.
Chaddick’s husband, Harry, is played by John Callahan (Santa Barbara). Clough is portrayed by David Naughton (American Werewolf in London). Andrew J. McGuinness is cast as kidnapper Bobby Ray Robbins. His compadre in crime, Ginger Robbins, is played by Viktoria Stamm.
Winther is an Emmy award-winning TV director debuting in his first feature film venture at age 86. His credits include creating the news magazine 20/20 and directing the David Frost/Richard Nixon interview, as well as rock concerts and daytime soaps such as General Hospital. He says “Do It Or Die” filmmakers headed by DuBarry “moved heaven and earth” to make the movie a reality. It has been “a very emotional ride,” he says, via a news release.
This is DuBarry’s latest effort to bring more movie making to the desert. In 2010, she premiered “Shoot the Hero,” by Palm Springs based director Christian Sesma, at this festival.
“Do It Or Die” was produced through a collaboration of four Palm Springs companies: Made For Nothing Productions, LLC; Blue Moxie; Creative Monster; and Jorn Winther Productions.
Palm Springs International Film Festival offers 190 movies from now through Jan. 15. To see a list of the Top 10 “must-see movies,” click here. For the schedule, click here. The ticket information center is at 777 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 113. To call toll-free, (800) 898-7256.
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