Out & About: Fort Ligonier hosts local scoop on 'Pale Blue Eye' filming

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Jan. 29—About 150 guests heard the inside scoop about local filming of the Netflix historical thriller "The Pale Blue Eye" prior to a Jan. 19 screening at Fort Ligonier.

The blacksmith shop at nearby Compass Inn Museum in Laughlintown was transformed into an 1830s tavern for a scene between actors Christian Bale and Harry Melling, playing a detective and a young Edgar Allan Poe, respectively, working to solve murders at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Four of the fort's 6-pound cannons also played a role.

Theresa Gay Rohall, executive director of Ligonier Valley Historical Society, which operates the inn, described four long and intense days of filming during December 2021 — which was preceded by months of negotiations and preparations.

Rohall said the production crew didn't think the inn itself was "dark or sinister enough" for the film's ambiance, turning instead to the blacksmith shop.

She and her sister, Michelle Gay, prepared all the food used in the tavern scene in the inn's primitive cookhouse. Unfortunately, the final product offers only fleeting glimpses of the carefully researched, prepared and plated dishes.

You'll also have too look closely, Rohall advised, to see Sen. John Fetterman, with his famous bald pate covered by a low-brimmed hat.

Hosting the movie crew turned out to be a lucrative proposition for the historical society. While the Hollywood bigwigs might have thought they were dealing with a country bumpkin, Rohall said, she rejected two offers before getting an acceptable dollar figure.

As a bonus, the film crew — under the supervision of an archaeologist — unearthed 16 artifacts while digging holes on the property.

Eric Lebo, the fort's director of preservation and restoration, described how the film crew loaded the cannons on box trucks and hauled them about 100 miles northwest for a scene filmed at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Lawrence County.

He praised the crew's competence and efficiency, noting that they returned the cannons sparkling clean.

Rohall returned to the cookhouse before the screening to recreate the roast duck from the tavern scene for the movie audience.

"She left the house at 5:30 this morning," said her husband, Ron Rohall.

The fort's Executive Director Mary Manges and Director of Marketing and Public Relations Julie Donovan staffed the concession stand, handing out free popcorn and candy.

Seen at the movies: Matt Gault, Michael Reese, Terry Graft and Linda Brown, Allana and Joe Kondisko, Cindy Purnell, Annie Urban, Mark Gallik, Michele Beener, Rita Camacho, Carmen Quartararo, Ida Long, Phil and Gladys Light, Greg and Ellie Davis, Mike Long, Cindy Pompelia, Sean Murphy, Dan Barthels and Christine Tutena, Bill and Joyce Miller, Paula Heming, Bert and Sylvia Toy and Rich and Marcia Hudock.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley by email at smcmarlin@triblive.com or via Twitter .