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Saturday April 13th 2024

Badlands | 1973

Badlands location: Bloom Mansion, Trinidad, Colorado
Badlands location: Kit and Holly get supplies: Bloom Mansion, Trinidad, Colorado | Photograph: Colorado.com

The locations for Badlands are in the southeast corner of Colorado, although the film’s story ranges from South Dakota to the titular Badlands of Montana and was inspired by events that happened in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The first feature from the enigmatic Terrence Malick who, after one more production (Days of Heaven in 1978), didn’t release another film for over twenty years, until 1999’s The Thin Red Line.

Based on the case of Charles Starkweather and his fourteen-year-old girlfriend, Caril Fugate, who killed ten people in 1958, including Fugate’s mother, stepfather and half-sister, names were changed to avoid any legal problems with the still-living Fugate.

The town of ‘Fort Dupree, South Dakota’, where Kit (Martin Sheen) works collecting rubbish, is Las Animas, on Hwy 50, southeast Colorado. The house Holly (Sissy Spacek) shares with her sign-painter father (Warren Oates) is in the centre of the town at 505 Locust Avenue on the southwest corner of 5th Street.

For any fans of the Old West, Las Animas, which stood on the old Santa Fe Trail, is home to the Kit Carson Museum.

To keep her out of trouble, Holly’s father sends her to learn the clarinet at the ‘McKenzie School of Music’, which is Stormy’s Second Hand Store, 400 Main Street at Maple Avenue, Rocky Ford, about 30 miles to the west. Rocky Ford is the town through which Kit and Holly walk as their off-kilter romance blossoms.

After Kit shoots Holly’s father, the pair take off on an aimless flight from the law.

A little southeast of Rocky Ford, the riverside stop, where Kit and Holly play cards and where Holly loses her virginity, is alongside the Arkansas River, off County Road 24.5 north of Swink.

South on I-25, toward the New Mexico border, is the town Trinidad. It’s here you can see the imposing house at which they pick up basic supplies – including a Cadillac. It’s the historic Bloom Mansion, 330 East Main Street, Trinidad. Built for cattle baron Frank Bloom and his wife Sarah in 1882, the mansion is operated as part of the Trinidad History Museum by History Colorado, and open to the public during the summer (and to larger groups by appointment during the winter).

The interior of the house was filmed in the Rosemount Museum, 419 West 14th Street, in Pueblo, about 80 miles to the north.

After Holly has had enough of life on the road and surrenders to the police, Kit takes off on his own, stopping to fill up with gas at the old Delhi Store, which is where he’s spotted by the cops. The remains of the store are just about the only building standing, crumbling away at Delhi, on Route 350, 35 miles southwest of La Junta.

And it’s from La Junta Municipal Airport that the couple are flown back to ‘South Dakota’ and trial. The airport is three miles north of town in the La Junta Industrial Park, off State Highway 109.

By the way, if you want to see Montana’s real badlands, visit Makoshika State Park, 1301 Snyder Avenue, Glendive.