Dec 28, 2017

That Day I Spoke to Margaux Hemingway When I Was Twelve Years Old

A Woman's Secret (1992)
It was Summer. I think. Somewhere around 1992 - I'm not sure. Mom and Dad were still together - and we were driving through Madisonville, Louisiana. The town hugs the Tchefuncte River - dotted with wood-paneled houses, an abandoned lighthouse, a swing bridge, a dozen churches, a feed store, seafood restaurants galore, and a Piggly Wiggly - not to mention a scenic riverfront landscape and an old Southern feel. A whitewashed stately two-story building houses the public library. And Higgins boats - the amphibious assault vehicles used to storm the beaches of Normandy - were assembled not too far from town. 

Swing Bridge in Madisonville © 2016 Kim Chatelain
We were driving through that day - like we usually did when I was growing up. Dad liked to take long road trips through the backwoods. So it was nothing unusual. We stopped at the Tchefuncte Feed & Seed on Louisiana Highway 21 (locally called Covington Street). The road is a nondescript stretch of highway - however, it is an unusual bend of the road, turning left and right as it stretches along - basically connecting the town of Mandeville (where I lived at the time) to the town of Covington. So it gets a fair amount of traffic.

Holy Shit! That's Madisonville, Louisiana on the silver screen!

I don't remember who noticed it was a film shoot. It may have been Dad. But we parked our car across the street in the Hibernia National Bank parking lot. We stepped outside the car and there was Margaux Hemingway stepping out of a Mercedes Benz right before our eyes! "Shhhh!" my dad said. "They're filming a movie." We stood there for about an hour watching what I soon learned was the incredibly boring process of filming a movie. In that time, waiting, we parsed that it was a "European director" filming a movie in the United States and the actress was Margaux Hemingway! I never felt so proud to be a Louisiana boy witnessing movie-making in action! Damn. 

I'm almost certain that's a real Madisonville cop!

Being all of twelve and considering myself an astute cinephile, I blurted out to Dad, "Hey, Dad. That's Margaux Hemingway! She starred in the Superman movie!" Not really knowing what the hell I was talking about I somehow managed to knock on the camper trailer where supposedly Margaux was staying. Her handler answered and told us to leave her alone. But I persisted. Finally, Margaux Hemingway stepped out and greeted us with a plastic grin. The girl was none too pleased that a couple of local oglers wanted to talk to her. "Hey!" I gushed. "You're Margaux Hemingway! I loved you in the Superman movie!"

Margaux Hemingway gave me a mean stare and simply said, "Thank you," and walked back inside her camper trailer. Her handler looked at us and said, "Look. Ms. Hemingway was not in that movie. That's her sister. Mariel." And he walked back inside. I don't think he slammed the door. But it felt like it.

I was crestfallen. And shame ridden. I felt really bad that I didn't know which Hemingway was which. Later, I found out that Margaux was - of course - the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway - and - even later I was further saddened when - in 1996 - just four years after she had filmed the movie in Louisiana - Margaux Hemingway died. It's an irrational thought - and I am embarrassed to even admit it - but when I found out that Margaux Hemingway died I thought it was my fault. I should have recognized her! Maybe all her life people had overlooked her and focused on Mariel and not on Margaux. If only I had known who she really was!

I didn't know it at that time but the movie I saw filmed was A Woman's Secret (1992) and it was directed by Italian filmmaker Joe D'Amato. And yes - if you watch the movie you can see the bit where Margaux pulls into the Tchefuncte Feed & Seed. It's not called that anymore - by the way - it's now Ace Hardware. And the public library is back to being a police station. And the Hibernia Bank is a Capital One.

However, later in the movie, there is a scene showcasing the Holiday Inn in Covington. My mom was baptized a second time in their swimming pool when she decided the Catholic baptism she had done when she was a baby didn't take. Anyway. You can see Margaux Hemingway walking out of that very same Holiday Inn - it is located next to Interstate 12 on Louisiana Highway 190 in Covington, Louisiana.

The movie sucks by the way. I watched it once on an old VHS. The lines are lackluster and - ummmm - the story goes nowhere - and the acting is just really really bad. There are a couple of shots of New Orleans during Mardi Gras (which is nice for the "authentic" feel) - and plenty of shots of Margaux Hemingway sitting on a hotel bed or - my favorite - Margaux Hemingway telling the concierge she wants a single bed - but no single beds are available! - and she ends up having to get that double bed. What drama!

Keep in mind the Internet Movie Database entry for A Woman's Secret does not mention Madisonville or Covington as filming locations. It only mentions New Orleans. 

I later learned that Joe D'Amato is better known for his other work. Go figure.

As an added bonus - if you want to see a movie that is also filmed in Madisonville (and portrays the town in a postcard-worthy style) - watch the film Eve's Bayou (1997).

And oh. Mariel Hemingway really did star in a Superman movie: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Details about A Woman's Secret (1992)
Director: Joe D'Amato
  • Daniele Stroppa
  • Margaux Hemingway, Daniel McVicar, Apollonia Kotero

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