Their Town (Toby Short) [version 1]. 1966. USA. Directed by Andy Warhol. Scenario by Ronald Tavel. With Susan Bottomly, Ronnie Cutrone, Angelina “Pepper” Davis, Eric Emerson, William W. “Buffy” Phelps, Ingrid Superstar, Mary Woronov. Digital 16mm film transfer. 66 min.
In the spring of 1966, Warhol approached writer Ronald Tavel with the idea for a film based on a true-crime story he had read in Life magazine about Charles Schmid, a small, narcissistic, oddly charismatic man who seduced and killed three teenage girls and buried them in the Tucson desert. The gruesome twist that fascinated both Warhol and Tavel was that the small town where the murders took place purportedly knew of his crimes but never revealed them to authorities. Tavel conflated the incident with Thorton Wilder’s play Our Town, about everyday life in a small town, to make “a pronouncement on mythic America, death and America, and America in general.”