Wes Anderson from Houston and Owen Wilson from Dallas met when they were both students at the University of Texas at Austin. They co-wrote Bottle Rocket. It was their first feature film. Anderson directed, and cast the three Wilson brothers (including also Owen’s younger brother Luke and his older brother Andrew). Owen plays Dignan, who is a well-to-do young man from Dallas whose career goal is to become a successful criminal. Luke Wilson and Robert Musgrave play his two friends. James Caan plays their mentor, Mr. Henry. Lumi Cavazos, who we’ll see next spring in Like Water for Chocolate, plays the motel maid Inez. Robert Yeoman photographed the film. Remember Polly Platt, the production designer whose marriage with director Peter Bogdanovich broke up when they were making The Last Picture Show? She was one of the producers of this movie. It was filmed around Dallas. The Hinckley cold storage facility shown near the end was a couple exits down the interstate from the manufacturing plant where Jim worked about the same time. Bottle Rocket was released in February, 1996. It was estimated to cost $7 million and grossed slightly over $1 million.
Wes Anderson has since become a famous indie film director, and both Owen and Luke Wilson have also had significant film acting careers. Janet Maslin, in the New York Times of that period, wrote, “What’s best about Bottle Rocket is not the laid-back pranks that inflate its story to feature lengths but the offbeat elan with which that story is told. . and the Wilsons and Robert Musgrave, who plays the two. . .brothers’ partner in crime, have the deadpan intensity that this material demands. Like the penny-ante firecracker for which the film is named, the characters in Bottle Rocket turn fecklessness into part of their charm.” Jim hopes you enjoy it – he’ll be back in two weeks.