The Wilhelm Scream

wilhelmlogo The Wilhelm Scream is a piece of stock sound footage that has been used over and over again in countless movies since 1951 to express moments of panic and peril . It’s even been in some really big budget movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Batman.

Are actors so lazy they can’t scream for themselves?

At any rate, having watched this montage of The Wilhelm Scream in various movie scenes I do recognize the high-pitched squeal of desperation. (But for the record I did not use the The Wilhelm Scream in the video of Banning and the Goose. That was 100% Banning.)

It occurs to me that The Wilhelm Scream sounds a lot like a fly fisherman breaking off a big fish. If they ever need to re-record the haunting sound of human agony and a desperate sense of immediate loss and tragedy, they should just mic a trout stream or a flats skiff.

Speaking of fishing and movies, last night we hosted the 2nd annual Austin Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Alamo Drafthosue – and had a blast. The weather was sublime so the outdoor pre-party was a bash. Always fun to see so many good friends, and meet new ones as well. We soldout three theatres, the beer was flowing, the crowd was upbeat, and the films were fishy.

There were ten films which took us to the Snake River, salmon fishing in Alaska, trout in Patagonia, saltwater species in Ascension Bay, steelhead fishing in BC, steelhead fishing in Ohio, redfish in South Carolina, permit in Australia, Montana carp, and various species in the Everglades including reds, tarpon, snook and a pretty funny scene with a rather zippy alligator.

Distant_Drums On the topic of alligators and the Everglades, apparently the original Wilhelm Scream was recorded for the 1951 movie Distant Drums with Gary Cooper. It came from a scene where some soldiers were wading through a swamp in the Everglades when an alligator attacks one soldier and pulls him underwater to his death.

Thankfully none of the Drake films dealt with anything nearly so heavy. The most disturbing scene was two young, 20-something guides drinking and jumping down a flight of stairs for no apparent reason other than sheer boredom and they couldn’t find anything else to do while they waited for their next fishing trip to start.

And there were a few shots of guys losing fish that were heartbreaking (and familiar) and probably qualified for a Wilhelm Scream sound effect – except the authentic, guttural groans and spewing of expletives were much entertaining. But maybe there’s a new term here, “Man you totally Wilhelmed that one!”

Now there were some actual Wilhelm Screams happening in another theatre at the Alamo last night. Apparently we weren’t the only game in town screening a sequel.

Last night Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr were in town for the world premiere of Ironman2…at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin Texas. And according to this interview with Jon Favreau he incorporated the cult classic Wilhelm Scream back into his latest movie.

It was pretty funny having the fishing and the Ironman crowds co-mingling in the halls of the Alamo and then together at the after parties at The Highball where Jon Favreau got on stage and DJ’d for a couple of hours. It was a lovely image really, the fishheads and the ironmen dancing side by side celebrating our respective film shows.

Still, it’s pretty odd that these introductions were happening simultaneously in two adjacent theatres:

Fly Fish Chick Introduces FFFT 2010 in Austin from fly fish chick on Vimeo.

and…then there were these guys next door:

Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. at the Alamo Drafthouse from DG on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Tosh Brown, Rick Wittenbraker and Banning Collins for doing all the heavy lifting in making the 2010 ATX FFFT happen. Big thanks to our sponsors and all those who donated door prizes. Thanks to our volunteers and BIG THANKS to everyone who came out to see the show. A special wink to Little Chick who was a trooper helping us stuff the gift bags and who was very aggressive selling Team Paddlefish schwag.

Cheers to everyone involved and already excited about next year’s film tour!

3 thoughts on “The Wilhelm Scream

  1. Dear Fly Fish Chick,

    In an amazing stroke of luck and serendipity your blog, specifically the entry of 10/23/09, recently came to my attention. I am Sheila Ihde, the teacher you so kindly and so effusively remember. And I’m pretty sure that you’re CJ. You were, and are awesome, and I remember you well (with the help of a great class photo that I carefully inscribed with everyone’s name).

    Teachers never know how they will be remembered. Therefore, I read your wonderful tribute with shock, joy and gratitude. I have NO memory of the incident you mention, but I’m certainly glad to have read about it.

    I’ve briefly skimmed your blog, and love that you have such a sure, strong, and interesting voice — I bet most Texas women do.
    I am so glad that you not only discovered your passion, but that you have the means to pursue it and the talent to write about it so vividly.

    Please be in touch — I’d love to catch up with you and Little Chick. I am glad that there is so much joy in your life!

    Sheila Ihde Murawski
    shebatoo@verizon.net

  2. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog posts. I will subscribe to your feed and look forward to reading some more of your posts.

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