BROWNSVILLE – The enduring 1984 film “Maria’s Lovers” was made with a cast of big names in Hollywood and filmed mostly in the rundown Brownsville area.
Starring Nastassja Kinski as the forsaken Maria, her house in the set has since become somewhat of a tourist attraction in Brownsville, even though it adds to the blight problem in this Fayette County town.
“People were upset with its condition,” said Brownsville Councilwoman Beth Bock, referring to the large house that is being restored at the base of the steep Bank Street.
The location created dramatic backgrounds as the street leads straight into the downtown and to the Monongahela River.
The movie filmed by Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky was risqué for its time because the young and beautiful Kinski, as the movie’s title implies, has several lovers in the film.
One of them, as the dialogue suggests, was her husband’s father played by Robert Mitchum. The plot revolves around Maria’s childhood sweetheart, John Savage, surviving a Japanese prison camp during World War II by dreaming of returning home and marrying her.
The two wed, but Savage was unable to consummate the marriage because of his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Keith Carradine also appeared in the movie as did a young John Goodman.
The house is being given new life with a crew of volunteers, including members of council and the Brownsville mayor, who are working with an investor from Philadelphia, Stephen Beckman.
Beckman said he works during the week for a Canonsburg pharmaceutical company and one weekend went to Brownsville to roam around and create photographs.
“I just fell in love with the town and was saddened by the state of affairs,” Beckman said.
His company, Iroquois Properties, purchased the house from the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Fayette, and the team of volunteers recently removed five truckloads of garbage and debris from the property.
Bock said the house survived because its roof was sound and it still has its indoor plumbing.
She said Antiques on Broad, a store next door to the house, will help to fill it with period furnishings. Photographs taken during the filming are being digitized for the project, and a local woman who was Kinski’s double will be donating one of her costumes to the house, Bock said.
Beckman said he hopes to have the project completed by early next year and open it for tours and exhibits, use it for short-term rentals and make it available for special events.
“I’m more than excited, Bock said. “There’s quite a following online for that house.”