Screenplay by Jay Cravens based on a novel by
Howard Frank Mosher
Produced by J. Todd Harris, Matt Salinger, and Jay Cravens
Cast: Kris Kristofferson, David Strathairn, Rip Torn,
Geraldine Chaplin and Lothaire Bluteau
"Disappearances" a Prohibition-era whisky-running adventure, comedy,
and drama, based on the award-winning novel by Howard Frank Mosher. It tells the story of Quebec Bill Bonhomme, a hardy
schemer and dreamer, who, desparate to raise money to preserve his endangerd herd through the rapidly approaching winter,
resorts to whiskey-smuggling, a traditional family occupation. Quebec Bill takes his son, Wild Bill, on the journey;
also, Henry Coville, an inscrutable whisky smuggler, and Rat Kinneson, Quebec Bill's perpetually disconsolate hired man.
Together, they cross the border into vast reaches of Canadian Wilderness for four unforgettable days "full of terror, full
The Boston Hearld called the novel "reminiscent
of manic Faulker." Ken Kesey called it "one hell of a book, touching the veins of Hawthorne and Poe, running deep in
the American fear and American hope." The Washington Post said, "Disappearances" revives the
tall tale with remarkable grace and intelligence. In its comedy, its dark fantasy, and its outrageous characters, "Disappearances"
is delightful; but, its success is rarer and more lasting than that.
Facing stiff competition from across the United States, "Disappearances,"
received the only 2001 narrative film production grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Storm clouds gather in the October sky as Quebec Bill and hired hand, Rat Kinneson, drag a homemade
rainmaker to the field near their dilapidated farm. Mismatched lightning rods sprout from the top of the rusty heap.
Down the road, Quebec Bill's teen-aged son, Wild Bill, looks out his school window in disbelief as the storm descends and his
family's barn goes up in flames.
These are desparate times, even for the eternal optimist and hardy schemer, Quebec Bill Bonhomme.
With no barn, no hay, and the winter fast approaching, Quebec Bill convinces his wife, Evangeline, that one last whiskey run
across the border with Wild Bill, Rat, and bother-in-law, Henry Coville, is the only way to get the fast cash they need
to save the farm. Quebec Bill's wise old aunt, Cordelia, looks on with blunt skepticism and a thin smile. She
has seen this all before.
Father and son set out by canoe to cross into Canada. They rendezvous with Henry and Rat, who
arrive in Henry's immaculate '32 white 16-cylinder Cadillac, "White Lightning." After a wild
night of drinking, fiddling, and poking around for information at a Quebec border tavern, Quebec
Bill hatches a potentially lucrative, but dangerous plan to snatch 200 cases of Seagram's from under the nose of notorious
whiskey hijacker, Carcajou, and his gang of fierce albino outlaws. The scheme quickly escalates
into a hair-raising run for their lives. They narrowly escape Carcajou's hideout with the
stolen whiskey, destroying "White Lightning" in the process. Caracjou and his band of men set off in hot pursuit.
Making it back to Lake Memphramagog with but a few dozen salvaged cases of whiskey, Quebec Bill and
his weary band encounter machine-gun fire, cannonballs, icy waters, and The Royal Canadian Mounted
Police. After their canoe capsizes, plunging them into the freezing lake, all seems lost.
But Quebec Bill refuses to give up. He salvages 12 mangled cases from the bottom of the lake, disguises himself as a
monk, and hijacks a train from an unsuspecting conducter with a weakness for booze.
The train crashes and with it all but a few bottles of whiskey. Quebec Bill hatches another
idea -- to take refuge at the county old folks' home until the coast is clear. As they plot
their escape, Carcajou, presumed dead, re-appears. With his dad injured badly, Wild Bill flags down
a U.S. Border Patrol seaplane, which Quebec Bill promptly commandeers. After a glorious flight over the far reaches
of Kingdom County, the plane runs out of gas and goes down in the wilds along the border.
Wild Bill emerges and struggles to get his injured father to safety. A blizzard makes the
task nearly impossible, as does Carcajou's relentless pursuit. Just miles from home, Wild Bill faces down Carcajou for a last confrontation and discovers the truth in his family's legacy of disappearance.