J.C. Boudreaux, 79, of Sweet Lake looks at memorabilia from Robert Flaherty’s 1948 documentary ''Louisiana Story'' displayed at the Kinder Library. The film followed the adventures of a young Cajun boy, played by Boudreaux, his pet raccoon and parents who lived on the bayou when oil was discovered. (Doris Maricle / American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, September 07, 2012 12:58 PM
It’s something the 79-year-old Cameron Parish man doesn’t boast about.
“To me it was no big deal. I’m still ole J.C.,” Boudreaux said, shrugging off any claim to fame the film may have brought him. “I’m not one for all that prestige or whatever. I’m just a normal man trying to make a living.”
Boudreaux was among the more than 30 people who gathered Wednesday at the Kinder Library to watch “Louisiana Story: The Reverse Angle,” a documentary on the making of the classic film.
Boudreaux, who was 12 when filming began in 1947, was discovered by accident during a summer visit to Gueydan.
“I’d gone to my uncle’s house in Gueydan, and me and my cousin were eating ice cream when a station wagon of people pulled up and asked who I was and if I could swim,” Boudreaux recalls.
“We went up to the irrigation canal, and I swam around for a bit and they were taking shots of me,” he said. “They left and went back to Abbeville.”
About a week later, the film scouts returned to cast Boudreaux as “the boy” in the documentary commissioned by the Standard Oil Company.
“They told me they were going to make a movie star out of me,” Boudreaux said. “I didn’t even know what that was. I was just amazed that they just picked this little fellow up on the side of the road and made something out of him.”
The fictional film follows the adventures of a young Cajun boy, played by Boudreaux, his pet raccoon and parents who live on the bayou. Their lives are disturbed when the calmness of the bayou is upset by an oil well drilling near their home.
Until that time, Boudreaux had never seen an oil rig. During filming he got to climb up on the derrick and talk to the crew.
He spent 14 months away from his family, living with the production crew and cast in a rented house in Abbeville. Most of the production was filmed in the cypress swamps and marshes near Avery Island in Iberia Parish.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for best writing of a motion picture story in 1948, and the following year Virgil Thorton won the Pultizer Prize for Music for the film score.
In 1994, the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Boudreaux and his family saw the film premiere in a theater in Abbeville.
“To me it was something seeing the movie on the big screen,” he said. “I was amazed at how they had spliced and diced all that film (footage) to make it.”
He has seen the film “a couple of hundred times,” he said.
It was the only film Boudreaux was in. He has since worked as an oilfield roughneck and retired with Cameron Telephone Co.
“I went to New York and Los Angeles, but that’s too much make believe for me,” he said. “It’s different now. ... There’s too much violence in movies. I’m just an ole country boy who still likes to watch a lot of black-and-white TV.”
Old westerns like “Rawhide” and “Matt Dillon” are among his favorite television shows.
Boudreaux was paid $3,000 for his film work. He used the money to buy his mother, Emma, a gas stove and battery-operated radio and an old car for his stepfather, Newton Kershaw.
“That was a lot of money back in 1948,” he said.
He now lives in Sweet Lake with his wife, Regina, and spends much of his time hunting and fishing.
He and Regina used to travel until gas prices got too high for them to afford. They visited 30 states over six years, he said.
The couple lost everything they owned in three hurricanes — Audrey in 1957, Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008.