Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill
In August of 1935, a movie crew moved into the Grafton area to create a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production of famed Eugene O'Neill's play, Ah, Wilderness. Movie Director Clarence Brown had been visiting a friend, Charles Earnshaw of South Grafton, when he fell in love with the typical New England charm of the Grafton Common.
Brown ordered a bandstand to be built which still stands today on Grafton's historic Common. Brown, in fact, had lived in Saundersville until he was eight years old when his Father, an overseer at the mill, moved to Clinton. Several of Grafton's residents were used as "extras" in the movie and the movie's stars included: Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Aline McMahon and others, including the two young lead actors who worked in Grafton. Young stars Cecelia Parker and Eric Linden and the camera crew stayed at the Bancroft Hotel in Worcester. The main actors filmed solely in Hollywood and never came to Grafton.
Forbush Anderson helped line up the extras for this set which exemplified a crowded Fourth of July with festivities. Extras were paid $3 a day or $5. if they were used with a horse and carriage. Motor vehicles were banned during filming.
A pillared colonial house, fourth on the right from the Common that was used as the home of of Cecilia Parker and the fifth house on the left was the home of actor Eric Linden. Returning home from a dance was filmed along South Street and the entire Common was filled with costumed actors, horses and buggys.
(Information found in Norman Taft's History of Grafton found at the Grafton Library. Mr. Taft died in 1991 after serving the Town in many capacities, especially as historian for decades.)