Amateur “action-thriller” film made by Walt Jaschek and friends as sophomores at Jennings High School introduces Walt’s long-time detective character, played by him.
Jennings, Missouri. 1971. A quartet of juvenile delinquents make a daring escape from a detention center and head for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of their escape, his ire is raised. These are the same delinquents that earlier involved McKarton’s girlfriend in a kidnapping scheme. So for the teen detective, recapturing these delinquents isn’t just his job. This time, it’s personal.
That’s the summary of the first, pilot episode of “Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective,” a film shot on 8mm by Walt Jaschek, Marc Stephenson, Rudy Johnston, David LaChance and Bill LaChance, based on Walt’s script for his original character.
All players were sophomores at Jennings High School in St. Louis County.
With Walt Jaschek As Christopher McKarton
Written By Walt Jaschek
Directed By Marc Stephenson
Anybody Who Held The Camera
Filmed With The 8mm Camera Marc Recovered From a Trash Can In Jennings
Filmed On Location In
Downtown St. Louis, Missouri
The LaChance Residence
Original Film: Lost in a Box in the Basement Until Now!
A little backstory from Walt:
In 1971, my high school buddy Marc Stephenson found a working 8mm movie camera in an outdoor trashcan in Jennings, Missouri, where we lived and went to high school. (That would be Jennings High.) This, we decided, was an omen. We would make a Movie. Or at least a TV Pilot. We scraped together allowances and chore money to buy and process 8mm film (expensive for 15-year-olds,) then gathered friends and spent a few weeks across North County and St. Louis City running around, dodging traffic, stunt-fighting and shooting… “Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective.” The original 8mm reels were shown on a projector in my parents’ basement, and groups of high school friends enjoyed this “action/thriller” – well, at least those of us IN it did. But shortly thereafter, the already well-used film was lost to time, and only recently (here in 2021,) did I find a few reels in the bottom of a box marked “High School.” I had the film converted to digital (this is as good as these faded 8mm scenes can look) and tinkered in iMovie to add some titles and music to the original silent movie. Yes, shooting this at age 15 was Great Fun. What a blast. David, a year older, already had a car, and he shuffled us to multiple locations. (That’s the pink Cadillac I’m shown driving, even though I didn’t have a license. Or permit.) As per the parenting morays of the day (“be home when the streetlights turn on,”) we were mostly left to our devices, playing in traffic, popping out of underground pipes, climbing down buildings and bridges, and being blissfully careless. The only time we caught any attention is when we threw a dummy off the bridge by Northland Shopping Center. That drew a Jennings Police Officer to the scene: when he learned what we were doing, he laughed, asked for a ticket to the movie, and left. Missing from reels I recovered, alas, was one flashback scene involving McKarton, his high school girlfriend, and one of the “delinquents” delivering her back to McK in a kidnapping scheme. Or something like that. Suitably ridiculous, I know. But no more ridiculous than any of the rest of the “plot.” But the missing scene helps to explain why McKarton turns into such a vengeful, Dirty Harry-like killer near the end of the first episode… Ooops! Spoiler! Thanks for watching, and remember: Christopher McKarton will return.
Christopher McKarten did return – in 1974, as a comic strip by Walt in the UMSL Current, the student newspaper at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.