Tonight at the Hollywood: D.B. Cooper Movie Night

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If you like history, airplanes, or daring acts of thievery, then there is a very large non-zero chance that you will enjoy yourself at the Hollywood Theater tomorrow night.Doug Kenck-Crispin of Kick-Ass Oregon History is putting on a D.B. Cooper Movie Night, celebrating the 41st anniversary of Portland’s most daring act of sky piracy. (Full disclosure: I know Doug and have been a guest speaker at his events before.)

D.B. Cooper, for those of you who’ve never heard of him, is the name ascribed to an unknown man who hijacked a plane en route from Portland to Seattle. Claiming to have a bomb, Cooper demanded $200,000 in twenties, two parachutes, and a rum and Seven Up. Upon landing in Seattle, the plane was evacuated except for Cooper and the crew. He was given his money and parachutes, and all the while drank, smoke, and made conversation with the cabin crew. Then, somewhere between Seattle and Portland, Cooper opened the back door of the plane and jumped the hell out.

Cooper either escaped the law or turned into a squishy pile of guts somewhere just north of Portland. Either way, he was never seen again. It is the only unsolved aerial hijacking case in American history. And that’s pretty much it.

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The centerpiece of the whole shebang is a screening of The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, a 1981 film starring Robert Duvall and Treat Williams. “It’s factual about the case in that a guy called D.B. Cooper got on a plane and hijacked it, and then it speculates about what happened after.” The film is not one that's been overly remembered. Kenck-Crispin had to resort to finding it.

The evening will also feature a short documentary by Mike Vogel, bits from Leverage’s D.B. Cooper episode, and a talk from Marla Cooper. Marla Cooper is something of a new fixture to the D.B. Cooper mythos. In August 2011, has put forth claims that her uncle L.D. Cooper (who was originally from Sisters and is now buried in Bend) was, in fact, D.B. “She provides a perspective that I think very few people have,” says Kenck-Crispin, “she flat-out believes that her uncle was D.B. Cooper.... We [also] have a documentary from the eighties,” said Kenck-Crispin, “ and if people are super geeked-out I’ll show that at the end”

Cooper is one of those figures that sparks all kinds of speculation and mystery. On top of being a complete badass, he's also a fascinating blank slate who continues to inspire all manner of media. “There’s so much unknown about this case,” says Kenck-Crispin. “That’s what fascinates people… Not only do we not know what happened to him, but don’t even know who he was. Name a crime where you don’t even know who someone was… As far as we’re concerned, D.B. Cooper was born and died in four hours.”

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