The Passion of Miss Augusta was directed by Stone Ridge filmmaker Robert Clem (Company K, Uncle Tony) and is based on the 1866 novel St Elmo by Alabama author Augusta Evans Wilson, now seen as an early feminist. St. Elmo was one of the two best-selling American novels of the nineteenth century. The Passion of Miss Augusta mingles a silent movie adaptation of the novel with a version set in the 1950s, each with a heroine determined to maintain her independence in a man’s world.
Filmed in Stone Ridge, Rosendale, High Falls and other parts of the Hudson Valley, the film features Jason Downs and Marnye Young in the lead roles and David Little, Davis Hall, Sophia Raab-Downs, Pam Jusino, Joe Petrilla, P.J. Sosko, Stephen Jones and Matthew Santiago in supporting roles. Locations include the 1850 House in Rosendale, High Falls Community Church, High Falls Cemetery and Montgomery Place. Cinematography is by Alan Hostetter and original music score by Donald Stark.
Alabama born director Robert Clem says the film is about the status of women in Victorian America versus the 1950s and how much or how little had changed. St. Elmo is seen as a forerunner of Southern Gothic literature, so often adapted by Hollywood in the 1950s in films such as The Long, Hot Summer and Summer and Smoke. Augusta Evans Wilson’s melodramatic novels were made into several films in the silent era; in 1921 John Gilbert starred in St. Elmo. But later her novels disappeared until she and other ‘scribbling women’ writers (as Nathaniel Hawthorne described them) were rediscovered by feminists in the 1970s.