This weekend one of the finest displays of Norman Rockwell’s artistic talent comes to life, as his stunning 1950 painting Shuffleton’s Barbershop becomes the setting for a new original movie. Starring four-time Emmy nominee Danny Glover, Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop is set to premiere this Saturday, June 1, at 9/8c on the Hallmark Movie Channel.
Similar to how he employed both neighbors and family as subjects, Rockwell also found artistic inspiration from his surroundings. For his highly detailed cover illustration for the April 29, 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell turned to Rob Shuffleton’s barbershop in East Arlington, Vermont. After making preliminary sketches, the artist called on his assistant, artist Gene Pelham to photograph the setting. In his 1960 autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, Rockwell recalls that “there were details, accidents of light, which I’d missed when I’d been able to make only quick sketches of a setting… where Rob hung his combs, his rusty old clippers, the way the light fell across the magazine rack, his moth-eaten push broom leaning against the display cases of candy and ammunition, the cracked leather seat of the barber chair with the stuffing pointing through along the edges over the nickel-plated frame.”
Part of the collection of The Berkshire Museum, Shuffleton’s Barbershop never ceases to inspire its viewers. In addition to its masterful composition and photorealistic rendering, the painting is notable for its intriguing contrasts—between light and dark tones (reminiscent of the 17th century Dutch realists), and the setting of the subjects themselves (classical musicians playing in the back of a modest, rural barbershop)—Rockwell always infused his subjects and settings with a great dignity.
The movie, Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop uses the artist’s painting as the backdrop for a heartwarming story about family. Famous country singer Trey Cole (Austin Stowell) is finally returning after abandoning his hometown many years ago and never looking back. Now, realizing he’s lost himself along the way, Trey remembers his first haircut in the barbershop of Charlie Shuffleton (Glover), a man who once served as a father figure to him when his own dad was coldly absent during his childhood. Hoping to find guidance from his old friend, he enters the shop to find Charlie’s old friends playing a trio of instruments (just like in Rockwell’s painting) and is saddened to learn about the barber’s recent death. With childhood memories flooding his mind, Trey knows he must face his own father and the family he hardly knows to honor Charlie’s memory and make things right.
Learn more about the movie on the Hallmark Movie Channel’s website, and view this and other original Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover tearsheets at Norman Rockwell Museum this weekend. As they say, the reward is in the details…
“Rockwell Painting Inspires Movie,” Saturday Evening Post