The Helen Movie

A New Feature Length Documentary

 

The Story of Helen and Frank Schreider


Helen and Frank Schreider locked eyes across a crowded dance hall and instantly knew they were meant to be together.  They were married 3 months later, while still in college at UCLA.  On their wedding day, Frank placed a gold band around Helen's finger with, "no greater love" engraved on the inside.  For their honeymoon, they bought a jeep and drove as far south as they could on the nascent Pan-American highway. The stopped when they hit the mountains of Costa Rica, with no way to go farther on land. Frank began to think that they could go farther if they could go by sea. 


They returned, finished school and got jobs in Alaska to save money while Frank refurbished a WWII amphibious jeep.  In 1954 they set off with their dog Dinah on an 18 month journey from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego, the southern most tip of South America.  They accomplished this task by land and by sea and wrote a marvelous book about it called 20,000 Miles South.


After a 5-week series in Saturday Evening Post and a successful cross country lecture tour, National Geographic approached the couple to work for them, which suited Frank just fine.  Helen needed a little convincing after the harrowing journey she'd been through, but by promising a trip through the Indonesian Islands, Dr. Grovesner won her over. 


Helen and Frank went on six expeditions working for National Geographic, putting them firmly into the category of full time explorers, writing, painting and photographing everything they could along the way. They were beloved wherever they went, a charming and handsome couple who became magnificent if unofficial ambassadors to the United States. In their short stints back home between trips they were guests on the Today Show, features on What's My Line and To Tell The Truth. Their lives were a testament to the American Dream, one where you really could be anything you imagined. They were the "it" couple of their day.


But when they returned home after their last trip down the Amazon, they returned to a new America- one whose dreams had changed entirely. Suddenly, photojournalism was all about politics, war, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.  Frank wanted to be relevant in this new time, even if it meant dismissing the magic that the two of them had created over the past 20 years. Could Helen stand to be called "window-dressing" after all she'd been through, all she'd sacrificed for this man?