Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain is a 1995 American adventure and drama film starring Christina Ricci and Anna Chlumsky.
In June 1980, Beth Easton (Christina Ricci) and her recently widowed mother, Kate (Polly Draper) move from Los Angeles to a small town in northern Washington, where they move into Kate's aunt's farmhouse. At first, Beth misses L.A. and resents their new life in the country. In town, she encounters Jody Salerno (Anna Chlumsky), a troubled but free-spirited teenager who has a bad reputation in the town. While riding her bike the next day, Beth is forced off the road by a semi-truck, and plummets down a steep ravine, crashing her bicycle into a river, where Jody is fishing.
Kate attempts to ingratiate Beth with two local girls, Tracy (Ashleigh Aston Moore) and Samantha (Jewel Staite), and while they are picking berries at the house, Beth encounters Jody, who has been hiding in a tree and throwing cherries at them. Tracy and Samantha warn Beth against associating with Jody, but Beth joins her on a walk through the woods. The next day when they are walking together, Jody tells Beth she has an adventure planned for the following day, and asks Beth to meet her outside the local high school. Jody fails to show, and a local cop, Matt (Brian Kerwin) offers her a ride to Jody's house. Jody's mother, Lynette (Diana Scarwid) answers the door, appearing shaken and inebriated, and tells Beth that Jody isn't home.
Matt brings Beth home, and realizes that he is an old acquaintance of her mother's. Beth receives a phone call from Jody, who directs her into the forest outside her house. She explains that she hid from Matt and Beth at the high school because she had broken in and stolen candy from the vending machines; she then tells Beth the story of Molly Morgan, a female miner who purportedly died in a mine collapse in Bear Mountain while searching for gold. The girls board a motorized boat which Jody has hidden along the river, and ride downstream and into the mountain, where she has set up a makeshift living space in the cavern entryway. Jody confesses to Beth that her mother and her mom's abusive boyfriend, Ray (David Keith), had gotten into a fight the night before, and that Jody may have fatally wounded him after he chased her into the woods.
Beth urges Jody to go to the police, and a rainstorm approaches. As the girls try to leave the cave, there is a collapse of boulders, which destroy the boat and pin Beth to the cave floor. Jody swims out of the cave and down the river, making it safely past a grizzly bear and to a road where she crosses paths with a sheriff. Beth is rescued just in time, as the water level has slowly risen inside the cave. At the hospital, Jody is confronted by Ray, who is still alive to the surprise of Jody and Beth.
Kate forbids Beth to spend time with Jody, but she appears at a Fourth of July picnic and divulges her plan to return to the mountain to get the gold. Kate eventually decides to let Beth see Jody, and they drive to Jody's house the next day. Inside, they find Lynette, beaten and incoherent, and no sign of Ray or Jody. Lynette is taken to the hospital and Beth insists to Matt that they go to the mountain, believing that Ray took Jody there. Beth assists Matt to the caves, but the two are separated inside. Beth finds Jody, who tells her that a drunken Ray beat her and forced her to take him to find the gold.
Beth goes back to find Matt, and Jody is grabbed from behind by whom she believes is Ray— when she turns around, she finds it is an elderly woman, who then recedes into the shadows. Ray appears and attempts to grab Jody, but is hit over the head with a shovel by the elderly woman, who is ostensibly Molly Morgan. Beth returns to find Jody and Ray, unconscious, but Molly has disappeared. Matt finally finds Beth and Jody and Ray is arrested. Lynette recovers in the hospital and Jody accepts her apologies.
In late August, Matt arrives at Beth's house, and brings her, Kate, Jody, and Lynette to the courthouse, where an attorney is representing an anonymous client who has bestowed a gift to the girls. They are given two bags, each containing gold, and are cheered and applauded by the town citizens including Tracy and Samantha.
- Christina Ricci as Beth Easton
- Anna Chlumsky as Jody Salerno
- Polly Draper as Kate Easton
- Brian Kerwin as Matt Hollinger
- Diana Scarwid as Lynette Salerno
- David Keith as Ray Karnisak
- Ashleigh Aston Moore as Tracy
- Jewel Staite as Samantha
- Roger Cross as Paramedic
- Jesse Moss as Adam
- Jennifer Hale as Adult Beth (Narrator)
Even though the film's setting takes place in Washington, the movie was filmed on location in Norfolk, Virginia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, Pleasant Grove, Utah and Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada.
Box Office Performance
"Gold Diggers: Secret of Bear Mountain" opened at #9 at the box office, grossing $2,535,645 during its opening weekend.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it was given a rating of 50% based on 8 reviews with an average rating of 6.2\10.
Stephen Holden of The New York Times said: "Any movie that encourages young girls to be wilderness adventurers rather than boy-crazed babes-in-waiting certainly has its heart in the right place. Its the song from Home Alone Somewhere In My Memory That's why it's sad to report that "Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain," a movie about two friends who impulsively trek through the Washington State rain forest in search of a mythical cache of gold, is a pallid, halfhearted affair."
Marjorie Baumgarten of The Austin Chronicle praised Christina Ricci and Anna Chlumsky's performances and called the film a "a better-than-average kid's picture."
Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars, saying: "Gold Diggers is not my cup of tea, but it is sure to be enjoyed by younger audiences, and although I don't think it will hold the attention of adults, I do not require adults and children to be alike in all things."
1996 Young Artist Awards
- Best Young Leading Actress- Feature Film: Anna Chlumsky (won)
- Best Family Feature- Action-Adventure (nominated)
- Best Original Song- You Should Be Dancing (nominated)