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Sunken treasures await your re-discovery: Blog 2016
"I always keep my word, I'll send him right where he told me to go ...HELL!"
December 2017
This Blog will be offering a colorful kaleidoscope of movie magic for cinema aficionados.
Crispy peanuts, thin-skinned baloons and thrilling sensations on celluloid.
See offbeat goodies and magic crumbs ...weekly!
The Story behind the Spectacle!
No inflated endlessly long stories, but short and crisp. 
'This is Helmet time!'
Photos beat content!
Welcome to the manege of madness!

'Arizona' (1940) is an old-fashioned Western classic directed by the Hollywood veteran Wesley Ruggles, 
Oscar nominated (Best Director) for 'Cimarron', 1931.
Director Ruggles (1889–1972) is very focused on the good character drawing of his excellent players,
Jean Arthur, the young William Holden and Warren William.
The pacing is not the best and 'Arizona' is a bit long for the manageable story.
Wesley Ruggles directs with enthusiasm but little imagination.
'Arizona' survives thanks to the old-school pure western pioneer spirt which one can not resist.
The Columbia Set Decoration Crew, supported by local technicians and carpenters, built an impressive 
Western Town Set with a bunch of mudbrick houses in the Sonoran Desert for the movie, 1939.
Over the years, the small desert town 'Tucson' is developing into a very well-known Western location.
Great movies like 'Rio Bravo', 'El Dorado', 'Rio Lobo' and famous TV shows ('Bonanza', 'High Chaparral') 
filmed scenes in the dusty 'Tucson' Set along with countless commercials.
I think, Wesley Ruggles could have used his great set better!
Thanks to ebay I can show you a few old colored Kodachrome 35mm Slides (1940) of the historical 'Tucson' set.
'Arizona' received Oscar nominations for 'Best Art Direction' (b/w picture) and 'Best Original Score', 1941.
I like the stylish Set Decoration and excellent Costumes. 
A good black and white small-scale western epic.
The small chapel of 'Tucson' - Kodachrome 35mm Slide of the 'Arizona' Set, 1940.
Back in 1940 this was the central Set piece - The birth of what later became known as 'Old Tucson Studios'.
Kodachrome 35mm Slide of the 'Arizona' Set, 1940.
A great outdoor movie set, wonderfully fitted into the desert landscape.
Hollywood in the Desert. 
Robert Shelton (1921-2016) founded 'Old Tucson' in 1959, 20 years after Columbia Pictures built the town as 
a set for 'Arizona'.
In the 60's, 70's and mid 80's, he turned the old western town into the second largest tourist attraction in 
Arizona next to the Grand Canyon.
Here you see him on the left, during the construction at Old Tucson in 1964.
Old Tucson experienced good and bad times (a big fire) and is still a very active studio.
The Company has grown tremendously and has become a professional studio. 
Is there anything left of the old 'Arizona' Set?
The photo shows the filming of 'Tombstone', 1993. 
Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton in the 'Old Tucson set'.

Richard Roundtree talks about his time on airplanes in Africa travelling to the locations of 'Shaft in Africa':
"There were no 747's flying between places like Dira Dawa and Arba Minch, Ethiopia, ...
Before boarding a DC-6 you have to stand on a scale and be weighed with all your luggage.
When the total weight of man and luggage reached the plane's capacity - that's it.
The rest of the crew will have to fly on the cargo plane!
On one occasion after we had all been loaded onto the DC-6, it sank a bit into the mud.
Everybody had to pile out. We actually had to push that plane out of the mud before we could take-off.
Every last member of the crew and cast was out there pushin' and shovin', even our producer, 
Roger Lewis, and our Director, John Guillermin.
The big problem with those planes is that they are not pressurized. You just can't breathe.
I tried to sit in the last seat by the door because the doors never closed completely and air could get in
through the big crack."
Richard laughs as he tells this story but you have the feeling he wasn't laughing at the time. (press release) 
In 'Shaft in Africa' (1973), directed by John Guillermin, our hero, New York private detective John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) 
becomes involved in cracking an international slave trading operation. 
The British Actor Frank Finlay is the cool worldwide operating gangster.
Vonetta McGee ('Blacula') and especially the Serbian beauty Neda Arneric are the pretty flowers in the colorful vase.
A quite rough, tough and sleazy surprise with a strong villain and sexy girls. But Shaft stays cool!
The relatively simple script is cleverly paced. The acting is hard-hitting with panache.
Yeah, we get some good vibrations here.
Most of the crew of the very professional production was from Europe.
Director John Guillermin ('P.J.') was English, as were the production manager and location supervisor.
The camera crew was French. One spoke English and two didn't.
The bulk of the crew, grips, lightning technicians, makeup artists, set decorator, special effects experts were 
Spanish and for the most part spoke no English at all.
There was a smattering of Italians who, luckily, spoke Spanish.
The Spanish assistant director Miguel Gil ('Some Girls Do') kept the whole thing glued together with his ability 
to seemingly speak all languages perfectly! Yippee! What a wild mix...
The cast and crew represented 15 separate nationalities and almost as many languages.
Assembled, the entire group looked and sounded like the United Nations Cafeteria at high noon.
"Shaft in Africa" is a surprisingly entertaining movie.
Jazar (Neda Arneric), the sinuously erotic mistress of the kingpin of an international slave trading organization.
The Serbian Actress had the very best qualifications to become a Star in the Italian Exploitation Cinema. 
But she only played a few minor roles in cheesy films before going back to Serbia.
I wonder why she didn't make it? 
No Giallo with Neda ...what a shame!
She is young, sweet and beautiful as the deadly Spider goddess in Peter Sykes 'The Legend of the Spider Forest' (1971).
Kodak 4 x 5 Transparency.
Neda is 64 years old today and still active on Serbian television/cinema.
Parts of 'Shaft in Africa' were filmed in Spain in the Parque El Capricho, a city park in the Spanish capital Madrid.
Here we see Shaft at the 'Palacio de la Alameda de Osuna' - Parque El Capricho (Madrid, Spain).
Several movies used the terrific Palacio as Location. 
In the Jose Luis Merino World War II squib 'Commando al Infierno' it was a Nazi Headquarter.

Your comments are always welcome!
Trust me, I know what I'm doing. Sometimes.

In the golden years of European cinema (60s-70s), there were numerous outstanding Italian photographers who accompanied the 
filming of our favorite Cinema adventures and published photos and reports about them.
One of these photo artists was Roberto Biciocchi (top right).
His life's work was honored in 2010 in Cesena (Italy) with an extensive exhibition of his photographs.
At the Galleria La Pescheria (10.4-9.5.2010) you could admire the great photographs by Robert Biciocchi.
In the context of this exhibition a book was published:
'Fotografi di scena del cinema italiano' - Roberto Biciocchi.
The book offers a neat overview of the work of Roberto Biciocchi, refined with numerous illustrations of his 
photos (b/w + color).
Wonderful documents of european film history.
Roberto worked for agencies (Pierluigi/...) or as a freelance photographer.
He made thousands of photos on different film sets, frequently as official Still Photographer.
His photos were used to produce Lobby Cards for the cinema showcases and other promotion material for the movies.
As a good friend of Gina Lollobrigida he often visited the film productions of the Diva.
In an old movie archive I found a portfolio with Biciocchi photos (paper/transparency) for the Western film
'Bad Man's River'.
Robert Biciocchi visted the film Set in Daganzo (Estudios Madrid 70) near Madrid in Spain to shot some nice photos of the 
screen goddess Gina Lollobrigida.
Gina Lollobrigida portrait of Roberto Biciocchi - Gina in Spain for 'Bad Man's River'.
35mm slide.
Director Eugenio Martin discusses a scene with Gina Lollobrigida and Lee van Cleef, february 1971.
Black and white photo by Roberto Biciocchi.
The same scene, only a moment later ... Eugenio Martin with his Stars.
Of course Roberto was very focused on Gina. Photo by Roberto Biciocchi.
35mm Slide.
Some more excellent portraits of Gina Lollobrigida in her beautiful costumes. Photos by Roberto Biciocchi. 35mm Slides.
The underrated little comedy gem 'Bad Man's River' is available on blu-ray. 
The film offers great entertainment on so many levels.
I love the hilarious effects with cheapo stuff of the spanish wizard Emilio Ruiz del Rio and this staggering paddle steamer,
a big working miniature. 
Two guys are sitting in it operating it like a giant pedal boat. 
With a pedal mechanism they moved the paddle wheel of the steamer.
Unfortunately, the steamer was destroyed by a big fire in the EM 70 Studio, Daganzo.
I have many more 'Bad Man's River' 35mm slides in my Italian promotion binder for the movie. 
Several have a white frame without the hallmark of Biciocchi so I can not say for sure if these
photos are also made by Roberto!
Look at these two, for example. Nice shots of Lee van Cleef and Gina Lollobrigida on Set in Daganzo, 1971. 
I have never seen them before. Unpublished!? Were the photos shot by Biciocchi?
It is not always easy to find out and varify, but Roberto Biciocchi has an impressive list of film credits as Still photographer.
He and his Rolleiflex (6x6), Leica and Nikon equipment have been on the Set of the James Bond movie 'Thunderball', 
directed by Terence Young. 
He made photos during the 'Grand Prix', directed by John Frankenheimer and stayed a whole summer long in Anticoli Corrado, 
the main location of the excellent Stanley Kramer film 'The Secret of Santa Vittoria', 1968.
Because of Gina Lollobrigida he made stills for the bizarre Giulio Questi Giallo 'Death laid an Egg'.
Roberto visited the Sets of Western movies ('The 5-Man Army', 'China 9, Liberty 37') in Spain and very much enjoyed 
filming Sophia Loren at work ('Cassandra Crossing').
The photo above, a Kodak 2.25 x 2.25 transparency, shows Sophia Loren in my hometown Hamburg together with the
famous Italian Cinematographer Roberto Gerardi (1919–1995), 1962. 
They have been in Hamburg for the Vittorio de Sica film 'The Condemned of Altona'.
A great movie with Sophia Loren, Maximilian Schell, Frederic March and Robert Wagner.
Wherever Sophia Loren appeared in Hamburg, there was always a cheering crowd waiting for her ...and the camera of
Roberto Biciocchi.

The James Bond movie 'Moonraker' offered a plenty of special effects opportunities,
and visual effects supervisor legend Derek Meddings was the right guy to handle the multifaceted tasks.
Here is a great photo of the model miniature show that Meddings designed.
The 'Moonraker' shuttle carefully approaches the Space Station.
The models were treated like raw eggs as due to the relatively small budget the crew could only build one station. 
Various close-ups made it essential that the models were built in amazing fine detail.
A smooth movement was required as the camera tracked behind the shuttle.
This was achieved by mounting the 'Moonraker' shuttle on an arm that was attached to the main camera rig. 
This allowed the model shuttle to track and roll towards the space station without requiring any seperate 
mounting equipment.
See more of Derek Meddings here: Visual Effects of a special kind.
A great Christmas present for all friends of old school model miniature effects is the fantastic book: 
'Special Effects Superman - The Art and effects of Derek Meddings'.
The large-format book offers countless rare photos and many interesting details about the work of the eminent 
visual effects mastermind Derek Meddings.

With 'Lion of the Desert' Syrian director Moustapha Akkad (1930–2005) put a splendour on the screen 
that has not been seen for a long time!
His film is one of the last great movie epics (1980) before the pictures were composed by computer nerds.
A heavily underrated triumph with brilliant Players (Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed, Irene Papas,...),
a mighty crew of innovative experts and a (real) cast of thousands.
Bringing 'Lion of the Desert' to the cinema screen took more than four years of meticulous preparation by 
Director Akkad and his talented creative team.
Whenever possible, accuracy down to the smallest detail was the claim of all those involved.
They even managed to find the old barber of Benito Mussolini to prepare Rod Steiger for his role as Mussolini.
Rod Steiger gives another of his stirring character portrayals, a quite charismatic performance. 
The photo, a Kodak 4 x 5 transparency, shows Rod Steiger as Benito Mussolini.
He was an ideal cast for the role of Mussolini.
Rod Steiger is beeing lathered for the transformation by Luigi Galbani.
'Il Duce was completely bald' insisted Galbani. 
'I should know. I shaved him several times, both his face and his head.' (Galbani in the Souvenir book of the movie)
Luigi Galbani was a young military barber at the Ministry of the Interior during the years of Fascist domination of Italy.
In the mid 80s Galbani was consulted again, this time by the makers of George C. Scott’s seven hour mini-series 
Mussolini: The Untold Story (1985).
The stars and producers all being anxious to get the right look, so who better than Galbani?
'Benito Mussolini' was not a new role for Rod Steiger, he already played 'Il Duce' in Carlo Lizzani's thrilling movie 
'The Last Days of Mussolini', 1973.
We will pay tribute to the magnitude and spectacle of 'Lion of the Desert' with a comprehensive story next year.
My Dear friend Kit West was the Special Effects supervisor of the show and told me some interesting anecdotes 
about the colossal production.

A few days ago, a sad news reached me.
On October 13, my Spanish friend Angel Caldito Castellano died after a long illness at the age of only 58.
My heartfelt condolences go to his wife Maria Jose and daughter Mireia.
Angel Caldito was a true movie buff and active on different blogs and various movie forums.
For example on an interesting blog about the fascinating movie history of Spain with all its facets: 

For a long time he worked on a book (together with a friend of him) about Western Movie productions and their locations 
in Madrid and surroundings.
He asked me for help with some photos from my archive, but I do not know anything about the progress of this book. 
Will his amigo finish it alone, without Angel?
Angel was a longtime faithful fan and great friend of my different web projects about the crazy movie world of 
the 60s, 70s and 80s. 
I will miss our conversations on the Spanish Western film history...
Rest in peace my friend.

Wow ...this is a royal Schlock movie ennobled by the esteemed director Freddie Francis (1917–2007).
The London-born cameraman was one of the great stylists of the British cinema.
He created fear and terror only through the clever use of light and shadow in many thrillers and horror films.
'Gebissen wird nur Nachts' focuses on other arts: boobs!
The Swedish beauty Pia Degermark is the eye-catcher in this Z-Movie vampire trash flick.
She has a double role as horny bitch ...and horny vampire. And the madness takes its course ...
The helplessness of cast and crew is charming, the movie has a giggly atmosphere and some wonderful trashy scenes.
Art Director Hans Zehetner ('Tim Frazer jagt den geheimnisvollen Mr. X', 'Der Mann mit dem goldenen Pinsel') 
was responsible for the fitting look of the picture.
Producer Pier A. Caminnecci brought together a colorful troupe. 
As producer of Jess Franco and Adrian Hoven flicks, Caminnecci had a lot of experience with crazy movie beads
('Succubus','Castle of Bloody Lust','Sadist Erotica','Kiss me Monster').
'Gebissen wird nur Nachts', internationally known as 'The Vampire Happening', was his last traumatic masterpiece.
The filming locations are very well chosen. 
As main location Producer Caminnecci booked the striking Castle Kreuzenstein (Austria) again. See photo above.
He previously used the castle for the Adrian Hoven film 'Castle of Bloody Lust', 1968.
The surprisingly good score of 'The Vampire Happening' was again the work of Jerry van Rooyen (1928–2009), 
who did the music for almost all Caminnecci productions. 
The big vampire party sequence at the end of the movie in the castle (Location: Castle Liechtenstein, Austria) 
is pure brightly colored trash!
Count Dracula is the special guest of the party. 
The master flies in stylishly with his 'Batcopter' and waves to his fans. What an incredible scrap! I love it!
Ferdy Mayne (1916–1998) is a brilliant 'Dracula' for this flick. An actor with a special charisma.
The German-born character actor lent a silky, urbane quality to numerous menacing roles in British films of 
the 1950's, 60's and 70's. 
The Band who is rocking the party is 'Birth Control', a german Combo of the 'Krautrock' era.
The grimaces of Bernd 'Koschi' Koschmidder and drummer Bernd 'Nossi' Noske with long vampire-teeth fit 
perfectly into the incredible work of art.
The band plays without a break. 
The boys fidget around in the background, even if they should actually stay calm. Gorgeous!
And this was not the first 'movie gig' for 'Birth Control'.
They also 'played' in the Ingrid Steeger movie 'Ich - Ein Groupie'.
Learn more about 'Birth Control' here: www.birth-control.de
'Gebissen wird nur Nachts' is available on DVD in acceptable quality. 
A loopy little Euro-Party ... barely controllable by Freddie Francis.
Producer Pier A. Caminnecci and Pia Degermark at the heavy castle gate of Castle Kreuzenstein (Austria), 1971,
and a comparison photo of the location.
Dracula (Ferdy Mayne) talks with Pia Degermark during a break, 1971.
Pia in one of her nice costumes (Uli Richter design) and Cinematographer Gérard Vandenberg (1932–1999).
And the photo on the right shows Pia and Pier A. Caminnecci at Castle Kreuzenstein (Austria), 1971.
Pia Degermark and Producer Pier A. Caminnecci were even married for a while (1971-1973). 
The two have a little scene together in the movie, a harmless sex scene in the airplane Cinema above the clouds.
Pia had a difficult time with many ups and downs (homeless, addicted to drugs,car crash).
The last that I heard about her was that she fortunately found a way back to life.
In 2006, Pia published her Autobiography in Sweden: Gud räknar kvinnors tårar.
The Playboy and Siemens-heritage Pier Andrea Caminnecci died on December 30, 2013.
As far as I know, the book is only available in Swedish!

After all the cheap sour cucumbers you have earned a little candy at the end of the year!
The lovely american actress Marianna Hill, born in Santa Barbara de Nexe (Portugal), has predominantly worked in 
American television.
There is almost no popular TV series without an episode with Marianna Hill. 
'Bonanza', 'The Outer Limits', 'Batman', 'Star Trek', 'I Spy', Marianna was an eye-catcher everywhere.
She had a well-done striptease scene in 'El Condor', a troubled production in Spain.
'El Condor' Director John Guillermin was a pain in the ass for the crew. Alcohol was a huge problem, mainly for Lee van Cleef.
Marianna is fluent in Spanish. 
The talented actress surely had no problems with the Spanish crew of 'El Condor' or in the small streets of Almeria. 
A few years later Marianna did another Western in a better working atmosphere, 'High Plains Drifter'.
She enjoyed working with Clint Eastwood.
Marianna was a surprise in 'Messiah of Evil' and did the excellent 'The Godfather: Part II'.
In the late 70s and early 80s she ended up in B-Movie flicks like 'The Astral Factor', 'Schizoid' and 'Blood Beach'.
Learn more about the tremendous Fortress, that they have built in the desert near Tabernas (Almeria) for the movie 'El Condor',
the Set Design, the Art Direction and the manifold Special Effects here:
'El Condor' - An exclusive look behind the scenes of a legend.
Marianna Hill in the cult TV Show 'I Spy'. She is in the episode 'Night Train to Madrid'.
Several episodes of the American television show were filmed in Spain.
Here you can see some 'I Spy' location photos: Campo de Criptana.

'Ciao nemico' is an unimpressive World War II comedy directed by Enzo Barboni (1922–2002).
Barboni is a very talented cameraman, but as a responsible director he is overrated.
His Spencer-Hill comedies are pretty awesome because of the comedic talent and the perfectly harmonious duo 
and not necessarily due to the work of the director.
His 'Ciao nemico' offers a good team of Players with a bunch of familiar 'Spaghetti Western' faces.
Giuliano Gemma and Johnny Dorelli are the lead players. Ivan Rassimov is the last of the mohicans.
The costumes are probably from a 'Halloween' shop. Embarrassing.
A few more figures go with it without attracting attention.
But suddenly she appears, the singing Italian bombshell Carmen Russo!
Some kind of Star of the 'commedia erotica all'italiana' (Italian Sex Comedy) Genre.
The Crew is interesting. Score by Franco Micalizzi. Special Effects by Paolo Ricci.
Two 'heroes' of the 'Poliziotteschi' Genre with some great jobs and and exciting careers.
'Ciao nemico' is a terrible movie. Incredibly bad on so many levels.
The DVD is food for the shredder. And even my faithful friend spits it out again ...
Russo started her career as a model in the mid-1970s participating in several beauty contests in Italy. 
Although Russo began a career as an actress, she continued to work as a showgirl in nightclubs and in 1978 Russo host 
with Ettore Andenna in the TV show "La bustarella" aired on Antenna 3 Lombardia.
During the summer of 1979 Russo appeared for the first time in the Italian magazine Playmen, at the age of nineteen. 
She appeared again in the magazine in late 1980, in 1981 and two times in 1982 and 1984. 
Carmen Russo became one of the highest paid nude models in Italy.
In early 1983, the singing Russo released her first full-length studio album.
The album contains cover versions of songs by Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder.
Pictured here is her 1984 single 'Mi scusi, signorina'.
In 1991 Carmen Russo decided to leave Italy and go to Spain to conduct 'Vip Noche', for the TeleCinco network, 
for sixty episodes. The show had an unexpected success.
Carmen Russo in 'Cia nemico'. 
If you want more informations about the versatile dancing bumblebee, check out her website:
Giuliano Gemma in 'Ciao nemico'. 
Gemma only gets noticed once ...guess what scene!
A movie to fill the fridge. In the 80s, the air became thinner for Gemma.
The only interesting location of this talent free comedy is a little bridge in the middle of nowhere.
The small bridge can be found near Roccasecca (Italy).
Screenshot - Comparison photo.
The set design crew pimped it with exposed pillars and marble figures. Looks good!

Wooahhhh, what a foxy girl! She has that certain something!
Beautiful, vibrant-looking Sixties actress Wende Wagner (1941–1997) was a talented swimmer, a real mermaid, 
stunt diver and underwater stunt double.
Her short trip into the movie business, with only a handful of interesting jobs, ended quite abruptly and 
she disappeared from the radar screen (stage) in the early 70s. 
Wende Wagner was the Apache Girl in the rough Gordon Douglas Western 'Rio Conchos' (1964).
She was in 'Destination Inner Space' (1966), 'The Green Hornet' TV Series (1966–1967) and got a role in 
'Rosemary's Baby' (1968).
Wende had her last appearance on the big screen as Tina in the Paul Wendkos action Western 
'Guns of the Magnificent Seven' (1969).
For the first time she was shooting in Europe, in sunny exotic Spain.
The TOP location for Western Movies in the 60s/70s.
Filming took place at many great places near the Spanish capital Madrid.
Little was heard from Wende until reports of her death from cancer in 1997.
Where has she been all these years?
What I really like about the 'Spanish' Western films of Director Paul Wendkos is that he tries to find 
new and fresh locations for his projects.
'Guns of the Magnificent Seven' and 'Cannon for Cordoba' both offer a bunch of 'exotic' places that you 
haven't seen in any other Western production before.
It was fun for me to find these unknown locations.
A nice one is the small town Fresno de Torote. Almost a ghost town, with many abandoned and half-ruined houses.
Here is a screenshot of 'Guns of the Mag7' and a comparison photo I did on location many years ago.
Fresno de Torote (Madrid) - 1969/2009.
Some more interesting 'Guns of the Magnificent Seven' locations you will find here: Mag7 Location Archaeology.
Director Paul Wendkos (left in white polo shirt) on set in Navalcarnero (Madrid) for 'Cannon for Cordoba', 1970.
A formerly completely unknown 'Cordoba' location was the lost 'Fortress of Cordoba'.
I discovered the location of this huge set some years ago: Atlantis.
Behind of Paul Wendkos stands the greatly gifted spanish camera operator Ricardo Navarrete (shirtless).
Ricardo has previously worked for Wendkos as camera operator on 'Guns of the Magnificent Seven'.
He also did 'Return of the Seven' (1966) which was shot in Spain as well.
Burt Kennedy (Director) filmed his 'Return of the Seven' adventure in Agost, a small town near Alicante (Spain).
I tinkered together a little website about this production with hundreds of rare and unpublished photos:
Actually I had the idea to do a special website for 'Cannon for Cordoba' in the same way:
But several hundred 2.25 transparencies and over 300 Kodachromes are just too much.
The amount of material is overwhelming, I got panic.
I now have the idea to split it up and do several 'Cannon for Cordoba' stories, one for every shooting location.
We will see ... what will be possible 2018.
wishes you all a Happy New Year 2018! Stay interested, healthy ... and watchful!