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"I always keep my word, I'll send him right where he told me to go ...HELL!"
January 2019
This Blog is 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 Reality behind the Fantasy! - 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! - Have a pleasant trip!

'Alexander the Great' is one of the early epic movies which were filmed in Spain, followed by 'The Pride and the Passion', 
'Solomon and Sheba' and many more. 
Several thousand Spanish Extras were hired to play in the thrilling film of Director Robert Rossen.
Rossen planed a colossal three hour roadshow epic with Intermission and all the great splendour of an overwhelming show.
He was very disappointed when producers cut 'Alexander' down to two hours plus twenty and something minutes.
Well, the film still offers a great visual splendor, even though some pictures have been removed from the gallery. 
The Spanish Crew loved actor Fredric March (1897–1975), who played Philip of Macedonia.
The cultivated and friendly Star enjoyed talking to the crew and was very interested in Spanish culture and history.
Fredric Marsh on one of his many excursions in Spanish history.
He had the book of H.V.Morton with him, 'A Stranger in Spain' (1954).
Henry Canova Vollam (H.V.) Morton was a journalist and pioneering travel writer.
The book about his travels in Spain is a charming and delightful guide with vivid stories about Spain in the 50s, 
long before mass tourism changed everything.
The Spanish Kids had surely never heard about the book but were in the same way fascinated like Fredric March.
Fredric March on the Plaza Mayor, the heart of Madrid, 1955.
He is trying to get some information out of a small tourist guide.
Not many foreign tourists came to Madrid in the 50s.
But back in the late 50s the spanish metropolis was on its way to become a hot spot for international film productions, 
attracted by the very good conditions in all areas (expenses, studios, locations,...).
'Alexander the Great' was one of the first!
Plaza Mayor, 1955 - A walk across the large square makes you hungry.
Luckily, even then there were small stalls selling sweets for hungry kids 
and very rarely even for thrilled Hollywood actors.
The photo shows Fredric March buying a few candies.
'Alexander The Great' - Filming a scene with thousands of Spanish Extras in La Dehesa de Navalvillar, Colmenar Viejo, 1955.
My comparison photo was taken decades later, but not much has changed.
Learn more about the epic and its filming locations here: The Palace of Pella.

Here are a few more behind-the-scenes photos (35mm slides) from the interesting Amicus production 'The Mind of Mr.Soames'.
Actor Robert Vaughn (1932–2016) watches the filming of a scene with Terence Stamp (Soames), 
who experiences a special kind of horror, 1969.
Learn more about Mr.Soames here: Two marbles in a can.
Available on blu-ray.
Great shot! Dr. Jekyll und baby Hyde.
The baby is visibly dissatisfied with his role. 
It's crying and looking for his mummy, while Robert Vaughn is laughing his head off. 
The Cabin of a passenger plane Set, used for close-up shots of Dr.Bergen (Robert Vaughn), was built in 
the Shepperton Studios.
The veteran construction manager Bill Waldron (1914–1993) supervised the creation of all the Sets for the film.
He was in direct contact with the Art Director and worked closely with the production designer and 
set designer to recreate the director's vision with wood, nails, plaster and paint.
Bill oversaw the Set construction on various classic Amicus Horror flicks like 'The Skull', 'Torture Garden' or 'Madhouse'.

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

'Behold a Pale Horse' is a long forgotten little film jewel directed by Fred Zinnemann ('The Day of the Jackal').
The black and white cinematography of Jean Badal (1927–2015) is excellent.
Badal lensed many unusual dramas and some easy knitted light entertainment films like the charming 
'Tintin' adventure 'Tintin et les oranges bleues'.
It was a bold but wise decision to shot the film in black and white in the late 1963, during a time when 
color movies where the seat byers first choice.
'Behold the Pale Horse' was from the beginning not designed to be a blockbuster.
It's an intelligent movie for attentive viewers. 
The story, the characters, all is developed over time. 
The stellar cast such as Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif and the supporting cast deliver intense performances.
Accompanied by a matching 'Spanish' score of Maurice Jarre.
The movie about a Spanish Guerrilla leader was banned in Spain during the time of the fascist leader Generalissimo Franco.
Popcorn free, first-class cinema!
Screenshots of Anthony Quinn on a horse fighting with a young bull.
'And I looked, and
Behold a Pale Horse,
and his name that sat 
on him was Death, and
Hell followed with him.'
Revelation 6:8
Behind the Scenes, 1963.
For a few bullring close-ups of Anthony Quinn, a special horse was used. 
'Woody' has a calm mind and is very obedient.
Horse-like movements could be simulated via some rubber ropes.
Woody, the funny-looking phony horse that helps Cinematographer Jean Badal to get the shots the director wanted.
The poor camera operator plays the bull and a cheerful 'Picador Quinn' tickles him with the lance...
Behind the scenes with the stars:
See Gregory Peck in 'The Guns of Navarone' - Conquering of a studio cliff.
See Anthony Quinn in 'The Secret of Santa Vittoria' - The power of hilarity.
See Omar Sharif in 'Genghis Khan' - The great splendour of old-school cinema.

Today we once again take a look back at the exciting history of an old 'picture palace'.
The first days of a cinema in Norwich, England.
Box-shaped concrete construction art, 1000 seats and the big opening movie is a western:
The Odeon Cinema, summer 1971.
The Odeon Cinema was built 1969-1971 as an integral part of the Magdalen Street development, 
the widely visible part of the new Anglia Square Shopping Centre.
The cinema stands on concrete posts on top of the shopping centre and was designed by a 
local Norwich architecture office, Alan Cooke & Partners.
The Cinema won the 1971 Quigley Award for Cinema Design, awarded by the American trade journal Motion Picture Herald.
The photo also shows part of the new road pattern above ground level.
The Odeon Cinema - December, 1970.
A sophisticated design with lots of concrete and large glass fronts.
The Stadium style auditorium of the Odeon cinema.
The single tier auditorium has room for 1.016 seat buyers, who can reach the huge auditorium via 
stairs and along glazed corridors.
The big screen was 48 feet wide and 20 feet high and due to the drapes covering the walls left and right, 
it seemed even larger. 
Through the stage drape shimmers a reference to the opening film - The wild West in Norwich!
But times changed, the big 1000-seat Cinemas ...and the elaborate horse operas and movie epics slowly disappeared.
In 1991 the Odeon was converted into a triple screen cinema. 
But after only a few years the Rank Organisation closed the Cinema in the winter of 2000. 
Today it is part of the Hollywood Cinemas chain.
Not quite finished yet, but the big opening movie is already announced.
The Odeon Cinema started its business with a Western movie, how great is that!?
It was opened on 9th July 1971 with Burt Lancaster in 'Valdez is Coming'!
A great movie for the big screen, but also a pretty brave decision, 
since the film has already been shown in other cinemas.
The proud managers of the Odeon (Rank Organisation) standing in front of their cinema.
David Goodman (left) and the designated new manager Derek Williams.
Mr.Williams reminds me more than a little of Austin Powers?
July 1971, the new Odeon Cinema in Norwich opens for the first time.

Species II - Part 2.
The first night with her husband, after she returns from Mars, ends horrible for astronaut Anne Sampas and her spouse.
Anne (Myriam Cyr) gives birth to an aggressive tentacle that kills her husband only seconds later.
Infected by Alien DNA.
A fine show of Steve Johnson's XFX lab with a little help by Digital Magic.
Digital Magic augmented the rubber tentacle that stretches across the bed and lifts Mr.Sampas off the floor.
Almost all creature effects were done practical, CGI was used as a helper, some kind of complementary tool.
Producer Frank Mancuso, Jr., and Steve Johnson (XFX) wanted to avoid CGI whenever possible.
H.R.Giger was pretty disappointed not to have been brought onto Species II earlier.
But the famous designer was pleased with the Species II non-CGI approach. 
There was a heavy fax traffic from Zurich (Giger) to Burbank (XFX lab).
A lot of faxes and phone calls went back and forth.
The numerous and almost daily faxes from Giger with change requests and new ideas were certainly helpful,
but sometimes they were just annoying.
On the right is a Fax that Giger sends to Steve Johnson with new concept design ideas.
Obviously he was not sastisfied with the first tentacle effects. 
Giger: 'A endless boring special effect.'
The XFX crew came up with something, improved the show and were able to appease the frustrated Giger.
Attack of the rubber tentacle!
Rehearsing the tentacle splatter scene with Myriam Cyr.
Producer Frank Mancuso (Friday the 13th movies) is kneeling beside the bed with a water bottle in his hand.
He and Director Peter Medak gave Steve Johnson a lot of freedom in the design of the Special Makeup Effects.
Best working conditions ... only interrupted by Mr.Fax Machine.
Director Peter Medak (r) and XFX supervisor Steve Johnson (white shirt) shoot the tentacle scene.
A fast-paced and surprising special makeup effects gag. 
What a groovy beast!
A crazy alien ANACONDA or is it a mutant baby Sandworm from DUNE?
What we know is, it escaped from the brain of Steve Johnson...
The director worked very closely with Steve Johnson on the effects and with the team from Digital Magic to coordinate 
the on-set and CGI effects.
Astronaut Anne Sampas landed on the dissecting table. 
Dr.Frankenstein is ready for the examination. Somewhere lurks the snappy alien DNA.
Maybe here: Alien Love Machine.
In a secret slaughterhouse - The body of Anne Sampas is cut open and examined.
Steve Johnson (black shirt) and his crew prepared a special 'dissecting table puppet' for the 
bloody scene.

Pictured here is Rodd Redwing (1904-1971), a renowned quick-draw artist, at his Hotel in London (1968).
Rodd Redwing has taught many film Cowboys to handle a .45 right. 
How to draw the Colt quickly and shoot, all in one flowing motion. 
Rodd was the technical advisor ('firearms inspector') for the 'Shalako' production in Spain.
He was teaching 007 that there are other guns than the Beretta which have a licence to kill. 
Rodd Redwing coached all the 'Shalako' Stars (Sean Connery, Stephen Boyd, Brigitte Bardot,...) in the use of 
firearms on location in Spain. 
The 'fastest gun in the World' coached and instructed many Western Film Stars in the art of fast draw and 
firearms handling in the course of his career. 
He coached Alan Ladd for 'Shane' and Steve McQueen to play in 'Nevada Smith'. 
Here and there he took on small roles in the movies and TV shows ('Rawhide', 'Bonanza', 'Gunsmoke', 'Wagon Train',...).
In 'Shalako' he played the father of Chato.
Rodd was able to pull his six-gun out of the holster and shoot in two-tenths of a second! Record! 
He was one of the top instructors in Hollywood for all kinds of 'Western Movie' weapons (gun, knife, tomahawk, whip). 
An excellent Trick Shooter and a true Western Show Star!
Sean Connery, Stephen Boyd and Rodd Redwing in the desert of Tabernas (Almeria, Spain) - Las Salinillas, 1968.
Rodd shows the stunned Hollywood Stars how fast he can draw the Colt.
Connery tries it right away ...
Brigitte Bardot during a break in filming 'Shalako' on location in Almeria - Kodak 35mm Slide.
The b/w photo shows gunslinger Stephen Boyd picking a rifle from the arsenal on the film set, 
Playa de Monsul (Cabo de Gata, Almeria).
Rodd Redwing brought a large Gun case full of his best weapons to Spain for the Edward Dmytryk Western 'Shalako'.
Each actor got a weapon suitable for him and Rodd coached the kids to handle them.
Here you find a little story about the Set they built near the Playa de Monsul: Fort Shalako.
Between two takes in the dusty Ramblas of Tabernas.
The Colt is waiting for the next scene in the air-conditioned caravan while Shalako is swinging the golf club.
'Rambla Golf' is a tricky thing.
The poor guy has lost his favorite golf ball somewhere between all the rocks and bushes.
Sean Connery got along great with the Spanish crew and was very interested in their work.
They often sat together and talked.
During shooting breaks, Connery and his amigos quickly set up a small soccer field, in the middle of the Rambla, to play together.
A few stones were rolled aside ... ...and let's go!
Ursula Andress takes a walk through a beautiful small white village (Nijar or Mojacar?) on a day-off 
during the filming of 'Red Sun' in Almeria, Spain (35mm Slide).
She fell in love with the landscape around Almeria and bought herself a Spanish Villa in the area.
A nice filming location of the interesting production is Turre - Rio Aguas.
Rodd Redwing was the 'technical Advisor' for the Terence Young Western 'Red Sun'. 
He coached Charles Bronson, Alain Delon and the others in the use of firearms. 
Shortly afterwards Rodd passed away. 
He died of a heart attack on the flight back from the 'Red Sun' production in Spain to Los Angeles, 1971. 
Death over the clouds - A real Western hero with a tragic ending.
Rodd Redwing, 1904-1971.

Lunch break on the set of 'Guns of Darkness' near Malaga in Southern Spain, 1962.
The rousing black and white thriller was directed by Anthony Asquith, 
set against the turbulent backdrop of revolution in Latin America.
Producer Thomas Clyde knew southern Spain and especially Malaga very well.
In the late 50s he produced the groovy Heist thriller 'Moment of Danger' in the Andalusian port city (1959).
In 'Guns of Darkness' he let Malaga and its special flair play a 'banana republic'. 
The movie offers best entertainment with some pretty compelling pictures, filmed by an experienced camera crew.
Cinematographer Robert Krasker (1913–1981), Cam operator Gerry Fisher (1926–2014) and Harold Haysom (1914–1999), 
took care of some nice visuals of the spanish locations (Sierra Nevada).
DOP Robert Krasker has often filmed in Spain. 
He sat behind the camera on some major productions, such as 'Alexander the Great', 'El Cid', 'Billy Budd', 
'The Running Man' and 'The Fall of the Roman Empire'. 
Camera Operator Gerry Fisher did '55 Days at Peking' in Spain.
Harold Haysom was the camera operator on 'The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw', filmed in Colmenar Viejo (Spain).
Both main Stars, David Niven and Leslie Caron, are in top form here.
Their interplay is outstanding, powered by a perfect chemistry.
The British couple (Niven and Caron) try to help the former President Rivera (David Opatoshu) to escape to the border.
Today, such a movie would surely look completely different. 
'Guns of Darkness' is a glorious little 'old-school' thriller with a fine atmosphere.
The art of entertainment for a small movie theater with good taste.
Leslie Caron and David Niven (1910–1983) in southern Spain for 'Guns of Darkness', 1962.
They have a bunch of nice scenes together, but the moment which will be best remembered 
is for sure the very well staged quicksand sequence.
We never get to know the name of the fictitious South American Country.
Only the Capital, Tribulacion (represented by Malaga), is named.
For more stories about the work of David Niven, check out this:
- Guns of Navarone
- The Brain
Leslie Caron took time out to learn how to dance the flamenco while shooting 'Guns of Darkness'.
And she looks very good!
They all enjoyed the happy filming in Malaga before the Latin American scene is switched to wintry Hertfordshire, 
back at Elstree Studios (England).

The famous British actor Michael Caine managed to get his younger brother Stanley Caine (1935–2013) 
a small role on a few of his films ('Billion Dollar Brain', 'The Italian Job').
The photo shows Stanley Caine on location in Almeria for the waspish little war movie 'Play Dirty', 
directed by André De Toth (1913–2002).
Stanley played a German Officer. 
Little work, a good salary and a nice little holiday in Southern Spain. Perfect!
Some of the British Special Effects boys also got small roles as German Soldiers in 'Play Dirty'.
They for example steered the vehicles through the enemy fire (explosive charges).
On Set in the desert of Almeria.
Michael Caine is talking with his younger brother Stanley during a break in filming.
A brilliant, dirty movie!
Only here you get an incredible range of 'Behind-the-Scenes' and 'Making Of' photos of 'Play Dirty':
The Special Effects supervisor of 'Play Dirty', Kit West, explains his intensive work and life in Almeria.
He has numerous interesting anecdotes to tell.

Producer Joseph E. Levine (1905–1987) takes a look through the Camera on set of his World War II epic 'A Bridge too Far'.
Behind of him you can see a Sherman tank.
The producer had great difficulty getting real Sherman tanks for the movie. 
Since Levine could not get enough old Sherman's, he had to find an acceptable alternative.
Finally, they decided to build their own Sherman tank models.
Full-sized mockups built on Land Rover chassis.
The mockups are mainly of fiberglass parts with an understructure of wood, aluminium and metal.
Powered and controlled by the good old Land Rover.
Two Sherman mockups in 'A Bridge too Far'.
One seems to float (red arrow) above the street and you can clearly see that the other one drives on tires!
Nevertheless, it's not a bad model that serves its purpose.
They were good enough to fool DOP Geoffrey Unsworth and his camera crew, who filmed the mockups from an unfavorable angle. 
Car tires are clearly visible!
The fiberglass bodywork of the mockup tanks was relatively heavy and was stable enough to carry several soldiers, 
like you see on the screenshot.
The robust mockups got a 2nd chance in the Richard Lester movie 'Cuba', again with Sean Connery.
Director Richard Lester and his cinematographer David Watkin (next to Lester) look a bit sceptical as 
a ragbag of Sherman Tanks arrived in the harbor of Malaga (Spain). 
The 'Cuba' production managed to get a few real Sherman tanks from different sources and the old mockups of 
the Joseph E. Levine epic 'A Bridge too Far'.
They were all shipped to Malaga and than transported to the filming location near Motril.
Comparison photo - Harbor of Malaga.
A fiberglass model drifts rudderless in the harbor basin. Revolution in Cuba.
Two Land Rover with fiberglass 'hats' race into a sugarcane field.
How embarrassing is that? 
The tires, the way too small tank tracks, what a painful scene.
Who had the crazy idea to show us these toys directly from the front?
DOP Dave Watkin ('How I Won the War') should have realized that.
'Cuba' was shot in the sugercane fields of Motril near the coast (Camino del Canal) and 
in the old Fabrica del Pilar.
Another excellent 'Caribbean' filming location in southern Spain was Cádiz. 
Richard Lester filmed in the beautiful town and in the famous Castle of San Sebastián.
The cannon of this mockup Sherman looks like a bent sewer pipe.
Within the plastic pipe, the special effects department installed a smaller tube for smoke effects charges.
Special effects veteran Peter Hutchinson and the Spanish Crew of Antonio Parra were able to 
effectively simulate the firing of grenades by simulating the smoke of the propellant.
The effects work of the show is fine, same with the camera work.
Even if one or the other shot looks a bit unfavorable.

This year is the 50th Anniversary of the shooting of 'Patton'.
The Oscar-winning film of director Franklin J. Schaffner (1920–1989) is an overwhelming World War II epic 
of enormous scope and grandeur.
The powerful epic was shot on location in Spain in the rarely used 70mm Dimension 150 process by 
a prime camera crew.
DOP Fred J. Koenekamp (1922–2017) had the spanish expert Cecilio Paniagua and the American Clifford Stine 
as 2nd Unit chiefs on his side.
They lensed some really impressive scenes and managed to get the best out of the outstanding Spanish filming locations.
This scene here was filmed in Valsain, a small town near Segovia (Spain), 1969. 
There are several spanish legends on the superlative credit list, for example assistant director José López Rodero.
José was the helping hand of the director on almost all of the colossal Samuel Bronston movie epics, 
like 'The Fall of the Roman Empire'.
And he did so many more, among them big productions like 'The Battle of the Bulge', 'Conan' and 'Dune'.
A very popular assistant director. 
His special skills were in high demand especially when a movie was filmed on location in Spain.
The technical credits of 'Patton' are in the same way outstanding.
A thrilling 'Who is Who' list!
Comparison photo of the 'Patton' filming location - Puente Rio Eresma, Valsain, 2009.
The area around Valsain was very prominently used as filming location for another costly war movie epic, 
the Ken Annakin hit 'Battle of the Bulge'.
The Ardennes of Valsain.
A little known and barely mentioned location of 'Patton' is the vast 'Palacio Real de Riofrio'.
The massive and imposing Palace complex stands in an exposed position in the middle of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
A perfect location for a forceful General.
The big wooden front door opens and General Patton steps out, 1969.
Comparison photo - Palacio Real de Riofrio, 2009.
Not much has changed in all these years.
General Patton (George C. Scott) - Palacio Real de Riofrio, 1969.
Comparison photo - Palacio Real de Riofrio, 2009.
It was so quiet here, very few people and this huge box-shaped building. Somehow surreal.
Patton and General Omar N. Bradley (Karl Malden).
Comparison photo of the 'Patton' filming location - Palacio Real de Riofrio, 2009.
The real Patton would have loved the Palace and its history!
In the late 70s the Palacio Real de Riofrio was used as location for the fast-paced Ernest Pintoff B-Movie 'Jaguar Lives'.
An underrated Action flick with a great cast and perfectly selected Spanish filming locations.
Comparison photo of the 'Jaguar Lives!' filming location - Palacio Real de Riofrio, 2009.
The man behind the explosive effects work on 'Patton' is Alex Weldon (1915–2004).
Hungarian-born Physical Effects expert Weldon was instrumental in training the first Spanish special effects technicians.
Under his tutelage, many of the later Spanish special effects boys learned their craft.
Alex Weldon was the guy who brought my friend Kit West (www.kit-west-almeria.com) to Spain, 
to help Weldon with the physical effects work on 'Battle of the Bulge'.
On a War movie like 'Patton' the work of the special effects department is primarily about explosions.
Alex Weldon and his Spanish crew (Basilio Cortijo/...) choreographed numerous great colorful fireworks.
The screenshots show the jeep of General Omar N. Bradley (Karl Malden) under attack by the Germans. 
The scene was shot in the desert of Tabernas (Almeria, Spain).
The German grenade fire was staged on a hill at the castle of Tabernas ...and reminds me of the cannon fire in old pirate movies.
Far too much smoke and inappropriate sound effects.
The impact of the grenades in the desert look much better!
The Roadshow picture is concentrating on realism.
The jeep of General Bradley takes off without wings!
Preparations for the 'flying Jeep' scene.
The special effects crew had to plan the explosive charges accurately and determine the flight path of the jeep, 
as numerous actors were in the immediate vicinity.
The camera of Fred J. Koenekamp was protected with plywood boards.
Wham! ...and there he goes.
The special effects boys of Alex Weldon prepared the Jeep carefully, possibly even the engine was removed.
I wonder what they used as explosive charge.
Learn more about 'Patton' here: The Nose of a General - 'Patton' Makeup by Daniel C. Striepeke and Del Acevedo.
And here you find some informations about the other 'Dimension 150' Epic: The Bible ...in the beginning.
I'm searching for a good photo of Alex Weldon - Can you help me?

George Segal and Ben Gazzara are taking a nap on Set of 'The Bridge at Remagen' (Castel Gandolfo).
That's it for January!
I can promise some really cool stuff for February.
A large-scale story about one of the most spectacular Roadshow Epics of the 60s: '55 Days at Peking'.
No cheesy matte paintings to cheat us - Its all for real!
The colossal Peking Set and the splendor of real pictures ....coming this february on: