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The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
This Blog will be offering a colorful kaleidoscope of movie magic for cinema aficionados.
Crispy peanuts, colorful baloons and thrilling sensations on celluloid.
See offbeat goodies and magic crumbs ...weekly!
Photos beat content!

A royal reception at the airport Madrid Barajas (Spain) for actor Charlton Hesten and his family, summer 1962.
Many photographers, celebrities and officials of the '55 days at Peking' production were waiting for the family.
The 'King' has landed.
Charlton Heston is greeted by a welcoming delegation of Chinese children who will be working with him in the film.
The production team 'hired' the kids from local chinese restaurants.
This will be another Samuel Bronston Epic, so everything is possible!
Welcome to Spain ...again!
'55 days at Peking' director Nicholas Ray welcomes family Heston. 
Charlton, his spouse Lydia Clarke and the two kids, Fraser and Holly.
And welcome to Spain ...Buck!?
The German shepherd (Buck?) of family Heston enjoyed the delicious food and cold drinks on the first class flight with TWA.
Charlton Heston and his son Fraser C.Heston, both in costumes, and 'Buck' honor the builders of the marvelous 'Peking' Set.

Your comments are always welcome!

'The Indian Fighter' (1955) is a positive, romantic and simple-minded Western directed by André De Toth (1913–2002).
De Toth  later filmed the quite cynical 'Play Dirty' (1968).
Kirk Douglas is Johnny Hawks, the Indian Fighter, who discovers his peacekeeping skills.
The young and gorgeous lookin Italian model turned actress Elsa Martinelli is Onathi, the daughter of the Sioux Chief.
Cinematographer Wilfred M. Cline (1903–1976) is responsible for the stunning color photography of the wilderness of Oregon.
What a beautiful landscape!
The Makers managed some great outdoor scenes.
The Sioux attack on the excellent Fort Set is perfectly staged, executed and filmed.
Director André De Toth in his book 'De Toth on De Toth':
"I wanted to make the audience feel the country, understand the Indians, see their pride, feel their code of ethics, without 
using speeches to do so. They were not Hollywood Indians, but real ones, with dignity and honor."
Overall a nice western that does not hurt.
Kirk Douglas, the last icon of a great time, celebrates his one hundredth birthday on December 9th!!!
All the best! You are a legend! 
The young model Elsa Martinelli is having fun with Kirk Douglas on set of 'The Indian Fighter'.
'Property of Bryna' stands on her lower leg.
In 1955, Kirk Douglas established Bryna Productions, inspired by the success of Burt Lancaster in moving into production.
The company was named after Douglas' mother, Bryna Demsky, and began producing films as varied as 
'Paths of Glory' (1957) and 'Spartacus' (1960). 
In those two films, he starred and collaborated with then relatively unknown director, Stanley Kubrick. 
Douglas helped break the Hollywood blacklist by having Dalton Trumbo write 'Spartacus' with an official on-screen credit, 
although Trumbo's family claims he overstated his role. He produced and starred in 'Lonely Are the Brave' (1962), considered a 
cult classic, and 'Seven Days in May' (1964), opposite Burt Lancaster, with whom he made seven films. 
'The Indian Fighter' was the first Bryna film.
Kirk Douglas spotted Elsa Martinelli on a 1954 magazine cover and recognized at once that she had the potential to become a big star.
Bryna Productions put her under contract for several pictures but the Native American heroine Onathi 
remained her only role for the company. 
Elsa Martinelli did 'Hatari' (1962) with John Wayne, the thrilling 'Hail,Mafia' (1965), 'The 10th Victim' (1965) and even a
Spaghetti Western, as Belle Starr in 'Il mio corpo per un poker' (1968).
She played in a bunch of other cheapos, usually only as small supporting beauty.
The icy stream didn't cool them down. Elsa Martinelli and Kirk Douglas.
Between takes in Oregon - 'The Indian Fighter', 1955.
(All Kodachrome 35mm slides are of the moon-city-garbage archive - photographer unkown)

Trevor Howard and Frank Sinatra on Set at the railway yard 'Napoli Smistamento' (Naples, Italy) for the Mark Robson 
War movie 'Von Ryan's Express', 1965.
The movie will be part of a terrifying 'WAR Movies of the Sixties' Super Special!
Only the very best material will be used (lol).
Check out the link on the main page for ...a sudden feeling of acute anxiety.
Producer Darryl F.Zanuck, Irina Demick, John Wayne, Robert Ryan and military consultant James M.Gavin with his wife on 
the Set of 'The Longest Day', 1962. 
Fat epics and small cucumbers - A flowering mine field, here we go!

The french black and white thriller 'Un témoin dans la ville' (1959) is a brilliant cat and mouse play by director 
Édouard Molinaro (1928–2013).
The wonderful and aesthetic monochrome photography of the legendary Henri Decaë (1915–1987) is quite great art!
Accompanied by a outstanding jazz score of Barney Wilen (on Saxophone) and played with real legends.
"Klook" Clarke on drums, "Kenny" Dorham on the trumpet and other jazz kings.
The movie is a small almost forgotten masterpiece with a very cool score and a remarkable design of light and shade!
Available on a fine blu ray, released in France by Gaumont (no english subs).
Lino Ventura hounds through the dark and menacing city of Paris ... then, shots from a machine gun!
In the late 50s the use of squibs was something new and still rather unknown.
Today, squibs are widely used in the motion picture special effects industry to simulate bullet impacts.
Although squibs were once used even for the simulation of bullet hits on live actors, such use has been largely phased out 
in favor of more advanced devices that are safer for the actor, such as miniature compressed gas packs. 
These alternate devices are often still referred to as "squibs" even though they do not use explosive substances.
The devices (whether explosive or not) are coupled with small balloons filled with fake blood and often other materials 
to simulate shattered bone and tissue.
What we see here on Lino Ventura are the old-school explosive squibs used in 1959!
The small explosive charges are mounted on thin steel plates, backed with foam rubber.
The 'Franstudio' special effects boys, responsible for the FX work on the movie, added a thick layer of newspapers to 
cushion the pressure of the explosions.
A series of squibs is wired to a battery and a 'striker-board' (small photos).
The wires are hidden in the pants or behind a leg.
If you are running down the 'striker-board' at speed you get nice machine gun bullet effects and 
a trembling actor with bruises...!

B-Movie magus John 'Bud' Cardos ('Kingdom of the Spiders') directed this moody little monster-on-the-rampage outing.
His routine direction waste a surprisingly strong cast.
The effects are not particularly striking nor the characters particularly captivating, but the technical side of 
the prosthetic make up of 'The Dark' is competently handled, if you consider the tiny budget.
Sadly when 'The Dark' finally emerges from the shadows it loses all credibility for it's clearly a huge man dressed in 
blue jeans and ill-fitting rubber suit parts.
After fear ...beyond terror ...there is THE DARK!
Special Makeup Artist Steve Neill, with the help of assistant makeup artists Ve Neill and Kathy Agron, did the prosthetic 
makeup effects for 'The Dark'.
The big, beefy and extremely tall John Bloom (1944-1999) played the creature.
John was an imposingly massive 7 foot, 4 inch bulky hulk of a man (2,24 m)!
He made his debut as the Frankenstein monster in the hilariously horrible 'Dracula vs. Frankenstein' (1971).
A cheesy Grade Z schlock movie of the legendary exploitation drive-in filmmaker Al Adamson.
One of John Blooms last movie adventures was in 'Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country' (1991). 
John played a giant Alien.
Assistant make up artist Ve Neill works on the makeup of John Bloom, 1979. 
She started with the slimmest of budgets on movies like 'Kingdom of the Spiders', 'Laserblast' or 'Tourist Trap'.
The extremely talented Ve Neill made her way in the movie industry and has been nominated for and won more Academy Awards 
for make up than any other woman. 
With three awards, she is tied with Greg Cannom for second most wins by any gender, behind only Rick Baker, 
who has won seven times. 
She frequently works with director Tim Burton and won Oscars for her work on 'Beetlejuice' (1988) and 'Ed Wood' (1994).
For her outstanding work on 'Mrs. Doubtfire' (1993) she got another Academy Award.
The versatile Steve Neill worked as special effects makeup artist, mechanical effects craftsman, puppeteer, filmmaker, 
model maker and visual effects artist on movies like 'Crater Lake Monster' (1977), 'Battle Beyond the Stars' (1980), 
'Galaxy of Terror' (1981), 'Forbidden World' (1982), 'American Monster' (1982), 'Ghostbusters' (1984) and others.
Check out his website: www.steveneillsgarage.com
The last I heard of Kathy Agron was that she worked on the 'DALLAS' TV show as make up artist in the early 80s.

The epic World War II miniseries 'The Winds of War' was directed by Dan Curtis and produced by Paramount Television 
for airing on ABC.
It was an epic project in every sense of the word. 
Produced like a big feature film with hundreds of locations within six countries on two continents, filmed over a
13-months span.
Virtually 70 percent of the show was shot in Europe and whenever possible on authentic locations.
Recreating World War II would have been impossible without the considerable use of photographic effects.
Matte work, blue screen opticals and miniature cinematography.
The immense scope of the show provided special challenges for visual effects cameraman Jack Cooperman.
A versatile specialist for miniature action ('Blue Thunder'), underwater photography ('Raise the Titanic') and special 
aerial shots ('Top Gun').
Veteran miniature & prop specialist Lee Vasque ('Catch-22') supervised the construction of all the model miniatures, 
especially Ship models.
The boys create some nice and believable miniature footage in the Paramount pool (parking lot).
Atlantic Convoy. Miniature ships in the Paramount tank in front of a huge sky backing.
The scenic backing was repainted upon need (Pacific skies, cold North Atlantic).
The Paramount pool, 1983. Preparations to shot the convoy scenes.
The ship miniatures are pretty big, scaled in two sizes. One-half inch and three-quarter inch to the foot.
Storm over the North Atlantic - Paramount tank.
A water tank Storm sequence in miniature is always a risky operation and great care must be taken.
Big bubbles destroy any illusion of reality.
The Storm scenes in 'Winds of War' look quite believable and atmospheric. 
It's a big plus that they shot the night scenes night-for-night and not in the midday sun (day-for-night).
Some years ago a few of the old 'Winds of War' models were auctioned off. 
They all were not in the best condition.
Here we see the model of the 'Holsworth', 20 ft. long x 6 ft. tall (to top of towers) x 32 in. wide.
The 'Laura Lee', a cargo ship of the convoy over the north atlantic.
The large-scale filming miniature was constructed of fiberglass hull with wooden decks, aluminum 
tubing conning towers with small pulleys and wire rigging, detailed with brass tube railings, plastic doors, lamps 
and port hole windows and other details. Wooden lifeboats with canvas covers. 
Measures 20 ft. long x 6 ft. tall (to top of towers) x 32 in. wide. 
Multiple spigots and piping mounted on the lower hull to allow drainage of water.
Probably air was also pumped in and blown out over the Shut-off valves at the ship's hull into the water, 
the ascending bubbles are simulating driving effects.
The stern of the british cargo ship 'Laura Lee', port of registry Liverpool.
A lot of time and effort was put into the models.
After the guys played with them, most of them were not in the best condition.
The build quality and craftsmanship is truly impressive. It is a shame, that the models were not better preserved.
Details of the Military Cargo ship.
The models were all well done, but here and there the effects work around the models (scale/water/...) was not really successful.
The scenes with the emerging (and diving) submarine are nice, but still improveable.
The emerging looks much better than the diving scene (giant bubbles).
A german U-Boot miniature battles with the tricky water!
A bay in Newfoundland. A heavy destroyer moves slowly through the dense fog, all done in miniature.
The FX boys used real fog, made by dropping dry ice into a boiling tank of water, and smoke machines.
Great scenes! 
But the credibility is somewhat lost when a Paramount Studio building becomes visible on the left side!
A pretty cool scene including a radio controlled model Catalina, flying through the smoke of some 
battleship wrecks in the Paramount pool.
  Was it Pearl? 
Storyboard sketch of Production Illustrator Mike Minor.
The radio controlled Catalina flying boat model had a wingspan of about six feet!
Another filming miniature from 'The Winds of War'. The Battleship measures 25 ft. long x 5 ft. tall x 3 ft. wide.
Several of the 'battle damaged' miniature ships have special piping mounted on the lower hull 
to pump in smoke and gas (flames) for the great effect scenes.
Miniature Lifeboats with canvas covers on the Battleship model.
Composite shot. The last shot of the miniature show. 
A Carrier on the way to the battle area.
Actually a large-scale and terrific Carrier miniature in the Paramount 'parking lot' pool.
The effects boys prepare the smoking chimneys on the ship.

The brilliant comedy epic 'The Great Race' (1965) contains a great deal of ingenious mechanical effects, 
organized by wizard Danny Lee (photo).
One of these was the specially constructed 'Shark Torpedo' of Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon).
The daredevil Professor wants to sabotage the water speed record of The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis).
The veteran Danny Lee (1919–2014) did the effects work for 'It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World', 
'What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?', 'The Secret of Santa Vittoria' and other excellent movies.
In 1971 he became the head of the special effects department at Disney 
('Bedknobs and Broomsticks', 'Pete's Dragon', 'The Black Hole').
In 1972 he won an Academy Award (Best Special Visual Effects) for 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' together with 
Alan Maley and Eustace Lycett.
Danny Lee was the 'squib master' on 'Bonnie and Clyde', orchestrating the film's famous, bullet-ridden finale.
He handled the death scene of Bonnie and Clyde which started a fashion ('Wild Bunch'/...) for actors dying in slow 
motion while being riddled with bullets.
The radio controlled torpedo of Danny Lee at high speed, powered by compressed air.
On the way to sabotage the water speed record of The Great Leslie.
July 1964.
Danny Lee, with the radio remote control in his hand, and his crew are testing the rakish torpedo, powered by a 
10-h.p. motor (compressed air), on the Cullaby Lake near Warrenton, Oregon, United States.
How does the torpedo behave in the water? More weight, or less?
The effects boys are working on the fine tuning to get an agile and fast torpedo.
The hand painted and light weight torpedo consists of an aluminium frame with metal and wood components.
Plenty of room for a compressed air cylinder, receiver electronics, mechanical parts and the engine.
That looks pretty cool. 
The torpedo is ready to chase the speedboat of The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis).
In some scenes the torpedo moves only controlled via radio control, but there are other scenes, easy to spot,
that show the torpedo guided by wires.
The hunt begins.
Very successful, great scenes! 
Suddenly, but not quite unexpectedly, the sound-seeking torpedo is looking for a new target...??? 
What's happening here?
A perfect movie for the Christmas holidays!

'The Gypsy Moths' (1969), directed by John Frankenheimer, is a cult movie for most skydiving enthusiasts, but for many 
ground inhabitants it has the tending to induce drowsiness.
There is a nice Go-Go dancing scene with Sheree North ('Charley Varrick') and a loveless nudity scene with Deborah Kerr.
The remarkable aerial sequences were filmed in and around Benton, Kansas, with a Howard DGA-15 used as the jump ship. 
The prominent skydiver Todd Higley was a key technical advisor and stunt double for Burt Lancaster, and today is well known 
for having invented wingsuit BASE jumping. 
Freefall cinematographer Carl Boenish was responsible for the aerial photography, including photographing the jumps with 
a 35 mm camera mounted on his helmet, while he jumped with the stunt doubles, a team of a dozen skydiving experts.
Of course the Stars (Burt Lancaster, Gene Hackman,...) never jumped themselves.
For the close-ups to be seen in the film, Burt Lancaster wearing 'batwings', the crew used studio-based rear projection.
MGM Studio sound stage. Burt Lancaster fixed on a small moving gimbal in front of a rear projection screen.
Several wind machines are running on 'Tornado' level to bring him in the right mood.
This must have been a hellish noise, but the stage crew boys wear only protective goggles, no hearing protection.
A moving background scenery (clouds) is projected onto the screen from behind the screen (rear projection!).
You have to mechanically or electrically sync camera and projector shutter to avoid the flicker effect.
When the boys do their homework, it looks as if Burt Lancaster is really 'shooting' through the clouds with his 'batwings'. 
Rear projection is a classic visual effect used in numerous films.
Very successfully used for example in the iconic crop duster sequence from Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’, 1959.
The agricultural aircraft (crop duster) on the rear projection screen and Cary Grant throws himself into the dust on a sound stage.

In 2017 we continue our adventurous journey behind the scenes of the less prominent 
but much more explosive War Movies of the 60s & 70s.
And we will start a bold Special on Euro Western movies filmed in Spain in the 60s & 70s.
On location and behind-the-scenes, hundreds of impossible to find photos, 
reports on a scale never seen before! 
This and so much more on
The Story behind the Spectacle!
Brightly colored reports on movies like: '100 Rifles', 'Cannon for Cordoba', 'Catlow', 
'Chatos Land', 'Doc', 'El Condor', 'The Hunting Party', 'Shalako', 'Villa Rides' ...and a dozen more.
The photo above shows the famous japanese actor Toshiro Mifune (1920–1997) and Ursula Andress 
on Set in Adra (Almeria) for 'Red Sun'. 
Toshiro shows her some movements with the sword.