The Pride and the Passion - Bridge Explosion

'The Pride and the Passion', 1956, was one of the first major international film productions in Spain. 
The young Spanish Special Effects boys benefit immensely from the instructive work on the big movie productions. 
For 'The Pride and the Passion' Set Decorator Francisco Rodriguez Asensio and his Team 
(Asensio Construcciones Cinematograficos S.L.) built a temporary bridge made of barges over the Rio Tajo near Toledo.
The FX boys should blow up the bridge, but not everything went as planned.
Several violent explosions shake the bridge and over 100 fearless Extras.
Let's have a closer look on the shooting of that striking scene.

Cary Grant and the young spanish actor Carlos Larrañaga want to place the explosives and blow up the bridge.

Movie Scene - A column of over 100 Soldiers on the bridge shortly before the explosion.
So many stuntmen were not available, they let some Extras (Bonus payment) on the bridge.
A German lobby card is showing the first blast.
The Storyboard sketch shows the temporary bridge next to a destroyed massive stone bridge.
The responsible Art Director for "The Pride and Passion" was Fernando Carrere ('The Great Escape') 
together with his Spanish assistants Gil Parrondo and Perez Espinosa.
The idea of the broken stone bridge was scrapped at the end.
A great photo of the column on the bridge by Ken Danvers. 
Ken was on set near the Rio Tajo to document the scene for Stanley Kramer Films. 
The blowing up of the Bridge scene was shot in the best daylight, but shrouded in dark night 
in the finished print. I'll show you why...
Special Effects Supervisor Willis Cook and Maurice Ayers had a great spanish crew of 
young FX boys on their side:  Antonio Baquero, Basilio Cortijo, Antonio Parra, Antonio Baladin, 
Antonio Bueno 'Puccini' and others.
Everyone wants to play with pyrotechnics...
Hallelujah! A series of violent explosions, hopefully all goes well.
The life of an Extra is not always easy!
In the eye of the hurricane.
Look at that!
Where is the wagon?
Everywhere wood, even on the bridge between the soldiers, which was certainly not planned.
Many have fallen and been hit by debris.
Hardly anyone is still standing. Even the photographer (Ken Danvers) took cover.
The wagon is gone. Bombed!
Many have fallen into the Rio Tajo in full costume with hat and gun. 
The soaked clothes, the flow, this can be dangerous even for a good swimmer.
This is gone out of control.
The rescue operation is running.
People floating in the water. A few horses and mules have fallen into the water.
Hopefully somone has counted the guys at the end. All resurfaced?
Such a completely confusing situation should actually not happen.
Napoleon conquered Spain in a motorboat. 
Still people and animals are pulled ashore, alive! The one guy there goes nearly under, he holds on to the tail of a mule.
There is hardly any information on this scene available. 
The spanish production assistant on 'The Pride and the Passion', Eduardo Garcia Maroto, 
describes the scene as 'el momento mas dificil y peligroso', the most difficult and dangerous 
moment in the movie, in his fascinating book 'Aventuras y Desventuras del cine español'.
A bit oversized explosive charges not positioned correctly ...and no one was properly 
prepared on the consequences. Everything looks a little messy.
And they surely darkened the scene in the movie not because people were in danger, it was done 
because horses and mules were on the bridge.
The animals had the better contracts!
The crazy guy on the boat jumps back into the water, maybe he has discovered his hat ...

If you want to learn more about the Spanish Sp/fx boys I highly recommend the book of 
Antonio Garcinuño and Domingo Lizcano about 'efectos especiales en el cine español': 
Los Alquimistas del Séptimo Arte.
A very comprehensive book on the history of Special Effects in the Spanish film and the 
work of Spanish FX technicians in international movie productions.
A terrific book, though a bit hard to read. 
I would have liked summaries of the most important artists.
Anyway, the book is richly illustrated with hundreds of photos and offers interesting insights.
It's great that I could help with some photos.
A monumental work, an important book - Excellent!
Order it now!: Los Alquimistas del Séptimo Arte
The authors of 'Los Alquimistas del Séptimo Arte' also mention the British Special Effects legend Kit West.
Kit was in Spain quite often for different productions, especially Western movies, 
and always enjoyed to work with his spanish buddies.
Here you see Kit with Pete Dawson and the spanish FX boys, Antonio Parra, Antonio Balandin and
'Puccini', Antonio Bueno and others in the desert of Tabernas (Almeria). 
The guys prepare a series of big bangs for the 'El Condor' production.
Learn more about Kit West in Spain here:
Hundreds of rare photos - Behind the scenes - Special Effects made in Spain.
Coming soon: A story on the Spanish FX prime mover Manuel Baquero and his blood bag fireworks, 
the special effects for 'The Hunting Party'. 
A rough Don Medford Western with Oliver Reed, Gene Hackman and Candice Bergen.
100 photos - SP/FX - Locations - Behind the Scenes
This and so much more on: