Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Euro-western Film Locations - Cortijo del Fraile

Cortijo de Fraile (The Friar’s Farmhouse) is best known as the Mission San Antonio used in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It was built in the eighteenth century by Dominic friars and is a traditional Spanish farmhouse with a dark past. It is located in the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar, Spain, this once grand estate is now in a very dilapidated condition with a collection of buildings and would probably not draw much attention if it had not been for a real-life story of betrayal and bloody revenge that occurred there in 1928.

It seems a young woman named Francisca Canada Morales lived on the farm with her father, and eloped with her cousin, Francisco Montes Canada hours before she was due to marry Casimiro, a laborer to whom she was not attracted.

The tragic story unfolded when the cousin, with whom Francesca had been in love since childhood, was shot in the head and killed by the prospective bridegroom’s brother, who had been lying in wait for them at a nearby crossroads.

Following the murder, Francisca was severely beaten and left for dead, but somehow survived. She lived the rest of her life as a recluse, never marrying, and died in 1987.

During the 1920s and 1930s poet, playwright and theatre director Federico Garcia Lorca who enjoyed great fame and widespread recognition throughout Spain and abroad had followed the newspaper stories and kept clippings about the murder, using the crime of passion as a source of inspiration for one of his most famous and most frequently performed plays.

Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding) is a chilling and powerful modernist masterpiece that was written in 1932 and first performed in Madrid in 1933.

Cortijo de Fraile is one of Andalucía’s most iconic buildings and is also noted for the part it has played in cinematic history as moviemakers have long been inspired by its charm, architectural beauty and desolate setting. Thankfully it is now in the first stages of preservation and hopefully reconstruction.

Some of the films the farmhouse has appeared in include the 1965 spaghetti western “For a Few Dollars More”, starring Clint Eastwood, the cortijo courtyard and internal rooms were used as Indio’s Agua Caliente hideout. The roof was also used for the roof of the prison where Indio was held prisoner. The following year, in 1966, as mentioned above the exterior of the cortijo appeared as the San Antonio mission in “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” also starring Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. Other movies that made use of this unique landmark building were the westerns “Ace High”, starring Eli Wallach, Terence Hill and Bud Spencer and “A Bullet For The General” aka 'Quien Sabe?' which starred Gian Maria Volonte, Lou Castel and Klaus Kinski. The scene below is from that movie, Kinski can be seen on the roof of the Corijo dressed as a monk.

Euro-western Films using Cortijo del Fraile:
For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), A Bullet for the General (1966), Last of the Badmen (1967), Ace High (1968), Death Sentence (1968), A Long Ride from Hell (1968), Blood and Guns (1969), Silver Saddle (1978)

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