A title first: "THE RAILWAY OF DEATH", Imagine cinematographically speaking, to get out of this unfortunate situation, and decide on its technical accomodations? It's very simple: find a siding cut by a bridge spanning a large waterway: get the rental of a locomotive, in good condition, another wagon partly deprived of its compartmentalization to allow conventionally for the camera not to operate in the shadows: a platform wagon, then another wagon held in reserve. I found it all near Aigues-Mortes. The scenes inside the wagon took place on a back and forth road of three kilometers. The first difficult scene was to break the horse's kicks at the wall facing the train. These kicks being quite soft, which I had planned, and, anxious to use close-ups, I rented horses legs. These I had fixed onto a wheelbarrow, that the wheel was stopped by a bumper arranged by a machinist. On a signal, the wheelbarrow was pushed hard, and the necessary part of the legs struck the partition (close shots cut to those of the horse in action).
The train in motion, I mount my horse. The bridge will be reached. It's a gateway without a guardrail. When the convoy is engaged, I will have only fifteen seconds to dive and escape, according to the needs of the scenario. The horse, with his eyes bandaged - is of little use for much - and terrorized by the inversion of a violent blow of the bridle, he tilts and we fall twelve meters in a waterway twenty five meters wide ... without too much trouble: it was time.
But, as we are still turning with a single apparatus, we must return to the water to resume the exit of the water.
These eccentricities aside, I happily did something else in these films, for which I imagined plausible actions, arriving at a moralizing end. Curiously, it was sometimes necessary to make several endings, according to the desire of the buyers of certain countries. No disappointing end, no unnecessary violence, on the contrary, gender-based liquidation; ends that we performed one after the other, with the greatest hilari, ty.
Five Japanese students became my Indians, delighted with this paid vacation. Feathers wigs, we could take first plans without fear of ridicule. An old Gitane mad me into a Sioux Sorcerer with an impressive realism.
When I was shooting the Guardians in the Camargue, brothers of the Cowboys were very comfortable wearing a Stetson and leather breeches. In other places, the director gathered me men having done their service in the cavalry, in order to avoid the incongruity of the scenes executed by so-called "horsemen", which attracted by a stamp superior to that of the "pedestrians", deceived in good faith of those who had committed them.
It is for all the above reasons that the Americans were interested until 1914, in the first Westerns made in France, whose locations, costumes and characters had seduced them. Here is what a newspaper in Chicago says, under the pen of Mr. Georges KLEIN:
"The film “THE RED MAN’S HONOR” produced by KLEIN-ECLIPSE films, presents a universal interest, because it marks an era in the history of cinema. This is the first time that an Indian subject, perfect in detail, has been made in Europe, and submitted to the American public. We cannot find any fault in “RED MAN'S HONOR”. The main reason is that Monsieu Joe Hamman lived on the Western Plains and gives an endearing realism to the behavior of the Red Men, their habits and their costumes, which are authentic pieces.
I then resumed the series "NICK CARTER", and I wrote many screenplays such as "THE INFERNAL RIDING". Of course there is a "nail". On a battlefield in Virginia, a gunner gathers four dumb horses and hitches them to a field gun of which the drivers and the servants were killed. He goes at a gallop, puts in a battery and draws ... it’s nothing like you can see. And all this in the middle of explosions and bursts of machine guns.
The arrival of the shells was done with the help of big bombs buried with a long wires conected to an electric board and a control lever. The track of the machine-gun bullets was reconstructed by the explosion of a series of small detonators, also branched on a wire, and thus at the rate desired by the same means. Needing dead horses, I bought them from a hedgehog, who will get them back ... after the victory. The scene was shot on the Plateau de Fontvielle, near Arles. ÉCLAIR was big and preferred big trips.
The firm had an annex in the United States. The French studios were installed in Epinay, in a large yard, the area of the famous naturalist LACEPEDE. We may not be able to turn things around. A meadow, a forest, a small river (excellent decoration for gold seekers), a dense forest (with jungle all around), avoiding expensive trips abroad for low budget movies.
A charming hunting pavilion of Louis XIII saw evolve on its doorstep, all the historical characters of the repertoire.
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