Greenville, South Carolina
By Harold K. Milks
January 30, 1966
MADRID (AP) – Because Spain takes its movie making seriously, Hollywood poured more than $25 million into “made-in-Spain” films last year, and producers from other countries added $10 million more.
Director David Lean, whose productions of “Doctor Zhivago” was shot here with a budget of more than $10 million, gave this explanation for Spain’s blooming picture industry: “In many countries motion picture production is regarded as joke. But the Spaniards take their film-making dead seriously. Their involvement from the lowest extra to the highest-ranking technicians, is total. When cameras start to turn here, every Spaniard is giving the best in him, and doing it with discipline and voluntary dedication.”
Other reason for the Spanish attraction from film makers – aside from the important economic factor – is the complete cooperation of the Spanish authorities, who recently granted tax-free import licenses worth up to $125,00 for every mande-in-Spain picture with a budget of a million dollars or more.
“Producers who come to Spain get excellent cooperation from official as well as private organizations,” said Lean. “One of the biggest hydroelectric dams in Europe became a film set for “Doctor Zhivago” for over a week, free of charge.
“When British Producer Michael Carreras took a unit to the Canary Islands to shoot scenes for “One Million Years. B.C.” tourist authorities gave permission for the film company to take over for a week the government’s Farador de las Canadas, a hotel 7,500 feet above sea level on Teide Mountain.”
“Add a climate which permits filming the year round and topography which is limitless and you have an answer to why Spanish film-making continues to boo while others falter,” said Lean.
These attractions have brought a flood of big names and big pictures to Spain this season. Three gilt-edged projects, “Doctor Zhivago,” “The Battle of the Bulge” and “The Centurians led off with stars and starlets.
Such stars as Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn, Alec Guiness, Julie Christie, Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews and George Montgomery became common visitors to Madrid and other Spanish cities.
While the big-name pictures got most headlines, Spanish made Westerns became big business with the appearance in pictures here during 1965 of Don Murray, Janet Leigh and Broderick Crawford in “Kid Rodelo” and George Montgomery in “Outlaw of Red River”.
Richard Lester assembled a prize cast of comics – Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers and Veteran Buster Keaton among them – for his “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum.”
Sam Bronston, his rapid fire moving making in Spain stalled by financial troubles for nearly two years, plans to get back into the film business before the year ends with “Isabella of Spain,” another big-budget project.
Add half a dozen Spanish producers busy making pictures alone or with Argentina, Italian or French collaboration, and it’s surprising there are enough film technicians and movie sets to go around.
[submitted by Mike Hauss]