By Bob Thomas
December 1, 1964
Hollywood Dec. 1 – “Auchtung! Head ‘em off at der crossroads.”
“Thees town eesn’t beeg enough for both of us, Pierre”
“Ven you call me dot, Ludwig - smile.”
This is the kind of dialogue that may be emerging from European films as continental movie makers continue exploiting their discovery of the Western. Once considered Hollywood’s exclusive property, it has been taken over by producers from Tokyo to Prague.
Australian-born Ron Randell has returned from Europe with a report on the ersatz horse operas. He should know. He was in one – a Viennese production filmed in Yugoslavia and Berlin.
“It’s true,” he told a disbelieving reporter. “The film was called ‘Hot Like the Wind’ and I was the only one from Hollywood in the cast. The rest were German and Swiss.
“It was made for an Austrian company called Stadhalle, and we shot the exteriors in two places in Yugoslavia. One was a ranch and the other was a Western street. The company built it with an Italian firm which was going to make a couple of Westerns after we finished.
Later a German company came in on the production, so we shot the interiors in Berlin, mostly of the ranch house. Our director was Rolf Olsen, a Viennese who had also shot a western in the Canary Islands.
Westerns are now being made in Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and I understand, in Russia. The Europeans are actually paying more attention to the Western than Hollywood, where they seldom make the big Westerns any more.
Doing a Good Job
What’s more, he believes the Europeans are doing a good job of it.
“They seem to be going back to the original sources for their authenticity,” Ron remarked. “Here in Hollywood, the same old directors seem to do the Westerns, and they use the same old props. Sure, maybe the Colt .45s over there may say ‘Made in Italy’ on them, but they’re patterned after the real article, not a modern version as in Hollywood.
“And the faces seem more authentic. Here they use the fresh-faced California boys who don’t fit in the Old West. In Europe they use established actors who have character in their faces. As for the language, don’t forget there were plenty of accents in the old West. A large percentage of the pioneers were immigrants.”
Randell was brought to Hollywood 20 years ago after portraying Australian hero Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith in a film. He was under contract to Columbia and has appeared in a number of Westerns, both for theaters (“Quincannon, Frontier Scout”) and television (“Gunsmoke,” “Wells Fargo,” etc.). He considers Hollywood his home but the exigencies of modern film making have kept him abroad for such films as “King of Kings” and “Follow the Boys”
[submitted by Mike Hauss]