By Harry J. Stathos
February 20, 1966
MADRID (UPI) – A tourist in Madrid might happen upon a
togaed Roman a loinclothed Indian or a 19th century sailor.
Madrid is becoming the Hollywood of Europe and so many films are being made here that not
long ago while a chariot race scene was being filmed for “A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Indians appeared on the horizon. The Indians were going through a scene for “Savage Pampas” and the collision forced another take.
Rome, which used to be the favored locale has taken a
back seat to Madrid partly because Spain offers topography suitable for
practically every conceivable story. Moorish villages in Almeria province were
used in “Lawrence of Arabia” the blue Mediterranean was the setting for John
Paul Jones.” The dry countryside resembles the Far Western United States or the
Pampas of Argentina closely enough to do splendidly for Westerns.
Last year, America producers spent more than $30 million on nine films in Spain including $11 million for “Dr. Zhivago,” which was directed David Lean and featured a host of stars, including Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Alec Guinness and Rod Steiger.
Italian Moves In
Italy’s top producer Dino de Laurentis, who just finished making “The Bible,” in Rome is giving in to the lure of Spain. He is coming to Spain, which offers low cost, to make his next three films.
Mel Frank, who produced “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” said he came to Spain for this film because he wanted authenticity.
“We found it easier to recreate Rome in Spain than in Italy,” he said. “T find comparable scenes in Italy you have to go about 70 miles outside Rome.”
In 1958, Samuel Bronston discovered Spain, and vice-versa. He made six spectaculars in the next six years, “John Paul Jones,” “King of Kings,” “El Cid,” “55 Days at Peking,” “Fall of the Roman Empire” and “Circus World.”
Bronston suffered some financial set-backs because some of his multi-million-dollar productions did no do so well at the box-office, but the latest word is that he plans to do a big spectacular later this year, “Isabella of Spain.”
New Films Scheduled
Scheduled to go before the cameras soon is a western, “Harvest of Evil” starring Robert Taylor, who seems to be making a comeback in Spain.
Other big films slated to be made in Spain this year are “William the Congueror,” “Krakatoa,” “Patton,” the story of the famed World War II general who was killed in a jeep accident, and “Siege of Madrid,” which is about the Spanish Civil War.
The big attraction for Spain which draws producers here, low prices, good weather, bullfights and excellent food, also is responsible for the influx of film people who either have homes here now or plan to build homes soon.
It looks as if Spain is paying the United States back for winning the Spanish-American War and taking all of her possessions. Now she has Hollywood and it seems as if she is determined to keep her.
[submitted by Mike Hauss]