Friday, August 13, 2021

The tragic end of actor Alfred Mulock [archived newspaper article]

 


"That of curious events that have occurred in the Guadix region! Thanks to our collaborator we remember an episode that has been buried by the dust of the years. Today his time has come: we are moved by a tragic ending.

 

Historia

By Antonio Reyes Martinez

February 15 – 21, 2014

During the 1960s, the desert regions of Almeria and Granada became fashionable for filming movies of the American Wild West. The similarity between both landscapes facilitated the work of Italian and Spanish production companies that popularized this type of cinematographic genre.

One of the films that achieved great fame was “Once Upon a Time in the West”, a rather premonitory title for one of the actors who participated in it, the Canadian Alfred Mulock.

Alfred Mulock Rogers was born on June 30, 1925 in Ontario (Canada) he was the only child born of the marriage between Adele Cawtrha Mulock and Alfred Rogers. From a quite distinguished family, as his great-grandfather, William Mulock, the CEO of Post Office of Canada.

Alfred Mulock also married actress Steffi Henderson, from whose marriage Robin Mulock was born. He studied acting at the New York Actors Studio, under the direction of Lee Strasberg. In London, he together with actor David de Keyser who taught method acting to British actors. In this city during the fifties and sixties he made numerous appearances on television series and movies.

Among the most prominent cinematographic titles in which Alfred Mulock participated throughout his career we can highlight: Cautivo del terror (Joe MacBeth) (1955), Policia internacional (Pickup Alley) (1957), El unico evadido (The One That Got Away) (1957), Interpol (Pickup Alley) (1957), Matame manana (Kill Me Tomorrow) (1957), Muerte encima de mi hombro (Death Over My Shoulder) (1958), La gran aventura de Tarzan (Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure) (1959), Tarzan el justiciero (Tarzan the Magnificent) (1960), Nave de Jazz (Jazz Boat) (1960), Llegan cinco forajidos (The Hellions) (1961), El dia mas largo (The Longest Day) (1962), Doctor terror (Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors) (1965), Mando perdido (Lost Command) (1966), Una bruja sin escoba (A Witch Without a Broom) (1967), Los despiadados (The Hellbenders) (1967), El tesoro de Makuba (1967), Batalla bajo la tierra (Battle Beneath the Earth) (1967), Reflejos en un ojo dorado (Reflections in a Golden Eye) (1967) and El dia de la ira (Day of Anger) (1967) among others.

Although his fame is especially due to the films he shot under the direction of Sergio Leone: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) and “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) his last film, which was not even finished. After filming his final shots, Mulock committed suicide by throwing himself out of one of the interior windows of the Hotel Brasilia, located on the current Medina Olmos Avenue, some members of the team saw him fall to the ground, where they found him half dead, Mickey Knox, a writer on the film and the director of production Claudio Mancini, immediately put him in a car to take him to Granada to the hospital, although he died on the way, according to what seems to a pierced his lung from a broken rib.

According to some it seems Sergio Leone, director of the film, ordered that they remove his cowboy outfit before taking him to the hospital, because there was still one last sequence to shoot, which was done by another actor. This circumstance, if true, portrays the unscrupulous personality of Sergio Leone, exclusively interested in filming. This is in addition to the complaints of most of the actors that they had to endure up to 12 hours a day of filming.

The attempt to save his life had an added difficulty, since the transfer to the Granada hospital was an odyssey in those years, due to the poor condition of the road which was full of bumpy curves. The reasons for the suicide were not clear, during the filming he suffered from depressive disorders. It was later learned that Alfred Mulock was a drug addict and it was impossible for him to find a dose for him in Guadix or to acquire medications that would alleviate his withdrawal syndrome.

To this must be added his family situation. Steffi Henderson had died a year earlier, a victim of cancer, although they were no longer together. When Al Mulock died in May 1968, he was only 43 years old.

His death quickly had local and national repercussions in the press of the time, although initially there was confusion among journalists, pointing out that the actor who had committed suicide was Jason Robards, Lauren Bacall's husband.

This last spaghetti western by Sergio Leone, tells the story of Brett McBain, a widowed farmer who lives with his children in the poor area of the American West. He has prepared a welcome party for Jill, his future wife; but when she arrives, she discovers that McBain and his children have been murdered. The murderer is an unscrupulous villain played by Henry Fonda and Jill is a luxury prostitute who married for love, masterfully played by Claudia Cardinale. The cast is completed by Cheyenne (Jason Robards), a romantic bandit, and Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti), a ruthless business man who wants to take his railroad to the Pacific.

Alfred Mulock's intervention in the film was very brief, the film begins at the Cattle Corner station, where three gunmen await the arrival of the train, from which a man will get off who, instead of speaking, prefers to play the harmonica (Charles Bronson). The three gunmen are played by Woody Strode, Jack Elam and Alfred Mulock himself.

The plot was devised by Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci and Sergio Leone, Tonino Delli Colli directed the photographic themes and Ennio Morricone the soundtrack. Filming lasted about a month. The settings were Guadix, La Calahorra, Gergal and Arizona (USA). The movie had a cost of about three million dollars.

In La Calahorra a western town was built for the film. This municipality was chosen because a location with a railway station was necessary to shoot the scenes in which a train appeared (The Baldwin). Flagstone was the imaginary city that recreated this town, which cost $ 250,000.

The film was released in Madrid on January 29, 1970. In France and Germany, it achieved important success, being less in Italy and in the United States, although in the latter country it would end up becoming a classic of western cinema.

Bibliography

Anselmo Nunez Marques, Western to the European. A dish that is served cold. Madrid, 2006. Fernando Advantages Dote and Miguel Angel Sanchez Gomez. Guadix and the Cinema. History of the cinematographic shootings in the Accitan region (1924-2002). Benalua de Guadix. 2003. Ivan Zoido Salazar. Almeria of cinema. Seville. 2010

"Mulock commits suicide by throwing himself through one of the interior windows of the Hotel Brasilia, located on the current avenue - Medina Olmos ..."

I did not get to see what would be his last film. Until its time came "it premiered in Madrid on January 29, 1970"

 

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