Sergio Leone Web Board

General Information => General Discussion => Topic started by: marqkin on June 06, 2007, 08:10:41 AM

Title: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: marqkin on June 06, 2007, 08:10:41 AM
Just wondering if anyone else has visited 'Mini Hollywood', a few miles outside Almeria, Southern Spain? If so, I'd be interested to know what you think of it?
'Mini Hollywood' is basically now a tourist resort, but was originally designed and built by Carlo Simi for Sergio Leone's brilliant 'For A Few Dollars More'. Then, in 1965, it was the 'El Paso' set. It was also used in 'The Good, Bad, Ugly', as well as many other Spaghetti Westerns that followed.
I've visited 'Mini Hollywood' 4 times, and will be returning there on holiday in a week's time. When I first visited, in 1998, I was gob-smacked to be standing on an original Leone set, but was also shocked by how it has changed from how it appeared in the films. Yes, you can still recognize the saloon, the bank, the hotel etc., but someone - in their wisdom - has decided to paint part of the town in colours that would dazzle Superman!!
The authenticity that was so abundant in the films, has now given way to catering for the masses; not least has been the inclusion of plastic dinosaurs, a restaurant with swimming pool, and irritating photographers who pounce on you as you enter the complex.
On each visit, I've been increasingly saddened by how little respect appears to have been shown towards Sergio Leone. In an on-site souvenir shop, there are many mugs, ash trays, ornaments etc., bearing the 'Mini Hollywood' logo - yet none paying homage to the great man himself. A few years ago, the famous staircase in the saloon (used by Lee Van Cleef) in 'For a Few..', was demolished, and the saloon extended to accomodate a stage for can-can girls!! Sacrilage!
I know that the place makes a lot of money by catering for the thousands of tourists each year, but I've always felt that it should have been kept as true to Leone's original concept and autenticity as possible...
I'm just wondering if anyone else has any views on the subject of 'Mini Hollywood; or, indeed on the travesty just down the road called 'Western Leone' (originally built for 'Once Upon A Time in the West').
Cheers for now, amigos....
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: moviesceleton on June 06, 2007, 08:34:46 AM
Just wondering if anyone else has visited 'Mini Hollywood', a few miles outside Almeria, Southern Spain? If so, I'd be interested to know what you think of it?
'Mini Hollywood' is basically now a tourist resort, but was originally designed and built by Carlo Simi for Sergio Leone's brilliant 'For A Few Dollars More'. Then, in 1965, it was the 'El Paso' set. It was also used in 'The Good, Bad, Ugly', as well as many other Spaghetti Westerns that followed.
I've visited 'Mini Hollywood' 4 times, and will be returning there on holiday in a week's time. When I first visited, in 1998, I was gob-smacked to be standing on an original Leone set, but was also shocked by how it has changed from how it appeared in the films. Yes, you can still recognize the saloon, the bank, the hotel etc., but someone - in their wisdom - has decided to paint part of the town in colours that would dazzle Superman!!
The authenticity that was so abundant in the films, has now given way to catering for the masses; not least has been the inclusion of plastic dinosaurs, a restaurant with swimming pool, and irritating photographers who pounce on you as you enter the complex.
On each visit, I've been increasingly saddened by how little respect appears to have been shown towards Sergio Leone. In an on-site souvenir shop, there are many mugs, ash trays, ornaments etc., bearing the 'Mini Hollywood' logo - yet none paying homage to the great man himself. A few years ago, the famous staircase in the saloon (used by Lee Van Cleef) in 'For a Few..', was demolished, and the saloon extended to accomodate a stage for can-can girls!! Sacrilage!
I know that the place makes a lot of money by catering for the thousands of tourists each year, but I've always felt that it should have been kept as true to Leone's original concept and autenticity as possible...
I'm just wondering if anyone else has any views on the subject of 'Mini Hollywood; or, indeed on the travesty just down the road called 'Western Leone' (originally built for 'Once Upon A Time in the West').
Cheers for now, amigos....
That sounds bad. Though, it is no surprise that they are demolishing the sets to make more money, since SWs were mostly B-films made for money ;D. Still, sad. I wonder if you have any pictures from your earlier trips (we need a smiley rubbing hands)?
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: T.H. on June 06, 2007, 11:42:19 AM
I have seen the place on the locations segment on the new FAFDM DVD, and the colors were atrocious. Whoever owns that land either doesn't know or care much about Leone and his movies.
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: redrum on June 07, 2007, 10:36:06 AM
Check out TucoTours.Com. I am going in November and will review it when I return. Top site, nice people and intensively researched sites from all the films. Leone heaven.
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: piribiriboing on June 07, 2007, 08:18:10 PM
I think they even changed the name to "El Oasys" in 2006. The place today is more a naturalistic-zoological park than a western town set.
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: Danny on June 07, 2007, 11:47:52 PM
I've been there 2 years ago, Mini Hollywood is too expensive and most of the visitors don't even know the meaning of this city. Western Leone has only the original Sweet Water range (now a Saloon :'(). I prefer Texas Hollywood, a few km down the road. This town is still in use so now and then by the film industry, they have a great show with talented actors. Unfortunately no Leone movies were shot here.
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: El Mal on June 27, 2007, 03:15:56 PM
I live in Spain and shall be making a return visit to the Tabernas area of Almeria in a few days time. I concur with comments made by marqkin and danny. I'll probably give Mini Hollywood a miss this time (2 coachloads of screaming kids made it even worse than marqkin depicted when we visited it). Texas Hollywood looks far more authentic and we live in hope that Franco Nero still gets a chance to feature in the new western that we had hoped would be filmed there. In the meantime I look forward to wallowing in the surrounding "spaghetti" scenery. Does anybody know if there's anything left of the set for "Straight To Hell" (Alex Cox 1987) and which film it was originally built for?
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: Jill on June 28, 2007, 07:59:23 AM
If I one day will go to Spain, I want to see two things by all: Almeria and a real corrida in Madrid...

Almeria for Sergio and the corrida for Hemingway. (http://forum.rpg.hu/style_emoticons/default/div180.gif)
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: cigar joe on June 28, 2007, 07:57:05 PM
One thing I've noticed in the then & now shots on the special edition DVD's is the way the landscapes are looking much greener these days, whats up with that?

El Mal that a question you can ask about since you are there, is the change in the landscapes something to so with the climate change over the last 40 years or is it simply a matter of time of year the comparison photos were taken?
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: moviesceleton on June 29, 2007, 01:59:39 AM
One thing I've noticed in the then & now shots on the special edition DVD's is the way the landscapes are looking much greener these days, whats up with that?

El Mal that a question you can ask about since you are there, is the change in the landscapes something to so with the climate change over the last 40 years or is it simply a matter of time of year the comparison photos were taken?
I've been wondering that too. I'm sure that the quality of the pictures has something to do with it since the sand in Monument Valley looks darker and more red than in OUATITW. But there certainly are more plants in recent pictures than in the films, both in Almeria and Monument Valley.
Title: Re: Mini Hollywood in Almeria
Post by: El Mal on June 29, 2007, 07:37:52 AM
Ref the landscape query I don't live in the Almeria region so can't answer your query for sure but I'll try to remember to ask our B&B landlady, Shirley Cook, when we get there next week if she notices any difference as her place is adjacent to the Tabernas desert (which we've yet to explore) on the N340 Mini Hollywood road. Here on the Costa Blanca the vegetation has got much greener in recent months presumably due to some very heavy downpours we had around April. At the back of Torrevieja, near Fortuna, just about a 30 minute drive away the hills look very much like Almeria.

I now have a modest collection of "spaghetti"dvd's. I try, if possible, to get as many as I can that were filmed in whole or in part in the Almeria region because of local interest.  It's usually pretty easy to identify those shot in Almeria compared to the Madrid area which is noticably greener (unless filmed in a local quarry!).

By the way I've now answered my earlier question - which film was the "Straight To Hell" set originally built for? The answer would appear to be "Chino" USA which goes under various other titles and year of production. I'll stick with 1973 (IMDb). Just ordered a cheap copy on Amazon. Assuming we find the set from which Mini Hollywood can be seen on the opposite side of the A92 we will be able to compare the remains with the dvd which should arrive shortly after our return.
Alex Cox in his commentary to "Straight To Hell" says the set was built smaller than usual because the star, Charles Bronson, was vertically challenged (my words!). However, when I visited the Old Tucson set in Arizona in 1980 I seem to recall they said it was standard procedure to make the sets there a little smaller to make the actors seem more prominent. That would have included John Wayne, of course, in "Rio Lobo" who required no "trickery" to enhance his screen presence.
A shame that many of those sets were burned down in a "vandal" fire a few years ago.