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Topics - El Mal

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Although Western Leone is now very much a mini theme park and hopeful of hosting some  film shoots the Sweetwater ranch, now a saloon, still looks imposing against a backdrop of the hills of Tabernas. I've edited my camcorder home movie of one of the regular shootouts for tourists which takes place in the large area in front of the saloon. I've cut out as many cries from a baby next to me as possible! Also the first gunshot at the bank was a pathetic "pop" so I've superimposed a louder one. Hopefully this is on topic. My 8min. video is on Youtube reference "shootout at sweetwater".

El Maljavascript:void(0);
Afro.

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General Discussion / Almeria Locations
« on: July 10, 2007, 03:32:54 PM »
Hi everybody,

Just got back from a hectic 3 days in Almeria. I've got a lot of video and photos that need analysing but am being delayed by having had cards knicked from my wallet back here in Torrevieja, Costa Blanca!

Briefly, we first went to Los Albaricoques where, as previously reported, someone's building an apartment block overlooking the stone ring site. They have been built approx. in Clint's line of sight as he sites on the edge of the ring observing the shootout. The  original (or previous?) ring has been demolished and replaced by an obviously new version. The location appears to be the same but I need to check the photos I took last year to confirm. I'm not sure the diameter is right. The stone pile (well?) where Van Cleef stands after dismounting his horse wasn't there last year but they've built a new one. Near to this is another curved build of stones that looks like a BBQ area! The information plaque here and in 3 or 4 other sites around the village contain very generalised comments and add nothing of interest. An extraordinarily high wind on albeit a sunny day severely hampered my attempts to line up reference photos, even with a hefty tripod. Several pitiful, tick ridden dogs following us around for food didn't help any. Regretfully I have no real desire to return to this site, partucularly as the new apartments are blocking a view of the surrounding fields and mountains in one direction. I prefer the memories I have of last year when the site was in gentle decay.

At the restaurant on the junction of the A92 with the Tabernas N340 road we met a French Algerian called Pecos (real name Robert) who told us he had been in the area for 25 years and was a spaghetti western fanatic. He took us to a ruined film location near the Banos De Sierra  Alhamilla which he claimed Eastwood had filmed on but he couldn't confirm the name of any of the films. The location may have been a conversion from original farm or estate buildings as an avenue of mature trees is a feature there. A lot of partially ruined stone buildings are standing though some are obviously film "add ons" as they are only 2 sided. There are also wooden "add ons". A few paint balls were found on the ground. Access roads to the site are rough. If anybody has any info on the site I would be interested to hear before carrying out any research.

With the help of Pecos we also located the ruined set originally built for Chino (USA) 1973 or Valdez the Halfbreed (UK) starring Charles Bronson and later used by Alex Cox for his wacky film Straight To Hell (1987). This is not far from the restaurant on the A92, opposite Mini Hollywood, but a circuitous access takes a while. Several brick ruins are still standing. Only the church is just about recognisable. The A92 was built on a raised level probably 15 years after Alex Cox's film on the line of the original Almeria/Granada road which is visible in his film.

Having finally accepted that Western Leone spoils the memory for me of my favourite Leone film, OUATITW, I decided to go there (heck, it's right opposite the restaurant anyway) and view the house and also check out the cutting where the railway line was brought in for the closing scenes. The added buildings were not as bad as I expected assuming you're looking on it as a new western theme park and not a tribute to the aforementioned film. They are just putting the finishing touches to a white Mexican village to the back far left of the ranch house. There were very few visitors. The shootout in the "town square" was OK if unspectacular. We were particularly taken by the uncanny resemblance of one of the main "cowboys" on the site to Henry Fonda! The likeness is uncanny. We have heard rumours but I don't feel I can say anymore! I located the gully which was dug out for the train line. What a lot of work for a very brief scene. My prize of the day was finding one of the rusting metal plates which I presume was used in the laying of the track. It measures approx. 7" x 5" and has three holes in it. Any railway buffs out there who can confirm or advise on this item?

Finally (did I say this would be brief?) my brother was with me, in addition to my partner Jan, and he was travelling on to Granada, Seville and Cadiz in his camper van so I asked him to divert and take a look at the Flagstone set at La Calahorra.
He's not familiar with OUATITW etc., but he confirmed that the sheep farmer, presumably, has started building a low wall from, based on his telephoned description, the "Merchant Dentist" building to the Saloon. Again I would think these modifications are going to put a nail in the coffin as far as visualising the site as it once was.

I don't claim to be an expert on Leone matters, just very interested as I live a couple of hours away, so please feel free to correct me on any of the above or tell me you knew all about it anyway! If I still can't figure out how to post pics I'll put some on my web site instead - eventually (malcolmdrew.com)


El Mal

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For a Few Dollars More / Agua Caliente (Los Albaricoques) Then & Now
« on: June 08, 2006, 12:34:24 PM »
Following my recent trip to Almeria here`s a couple of "then and now" composites taken in Los Albaricoques.





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Film Locations / Almeria Visit= continued.
« on: May 30, 2006, 04:35:58 AM »
Got timed out again -

 to continue my piece on the Almeria trip. Regarding Mini Hollywood the Bank, Sheriff`s Office and 2 saloons (all original I believe from FDM) are still in place around the main square but when you first walk into MH you turn a corner into a western street with flowerbeds and gardens in front of falsefront street buildings - pleez! Very Disney. The Yellow Rose Saloon was packed and we waited a few minutes for a lack lustre Can Can Show by 3 girls. No splits, no "whoops!" etc.,

The shootout in the main square at 5pm is excellent. Features 3 or 4 stuntmen, a wagon, 2 or 3 horses and 2 falls from balconies.

Western Leone we didn`t fancy paying for as we saw a virtual 360 degree shot of it on the internet before going there and the tacked on town looks so phoney and spoils memories of OUATITW. We stopped opposite "on a high bluff!" and snapped a few tele shots for a souvenier shot of the Sweetwater House.

Our priority visit next time? Texas Hollywood. Which the locals now call Fort Bravo (there is a basic fort built by the entrance but I understand this was for a computer game or something and holds little interest). Yes, I know it`s got little to do with SW`s but I`m a general western fan and was in my element there. Must view 800 Balas again and check against my snaps.

I hadn`t heard about the new SW film and being 150 miles away we don`t get any freebee newspapers for that region (here in Torrevieja we get about 4 a week!). We made good friends with our B & B landlady, Shirley, whilst we were there and, although she`s not interested in SW`s (sacrilige!) I`ll ask her if there`s anyway of finding out about film making. We sat near her neighbours at a resaturant one night and heard them talking about film extra work. I wouldn`t mind staying over there with Shirley for a few days to do some of that. If anyone plans to visit the Tabernas area we can heartily recommend Shirley`s place at 30 Euros per night, min. 2 nights - breakfast extra. Try www.bedandbreakfast-directory.co.uk "Las Aguilas Miran" or phone Shirley direct on 00 34 950 066 025 (from UK).

May put some photos in the site later.

El Mal(colm)




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Film Locations / Flagstone, Once Upon a Time in The West
« on: May 26, 2006, 11:55:00 AM »
Just returned from a trip to the Flagstone Set remains on the Charches to La Calahorra road, Almeria, Spain. What`s left of them still seem to be more or less unchanged and as reported and photographed by Ramon. A bird lover appears to have installed nesting boxes in the shells of the buildings. Someone has told me that the Spanish are keen pigeon fanciers. Who knows? We found a British contractor and his brother overseeing some Spanish workers at the Saloon which is now a farm building.

 I approached the Brits and they were genuinely surprised and fascinated to learn that they were working amongst the remains of a western film set. In fact one of them grabbed his mobile and phoned his dad in the UK to say, "Hey dad, guess what? I`ve just been laying tarmac on the floor of the Flagstone Saloon in Once Upon a Time in the West!" Apparantly the farmer wants to house his sheep in the building.

Life can still be dangerous in Flagstone. We stopped at the barriered railroad crossing to check it was clear before driving onto the site and promptly found the barrier hitting the roof of the car to the sound of clanging bells!

I have been trying to create a map of Flagstone but, even after a trip there, it`s pretty tricky to work out as glimpses of brick sets whilst watching the film are fleeting. The set was re-used after OUATITW but so far I am only aware of the film "The Price of Power" of which I`ve obtained a copy. Some additions to the original set look really tacked on and phony in that film. Subsequent filming probably explains the word  "Phoenix" on one of the remains as I cannot trace this name in viewings of OUATITW. Or a Dentist for that matter as that logo appears on another building.

There are more remains on the saloon side of the El Calahorra/Charches road than on the other side and a quick word with one of the family who own the saloon etc.appears to establish that the land the other side of the road belongs to someone else. Apart from the Flagstone First National Bank building and an associated building there is virtually nothing else on that side remaining other than a few small piles of stone so I imagine the owners on that side may have removed parts of the set some time ago.

OK, I`ll stop there as I`m a newbie and may be telling you something you already know. Might post some photos later if I think they`ll be informative. I gained access to the farmyard adjacent to the saloon and photographed the fully intact East wall - Haven`t seen that posted anywhere yet.

Regards from a movie set anorak!



 

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Film Locations / Almeria Filming Locations / Flagstone
« on: April 22, 2006, 03:34:59 PM »
As I now live within 150 miles of Almeria I shall be making my first trip there next month (May 2006) to search out some key locations. I am particularly interested in the remains of Flagstone at La Calahorra which I have discussed with Ramon elsewhere. Like others I have had difficulty in matching up photos of the brickbuilt ruins with the films in which they were featured.  So I`ve bought a compass! and hope to line things up when I get there. There are already some excellent photos of the remains on various websites but if i can provide any useful additional info when I return I`ll post the details on this site. Any up to date info would be appreciated. Is it permissible to wear replica guns & holster at Mini Hollywood etc? Newbie El Mal in Spain.

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