Monday, May 30, 2011

Jerry Hartleben: From 'Yuma' to Sedona

10-year-old Jerry Hartleben in 3:10 to Yuma with Van Heflin and Leora Dana.

The original version of 3:10 to Yuma spent two days in Sedona in late 1956 filming a few exterior scenes. Jerry Hartleben, who played costar Van Heflin’s son as a 10-year-old, didn’t have any scenes here then – but he now calls Sedona home. While he acted in a few films (most notably, he played Lon Chaney as a boy in 1957’s The Man of a Thousand Faces), it was never his passion—that was photography. He went on to become a respected cinematographer, working on feature films (Wilder Napalm, 1993), television series (thirtysomething), and commercials. Over lunch in September 2007, Jerry talked about working on Yuma, and how acting prepared him for a career behind the camera.–Joe McNeill

JM: Did you like working with director Delmer Daves on 3:10 to Yuma?

JERRY HARTLEBEN: He was great. He included me in... every night before the next day’s filming he would get the actors together and have a little rehearsal for the next day. He got me involved, and I thought that showed a lot of respect. He listened to me, I still remember that. He, as a director, gave me respect as a kid. I sure liked him.

Did you ever see Glenn Ford again after 3:10?

No. Over the years I wanted so much to film Glenn Ford because he did a series of [car] commercials in the late ’80s-early ’90s, and a big, big part of my career was commercial photography. I did major big-budget commercials all over the world and my specialty was cars. So I always wanted to do a project with Glenn Ford; I thought it would be really great to film him. But it never happened.

Did the Sedona  connection with Yuma come to mind when you moved there?

I don’t think I knew 3:10 to Yuma was shot in Sedona until the first time I saw the DVD. Maybe I knew, but I didn’t put it together; Sedona standing in for Bisbee is kind of weird. I knew they filmed at different parts of the state; I was only in the scenes that took place in an area called Texas Canyon, that’s where the ranch was. There wasn’t too much shot [in Sedona]. A couple of pan-bys, a couple of shots of the swinging doors, and then they would cut to the stage in Hollywood on the reverse side. Sedona was intercut with parts of southern Arizona. They go through the Sedona forest, the junipers and the pines and then the cactus and big boulder rocks [down south]. It wasn’t jarring, they were able to make it seamless.

What did you think of the remake of 3:10 to Yuma?

I think the new 3:10 to Yuma is a fantastic film, but there’s a shot in the original movie that [remake director] James Mangold didn’t get anywhere near. It’s the scene in the bar. Probably because he was restricted and couldn’t take them into bed back then, all Delmer Daves had to deal with was The Look. If you watch the film again, there’s a shot where she [Farr] turns and looks into his [Ford’s] eyes. It’s an extremely close shot of her face, and her eyes are tracking back and forth and the music hits it. It’s the sexiest scene. I didn’t find the scenes with the bar lady [in the 2007 version] done with any of the import that Delmer Daves got out of that one close shot, which was an extremely unusual shot for its time. But the ending of the new movie blew me away. It transcended the original idea and became something else. It’s a real shocker.

When you were on the set as a kid, were you interested in photography?

I was always interested in the camera. On The Buccaneer [1958; starring Yul Brynner, supervised by Cecil B. DeMille and directed by Anthony Quinn] because I had so much time – it was, like, six months – if I wasn’t needed that day, I’d still go there to school, or I’d have to wait maybe [to do] one scene at the end of the day. So I had free time. The studio had a photographer – and these were all master photographers assigned to each production on the lot – who would record the shoot all day, and when he saw that I was interested in what he was doing, I started to basically take a course from him for six months. We would go out to the backlot every day when I finished filming. The backlot had everything; there was a western street, there were pirate sets, you name it. And we would just shoot. [Photography] became my career. I always loved it. ––Originally published in the November 2007 issue of Sedona Monthly

Monday, May 23, 2011

Designing ‘3:10 to Yuma’

Russell Crowe (as outlaw Ben Wade) and Peter Fonda in 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma.

"You know, I think Sedona was considered as one of our locations,” says Andrew Menzies, production designer on director James Mangold’s remake of 3:10 to Yuma, based on the Delmer Daves-directed Glenn Ford western that spent a couple of days filming in Sedona in December 1956. “It was a very close contender, but it was very hard,” Menzies explained in a phone chat in early August 2007. “Films are dictated not only by the look, but by the finances. So when you have New Mexico offering [big rebates] of the money you spend in the region, it’s very hard to turn that down.”

But that’s not to say Sedona’s look didn’t influence the film, which centers on a battle of wits and wills in the old West between charismatic outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his captor, struggling but principled rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale). In his job, Menzies was responsible for the look of the movie, working with Mangold to create a visual style and setting to support the storytelling. “There’s a place called Ghost Ranch, two or three hours from Santa Fe (where Yuma’s location shoot was based), which actually has a similar landscape to Sedona, with beautiful pink and peach rocks.

How do the two films compare? One difference between 1957 and 2007 Menzies mentions is today’s realism vs. 1950s’ theatricality. “We were very concerned with research,” he says. “We had thousands of pictures [as reference for] buildings, colors, wardrobe. It was a major concern of mine and James Mangold’s. Obviously, the movie has to be entertaining, so we break from [reality] for some of the action, but it was cool. It was very exciting.”

How exciting? Yuma was Menzies’ first western, but “I would cut my rate to do another.” Note to producers: He was chuckling as he said that.––Steven Korn. Originally published in the September 2007 issue of Sedona Monthly

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting ‘3:10 to Yuma’ Remake on Track

Christian Bale (left) and Russell Crowe in the 2007 3:10 to Yuma.

In 3:10 to Yuma, the 2007 western directed by James Mangold, the title refers to the train that will carry charismatic outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to face justice – if his captor, financially struggling but principled rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale), can put him on it without either a) giving in to the smoothtalking Wade’s efforts to convince him to take the easy way out, accept a payoff, and walk away, or b) getting killed by the bandit’s gang en route. But this wasn’t the first time movie fans boarded the 3:10 to Yuma – in 1957, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin matched wits as Wade and Evans. Mangold’s version was filmed in New Mexico, but the original 3:10 to Yuma made several stops in Arizona, including a quick one in Sedona in December 1956.

After the commercial and critical success of Walk the Line, their 2005 Oscar-winning Johnny Cash biopic, a report in Variety on Feb. 21, 2006, revealed that director Mangold and his producer-wife Cathy Konrad planned to remake 3:10 to Yuma for Sony/Columbia Pictures as their next project. Shooting was to begin in summer 2006 from a script by Stuart Beattie, screenwriter of Michael Mann’s 2004 Collateral, that was based on earlier drafts by writing team Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious). The following day Variety broke the news that actors Tom Cruise and Eric Bana (2005’s Munich) were negotiating to star in the remake; Cruise planned to play the Glenn Ford role in 3:10 as his followup to Mission: Impossible III.

But four months later, despite having spent four years developing the project, Sony put 3:10 on ice, reportedly because Cruise had changed his mind about the project, even though Oscar-winner Russell Crowe had come on board in his place. There was industry speculation that Sony was shopping the property to other studios or looking for a financing partner.

“This is deja vu all over again,” Mangold told Variety, recalling that Walk the Line had also been set at Sony until the studio suddenly pulled the plug and he brought it to Fox. He and Konrad planned to start talks with other studios immediately and still hoped to begin filming Yuma in October.

“This is a very middle-priced movie,” Mangold said. “I’ve never made a movie that has exceeded $60 million, and this one won't either.” Variety indicated Sony may have had concerns about the money it would owe $20 million star Crowe if he got a share of the movie’s back-end profit, and how the western would play internationally.

“Westerns have come to mean a kind of narcissistic, ponderous film –– and that ain't what we're making," Mangold told the industry newspaper at the time. "We’re making something with balls, taste, and emotion. And I think it’s something that’s an answer to the kind of saturated, digital overload we’re seeing on screens. This is about real people and real action.”

Shortly afterward, Relativity Media agreed to finance the film and by August 4, The Hollywood Reporter disclosed that Christian Bale (2005’s Batman Begins) was close to signing on to co-star and the movie was on track for a fall start. A few weeks later, Peter Fonda (Easy Rider, 1969), Gretchen Mol (The Notorious Bettie Page, 2005), Ben Foster (X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006), Vinessa Shaw (The Hills Have Eyes, 2006), and Dallas Roberts (Walk the Line, 2005) joined the cast.

By Sept. 17, 2006, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Lionsgate would distribute the 3:10 to Yuma remake. With a budget now reportedly swollen to close to $80 million, Yuma was a bigger risk than usual for Lionsgate, known for inexpensive hits like the Saw and Madea franchises. The long journey for the 3:10 to Yuma remake finally ended when shooting began on Oct. 23, 2006.

The weekend before filming was scheduled to finish, a freak storm dumped nearly two feet of snow on the set of the supposedly drought-ravaged town. But still, after almost three months of shooting at locations around New Mexico, filming of 3:10 to Yuma wrapped on Jan. 20, 2007, exactly 50 years and three days after the original did.––Joe McNeill; originally published in the September 2007 issue of Sedona Monthly

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dick Jones Revisits ‘Virginia City’

Dickie Jones (bandaged) with Errol Flynn in Virginia City.

Dick Jones was one of Golden Age Hollywood’s busiest kid actors. At age four he began his career as the “World's Youngest Trick Rider and Trick Roper,” performing roping and riding tricks in “B” movie cowboy star Hoot Gibson’s rodeo. In the early ‘30’s he appeared in a few “Our Gang" shorts and by decade’s end had amassed dozens of credits in both "A" and "B" productions, such as John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln and Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (both 1939). In 1940 Jones gained movie immortality as the voice of Pinocchio in Walt Disney's animated classic; later that same year, he appeared in Virginia City, a western starring Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart that filmed scenes on location in Sedona. In a 2005 chat, Jones remembered Flynn’s pet tricks, Bogart’s quick exits, and Curtiz’s ‘goobers’––Joe McNeill

JM: Did you stay in Flagstaff while filming Virginia City?

DICK JONES: Oh yeah, I remember it real well. I just about ate myself to death with trout. I loved it. I actually came back to Flagstaff later that year to do The Outlaw.

What can you tell us about the personal appearance you made at Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theater while filming here?

I don’t remember it at all. I probably did a trick roping act, because that was the only thing I knew. (Laughing) I could strum a ukulele but that wouldn’t have been much!

Do you have memories of working with Errol Flynn in Virginia City?

The one thing I can remember was that he had this standard-sized schnauzer. He had that dog trained. [Flynn] had this swagger stick and he’d be slapping his boot with it, then he’d stop to talk to somebody and he’d slap them on their boot with that swagger stick. Then when he walked away the dog would come up and lift its leg up on them. I think [co-star] “Big Boy” Williams almost wanted to kill him!

I really enjoyed working with Errol Flynn. I worked with him again on Rocky Mountain (1950); that was my favorite of all the films I ever made. [Flynn] was one of the best journeyman actors. He knew his trade and worked his craft real well. What he did afterwards, that’s another story.

What do you remember of Humphrey Bogart?

I worked with him again after Virginia City, but he was very quiet and didn’t mess around with kids. It was always very much just work; you’d come in, the director would say ‘I want this, I want that,’ we’d rehearse our lines together one time, then boom – we’d do it and that’s it. I’d go back to school and he’d go back to his dressing room. So I didn’t spend much time with him. I’d have liked to.

What about Michael Curtiz, Virginia City’s director?

I loved him; he was a great director and I got along with him fine. I remember he’d say [in Hungarian accent], “I got to vait for der ‘goobers.’ “ He wanted to match the scenes and have the clouds look the same. And sure enough, ten, 15 minutes later, he’d say, “Here comes der ‘goobers,’ ” and we’d say, OK, let’s go do it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Old Tucson Studios––Arizona's BIG Hollywood

“When in Southern California, visit Universal Studios.” That was the pitch Universal used back in the 1960s to cross-promote its La-La Land backlot tour in print ads, and later (to the chagrin of some of its snootier directors) in the end titles of its movies. Since 1915, the allure of making the scene at a working film studio has provided a cushy side business for Universal, but if you have a hankering to visit a movie factory, head to southern Arizona’s very own historic studio, Old Tucson.

Old Tucson Studios was originally a western town set built by Columbia Pictures in 1939 for its $2.5 million Oscar-nominated epic, Arizona, which starred Jean Arthur and William Holden (in his cowboy movie debut). The structures were left standing after the completion of shooting and were reused sporadically – at the bargain basement rate of $60 per day – for cowboy extravaganzas like the partly filmed-in-Sedona 3:10 to Yuma (1957), The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958) and Rio Bravo (1959). Midwestern businessman Robert Shelton leased the property (John Wayne, who would shoot four Westerns at Old Tucson, was reportedly among his silent partners) and opened it to the public in 1960 as a movie studio/mini-amusement park, offering set tours, live stunt and musical shows, gunfights and a small area with rides and attractions. Shelton eventually built “Arizona’s Hollywood in the Desert” into what was dubbed the second-most-visited tourist destination in Arizona after the Grand Canyon. In 1968, a 13,000-square-foot soundstage was opened to allow Old Tucson to provide its Hollywood clients complete on-site filmmaking facilities. Later pictures shot at the studio ran the gamut from the avant-garde (Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys, 1968) to blockbuster actioners (Tombstone, 1993). In 1970, Wild Rovers, another partly made-in-Sedona Western, did a single day of exterior filming at Old Tucson, with William Holden making his first return visit 31 years after he helped open the studio.

Only Los Angeles and New York could brag louder than Old Tucson about being the most popular filming location in America until real-life disaster struck in 1995, when approximately 40 percent of the original movie buildings were destroyed in a fire that investigators labeled “suspicious.” But, just like in the movies, good triumphed over evil; the studio soon reopened for business (albeit at three-quarters of its original size) and it remains a working film location today. Since 1939, more than 500 movie and television projects as well as dozens of TV commercials, music videos, industrial films and print photo shoots have been made at Old Tucson Studios.

Getting there is half the fun. The studio lies within Tucson Mountain Park, which borders the biologically diverse (and awesome looking) Saguaro National Park, so the drive through the lush Sonoran Desert provides an eyepopping look at the never-ending forest of ginormous cacti. Even there you’ll find a movie connection: The 2009 dramedy Away We Go, with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, filmed a sequence at this scenic spot.

Once inside the studio walls, you’re standing in the dusty bootprints of cowboy movie Shangri-la, so the 30-minute historic walking tour is highly recommended as the ideal way to soak it all in. On the day we visited, we were fortunate to have our tour conducted by the very knowledgeable historian Paul J. Lawton, who could write a book on the place (actually, he did: Old Tucson Studios, Arcadia Publishing, $21.99).

Among the movie-related attractions is a 20-minute film commemorating John Wayne’s connection to the studio, a continuously running video history of Old Tucson, and a mini-museum that displays posters, props and costumes from many of the movies and TV shows shot there. Also on the lot is the Reno, a 34-ton locomotive built in 1872 that has been used in dozens of films and is considered to be the most photographed train engine in the history of motion pictures. Red Rock Country film fans please take note: Just beyond the Reno stands the actual “Contention” train station that the original 3:10 to Yuma pulled into in 1957. This hitch means there is exactly one more historic Sedona movie set at Old Tucson Studios than the former “Arizona’s Little Hollywood” has within its entire city limits.––Joe McNeill;  originally published in the January/February issue of Sedona Monthly. Photographs © 2011 by Debbie Weinkauff