Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Was Jess Franco ever in Sweden?

Yes, the thought gives me many pictures. I'm seeing Jess standing there together with Robert Siodmak in Bräcke, by Gimån, watching some stuntman going all the way down the timber gully together with a brave camera team. Probably chain smoking and discussing set-ups...

Robert Siodmak directed Custer of the West in Spain, and needed a specific location for one of the movies more spectacular chase scenes. After an ambush, one of the characters flees through the forest and jumps into the gully, grabbing onto a big log. The only place (actually there was a second place, in Spain, but obviously it didn't fit the production) to shoot such a scene was in Sweden, Jämtland. The gully is since long torn down, but in the end of the sixties it was still there and Siodmaks movie is probably the best way to see it. Far away from old black and white photos, this is real stuff. Anyway. Jess Franco was Siodmaks personal assistant during this movie, and at Robert Monells excellent blog you can read more about it.

It must have been big headlines in the local newspapers when Hollywood came to Bräcke, but not many seem to remember this. I'm not expert either, because I was born around ten years later! When the movie was shown on Swedish television at the end of the seventies, there was more headlines: "NÄR BRÄCKE BLEV SLAGET VID LITTLE BIG HORN!" ("When Bräcke became the battle of Little Big Horn"). I'm surprised that the community of Bräcke (I've been there many times, a very boring place - I usually call Bräcke and Gällö - another village for: The Sodom & Gomorrah of Boredom!) didn't capitalize on the Custer-angle more. A couple of photos, some Indian-statue and testimonies from people who was there could have been a little tourist trap for a couple of years. 

I can't prove this, but someone - could be an old teacher - told me that it was two scenes shot there. One with the timber, but also part of an Indian ambush. I located some shots that I think is a typical Swedish forest, and of course also some screenshots of the famous timber gully. I hope to somehow dig up more information about this stuff, because I want to know who went to Sweden. If Siodmak was here, Franco was probably here too. But on the other hand, maybe the scene was to small and action oriented that he let second unit director Noël Howard do the job. Maybe some old paper clippings can be of any help? I will see if I can find something...

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