Desperate Journey-Then & Now

16 Dec

dj:t&n1 Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 10.33.12 PM dj:t&n3 Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 10.33.29 PM dj:t&n2 Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 10.39.16 PM

Here are some newer Then & Now shots, with corresponding screen grabs from the film. I have often found that it would require a higher vantage point, perhaps a ladder or platform, to accurately line up shots with the original scenes, but I think these serve to give a reasonable idea of filming at this location (which is private). In the rare candid long shot, the group of men in a circle at the left are (l-r) Arthur Kennedy, Alan Hale, Ronald Sinclair, and Flynn. To the right of them in the hat and long white coat is Raoul Walsh. In the other rare candid long shot of the group at the middle of the bridge are (l-r) Alan Hale, a production assistant, Flynn, and Ronald Reagan. In the closeup still are (l-r) Alan Hale, Ronald Reagan, Arthur Kennedy, and Flynn. The screen grabs show that the scene was filmed in daylight with filters (and a matte added to the “night” sky), something decided upon because Flynn had, only four days earlier, refused to work at night. As you can see, the bridge is no longer there and a road now dips down from the earth berm to what was formerly the river bed. (As a side note, this very wash over which the bridge spans was where flood waters from the collapsed St. Francis dam tore through in 1928, making its way to the Pacific Ocean, over 50 miles from dam to coast. Along its path it entire towns were destroyed and up to 600 people died. At Piru, the location of this scene and photos, the wall of water may still have still been over ten feet high. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this catastrophe is the biggest in California history.)

— Robert


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  1. Tim

    December 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Great Imagery & Facscinating Info, Robert. Thank you.

    This is the film that led to one of the best quips in modern political history. Upon being questioned by a reporter whether he felt envious that Gorbachev was getting more acclaim than him for the reform of the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan responded:

    “Good Lord no, I starred with Errol Flynn once”!

    For those amongst us who may not know how great Errol Flynn was, there’s official confirmation, right from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! … Here they are in a Mt. Rushmore pose:


    • David DeWitt

      December 16, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Ha! A feat no other President could claim!

  2. David DeWitt

    December 16, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Extraordinary, Robert, as always! You have truly walked in Flynn’s footsteps …

  3. Inga

    December 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    And I had thought they really came to Luckenwalde for these shots… no wonder I didn’t manage to find the movie location here, only 30km away…

    • Tim

      December 16, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      I’m not sure Minister of Enlightment Goebbels would have authorized that for the Warner brothers, Inga – especially, in agreement with Errol, not for any night filming. If he did, however, Reagan & Flynn could have done a USO Show at Stalag III-A. … Maybe Hope & Lamour could have dropped in, too.


    • Robzak

      December 17, 2013 at 3:52 am

      They would have filmed there, Inga, but for a slight political detail that precluded it.

  4. timerider

    December 16, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Talk about land fill! Amazing what 70 years will do!
    Actually B&W was a real statement in many of these flicks.
    Like the Mt Rushmore quips!