Desperate Journey-Then & Now

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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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