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Is this Hollywood?  

“You can sit here and look around the back and think you were in Los Angeles. Except it hasn’t got that word ‘Hollywood’ scorched across it.” from an interview with the late Eddie Fowlie, David Lean’s “Dedicated Maniac” Once Upon a Time in Almería: The Legacy of Hollywood in Spain’ (Daylight Books 2017)

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The Attack on Aqaba  

“In May 1962, an isolated beach on the barren southeastern coast of Spain suddenly bustled with activity. Hundreds of local farm hands had been hired to construct a replica of the Red Sea port of Aqaba, circa 1917. It took them three months to build over 300 false front buildings. They planted palm trees, placed four full-size cannons on the hills above, and shipped 450 horses and 150 camels over from Morocco. Soon after, Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia would lead an army down from the hills to overtake the mock town.” From the essay accompanying the photographs. This […]

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La Calahorra  

For the town of Flagstone in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), production designer Carlo Simi constructed a western street set at the La Calahorra train station near Guadix. Little remains today but the brick structures of the Phoenix Bank and the Hotel, which have been partially absorbed into an adjacent chicken farm. Once Upon a Time in Almería: The Legacy of Hollywood in Spain’ (Daylight Books 2017)

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Playa de Monsul  

Sean Connery appeared in scenes from at least three different films on this small Spanish beach. In Shalako (1968), Connery is a former US Cavalry officer who tries to save a European hunting party from a band of Apaches in New Mexico. The hunting ranch is adjacent to the Monsul beach, though the camera angles carefully crop out the Mediterranean Sea. In The Wind and Lion (1975), Connery “rescues” (or recaptures) Candice Bergen and her two children from a gang of thieves as they are camped out at the Playa de Monsul. And in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade […]

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The Cave of Conan  

Some of the cave scenes from Conan the Barbarian were filmed inside a large cavern in the quarries of La Molineta, on the outskirts of Almeria city. The cave also appeared in Fort Apache (1972) and other Westerns, and later housed an underground set for the film Solarbabies (1986). In 2011, the site was slated for redevelopment as the site of a future shopping mall. Demolition crews began to tear away at the rock while a group called “Salvemos La Molineta” held demonstrations to have the site declared a cultural treasure. But the economic crisis brought work to a halt, […]

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El Condor  

Originally an elaborate fortress constructed in 1969 for the film El Condor, this site was reused over the years for a variety of films, usually involving lots of dynamite. Titles include Blindman (1971) —with Ringo Starr as a love-struck Mexican thief—A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die (1972), Get Mean (1975), Conan the Barbarian, and Dollar for the Dead (1998)—a Sergio Leone tribute starring Emilio Estevez. The painted signs that appear—‘Pension Coyote’—are leftovers from the making of Italian film Honolulu Baby (2000), set in a nameless South American town populated entirely by beautiful women. The ‘Pension Coyote’ originally served […]

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Solarbabies and the Denver Mine  

The surviving structures of the Denver mining plant hang precariously off the hillside above the town of Rodalquilar, inside the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. When the mine was constructed during the 1950s, it was believed there were vast gold deposits hidden under ground. But the state-sponsored enterprise failed to meet expectations and the mine was abandoned in 1966. In the summer of 1985, the site was turned into a post-apocalyptic prison camp for Solarbabies. In the film, a mysterious police state controls the planet’s water resources, but a rebellious group of adolescents (including actors Jami Gertz and Jason Patric) escape […]

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Cortijo del Fraile  

Federico Garcia Lorca based his play Blood Wedding on actual events that occurred in 1928. The ill-fated wedding was to take place at the Cortijo where the bride lived with her father. Hours before the wedding, she attempted to elope with her cousin instead, but he was shot and killed by the groom’s brother before they could get away. In his stage directions, Lorca suggests the bride’s home appears in a “panorama of brownish plains, everything hardened like a landscape of ceramic.” The interior of the cortijo served as Indio’s hideout in For a Few Dollars More (1965), and the […]

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Mini-Hollywood  

Following the success of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), Sergio Leone commissioned Carlo Simi to construct an entire western town for the second title in the trilogy, For a Few Dollars More. Two rival bounty hunters, (Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef), both in pursuit of the fugitive El Indio, eye each other suspiciously from their hotel windows on opposite sides of the street. The building now labelled the “Yellow Rose” housed Van Cleef’s hotel and the town saloon. Once Upon a Time in Almería: The Legacy of Hollywood in Spain’ (Daylight Books 2017)

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The Saloon in ‘Straight to Hell’  

“Nothing remains but a fragment of the back wall and some wooden beams. But thirty years ago, when we went STRAIGHT TO HELL, this was our saloon where Strummer snarled at Courtney Love, and Sy Richardson and Dick Rude gunned down the Weiner Kid, and Grace Jones barred Dennis Hopper from smoking.” From the Forward by Director Alex Cox. Once Upon a Time in Almería: The Legacy of Hollywood in Spain’ (Daylight Books 2017)

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