Thursday, October 29, 2009

On location with the Three Amigos

We all have our favorite movies. We feel a special connection to the characters, the story, and even the location or setting of the movie. We want to be apart of the story. One of the easiest ways to do so is to find and visit the location that these movies were filmed. A couple of years ago Jodi and I visited the location of the famous Bluth Banana Stand at Marina Del Rey. Last week we decided to take advantage of the visit of Dan and Conner to make our pilgrimage to Old Tucson studio, where a good portion of Three Amigos was filmed.

The setting is spectacular. This is the old west that we grew up watching...mainly because so many old westerns were filmed here. We pulled up to the venerable studio with high expectations. We wanted to literally walk in the foot steps of Lucky, Dusty, and Ned. We were somewhat disappointed. First, the studio does a pretty poor job of capturing the great history of the place. For the most part the visitors are left trying to piece together scenes the were filmed there. Second, the great fire of 1995 destroyed a lot sets, including several used in the filming of the Three Amigos.

Fortunately we found a tour that was headed up by a man who has spent decades there and has even been an extra in several movies. His memories of John Wayne, James Stewart, Clint Eastwood and others was absolutely lucid. The studio needs to make sure that they get all of those stories recorded for posterity. He was involved in the Three Amigos and here are some insights that he shared.

  • Scenes filmed at Old Tucson included: The Village with the Bar and El Guapo's fortress. The Village of Santo Poco was likely filmed in California but it wasn't confirmed.
  • The fire of 95' destroyed several sets used in the movie, including the bar that gave us the beloved rendition of "Little Buttercup".
  • The fortress of El Guapo was built specifically for the movie and was built a small distance to the Northwest of the studio. As such it fell into disrepair after the movie and was often broken into. Because of that the whole set was destroyed 4 or 5 years after the movie. Such a tragedy!
  • The only real visible and tangible evidence of the movie is the church (different now), one series of buildings, a piece of El Guapo's place, and the desert landscape.
Here are a few pictures.

The tubman 601 flying over the village. (It was a male plane, right?)
How that looks today.
What remains of El Guapo's fortress
The church in the movie (slightly different)

Dan and Conner in front of where the El Guapo set was


the medeiros family said...

What a fun trip...glad you could have a good visit with Dan!

Wendy said...

That is my all-time FAVORITE comedy ever! I can probably quote the whole thing. How fun to see where it was filmed, even if it wasn't quite the same. "You son of a motherless goat!"

Ronifer269 said...

Agreed. The lines of that movie are burned so far into my memory that I am beginning to believe that I co-wrote it. We are going to be in Simi in a few weeks and hope to see you guys all there.

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