dimanche 11 mars 2012

Mission to Caracas (1965) 2/2

(Lire en français)

The film's cast was European.

Rod Carter, the lead actor, was only American by name. Of Swiss origin, Roland Carey adopted that pseudonym for his action movies. We thus find Rod Carter in thrillers, epic films of (R.Freda’s “The Giants of Thessaly” ).
There were also current celebrities, such as champion swimmer Alain Gottvallès, Louise Carletti, Raoul André’s wife, was a very popular circus star.

The actor Michel Lemoine, a friend with whom I will work again, along with his wife Jeanine Raynaud. Josy Andrieux, actress and singer of light opera (Pascal Sevran, in his popular French TV show “A chance for songs” put her in the limelight again, a few years ago), and the hilarious Christa Lang, pulpy, funny and charming, who would become Mrs. Samuel Fuller. We met again several years later in Paris. Her husband brightened our dinners with a million exciting anecdotes about his filmmaking career.

When I think of actress Jany Clair, the producer’s protégée, an amusing anecdote comes to my mind.
As I told you, we were all very careless and carefree during this shoot cruise, except for her.
- I cannot laugh like you, she said. I have responsibilities with the production.
We laughed louder than ever!

Left to right: Dominique St Pierre, Christa Lang, me and Jeanine Raynaud.

The stunts in the film were choreographed by the popular actor Henri Lambert, who specialized in bad guys parts. He directed the two fight scenes between our group of diamond lovers.
These scenes were both hilarious and trying. We did our best to make this boxing match a realistic one, so much so that actress Dominique St Pierre happened to suffer of a very sore neck. She had to stop filming at once and had to wear a neck brace !
Christa Lang, always at ease, even asked the director if he would mind us continuing our stunts in the nude in order to be more comfortable !

In Le Havre, we boarded the steamer “Les Antilles” to join the Venezuelan capital Caracas. We shot for ten days on board, during which we had to face such severe storms that some of the actors fell ill and had to remain in their cabins.
To fight sea sickness, the captain had advised me to eat apples and drink Fernet-Branca. Apparently a successful cure. I came and went on the boat without worrying about the sea. I remember even visiting the impressive engine room of the ship with its boilers.

We arrived a few days later in Puerto Rico.
I still have festive memories of my first visit to the tropics, the smells were intoxicating, we danced and sang. I still associate the musical atmosphere of West Side Story with this wonderful stay.

A few days later again, we arrived in Venezuela, at La Guaira port.
When our group of actresses, made-up and ready to shoot, crossed the street to get on stage, a crowd of boys began to follow us, expressing their enthusiasm loudly. Some even did not hesitate to show off their manly attributes !
The police quickly intervened and allowed us to take refuge in the closed locker room. Caliente!

Rod Carter jumps on Henri Lambert. Left to right: Sonia bruno, me, Christa Lang, Alain Gottvalles, Dominique St Pierre and Jany Clair.

We also shot in the hotel Tamanaco, while staying there. The idyllic garden was used for several scenes. One had to look twice before putting even a foot in the pool water. Other more vindictive swimmers were frolicking there : scorpions.

During rest days, we visited Spanish churches in Caracas and had parties in the evening. The film crew was gradually won over by drunkenness and disorientation. To the point that, once back in France, we had to reshoot some scenes deemed unsatisfactory by the production.
We had to reduce overruns at all costs: We filmed certain shots in Nice with only two exotic palm trees in the background and, in the Gennevilliers studios, the director tried his best, with the energy of despair, to conjure up the atmosphere of the docks of Le Havre. It was epic!

MISSION TO CARACAS was soon released in Paris. The film crew attended the premiere. The audience seemed to enjoy this holiday film as much as we had.

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