El Condor - Wagon Crash


Jaroo (Lee van Cleef) and his Indians ('Santana'-Iron Eyes Cody) 'rushing a horse-drawn carriage to death'.
Nothing happened to the horses, but the coach is not doing well.
Jaroo: "I have to keep Santana busy!".
This is the story of a noble wagon and his untimely end.
Planned and prepared by the SPFX Crew (Kit West) and many fearless stuntmen (Tap Canutt).
It is also the story of Lee Van Cleef's favorite horse - Olivia, the Land Rover.

Special Effects Supervisor Kit West during a break - Valle del Buho, 1969.
The 'wagon crash' scene was filmed in the Valle del Buho (Tabernas, Almeria) and in the surrounding Ramblas.
It all started near the Fortress 'El Condor'. 
I would like to draw your attention to the Land Rover in the background.
Look at the small construction on the back of the Land Rover.
The Land Rover is specially prepared, saddled for Lee van Cleef!

First test shots with the special horse. A wild ride through the prairie of 'el Buho'.
This crazy but great idea was necessary because Lee, due to an injury, could not perfom any wild gallop scenes.
well, you can not pursue a wagon at snail's pace. So what have they done?
Van Cleef was riding on the Land Rover for the close ups and his stunt double Romano Puppo was the man for
the sharp rides (in distance).
Lee van Cleef had very great respect for horses. Here is an excerpt from the 'El Condor' press book: 
'During the filming of 'El Condor' in Almeria, Spain, Van Cleef, 
bad man of the west, ...confessed as he tried out his horse, that he really does not trust horses.
Through for the day, he could be observed riding up and down a neighboring canyon on the horse 
he was assigned to ride during the film. "I'm just getting to know it", said the Star, 
"but so far I'm not sure whether it's going to like me."'
Ho, ho, ho! Lee van Cleef riding on a Land Rover. 
It looks so funny, the whole crew had a grin on his face for sure! Yeeha!
But the scene has a serious background, Van Cleef had a bad knee...
Tom Betts (excellent Blog 'Westerns...all'Italiana): 
"Yes, Lee was in a car accident after filming 'High Lonesome' with Randolph Scott. 
Driving home from Lonepine, California Lee was in a headon car accident. It was in late September 1958. 
Lee's left arm was broken in two places and his left kneecap was shattered. 
He was told by doctors he would always walk with a limp and would never ride a horse again. 
After a two year absense from films Lee re-appeared. He did have a slight limp at first which as 
you can see he overcame and he could ride horses. The Italians and Spanish production companies 
gave him circus horses to ride. They are much gentler on the rider and they look spectauclar. 
When they discovered Romano Puppo looked much like Lee he was hired to ride in most of the riding 
scenes at a distance. Lee was usually seen in close-ups or mounting and dismounting and riding a short distance. 
Lee could and did ride horses after the accident but apparently it was either difficult or painful for him."
Apaches in the Valle del Buho, 1969 - Spanish Extras.
An ingenious scene!
Astonished Apaches should chase a Land Rover - These film people are all crazy. 
The Land Rover was used to get some good looking close ups of Lee van Cleef.
It should look as if he really rides on a horse.
He did it! Lee van Cleef galloping through the prairie!
Valle del Buho, 1969.
The 'Wagon Crash' scene starts with a chase. In the middle SPFX Supervisor Kit West.
The Citroen 2CV serves as a camera car. 
Stunt Coordinator Tap Canutt is standing in the car directing his Stunt Crew through the chase scene.
I have dedicated the '2CV' an own little story. Just click on the 'Citroen 2CV' Button on the mainpage!
'El Condor' - Valle del Buho, 1969.
For these scenes, many extras were used. Disguised as Apache or soldier.
Who were these people? Who knows their names?
'Marlboro-Apache'
Florencio Amarilla?
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Valle del Buho, 1969 - During a break in filming 'El Condor'.
Neighbors from Almeria meet on set.
One dressed as a soldier, the other as an Apache.
Pal, what are we doing here? - We are in the movie business!
What a crazy time! - Valle del Buho, 1969.
During the chase of the wagon numerous stunts were filmed. 
Many dangerous-looking scenes, and at the end, as a highlight, a thrilling wagon crash scene.
A soldier (stuntman) was shot ... and falls off his horse.
Another one bites the dust! Great photo!
The Apaches are getting closer...
Synchronous Stunts. I wish both a soft landing...
Kit: "The stuntmen and horsefall guys were always responsible for preparing the ground they were to fall on."
Another fantastic 'Action' photo!
Kit: "We had extra camera crew guys in for the day to cover all the stunts."
Uuuhh, this soldier is in trouble!
...and there he flies! Hope he has prepared his landing zone perfectly!
Valle del Buho, 1969.
The Apaches are trying to stop the wagon. If you look closely you might recognize a camera.
We are approaching the grand finale!
The 'Wagon Crash'.
Kit, how did you manage that the crash happened at exactly this spot?
Kit: " As you know Tap Canutt was the Stunt Director on the film, and 
he brought to the production many of the 'MANY TIME TESTED' secrets of the gags his famous 
father had developed during his many years on westerns, back in the States. 
So Tap passed to me drawings of the 'trick rig' which had to be 
constructed in my workshop, before taking to the location. 
The secret of the whole scene is to get free the team of horses, before 
the wagon tips over the side of the path, taking the horses with it. 
What I can tell is, this was done with a very strong spring between the shaft 
with the horses, and the wagon, which is released by a cable activated quick release. 
At exactly the same time another release activates an other 
spring which 'jackknifes' the front two wheels, thus tipping the waggon 'head over heels'. 
All this can be calculated to the one spot the whole gag takes place."
View into the SPFX 'magic hall'. The workshop of FX Supervisor Kit West and his Special Effects Crew.
The wagon is beeing prepared for the 'wagon crash' scene.
Adolfo Iglesias (Journalist) informed me that the old warehouse Kit used for his SPFX workshop is today
the place of the newspaper 'LA VOZ DE ALMERIA'. 
The team of horses are free, everything worked fine!
What a crash!
'El Condor' - The end of a chase, 1969.
The wagon is only scrap!
Now its time for the Set Decoration Crew to prepare the wagon for the new scenes.
After the Set Decoration crew has been working on it, the wagon looks much better.
Movie scene 'El Condor'.
Stunt Director Tap Canutt (white shirt) makes a satisfied impression.
Peter Dawson (SPFX) looks at the lying around small parts (the third from the left!).
Stunt Director Tap Canutt (white shirt), 1969.
Kit: "This is Camera mechanic JOHNNY ALLDER, whos son went on to be one of our Academy award winning 
SPECIAL EFFECTS SUPERVISORS in UK (NICK ALLDER)!"
FX Carpenter 'Choppo' comes with his suitcase (tools) to prepare the wagon for close ups.
From this side it looks actually still pretty good. 'El Condor', 1969.
The Almeria workshop truck (for The Rough). Welding equipment, air compressor, ...
SPFX Supervisor Kit West had his own 'mobile workshop' on set, a Commer Van.
See my special Story here: 'Mobile Workshop'.
Crew guys during a break in filming 'El Condor', 1969.
It seems to be an interesting article ... Peter Dawson (SPFX) wants to know what's going on.
What's that on the left side?
Kit: "This is a stack of compressed cork slabs, which when broken into small pieces 
are used on FX explosions."
See more about the FX explosions here: 'Rain of Cork'.
It was a tough day.
Antonio Bueno (SPFX) and Jack Wallis (SPFX) take a break.
In the next scenes Luke (Jim Brown) and Jaroo (Lee van Cleef) take the suitcase out of the wagon wreck 
and ride to the Fortress. 
Then suddenly it's raining cannon balls...
Here is my story on the surprising rain: 'FX Explosions'.

www.kit-west-almeria.com