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Was the 1965 MGM horror film The Eye of The Devil Cursed? UK News

Hello playmates, we’ve been guarding the wreck for another week and it’s time for another memory lane walk. Of course my first love will always be Elstree Studios, but no doubt in second place are the massive old MGM studios that once stood a few hundred yards in Borehamwood.

This week I think back to what was filming at MGM in 1965 and it was a bunch of varied films. One was shot in just 17 days and was called Cuckoo Patrol, with Kenneth Connor, John LeMesurer plus Freddie and the Dreamers. Frank Ifield, still alive and well in Australia, was also part of the studio. Up jumped a swagman on a similar basement budget.

The liquidator was a spy thriller starring Trevor Howard and Rod Taylor. In the 1970s I was having a drink with Trevor at the Gate pub in Arkley and he told me that Taylor was unpopular on set because he had “ left Hollywood ” and had arrived with a large entourage. I have our conversation on tape somewhere while I was recording my interviews at the time. I have other recorded interviews with Dinah Sheridan, Peter Cushing, Gary Kurtz, Edward Woodward, Donald Pleasance and others. I haven’t listened to them since but would make an interesting compilation.

Where are the spies played David Niven, who made several films at Borehamwood. The plot required a jet plane to crash into a frozen lake, which was recreated using snow foam on the studio’s backlot. Alas, just before filming began, it snowed for real overnight, leaving dirty yellow foam around the plane and pristine snow everywhere else.

David was back to film Devil’s eye, which turned out to be a damn production if you believe in such things. After most of the filming was over, principal lady Kim Novak fell from her horse and was unable to continue. With the help of an insurance payment of £ 600,000, they had to start over with Deborah Kerr as a replacement. One of the supporting actors was Dame Flora Robson, who told me, “We used a real Catholic church to shoot a scene with Donald Pleasence playing a priest. The real priest gave permission but didn’t read the script. He visited the set and berated Donald for saying the wrong words at mass. He didn’t realize that Donald’s character was saying a demonic mass! ”

Tragically, the film’s lead young lady was Sharon Tate, who shortly after was brutally murdered while severely pregnant in her Hollywood home. I am sure you will have heard of Charles Manson and the terrible murders.

Another film that went into production was Return to the ashes, with Maximilian Schell. He should have played with Gina Lollobrigida, but she left the film due to a dispute over her salary. The director was unhappy because the low budget prevented him from filming as planned in Paris and he had to content himself with using the street sets standing on the backlot. The film collapsed at the box office.

MGM was a lovely studio, which is why it was such a bittersweet time when I was given three days to tour the 115 acre site when it closed in 1970. I will never bore you with this experience again as I think I wrote about this not so long ago. Now there are plans underway for the huge new Sky Studios a few feet away. As they say, if you live long enough, it all comes back.

In the meantime I wish it warmed up again so we could shed our long underpants and again I can pull out the chalk and play hopscotch with my neighbors as I moved on to put my car keys in a dish. Beware, my knees these days, hopscotch or kiss hunting can be a jump too far. I think a trip to the garden center will be more fun, so until next time hang on to the wreck.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a writer and historian from Borehamwood of Elstree Studios

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This notice was published: 2021-04-18 17:00:00