Know what a "hot set" is? How about a "cattle call"?
Tucsonans know. Most of them have been near a hot set or have thought
about going to a cattle call. No it is not a fire with still hot embers
or a whistle used to call the cows home.
A "hot set" is a movie set that is set up ready for filming.
A "cattle call" is the request filmmakers put out to the
town asking for people to play as extras in a film. They are the ones
who are seen in the background or walking down the street of a town.
They are seldom thought of at all but would be sorely missed if they
Tusconans have been in many movies that have been filmed at the Old
Tucson Film Studios. The first movie filmed there was Arizona in 1939.
An idea came to life that has grown into a multi-million dollar business
and tourist attraction. Columbia Pictures wanted the setting and Pima
County owned the land at that time and built the first set. In 1945
the next picture was filmed there. It was The Bells of St. Mary's
starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. From then on studios and
actors began wanting sequences and entire films to be shot there.
Gene Autry, Bert Lancaster, James Stewart, Kirk Douglas, Ronald Reagan,
Glen Ford in the 50's.
In the 1960's the idea of a theme park as well as continued use as
a movie set was developed.
John Wayne chose Old Tucson to film four of his movies. Rio Bravo,
McClintock, El Dorado and Rio Lobo all left their buildings added
to the growing "town". Lilies of the Field (Sidney Poitier
won and Oscar), the TV series Have Gun Will Travel, episodes of Bonanza
and many scenes of High Chaparral were filmed there. We have friends
who own land in the surrounding area who often received requests (and
checks!) for permission to run cattle drives on their land.
In 1968 a 13,000 square foot sound stage was built. Frank Sanatra,
Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Charles Bronson and, Harrison Ford are
some of the actors who came to the studios which had expanded in the
acquisition of another studio about 45 miles east of Tucson in Mescal
Lakes. It was at the Mescal Lakes set that much of Little House on
the Prairie was filmed.
Three Amigos was filmed there in the 1980's with Chevy Chase, Steve
Martin and Martin Short. Also CBS-TV's Poker Alice starring Elizabeth
Taylor. Later Tombstone (1993) with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer; Lightning
Jack (1993) starring Paul Hogan and Cuba Gooding, Jr., and The Quick
and the Dead (1994) with Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe
and Leonardo DiCaprio showed that westerns were popular again
The list goes on and on but the best thing to do is to go out to
Old Tucson Movie Studios, and spend several hours (there are restaurants,
gift shops, stunt performances and some rides). Learn of the history
and look at the buildings and the settings you know you have seen
somewhere, sometime in some movie and will likely see again.
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