Pat sits across from me, obviously still shaken by his ordeal. His first words are… “Why did he go after me? There is one of me and ten of you!” “Never mind that,” I snap back. Then I asked, “Did you get a good look at him?”
PAT… in his Ted Evans Motorcycle hat and shirt
“Yeah,” he said, “he was hanging his bald head out the window, shouting ‘Stop! Or I’ll shoot!'” Okay… there is one guy we see often, with a bald head, I ponder. I have seen him on foot before… he is short and stocky. Jimmy was not with me this afternoon, but he needs to know immediately that the rules have changed. Shooting is acceptible.
Pat continues, “he aimed the gun and yelled… ‘Stop!’… and I jumped through an open window into the hunting lodge. Then he fired!”
“Yeah, he was burnin’ rubber all around the lodge… I could see it from the fence. He could have caught a handful if he realized these guys were scared stiff,” I retort.
I continue… “I bet those shots made you pick up your speed a little bit… I always told you you’re slow… good job Pat, you saved lives today.”…”man those shots were LOUD!”
We need to find out more about this Bald guy. As I tell Jim, this is a bit disconcerting. It has been going so well, this backlot trespassing thing. We almost simultaneously come up with a plan. We will ride our bikes to all the guard shacks on Lot 1, in the weeks ahead, casually visiting bored guards. We will put on our best young man charm and dig for information regarding this mean bald guy.
Time to do backlot homework… on guards and their tendencies. Finally, fun homework!
But there is more filming going on before that takes place and we will have to fly blind, for now. Nighttime, though much more scary, may be a safer alternative. Anyway, the next filming will be Friday night, a chase scene, involving Charlton Heston and Chuck Connors. It’s on my call sheet!
Well, Pat is a trooper. He wants to return to the scene of the crime with me tonight, this last Friday before Holloween. I would understand if he was a bit gun-shy. But… If you fall off a bike, get right back on! So… If you get shot at while being chased, shoot back! Same idea. Pat has moxie, I like that leprechaun.
We can’t pick our guards. We play the hand we are dealt.
The lot looks fantastic at night, lit up enough to be seen from space by the Apollo astronauts. Pat and I get in at the opposite end of the lot, at the train station. It is still the safest way to start and is the closest set to my house. Once inside, just follow the lights.
From the look of the set, the camera is setting up in front of the public library. The very first scene of the night is being set up. Transportation has parked picture cars on the street, in front of it. Across the way, but out of view to us, is an alley way that history will show has had more shootouts than any alley in the world. This alley exits to a cemetary set that Decorations just created. We are in the same building that we watched the scoops do their job from, last week.
We are looking out windows and curtains, as Set Lighting’s arc lights penetrate our veil, eerily. We notice graffitti on the wall behind us, lit by a bluish lighting. It says, Merry Christmas from 20th Century Fox. St. Valentines Day Massacre 12/21/67. This gives me chills… a moment in time captured on a wall forever! Another show I need to see!
This warehouse set below was built inside a garage on Brownstone street for this climactic scene…
Chuck Connors is shooting it out, as I speak. The Rifleman is after Omega Man. Round after round of blank ammo, firing away. Blanks are just as loud and fire discharges from the barrel, just like the real deal. Makes me proud to know there is a mountain of blank cartidges inside a warehouse close by. From this same window, you could have seen Pat get shot last Saturday. I have seen this movie, like a trailer. Reality and show biz walk a fine line, in this gated paradise.
We can see Charlton better when in between- filming. His trailer is below us. As is catering. Turns out, there is a crew dinner at mid-night. But, we also see MGM security mingling around. We go on the roof, just below the massive cat walks and soak all this in. Our vantage point now is similiar to the owls who watch from those same catwalks.
There are two owls that we see every evening and I find the spot where they sleep during the day. I wake them up one day, exploring above the alley set. There is a stack of critter bones under their relaxation areas. I wonder how many shows they have watched. Caterers and food attract rodents and then these guys swoop down for the kill. Being in the business I’m in... Trespassing… I will cross paths with these birds …often.
This set tonight has stars… not the million extras the day scenes had. Just the heavies showed up tonight. An intimate little chase and shootout. We have had more people involved in our shootout than this show has. I look over and relive our chase, in between the filming of their chase scenes. This is a really cool feeling. Like we are making our own history.
The view we had on the caterer from the top roof of the picture just above this one.
We case the catering area, as drivers’ lunch begins at 11:30 pm. Problem is… we are not old enough to drive and do not look like Teamsters. That plan probably won’t work… to eat lunch with grizzly show biz drivers and B.S. with them while we get our food… “Yep, I traded my 10 speed KenWorth for a 12-speed White Freightliner… I love driving the open roads… pass me the ketchup would ya brother?”
No, too much can go wrong here, we just do not look like truckers! They look gnarly, much tougher than guards. Tatoos, pony tails and red bandannas… I just started shaving a year ago, and I look like a catholic boy. Pat looks worse… he is so short, he would need a booster seat to drive a big rig. These are the things you think about when you become hungry and bored.
If something goes wrong with these guys… we could be getting chased out of here by a honeywagon, or a motor home, or the big mean water truck that is wets down the street.
We decide to leave, as the clock strikes midnight… the latest I have ever trespassed. For now anyways..
Another show is being filmed at MGM, it is called Westworld. MGM is still producing quality movies as we move towards 1973
This show would have been filmed on Lot 3… but it was sadly torn down. I will post a photo tribute to Lot 3 at a future date. I have much to share…
The backlot used for the western street scenes were filmed at The Burbank Studios backlot. This is the first MGM feature that needed to find a western street, due to the sale of Lot 3.
The decimation of MGM Lot 3 starts the official decline of movie backlots. Lot 2 does not have a western street, but Desilu has a mighty fine one… just ’cause it’s always fun to play hookie as a cowboy. I am eyeing a saloon on that street that would make swell fort.
Coming soon… Who shot Pat Rich?
All stories written and lived by Donnie Norden
Edited by DQ