The Fairy Diary Day 214 #TFDbyRWOz2

Meribabell writes:

Noralei has taken the lead. The way ahead is increasingly tangled with vines and other plant growth and her short sword is proving effective in dealing with it. And the boys are busy fending off snakes that were stirred up by her activity. 

I popped up above the treetops periodically to get a visual heading. So far Noralei’s compass is proving true. 

After one such check I broached the possibility of us flying from treetop to treetop and carrying Dunfallon. 

But our pixie refused. (I think it is a painful reminder to him that his eagle is missing – and to all of us that so too is the wizard). 

Not long after we were all in the treetops. 

A great rush of roaring water sprang up behind us and we fled before it could overtake us. Noralei secured our reluctant pixie. 

The pool of water fed by our stream must have broken loose. 

We had to fly from treetop to treetop until the force of the water was no longer flattening them. 

We had a lot to discuss when the danger was past.

Gunga Din The Making of a Classic Part 3 #1939TheMiracleYear

fullsizeoutput_4a6b

One of the scenes filmed within the confines of the sound stages of RKO in September 1938 was set in the interior of the Kali temple. The action for one sequence called for a snake pit. Cobras, the venomous snake indigenous to India were the obvious choice to writhe their menace down in its depths, but none were to be had in Hollywood. That didn’t mean that Hollywood didn’t have any. It did. But every single one was committed to another production in town. Walter Wanger had cornered the market on cobras for his film ‘Trade Winds.’

There being no way around but forward. RKO technicians came up with a solution. Other snakes were to be had – of the harmless, nonpoisonous variety. They just fitted them up with a cape (or cowl) that would mimic the signature cobra hood. The cow snakes and other serpents, thus attired, didn’t cotton much to the appendages. (No Union reps for these reptiles).

As director George Stevens took his forces back out to Lone Pine to shoot the battle that would close Gunga Din, the PR department stepped up their efforts to keep the production in the news. One article (Variety 9/7/1938) talked up the Herculean effort put forth by James Parker’s makeup department in preparing and maintaining the hundreds of extras (per another Variety article, a number put at 700) portraying the dark skinned Indians – Hindu, Muslim and Thuggee. In assembly line fashion, coupled with turn tables and spray nozzles, many coats of the nut colored dye (called “dark Samoan stuff”) were applied as needed throughout the day.

It was a little harder for cast and crew this time around up in the Sierras. They were no longer plagued by the heat of summer. Still it could get up to 90 degrees, but now the lows dropped below 50. This change particularly affected the extras who wore little more than g-strings, who for continuity’s sake were restricted to the same costumes worn over the summer months. The warmth generated by the action shots must have been welcome indeed.

And George Stevens climactic battle scenes are masterful – well thought out and intelligently rehearsed. Once the suspense of the pending ambush is broken by the alarm raised by Gunga Din’s heroic bugle blowing (acted out on the sound stage), the action breaks out seemingly on every front. Skirmish lines of British soldiers, charging lancers, sniping Thuggees perched atop lofty rocks, cannons firing, massed forces colliding in mortal combat – altogether a fitting and satisfying denouement to the main action of the film.

Stevens wrapped production in mid October 1938, and handed over his footage to the cutting room at RKO. Other departments in the post-production process set to work too.

But more of that next time, on Watch This Space.