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HISTORY

A news item in the 22 Sep 1964 DV announced that Richard E. Lyons was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) to produce the picture, originally titled A Wall for San Sebastian after William Barby Faherty’s 1962 novel upon which it was based. However, shortly after, the 2 Oct 1964 DV stated that French producer Jacques Bar would make the picture, as part of his production deal with MGM. French actor Alain Delon was set to star, but he did not remain with the project. Likewise, Marvin Birdt was named as a co-producer in the 22 Jul 1965 and 18 Nov 1965 issues of DV, but only Bar and associate producer Ernesto Enríquez were credited in the final film.
       In Nov 1965, when Ken Annakin was under consideration to direct, he met with Bar and screenwriter James R. Webb in Paris, France, to discuss the project. The 13 Dec 1965 DV indicated that initial plans to shoot in Spain had been dropped, in lieu of shooting entirely at MGM’s studio lot in Culver City, CA. Gregory Peck was being sought to star, at that time. Just over a year later, the 25 Jan 1967 DV noted that Henri Verneuil was on board to direct, and that Bar and Verneuil had set up offices at MGM to begin casting the picture. The following day’s DV announced that Anthony Quinn would star, and that seventy-five percent of production would take place on location in Mexico. “Below-the-line” costs were cited as $2 million in a 2 Feb 1967 DV brief, which noted that Yvette Mimieux ... More Less

A news item in the 22 Sep 1964 DV announced that Richard E. Lyons was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM) to produce the picture, originally titled A Wall for San Sebastian after William Barby Faherty’s 1962 novel upon which it was based. However, shortly after, the 2 Oct 1964 DV stated that French producer Jacques Bar would make the picture, as part of his production deal with MGM. French actor Alain Delon was set to star, but he did not remain with the project. Likewise, Marvin Birdt was named as a co-producer in the 22 Jul 1965 and 18 Nov 1965 issues of DV, but only Bar and associate producer Ernesto Enríquez were credited in the final film.
       In Nov 1965, when Ken Annakin was under consideration to direct, he met with Bar and screenwriter James R. Webb in Paris, France, to discuss the project. The 13 Dec 1965 DV indicated that initial plans to shoot in Spain had been dropped, in lieu of shooting entirely at MGM’s studio lot in Culver City, CA. Gregory Peck was being sought to star, at that time. Just over a year later, the 25 Jan 1967 DV noted that Henri Verneuil was on board to direct, and that Bar and Verneuil had set up offices at MGM to begin casting the picture. The following day’s DV announced that Anthony Quinn would star, and that seventy-five percent of production would take place on location in Mexico. “Below-the-line” costs were cited as $2 million in a 2 Feb 1967 DV brief, which noted that Yvette Mimieux had been cast, and that Charles Bronson and Ernest Borgnine were being sought to co-star. Mimieux was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, as reported later that month in the 22 Feb 1967 Var, and her role was filled by Anjanette Comer.
       Principal photography began on 15 May 1967, as noted in a 9 Jun 1967 DV production chart. The project, which was ultimately shot entirely in Mexico, was described in the 26 Jul 1967 Var as a “French-Italian-Mexican” co-production, and an article in the 27 Aug 1967 LAT stated that it was the first to be made under a Franco-Mexican co-production treaty signed by the French government’s National Cinema Center and Moya Palencia in Mexico. Locations included the cities of San Miguel de Allende, Durango, and Mexico City. The 10 May 1967 Var mentioned that “an entire 18th century village” enclosed by the titular wall had been built on a ranch site outside Durango. Filming was temporarily suspended when actor Sam Jaffe had to undergo emergency prostate surgery, according to an item in the 6 Jun 1967 DV. The 27 Aug 1967 LAT later reported that further delays had been caused by rains that “washed out location sites,” and filming was slated to continue “well into September.”
       Upon his arrival in Mexico City, Anthony Quinn, a Mexican native, made a controversial statement when asked by a reporter why he did not choose to live in Mexico, the 16 May 1967 DV reported. Quinn claimed the quality of Mexican films was too poor for him to live and work there, and stated: “The day they say ‘Let’s make pictures for the international market’ that’s the day I’ll come back to live there.” Quinn was also vocal about never having had a proper birth certificate from the state of Chihuahua where he was born, which prompted Chihuahua’s governor, Praxedes Giner Duran, to look into the matter. While production was underway, Duran interviewed locals to determine that Quinn had, in fact, been born there, and thus ordered that a birth certificate be made for him.
       A title change to Guns for Navarone was announced in the 8 Jun 1967 DV. Miracle of San Sebastian was said to have been another working title, while the film was referred to in Mexico as Los cañones de San Sebastián. A world premiere was scheduled to be held in Mar 1968 at Mexico City’s Cine Olimpia, according to the 14 Feb 1968 DV. The U.S. debut took place in New York City on 20 Mar 1968, and a Los Angeles, CA, opening followed on 1 May 1968. In Rome, Italy, the picture was released as I cannoni di San Sebastian, and in Mar 1969, a 120-minute version opened in Paris, France under the title La bataille de San Sebastian.
       Narciso Busquets, Ignacio López Tarso, and Jean-Paul Moulinot were listed as cast members in the 22 May 1967 DV. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1964
p. 14.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1964
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
22 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1965
p. 1.
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
16 May 1967
p. 5.
Daily Variety
22 May 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 May 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Jun 1967
p. 6.
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1967
p. 7.
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1968
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
27 Aug 1967
Section O, p. 1, 18.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1967
Section P, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
29 Dec 1967
Section C, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
1 May 1968
Section C, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
3 May 1968
Section C, p. 14.
New York Times
21 Mar 1968
p. 57.
Variety
22 Feb 1967
p. 27.
Variety
10 May 1967
p. 4.
Variety
26 Jul 1967
p. 15.
Variety
27 Mar 1968
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Jacques Bar Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr english vers
Scr french, italian & spanish versions
Scr french, italian & spanish versions
Scr french, italian & spanish versions
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec visual eff
MAKEUP
Makeup & hairdressing
Makeup & hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Dial coach
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Wall for San Sebastian by William Barby Faherty (Fresno, California, 1962).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
A Wall for San Sebastian
Miracle of San Sebastian
Los cañones de San Sebastián
I cannoni di San Sebastian
La bataille de San Sebastian
Release Date:
20 March 1968
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 20 March 1968
Los Angeles opening: 1 May 1968
Production Date:
began 15 May 1967
Copyright Claimant:
CIPRA
Copyright Date:
31 January 1968
Copyright Number:
LP35287
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Franscope
Duration(in mins):
111
Countries:
France, Italy, Mexico, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In mid-18th-century Mexico, rebel bandit León Alastray escapes from government troops by taking sanctuary in an old Franciscan church. When Father Joseph refuses to turn Alastray over to the authorities, the old priest is sent to the remote village of San Sebastián as punishment. Disguised in a friar's robes, Alastray joins Father Joseph in the long desert trek at the end of which they find the village deserted following a raid by marauding Yaqui Indians. After Father Joseph has been killed by a bandit, the returning villagers mistake Alastray for a priest. Teclo, a halfbreed who rides for the Yaquis, demands that the villagers give up their Christian faith or risk further Indian attacks. Though aware that Alastray is not a priest, a village girl, Kinita, saves him from being hanged and persuades him to become the spiritual leader of the village. Alastray helps the peasants build a dam to ensure irrigation for their crops and, knowing the Yaquis will attack again, uses his influence with the governor's wife, Felicia, who was once Alastray's mistress, to obtain guns and ammunition. When the Indians finally raid the village, they are routed by the bravely defiant peasants and Alastray's dynamiting of the dam. After Alastray has killed Teclo in hand-to-hand combat, Kinita convinces him that he must say mass for the peasants. Then, when an escort of government troops arrives with a real priest for San Sebastián, the grateful villagers help Alastray and Kinita ... +


In mid-18th-century Mexico, rebel bandit León Alastray escapes from government troops by taking sanctuary in an old Franciscan church. When Father Joseph refuses to turn Alastray over to the authorities, the old priest is sent to the remote village of San Sebastián as punishment. Disguised in a friar's robes, Alastray joins Father Joseph in the long desert trek at the end of which they find the village deserted following a raid by marauding Yaqui Indians. After Father Joseph has been killed by a bandit, the returning villagers mistake Alastray for a priest. Teclo, a halfbreed who rides for the Yaquis, demands that the villagers give up their Christian faith or risk further Indian attacks. Though aware that Alastray is not a priest, a village girl, Kinita, saves him from being hanged and persuades him to become the spiritual leader of the village. Alastray helps the peasants build a dam to ensure irrigation for their crops and, knowing the Yaquis will attack again, uses his influence with the governor's wife, Felicia, who was once Alastray's mistress, to obtain guns and ammunition. When the Indians finally raid the village, they are routed by the bravely defiant peasants and Alastray's dynamiting of the dam. After Alastray has killed Teclo in hand-to-hand combat, Kinita convinces him that he must say mass for the peasants. Then, when an escort of government troops arrives with a real priest for San Sebastián, the grateful villagers help Alastray and Kinita escape. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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