MacKenna’s Gold on ARTE: 8 before Star Wars, George Lucas was on the set of the western and this is what he filmed

Invited on the set of the western “MacKenna’s Gold”, George Lucas made a short film behind the scenes of the film, but not what everyone expected!

A film student at the University of Southern California, George Lucas was 23 when, thanks to his film Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, he won a scholarship allowing him to go to the set of MacKenna’s Gold, a western which was filmed in Arizona.

He is to direct a short documentary there. He’s not alone, as three other students were invited to do the same. 150 dollars per week and equipment provided, Lucas is wary. In Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas by Dale Pollock, he states:

I thought it all seemed like a ruse for them to get behind-the-scenes documentaries from the film for cheap, and that they were doing it under the cover of this grant. I wasn’t going to provide them with a promotional film that would allow them to advertise the film.

Why George Lucas didn’t want underwear in the Star Wars saga

Columbia Pictures

And indeed, Lucas is not AT ALL going to shoot what we would today call a making of. MacKenna’s Gold is a western directed by British director Jack Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone) with, as was customary in the United States in 1967, an choral cast of talented but aging stars.

We thus find Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif, Telly Savalas, Keenan Wynn, but also Lee J. Cobb, Burgess Meredith, Edward G. Robinson and Eli Wallach. Only actresses Camilla Sparv and Julie Newmar bring back a little youth.

Columbia Pictures

Gregory Peck and Omar Sharif

Lucas doesn’t really feel in tune with this filming in a Hollywood that doesn’t speak to him much, and signs a student film about the Arizona desert and distant images from the set of MacKenna’s Gold. Entitled 6-18-67, or “June 18, 67”, instead shows the atmosphere of the desert as he experiences it, disturbed by the human presence but also impressively calm.

Obviously, the young George Lucas is still unaware that he will release Star Wars ten years later and will participate with Steven Spielberg in burying the old and new Hollywood and replacing them with the era of blockbusters of the 1980s, with films of pure entertainment seeking above all to make money and if the feature film lends itself to it, to sell toys and related products.

Source link -103