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Screen Tourism

SAMUEL BRONSTON, Hollywood in Madrid

If there is one name that stands out in the technical development of cinema filmed in Spain, and of Spanish cinema itself, it is undoubtedly Samuel Bronston, the mega producer who built an unforgettable film empire in the Region of Madrid, with colossal shootings and the arrival of top-level Hollywood stars and directors. Sophia Loren, Rita Hayworth, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Bette Davis, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale, Alec Guinness, Omar Shariff, Christopher Plummer, James Manson, Mel Ferrer, David Niven and Ava Gardner shone in films directed by Nicholas Ray, Anthony Mann, Henry Hathaway and John Farrow.



Interesting facts

Despite the huge foreign filming that had already taken place in Spain, the moment that really marked the beginning of Spain becoming a kind of Hollywood was the arrival of the Russian-born producer Samuel Bronston in 1957, who set up his base of operations in Madrid.

The Fall of the Roman Empire. Las Rozas.

Bronston's productions immortalised Madrid's landscapes in some of cinema's most memorable epics such as John Paul Jones, King of Kings, El Cid, 55 Days at Peking, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Circus World. The Plaza de Chinchón, La Pedriza in Manzanares el Real, the Alberche beach in Aldea del Fresno, the mountains of Navacerrada or La Cabrera, the Ermita de los Remedios in Colmenar Viejo, the Royal Palace in Aranjuez, or sites in the capital city itself, such as El Retiro or the Royal Palace, became the scenes of duels, battles and passionate love affairs.

The Fall of the Roman Empire. Manzanares el Real.

The largest film studios in Madrid in the late fifties and early sixties, Sevilla Films, CEA and Chamartín, later known as Bronston, were lavishly decorated with castles and palaces.

Filming of John Paul Jones. Sevilla Films.

And in the shadow of that film empire, its resources were used for other productions, such as Savage Pampas or Dr. Coppelius, which counted with the participation of other important names such as Robert Taylor, Walter Slezak, Paul Naschy or Michael Rennie, filmed in Boadilla del Monte, Villamanta or San Martín de Valdeiglesias.

Crowds of Madrid residents, hired as extras and crew, built the fiction of imperial Rome and Peking, on outdoor sets erected on land in Las Rozas, which managed to appear in the Guinness Book of Records for their length. And the development and training of Spanish technicians, who later participated in other prestigious Hollywood productions, as is the case of the winner of two Oscars, Gil Parrondo. Or a blockbuster opportunity afforded to Spanish actors such as Carmen Sevilla, Conrado San Martín, José Nieto, José María Caffarel or Antonio Mayans.

Conrado San Martín commanding the troops in King of Kings. Sevilla Films.