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August 31, 2003

Heeding the call from the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History, local Lone Pine resident Joy Anderson last week gave three swords from her collection of memorabilia from the movies on location. The swords are interesting because they are wooden. They would not be good for fighting, but they illustrate that there were so many extras used in the filming of the extended battle scenes for the ending of the film, that the metal prop swords simply ran out.

The original shooting schedule, long and arduous during the early part of the summer in Lone Pine, produced a rough cut that make the RKO executives very enthusiastic about the picture. They decided to send the crew and extras back for two weeks to beef up the battle scenes that end the picture. Wooden swords were added to the existing prop list to accommodate the additional extras.

Joy Anderson is the daughter of Russ Spainhower, who served as local contact for the film companies coming on location here for many years. While two of the swords are meant to represent English weapons, a third sword is a curved scimitar, also wooden, representing the Thuggees’ weapons.

Joy has also given copies of the pictures from the family album documenting the Gunga Din shoot, and has hinted she will eventually give the museum the album she made for her father one Christmas.

Local resident Mildred Langston, living here when the film was shooting, also shared her pictures of the day she and some friends visited the set. They have been copied digitally and added to the Museum archive. One interesting item in the Langston collection is the original pass to be on-set, signed by Russ Spainhower himself. All of these items will be used to create the exhibit in the museum about this classic film, what the Film Festival personnel have been calling Lone Pine’s “Hallmark Film” for many years.

The Museum is looking for pictures from family albums that show behind the scenes or “production” shots of any of the more than 400 films made here. Family photographs that show local residents involved with the films are of particular interest.

If you have such items please call 760-876-9909. The Museum can scan the images for use in the museum and return the originals to family members if they wish to retain them as part of their family’s “backyard history.”

The Museum of Lone Pine Film History is a community museum, dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating Lone Pine and Inyo County’s long and famous film history.


Contact Info

The Museum of Western Film History
701 S. Main Street
Lone Pine, CA 93545