Saturday, October 13, 2012

John Reynolds/Torgo Story I

I remember John Reynolds as a very shy, sweet and gentle man.  My dad, Tom Neyman, and I were on the set location for most of the filming of  "Manos, The Hands of Fate" including the times when one or the other weren't  needed for the day.  That was because I wanted to be there any time  Tom was, and he needed to be there any time I was and since we were never in the same scene, we were both there most of the time.  I think John was happy to have me around during his down times because of his shyness and lack of social comfort.  I was a young child, easily entertained and therefore a very appreciative and safe audience.  I would sit outside the house on a low rock wall while he performed silly skits and pratfalls for me and  I would belly laugh at his antics.  I didn't realize at the time that some of that may have been influenced by his use of recreational drugs.  It was the 60's and other than pot, acid was a popular past time for many people.   I have read Manos mythology that says he became addicted to pain killers due to the agony of wearing the leg braces  incorrectly.  Not true.  For one thing,  he was wearing them the way they were intended and they were quite padded.  Although not all that comfortable, they were not particularly painful.to wear. Another myth is that he made the braces himself.  Tom made the leg braces along with designing the sets and costumes, making the costumes and providing all the artwork.
     John and Tom were good friends and had worked together in the El Paso community theater that is now known as the El Paso Playhouse.  Back then it was the Festival Theater.  This is also where Hal met them both.  John and Tom were both method actors, that is to say they required history and background for their characters and often maintained the character even while off camera.  John often disappeared when not needed and no one seemed to know where he went.  We believe it was both due to his social awkwardness and also so he could more easily hold on to his Torgo character.  Method acting in that situation must have been extremely difficult.   Hal, without the experience of script writing, directing or any part of movie production left the actors to their own devices in figuring out how to play the part.  Tom had enough experiencing directing theater to know not to direct the director.  Therefore during much of the film, Hal is waiting for someone to do something and everyone else is waiting for Hal to tell them what he wanted them to do.

Stay tuned.  Next blog will continue with more about John Reynolds.


9 comments:

  1. Do you or your father have any photos of John during the filming or as part of any of the other productions they were in together? Not a lot of info about John on the web; your recollections are very interesting.

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    1. I've asked my dad to look for anything Manos related when he goes through his things. I would like to see anything he has from his theater days. Wouldn't it be something if he did have a photo with John from another production?

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  2. I never did believe the story that Reynolds wore the leg braces, backwards. Mainly because, I'm sure someone on set would have noticed and mentioned it to him. They appear to be more cumbersome than anything.

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    1. They were made of wire, chicken wire and upholstery foam (the kind found in older car seats)

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  3. Really interesting stuff regarding John Reynolds.

    So were the knee braces responsible for John's awkward gait in the movie, or was that all John just method acting?

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  4. I believe it was a combination of things but I remember him trying to walk normally in those and he couldn't. Not as awkward as his
    on screen gait, however.

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  5. J. Where is the original cape used by the master in the film. Does anyone have it?

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  6. Hal Warren never returned the Master's robe or the Master and Dog painting to my dad. To be fair, my dad didn't ask for them back after the film, mostly because everyone just wanted to forget about doing the movie in the first place. He would love to have his property returned but that's unlikely given Hal's son's attitude about everything Manos.

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