Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1966 World Premire of Manos, The Hands of Fate

Yesterday was  my personal schedule for getting a new post written for all you wonderful Manos Fans and supporters, however, I had a day of preoccupation.  My sweet old doggie, Willis had a stroke Monday night and I had to bury him yesterday.  Oct 30th also happened to be the 2nd anniversary of my mother's death.
I thought I would dedicate today's post to them both and to honor my mother by telling a story that she was physically part of.  The 1966 world premire of Manos, The Hands of Fate.

The premire showed on November 15th 1966 to a full house in the historic Capri Theater in downtown El Paso, Texas, a mere month after the tragic suicide of John Reynolds aka Torgo.  Hal Warren has certainly done his work to prepare for this special evening.  All the El Paso dignitaries and movers and shakers were in attendance.  Spotlights scanned the skies in front of the theater, cast and crew walked the red carpet past a smiling crowd into the theater after stepping from a black limo.  "Fans" pushed forward wanting autographs. It was all a beautiful illusion until the lights went down and the film began.

I have many memories of that day and evening as the preparation and celebration were one of the most significant events to date in my short life.  Hal had worked hard to promote Manos and to ensure he had support from anyone who was anyone in El Paso.  All were convinced that this film would be the catalyst to bringing film making to West Texas.  The spotlights, Hal had borrowed from a local car dealership and he only could afford one limo so the cast and crew were instructed to arrive a block over and wait in the lobby of a close by hotel.  The limo would pick up a few and deposit them in front of the theater, drive around the block and pick up a few more.  Even as a 7 year old (I was 6 during the filming but turned 7 in July), I thought "Doesn't anyone besides me notice that this is the same car and driver?".  When my mom, dad and I arrived and exited the limo, flashbulbs went off, people came forward to congratulate my dad and several young boys approached waving paper and pencils for autographs.  Turns out, Hal had hired several of the street kids to act as fans.  Considering it was 1966 and we were less than 2 miles from the border of Mexico, it's most certain these kids had no idea who we were and that they didn't speak much English.

My mother and I had spent what seemed to me at the time, the entire day in the beauty parlor getting our hair done and my mother had made both of our beautiful dresses.  I was generally a tom boy so felt like a princess that night with perfect hair and a dress covered in lace.  It was truly wonderous and spectacular to one so young.  I acted the part of a perfect little lady as we made our way inside and found our seats.  The lights dimmed, the music and driving scene began and our collective little world began to crumble.  With in a few minutes, we could here people mumbling, then laughing, then out right rude comments started flying around.  I mostly recall sitting with rapt attention waiting to see myself on the big screen.  Up to that point we  had gone to Hals house to see bits and pieces on his home projector, but I was generally more interested in playing with Pepe the poodle and checking out the new baby nursery which was set up and awaiting the arrival of soon to be born, Joe Warren.  Suddenly, there I was on the screen and the next thing I remember is bursting into tears when I heard the voice that came from my mouth.  No one had bothered to tell a little kid the voices had been dubbed.  I was humiliated and devastated and unaware of the extreme discomfort the rest of my family was experiencing, and for a variety of other reasons, as all you Manos fans are familiar with.  I don't remember the rest of the night except for walking to our car a couple blocks away.  I am told that some of the cast and crew slunk out and went to a bar but we were stuck and my dad made the stratigic decision to just sit it out rather than draw any more attention to us than necessary.  So that's it.  The fateful night of the world premire of Manos.  Hope you enjoy these stories and thanks for reading.