Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Manos/Route 66 TV Show Connection?

One of the Manos: The Hands of Fate stories that has always intrigued me is the one that tells of Hal Warren making a bet with Route 66 TV show writer/producer Stirling Silliphant while in a bar.  Hal bet that anyone could make a movie and he would prove it by making one himself.  The story goes on to say this encounter occurred when Stirling was in El Paso scouting locations for his television program.

 I decided to see if I could learn any more.   Route 66 was on television from October 1960 to March 1964 and was known for it's cinematography and locations.  The entire cast and crew were transported to locations around the United States for filming as every episode was in a different place.  Stirling and his production manager Sam Manners traveled the country scouting locations several months before filming.  An interesting side story... " His famous production manager, Sam Manners, called him from the road unit of Route 66 from El Paso, Texas. He told Stirling they could save perhaps a hundred thousand dollars if Stirling could write an extra story for the show that could be shot in El Paso while all the production trucks and crew were there  Silliphant obliged and had the script ready to shoot in a couple of days. The guest star was a famous character actor, Albert Dekker, who was flown to do the part over the weekend."  The interesting thing is that that episode "The Newborn" was filmed in New  Mexico and aired in May 1961.  The only other episodes I could find that were filmed in the El Paso area were the following:
    "A Fury Slinging Flame"                 December 30, 1960         Stirling Silliphant
Based on perceived clues from a mysterious stranger, an atomic physicist (Leslie Nielsen) and his handpicked followers take cover in Carlsbad Caverns fearing a possible nuclear attack at sunset on New Year's Day.
  "Sheba"               January 6, 1961                 Stirling Silliphant
Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Mudock (George Maharis) search for the truth behind a "David and Bathsheba" situation in El Paso, Texas between a paroled widow (Whitney Blake) and a manipulative cowboy (Lee Marvin) who had framed her for embezzlement.

So now, the speculation.  When and how did this monumental Hal/Stirling meeting take place?  Possibly through Hal's insurance business?  "Hey!  I see you doing some filming here.  You need insurance?  I got insurance. Why don't we discuss it over a coupla drinks?" 

Most likely, we will never know for sure since both parties are beyond an interview but we can see that the time they met would have probably been fully five years before Manos began filming.  Was the idea percolating in Hal's head that whole time?  Was it a dream that finally found life when Hal became involved in Community Theater?  Was he accessing and gathering his key people until he was ready to make a move?  I obviously have more questions than answers but find it all fun to think about.

I'll leave you with this final mind bender.  Watch this clip of the Route 66 Pilot Episode.  Maybe it's just me, but I would swear that Hal Warren found more than a touch of inspiration from it.
 Route 66 Pilot Episode

If you haven't yet, be sure to read last weeks post about Manos coming to the stage in Portland, Oregon next month.  I'm in it!  Whoo Hooo!  Get your tickets.


  1. One thought that struck me while reading this is how much Hal is right, especially today. Maybe Hal was envisioning Youtube all those years ago?

    Also, did Hal have any children? Any existing relatives that could help share his stories?

    Thanks for the new article!

  2. Hal does have children. Although they were born after the making of Manos, I'm sure they have some great stories about their dad and maybe some stories he told them about the film. My hope is that we can communicate in a way that allows me to share some of those stories here.

  3. Great speculation, Jackey and stories. Keep them coming!