6 January 2007 | sullymangolf
War picture with a lot of personal meaning!
This movie is a personal one for me. I was a high school student at George Dewey H.S., Subic Bay, Philippines from 1968-70. My buddies and I were extras in the movie when it was made out there. We would cut classes and our principal would come out to the movie set to take our names down. We got in trouble when we got back, but this was a once in a lifetime deal. We were paid $12 a day. It was cheaper to use off-duty sailors and marines as well as the high school guys as extras than to pay for extras to be flown in from the U.S. We picked up buses from various parts of the base early in the morning and were taken to the naval magazine where the movie was being filmed. We were out from 6:00 A.M. to about 4:00 P.M. I remember the prop people built this fantastic set with huts and a fake stone church that was used as the Colonel's headquarters. It was nicer than the huts the Filipino people lived in and they wanted to keep them after the movie was finished. They had to be torn down though because of insurance purposes. They had brought these British Army uniforms for us to wear but they were new and looked too good so they ran over them with trucks to give them a rough look. To this day I remember many wild times on the set. Once when Cliff Robertson arrived at the base and was in the Colonel's headquarters, the director Mr. Aldridge yelled at myself and a buddy because we were playing our acoustic guitars too loudly on top of the fake stone church and it could be heard during the scene. I guess Hendrix music was not around in WW2. Another time between takes, Michael Caine and his buddies were on the steps of a building and he started to sing "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. Everyone sang along. It was great and to this day whenever I hear that song it takes me back to that great time! (that was 37 years ago) One of the side actors brought along his girlfriend and she ran around on the beach in her bikini. That was indeed a great sight as sailors, marines and high school kids took breaks from the set to hang out on the beach. I remember meeting the British actor with the broken nose who was in "Flight of the Phoenix" with Jimmy Stewart. He was in the movie and seemed to be a nice guy. A Philippine patrol boat parked at the beach dock. They were kind enough to let us dive off their boat into the water during lunch breaks. Some of the guys earned $18 a day by lying in an open field being dead bodies. These were the soldiers from the movie who were shot by the Japanese snipers. There was a fire on the set one day and shooting had to be stopped. They repaired the set and the movie went on. Parts of the movie were shot near our base hospital on the mountain at Cubi Point in the jungle. These were the scenes where the commando team was in the jungle on the mission. The movie people would party at the Officer's Club at Cubi. It was not well received by all the officers. The movie guys had long hair and dressed very casually, and the marine fighter pilots did not care for this group. I did not hear of any fights though. My buddy next door to our quarters had Michael Caine and some others over for a home cooked dinner. It was well received. It was a great time to be in the Philippines back in those days. After we finished our tour out there we went back to a naval base at Pax River, Maryland. I went up to New York to visit my aunt and she took me to see the movie. It was pretty good. I especially enjoyed it since I could see all my buddies walking around in the background with rifles or just hanging out. It was a great movie and I must say it was filmed in the real jungle setting with snakes and all. No Hollywood back-set here!