Most movie companies like to get the big action scenes – such as these battles – over with early. But, because of [Bill] Travers‘ accident, Duel at Diablo has had to postpone the battles until his return. So they are shooting the other stuff first.
I watched as James Garner and Timothy Carey acted a fight scene in the sheriff’s office. It was cruelly hot in the little building, under the hot lights. But the two actors didn’t seem to notice.
“Look, Tim,” Garner was saying. “I’ll hold your head like this (he grabbed Carey’s hair and banged a little on the floor). Don’t move too suddenly, because this is a real knife.”
He was sitting on Carey’s back, banging his head on the floor and holding the knife to his neck. A gizmo on the knife squirted red paint – movie blood – when Garner squeezed the knife handle.
They did the scene once, but it was no good – “Tim,” said [director Ralph] Nelson, “you have to fall so we can see the blood.”
It took several takes to get the scene right – the actions, the words and the blood all meshing nicely.
Between each take, they had to sweep up the floor. The red dust of Utah kept seeping up through the boards. And they had to dust off Carey’s front with a whisk broom.
- Dick Kleiner, “Show Beat” column; various newspapers, October/November 1965
*Editor’s note: Timothy must have been let go from Duel at Diablo, as he does not appear in the finished film.
James Garner 1928 – 2014