EDitorial ± 30-Aug-2010

You've Had Some Cowboys In Here

Doing a wee bit of Googling before our Spanish hols, I discovered that we'd be fairly close to Mini Hollywood. Except, my well-informed colleague told me, it was now called Oasys and incorporates a zoo. Former name gives you more of a clue: it was a purpose built film set, initially for Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. Ay-ee-ay-ee-ay!

Presumably 'cos it was much cheaper than filming on the USA/Mexico border and because of the similar mountainous desert landscape, a full size cowboy town was constructed near Tabernas in Andalucia. Jail, bank, saloon, general store, the whole Kit Carson and caboodle. Clint himself, plus poncho, was here to make For A Few Dollars More. He strode through the dust of these very (fake) streets. Check out the comparison shots on my mate Ray's website.

Despite the 30-degree heat, out we drove, on and on until there it was. Paid our monies plus a bit extra to park in the shade, walked up a path, and turned right onto Main Street. It's quite something. You can stroll into the sheriff's office, have a drink in the Yellow Rose, and admire the many film posters on the walls of the movie museum.

Best of all, though, is the three-times-a-day show. Crowds gather around the town square, trying to keep out of the sun and still get a reasonable view. Sheriff appears driving his wagon, and attempts to escort his reluctant long-coated prisoner into jail. Punches are thrown, more horse-riding baddies turn up and loud shots are fired. Yee-hah! There's even a hanging to entertain the kids, though thankfully the villain isn't killed. In fact, presumed dead, he recovers but is then shot dead.

Kids were that impressed that we saw it twice, once mid-afternoon and again for the final pre-closing performance. You watch the action and instinctively feel the need to go buy a rifle or pair of pistols from the gift shop. Until you see the prices, that is, and emerge with a small penknife instead.