Saturday, October 13, 2012

John Reynolds/Torgo Story I

I remember John Reynolds as a very shy, sweet and gentle man.  My dad, Tom Neyman, and I were on the set location for most of the filming of  "Manos, The Hands of Fate" including the times when one or the other weren't  needed for the day.  That was because I wanted to be there any time  Tom was, and he needed to be there any time I was and since we were never in the same scene, we were both there most of the time.  I think John was happy to have me around during his down times because of his shyness and lack of social comfort.  I was a young child, easily entertained and therefore a very appreciative and safe audience.  I would sit outside the house on a low rock wall while he performed silly skits and pratfalls for me and  I would belly laugh at his antics.  I didn't realize at the time that some of that may have been influenced by his use of recreational drugs.  It was the 60's and other than pot, acid was a popular past time for many people.   I have read Manos mythology that says he became addicted to pain killers due to the agony of wearing the leg braces  incorrectly.  Not true.  For one thing,  he was wearing them the way they were intended and they were quite padded.  Although not all that comfortable, they were not particularly wear. Another myth is that he made the braces himself.  Tom made the leg braces along with designing the sets and costumes, making the costumes and providing all the artwork.
     John and Tom were good friends and had worked together in the El Paso community theater that is now known as the El Paso Playhouse.  Back then it was the Festival Theater.  This is also where Hal met them both.  John and Tom were both method actors, that is to say they required history and background for their characters and often maintained the character even while off camera.  John often disappeared when not needed and no one seemed to know where he went.  We believe it was both due to his social awkwardness and also so he could more easily hold on to his Torgo character.  Method acting in that situation must have been extremely difficult.   Hal, without the experience of script writing, directing or any part of movie production left the actors to their own devices in figuring out how to play the part.  Tom had enough experiencing directing theater to know not to direct the director.  Therefore during much of the film, Hal is waiting for someone to do something and everyone else is waiting for Hal to tell them what he wanted them to do.

Stay tuned.  Next blog will continue with more about John Reynolds.