Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dedicated to Hal

Today, I would like to pay tribute to a man without who’s drive, determination and Texas ingenuity, Manos, The Hands of Fate could not exist.  Harold P. Warren.  Writer, Director, Producer and Star.  Today is the anniversary of his death on December 26th, 1985 and I would like to say a few words to honor him. 
Hal Warren came up with the idea for Manos on a bet with Hollywood screenwriter Stirling Silliphant (who had worked on the show Route 66).  Hal said anybody could make a movie.  Even he could make a movie…and so he did.  He raised about $19,000.00, mostly by selling stock in the film.  At that time, Hal was working as manager of the American Founder's Life Insurance Co. in El Paso, Texas and was active in local civic groups and community theater.  Through his connections he was able to secure many of the things and necessary people he needed for little to no money.  The Festival Theater, now known as The El Paso Playhouse was where Hal met my father, Tom Neyman who was a regular actor and director.  That was where he also met John Reynolds/Torgo and William Bryan Jennings/Sheriff.  Hal had a knack for recruiting people with a variety of talents.  Mr. Jennings was an attorney in his day job and had worked for the D.A’s office.  I am only speculating here but I imagine that was the connection to Judge Coldwell who supplied the film locations of the house and the Master and wives resting place.  Besides playing the part of the Sheriff with the classic line, “Whatever it is you’re not doing, go do it somewhere else”, Mr. Jennings is credited with being President of Sun City Films and the lawyer for Manos.  Bob Guidry was a cameraman for a local television news station and Bernie Rosenblum was a local photographer.  I understand that Bob, Hal and Bernie’s six hour Manos editing session happened one evening at that television station using the stations equipment.  My father, Tom Neyman was/is a very talented artist and my mother was a talented seamstress, so my father agreed to not only be The Master, but to clothe him, create his environment and decorate it with artwork.   My dad also supplied the kid, the demon dog and the family car.  Diane Mahree fell into the picture when she responded to a classified ad for an acting job.  Although, at that time, she had no acting experience, she needed a job.  She tells a story of arriving for the audition and then kept there for many hours reading lines.  She was going for a part as a wife and could not understand why he needed her to do so much reading until he finally announced that she was the lead actress.  After Manos, Diane left El Paso and launched a very successful modeling career in New York and Europe.  The wives were students at the Mannequin Manor Modeling School in El Paso.   During filming, Hal was heard to yell at them to stop walking the runway.  The wives costumes originally did not have the red strip of cloth underneath, but the lead wife and the owner of the modeling school were not comfortable with the revealing nature of the dresses and insisted on something more conservative.  So, based on time and budget the piece of red cloth was added.  At the premire, Hal had found a red carpet for his cast and crew to walk upon into the Capri Theater and borrowed spot lights from a car dealer to place in front of the theater scanning the sky to create a Hollywood feel.  He rented a single limo to circle the block picking up cast members and delivering them to the red carpet.  He even added the detail of autograph seekers in the form of young street boys with paper and pencils.  To be sure.  Harold P. Warren was a visionary and it would be great to hear what he thinks now of his baby.  I’m sure he would be thrilled with the Love of Manos that has built up since MST3000 brought it back to life in 1993.  So, thank you Hal for your contribution to this world and I hope you have many blessings in the next.

Blessings to you all in the upcoming New Year of 2013.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your Manos fandom.  “Hands down”  Manos fan are some of the best people I’ve met and I appreciate you all so very much.