Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

On the set of 'What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?'

On the set of ‘What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?’

Sept. 21, 1965: Actors portraying U.S. soldiers and Sicilian villagers mix it up in a scene from “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?,” a World War II comedy shot on an elaborate Italian village set built near Lake Sherwood.

This photo accompanied a story by staff writer John L. Scott in the Sept. 23, 1965, Los Angeles Times:

A pastoral area in the mountains near Lake Sherwood, where not long ago a herd of cattle grazed contentedly, is no longer peaceful and quiet.

It resounds to the road of hundreds of ersatz Sicilian villagers welcoming a raggle-taggle, decimated company of American GIs bent on liberating the town in a film comedy of World War II days called “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?”

A third generation film worker, Blake Edwards, who at 42 is one of Hollywood’s top producer-directors arrives at the isolated location in a helicopter, picks up a riding crop and his white planter’s hat adorned with five stars–after all he’s the boss–says, “Let’s get started,” and some 1,500 actors and technicians snap into action.

The cows are gone and in their place is “Valerno,” a complete Sicilian village built around a square complete with fountain at a cost of $800,000, not an incongruous item since the Mirisch-Geoffrey production is budgeted at more than $5 million.

The set is authentic, down to the last detail of cobblestone pavement. When Italian stars Sergio Fantoni and Giovanna Ralli, who play important roles, first arrived they exclaimed at its realism – and to say that producer-director Edwards was pleased is an understatement.

The day we arrived Edwards was directing key scenes of the war comedy wherein officers of the American ‘liberators” are given amazing terms of surrender by Fantoni, an Italian captain, backed by the horde of villagers of all ages and sizes.

It was a sequence requiring 15 pages of dialogue. Italian players plus American actors James Coburn, Dick Shawn, Aldo Ray and others were rehearsed over and over before Edwards was satisfied.

Then came the shooting, which occupied the rest of the day.

When Edwards finally obtained the shots he wanted, he strolled to the sidelines wiping his brow as principals and extras headed for any available shade and the water coolers.

“This was a ticklish sequence,” Edwards said, “but did you notice the fine co-operation from both the stars and atmosphere people?”…

“The villagers know the Americans are coming, but refuse to surrender when one GI punctures their soccer ball with a bayonet. After much palaver their terms are: A repaired ball and permission to stage a festival.” …

“What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” opened on Nov. 1, 1966. The budget reportedly rose to about $7 million. It has a 6.8 out of 10 rating from IMDb.

Sep. 21, 1965: Italian actress Giovanna Ralli makes her U.S. film deput in “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” She’s on the set near Lake Sherwood. This photo was published in the Sep. 23, 1965 Los Angeles Times.

Sept. 21, 1965: Italian actress Giovanna Ralli makes her U.S. film debut in “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” She’s on the set near Lake Sherwood. This photo was published in the Sept. 23, 1965, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Judd Gunderson / Los Angeles Times

Sep. 21, 1965: Producer-director Blake Edwards stands in village square that cost him $800,000. Set was built for $5 million movie comedy, “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?”. Edwards figures set was cheaper than taking production to Italy. This photo was published in the Sep. 23, 1965 Los Angeles Times.

Sept. 21, 1965: Producer-director Blake Edwards stands in the village square set for the movie “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?.” Edwards figured that the set was cheaper than taking production to Italy. Credit: Judd Gunderson / Los Angeles Times

No comments yet

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

Required

Required, will not be published

Advertisement
SHOP LA TIMES PHOTOS
Browse All Photos »

RECENT COMMENTS