Dan O’Herlihy

Very recently we did an article on ‘Robinson Crusoe’ which had been filmed mainly on location in Mexico.

Dan O’Herlihy who played Robinson Crusoe, gives an account of the filming experiences of the film in one of the Hollywood Film Annuals.

In all, he says, he was in Mexico for seven and a half months – five and a half on Robinson Crusoe and then he stayed on to make ‘Tehuantepec’ with Katy Jurado – a film I have never heard of but apparently it was quite popular at the time in Mexico. This one though was mainly done at the Churobusco Studios in Mexico City.

By contrast ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was mainly filmed on location in the jungle about 15 miles inland of a small town called Manxanillo. It was a location swarming with Scorpions, so much so that Dan wore heavy boots as protection when he could – otherwise locals were sent in with sticks to beat the ground to scare them off. These were small blond scorpions as he describes them, who gave a deadly bite – and when they were there a local doctor died after being bitten by one.

Enormous rattlesnakes were an added problem

He was very careful for a time, not to drink the local water and some special purified water was shipped in to the hotel for the guests- however one day, he saw one of the waiters filling the receptacle up from the mains tap, so he thought he would just take a chance – luckily he did not become ill and he says that his upbringing in rural Ireland up to the age of 27 when he just drank whatever water was available, meant he had some kind of immunity built into him because of this. Maybe he was right – we will never know

In ‘Robinson Crusoe’ until the arrival of “Friday”, the only other featured character was Robinson Crusoe so for Dan this turned into a tour-de-force one man show, a compelling, wordless portrayal of agonised solitude.

However with this being a Mexican production it was considered merely a B-movie in Hollywood terms, and in fact Dan O’Herlihy was forced to invest his own money to have the film shown in Los Angeles. This proved a good move because it was widely seen and he was rewarded with an Oscar nomination, but it did not lead to any meaningful parts coming his way.

I wonder if his long bearded appearance in Robinson Crusoe proved off-putting to casting directors – after all he was a quite good looking man who you would have thought would have done well but this ‘look’ was not good

Dan O Herlihy

I hadn’t realised until I came across these Front of House Stills that he had been in the 1948 film ‘Kidnapped’ which is one that is rarely shown but I have always wanted to see it and up to now, never have.

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

I love this Film Still ABOVE

Kidnapped 1948

Kidnapped 1948

Fortunately, this is one of the better Monogram films. It was produced by Roddy McDowall and Ace Herman. When you look at the cast line-up, you see some good names there including of course, Roddy McDowall himself (perfectly cast as a convincing, young David), and Dan O’ Herlihy (cutting a fine figure as Alan Breck)

Sue England starred alongside the two men – I remember her a couple of years later, in one of my own boyhood favourites ‘Bomba and the Hidden City’ with Johnny Sheffield

Another Film – and a later one – was The Purple Mask with Dan O Herlihy – Tony Curtis starred in this, as he did in ‘Black Shield of Falworth’ earlier and Dan O Herlihy was in that one too

ABOVE – Dan O Herlihy studies the script of ‘The Purple Mask’ along with Angela Lansbury

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