On the Location with Freebie, the Bean, and Me!
James Caan, myself, and Alan Arkin
This photograph was taken during the summer of 1974 in front of a trailer dressing room in San Francisco. The photograph was taken by the make-up artist on the feature, Donald Schoenfeld ( 1st Season Hawaii Five-O) . He and his wife Trudy were friends, and co-workers on The Streets of San Francisco. They have both retired and are now living in Hawaii. The exact location of the shoot was the Embarcadero. We had been filming the chase scene for the movie Freebie, and the Bean (1974), and many of the “extras” including myself had brought our cars. One scene called for a car to leap over a guard rail of the Embarcadero Freeway (which is no longer there, it was demolished after the 1989 earthquake), crash through the roof of a building, and end up in a person’s apartment. This was done in three steps. I watched as the automobile, stripped and with dummies was launched by a gas driven catapult over the actual freeway railing and into empty space where it crashed into a dirt lot below. A matte shot was then created by the FX boys to fill this space with a building, and then an interior set was built at the studio where a car slides down a ramp entering into an apartment through the ceiling. Such is the magic of Hollywood! Both JAMES CAAN and ALAN ARKIN were great to work with. Real cut-ups on the set and you can tell that they enjoyed their work. Actually comedies always brought out the funny bone of most actors even behind the scenes. There was just as much fun on the “High Anxiety” set (another comedy I worked on) as there was in front of the camera, but that’s another story for another day.
On the city streets we shot a scene where a stuntman drove a motorcycle on top of automobiles stopped in a jam, and another at Embarcadero Plaza where outside diners at a restaurant were scattered by the partcipants in the chase. As you can tell, it was chaos as one would find in a Keystone Cop scenario.
I also got to meet VALERIE HARPER ( TV’s sit-com, Rhoda). Extremely friendly lady, and she signed an autograph for my girlfriend who was a big fan and asked that I get it, when she heard I would be working with her.
It’s Funny, but it seems like only yesterday that I’d been on location with this fun group. However as I sit here typing I’ve calculated that this all took place 38 years ago! Where has time flown.
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was next released early 2012, and in July of this year, his latest Tom Logan Mystery, “A Murder Amongst Angels” was published and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Also: The new Tom Logan mystery thriller, A Murder Amongst Angels is now available!
Find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Also available for $2.99 on Kindle.