Information about the 70mm
"The Golden Head" – aka "Milly goes to Budapest"
An International Comedy Mystery
|Read more at|
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Gerhard Witte, Berlin
HUNGARY welcomes International Productions!
Hungarofilm advertisements from the 1960s. At the time, the bureau was in
the eastern part of the city (in "Pest") near the famous and impressive
Hungarian Parliament Building which is located on the bank of the Danube.
From "Hungarofilm Revue" No. 1 / 1965
For ten years, Hungarofilm has paved the way for Hungarian films in many
different directions in the world, while also providing Hungarian cinemas
with foreign films. During this time, Hungarian films have made it into
around 80 countries – movies as well as short films – and the names of the
most important filmmakers and the best works by Hungarian directors have
become known. Hungarofilm has recently opened up its activities into a new
area besides film export and import. The Hungarian film studios are opening
up to foreign producers and, although these relationships are only in the
early stages, we can already report on some noteworthy companies. Apart from
Walt Disney Productions and CINERAMA, Inc., many German and French film
production companies and television production companies have visited
|More in 70mm reading:
"The Golden Head" revisited
Millie goes to the Golden Head
Jess Conrad in Karlsruhe
"Golden Head" trailer
Jess Conrad's website
informs about the movie "The Golden Head"
List of Hungarian films
American Widescreen Museum
An advert in "New York VARIETY" dated Wednesday, April 29, 1964.
Hungarofilm Budapest offers: Shooting possibilities in Hungary – Hungary is
famous all over the world for the beauty of its landscapes.
The famous Hungarian Puszta – Picturesque hill lands, rivers, lakes – The
Balaton one of the biggest lakes in Europe is about 60 miles long.
Romantic castles, ancient and modern cities – Famous Hungarian stud farms
and excellent riders – Upon request, numerous extras – World-famous
symphonic and folk orchestras – Classic and modern ballet and folk ensembles
distinguished with international awards – First class hotel accommodations –
Film processing services in excellent quality in a brand new film laboratory
– Modern feature film and documentary studios – Modern cartoon studios –
Outstanding artists – Studios for post synchronization and sound recording –
Festival award winner cartoons, puppet films – Excellent technical staff –
Publicity films – Reliable, precise organization – Favorable possibilities
for paid work and last but not least: Highly reasonable production costs!
Hungarofilm Enterprise for the export and import of films (V. Báthory utca
10, Budapest, Hungary)
An extract taken from an article in "New York VARIETY" dated Wednesday,
October 30, 1963: Budapest, Oct. 22 – "Milly" in Cinerama Process Considered
Milestone for Hungary's Industry.
The Hungarian film industry, drawing new international attention on account
of its co-production with Cinerama of "Milly goes to Budapest", has a
well-established and active production and distribution setup going. Annual
production averages 20 features plus some 150 newsreels, 50 cartoons and
educational shorts. Prior to the Cinerama partnership, there were two
co-productions with French outfits, namely: "The Lady and the Gypsy" and
"Germinal", one with "Misr" Studio of Cairo (author's comment: Or "Masr" as
Egyptians pronounce it – meaning Egypt), "Two Kids and the Pyramids", and
two others with the Czechoslovak film combine, "St. Peter's Umbrella" and
"Every Day – Sunday". All were filmed for widescreen. There is no Cinerama
installation in Hungary, but since "Milly goes to Budapest" is being filmed
by the new single-lens system of Cinerama it is expected that the picture
will be shown in CinemaScope instead.
The Filming of "The Golden Head"
The movie's producer, the Hungarian-born
Alexander Paal (1910 – 1972), selected for production the British crime
novel called "Nepomuk of the River" written by Roger Windle Pilkington (1915
– 2003), but the final script was in the end only loosely based on the book.
The project started as a Hungarian-British co-production. The British
Stanley Goulder (1921 – 2006) and the Hungarian Iván Boldizsár (1912 – 1988)
wrote the screenplay. Shooting began 1963 at MGM's British Borehamwood
Studios located northwest of London – read Tony Sloman's report on
in70mm.com: "The Golden Head" Revisited – and then in late summer / autumn
in Hungary. Principal photography ended in Hungary on Thursday, November 21,
1963. Further interior shots were carried out at Shepperton Studios
located southwest of London. At the time, the movie's working title had
been: "Milly goes to Budapest".
Alexander Paal managed that Robert H. O´Brien, president of MGM, and Nicolas
Reisini, president and chairman of Cinerama, Inc. agreed to back the project
from the States, with Hungarofilm and Hunnia Filmstúdió supporting from
Budapest. Previously, MGM and Cinerama, Inc. had already gained filming
experience in Europe with their 3-strip Cinerama movie
"The Wonderful World
of the Brothers Grimm" (USA, 1962). During filming, Alexander Paal
co-operated with Cinerama's William R. Forman (1913 – 1981) and Coleman
Thomas Conroy, Jr., who as the movie's executive producer had been in
overall charge for the Americans. By the way, end of 1963, the owner of the
Pacific Coast Theater chain, William R. Forman, purchased Cinerama, Inc. and
became president and chief executive officer of Cinerama, Inc. He succeeded
Nicolas Reisini who wanted to continue as board chairman.
A short interesting article in "New York VARIETY" dated Wednesday, September
25, 1963: Revamp Hungary-shot Comedy in Cinerama.
"Milly goes to Budapest", Cinerama comedy now going in Hungary, reportedly
has been "reorganized" as a straight Cinerama entry. Film had started out as
a co-production with Dimitri de Grunwald who now has disassociated from the
film. Unclear is whether Nicolas Reisini, Cinerama president-chairman, will
take producer's credit.
Author's comment: Dimitri de Grunwald (1914 –1990) was a Russian-born
producer of films in Britain during the 1960's and 70's. He also made the
short subject "Shellarama" shot on behalf of the Shell Petroleum Company in
Technirama (UK, I965).
"The Golden Head's" all producers were: Coleman Thomas Conroy, Jr.
(executive producer) / William R. Forman (producer) / András Németh (I),
associate producer for the IV. Art-Group of the Hunnia Filmstúdió /
Alexander Paal (producer).
When shooting began, the British director James Hill (1919 – 1994), a
respected filmmaker, e.g., "Born Free" (UK, USA, 1966) / Oscar for his short
"Giuseppina" (UK, 1960), was commissioned to helm the project. Primarily,
the movie had been planned as a 3-strip Cinerama presentation. Photographed
in majestic Budapest and presented on huge deeply curved Cinerama screens,
"The Golden Head" could have been a great incentive for Hungarian tourism
and a guarantee for a worldwide market in first-class theatres. The project
was officially to be an MGM and Hunnia Filmstúdió co-production and Cinerama
and Hungarofilm (Magyar Film) were the "presenters". The Hunnia Filmstúdió (Malfilm)
is still existing, located in the eastern part of the city – in "Pest".
At the time, Cinerama, Inc. already owned nine feature movies, which were
originally shot in the 3-strip process :
"This in Cinerama" (1952),
"Cinerama Holiday" (1955), "Seven Wonders of the World" (1956),
Paradise" (1957), "South Seas Adventure" (1958),
"Windjammer: The Voyage of
the Christian Radich" (1958 – already end of 1959, Cinerama Inc. acquired
the assets of the rival Cinemiracle Corporation), "The Best of Cinerama"
(1962), "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" (1962) and
"How the West
Was Won" (1962). The ownership of the last two narrative movies was shared
50-50 between MGM and Cinerama, Inc.. "The Golden Head" should now be the
Additional Information: In the 1960s, Cinerama, Inc. owned further 3-strip
prints of two of its feature movies, namely: 1.)
"Scent of Mystery" (USA,
1960) shot on 65mm film stock, acquired from
Michael Todd, Jr. – so, not
really a 3-strip movie. For its re-opening the movie had been shortened and
also converted for 3-strip projection (70mm and few 3-strip prints - without
smells) now renamed "Holiday in Spain" (USA, 1961), and 2.)
Russian Adventure" (USSR/USA, 1966) – it is said, only one 3-strip print for
the movie's World Premiere. Meanwhile, the films have been reconstructed / remastered from surviving 65mm and 70mm elements.
Adverts taken from the Hungarian newspaper "Népszabadság" from that time.
Already at beginning of the "Golden Head's" shooting phase there had been
problems. Robert E. Carr and R.M. Hayes write in their book "Wide Screen
Movies": "Production problems immediately arose around the director James
Hill. He was not getting along well with the Hungarians and was completely
at odds with the Americans. Filming was halted and Nicholas Reisini flew
with his advisers to Budapest."
Ultimately, Hill was replaced by the American director Richard Thorpe (1896
– 1991), well-known for his long career at MGM, and shooting took off at an
accelerated pace. The three-panel process was abandoned in favor of Super
Technirama-70 and some or all of Hill's scenes were re-shot.
Due to the decision to shoot the movie in anamorphic Technirama film format
(horizontal on 8-perf- 35mm wide-gauge negative film), "The Golden Head" is
the first single lens production made by Cinerama itself (70mm Cinerama),
and is the first film made in Hungary to utilize 70mm widescreen technology.
Some scenes in the film, e.g., the chase sequences over the Elizabeth Cable
Bridge, which was under construction at the time, were filmed with the
German-made, manageable M.C.S. 65mm Reflex "Field Camera" in
M.C.S-70 Superpanorama. The Elizabeth Bridge was completed late in 1964 and is one of
the meanwhile twelve connections in the capital between Buda and Pest across
the Blue Danube.
Read an extract from an interview did by Bob Thomas in California with the
comic Buddy Hackett (1924 – 2003), "Lionel Peck" in the movie, published in
"Lewiston Evening Journal" on Monday, December 09, 1963: From the halls of
Budapest to the shores of Malibu is Buddy's latest Screen Odyssey.
"In Hungary I became almost a national hero that's because I was the only
visitor who tried to learn their language. Everywhere I went I talked to
people and tried to make them laugh. I would tell them in their own
language: `The Hungarian people are all heart´ - and they are, but I
couldn't get over the miserable way they had to live. It was terribly
depressing, yet I suppose it could be worse. I never had a bad meal. They
have all kinds of goulash and wonderful fish and a fish soup that I loved.
It was so hot it made my mother's horseradish taste like sour cream. The
first six weeks of filming were wasted, because of foul-ups with a British
company which was also co-producing. The British pulled out, and then
production moved more smoothly under the direction of Richard Thorpe, a
speed-minded MGM veteran. The studio was built by Alexander Korda in 1928,
and it is on par with studios in Hollywood, where many are of the same
vintage. But there was no incentive among the set workers – they all earn
the same salary."
After the end of filming, the movie's mixing and dubbing were carried out in
England / London start of 1964, and the retitled "The Golden Head" was ready
for premiere – but not in England! What said Buddy Hackett in the interview:
"The British company which was also co-producing pulled out".
The movie's first release took place in Budapest on Thursday, December 10,
This is a Hungarian commercial art of the movie "The Golden Head". Below:
The title sequence from the Hungarian 35mm widescreen version of the movie.
It opened on 10.12.1964 with optically reduced 35mm prints, most likely in
anamorphic CinemaScope film format, in 5 Budapest cinemas (see advert)
named: A.) "Szikra", B.) "Bartók", C.) "Május 1", D.) "Sport" and E.) "Kossuth",
located in borough XX: Pesterzsébet.
In the advert on the right side is written [see above, editor]:
December 10-i filmbemutatók: "Az Aranyfej" – Szines amerikai-magyar film –
Széles változatban is Gyártó cég: Hunnia Filmstúdió és Cinerama, Inc. – Csak
a moziban látható, a tv nem közvetiti.
Screenings from December 10th: "The Golden Head" – a Hungarian-American film
in color – produced in widescreen format by Hunnia Filmstúdió and Cinerama,
Inc. – only in cinemas, on TV not effective.
Cyártók Hunnia Filmstúdio és a Metro Goldwyn Mayer – Színes, Szélesvásznú,
Cyártók Hunnia Filmstúdió and Metro Goldwyn Mayer – Colour, Widescreen, an
A review about the movie written by István Tamás published in the Hungarian
newspaper "Népszabadság" on Thursday, December 17, 1964.
For readers in Hungary here first the original version followed by the
Filmekröl: Magyar – amerikai film "Az aranyfej"
The Hungarian-made all-metal steam ship "White Rabbit" travelling down the
Danube (image taken from the movie's souvenir brochure). Read Wolfram
Hannemann's interesting film introduction about the movie, which was
screened in Germany on the occasion of the 6th
Todd-AO Festival at the Schauburg Cinerama Theatre in Karlsruhe in 2010
Játszik, nincs szerencsénk a koprodukciókkal. Emlékezhetünk, a Fekete szem
éjszakája egy árnyalattal "liraibbra" sikerült annál, mint amit jó izlésü
ember el tud viselni, az Egyiptomi történetet sem fogja senki a világ nagy
filmalkotásai között méltatni, feltehetöleg a Pirosbetüs hétköznapokat sem…
s most itt van "Az aranyfej".
Ez is igen rossz film. A forgatókönyvirók nehéz helyzetét megértjük; nem
egyszerü feladat úgy megkomponálni egy játékfilm cselekményét, hogy legyen
benne ritmus, báj és könnyedség, humor, zene és látvány – s ugyanakkor
bemutassa hazánk természeti szépségeit, éjjel és nappal a Dunát, karcsú
hidjainkat, nemzetközi luxushotel-jeinket, amelyek a legkényesebb turisták
igényeit is kielégitik, de ne mulassza el felhivni a külföldi nézó figyelmét
arra sem, hogy Magyarországon van még gulyás, fokos, halászlé is, s jó
karban tarott székesegyház, plébánossal.
E sok szempontot a két forgatókönyviró, Stanley Goulder és Boldizsár Iván
nagy filmirói gyakorlattal s kecses politikai rutinnal ötvötze össze; a
leltárban a legaggályosabb könyvvizsgáló sem találna hiányt. Minden benne
van. Hiányzó tételként talán a müvészetet emlithetnénk meg, ha értelmét
találnánk eröszakolt kapcsolatok keresésének. A filmet a Cinerama, Inc.
amerikai társaság Cinerama elöadásra szánta (a nézötéren félkörivben
körülfutó vászon). Igy valószinüleg még teljesebb lehet a hatás, nálunk
azonban csak a szélesvásznú változatot játsszák a mozik, a hiányzó
felületeket tehát képzeletünkkel kell kitölteni: milyen lehet, ha
jobbról-balról is locsog a Duna, ha az Ŕllami Népi Együttes lakodalmas tánca
több dimenzióban jelenik meg a visegrádi éjszakában… és igy tovább (meg kell
azonban jegyezni, hogy István Hildebrand képei a szokásos széles változatban
is szépek, gazdagok, eredetiek).
A történetet a fenti sémáknak megfelelóen bonyolitották le, Mr. Stevenson
angol kriminalista, Fehér Nyuszi nevü karcsú jachtján, elbüvölö gyermekei
társaságában érkezik Magyarországra, hogy részt vegyen a nemzetközi bünügyi
konferencia ülésén: a Stevenson családdal egy idöben lépi át az országhatárt
két nemzetközi tolvaj, és elrabolják a györi székesegyház nagy értékü Szent
László hermáját – a gyanú a jacht utasaira terelödik, végül azonban Mr.
Stevenson gyermekei, miközben atyjuk a konferencián szónokol, visszaszerzik
a kincset, leleplezik a tolvajokat.
Richard Thorpe rendezte a filmet: úgy, ahogy ezt a filmet rendezni kellett.
Van benne sok játékos-kedves ötlet, báj és üdeség is – ám nehéz
megszabadulni attól a gondolattól, hogy nem leit volna-e egyértelmúbb s
helyesebb dolog, akár egyedi, akár koprodukcióban látványos idegenforgalmi
filmet késziteni Magyarországról? Amely éppúgy idegenforgalmi reklámfilm
volna, mint ez. csak alkotója nem lenne kitéve a kinos gyanúsitgatásnak,
hogy bele akarták keverni a müvészetet.
Kitünöek "Az aranyfej" szereplöi, Buddy Hackett, George Sanders, Robert
Coote nevét kell elsösorban dicsérettel megemliteni, és a kedves kis gyerek
szinésznö, Lorraine Power. A magyar szereplök közül Esztergályos Cecilia,
Pécsi Sándor, Maklári Zoltán, Ungvári László tünik fel egy-egy pillanatra; s
nagyon jó a Szakállas szerepében Márkus László szinkronhangja. Végül hadd
jegyezzük meg: szokatlan dolog, hogy egy film alkotói elfeledkeznek a
szereplökról. Itt megtörtént. Két tolvaj (a másik két ékszertolvajt akarták
kirabolni) benne maradt egy szekrényben.További sorsuk tétova találgatásokra
About movies: "The Golden Head" – a Hungarian-American movie
It seems we don’t have much luck with co-productions. As you might remember,
the "La Belle et le Tzigane" (Fekete szem éjszakája) turned out to be one
shade above the "lyric" that common sense can bear, while "Egyptian Story" (Egyiptomi
történet) certainly won’t be remembered as one of the world’s movie
masterpieces, and most likely neither will "Red-Letter weekdays" (Pirosbetűs
hétköznapok) – and now we have "The Golden Head" (Az Aranyfej).
This too is a quite dreadful film. We can understand the difficulties of
being a scenarist; it’s not easy to create a plot with rhythm, glamour,
gracefulness, music, humor and scenery – while at the same time showing off
our country’s natural beauty; our nights and days, our slim bridges over the
Danube, our international luxury hotels that satisfy the needs of the most
exquisite clients, and yet still be able to emphasize the fact that Hungary
is also the world of "gulyás", "halászlé" and "fokos", and well-maintained
cathedrals, with priests. (Author's comment: "gulyás" is a goulash soup, "halászlé"
a fish soup and they are specialties of the Hungarian cuisine. "Fokos" was a
traditional weapon in the Poland / Hungary area. The name means "cane with a
head suitable for fighting", and is a cultural icon amongst the Hungarians).
All these aspects are combined with elegant political routine by the two
experienced writers, Stanley Goulder and Iván Boldizsár; even the most
fastidious auditor wouldn’t find a gap here. The movie has it all. One item
missing here would perhaps be the art – if we were seeking far-fetched
connections. The movie was planned to be projected in Cinerama theaters by
the American Cinerama, Inc. (with curved screens). Presumably the experience
would have been perfect this way, but we can only experience the wide-screen
version in our theaters – the missing parts being left for our imagination
to fill in. What it would be like, for example, to see the ripple of the
Danube, the multidimensional view of the National Folk Band’s wedding dance
in Visegrád’s nocturnal landscape – and so on. However, I must stress that
István Hildebrand's photography is still beautiful, rich and original – even
in this wide-screen version.
The plot is structured according to the above scheme. Mr. Stevenson, an
English detective arrives in Hungary on his slim yacht with the name "White
Rabbit", together with his delightful children, to attend an international
conference of criminal investigators. At the same time as the Stevensons,
two international thieves also arrive in the country, and they steal the
precious golden bust of Saint László from the Cathedral of Győr. The
principal suspects in the case are, of course, the yacht’s passengers, but
the Stevenson kids eventually recover the treasure themselves and unmask the
thieves – with their father immersed in the conference the whole time.
The director, Richard Thorpe, structured the film as he considered necessary
for this genre. We have plenty of playful and lovely ideas, grace and
sweetness – but, first and foremost, the question remains: wouldn’t it have
been more clear and correct to create a spectacular touristic movie about
Hungary – co-production or not? – A movie just as promotional as this one,
but without the suspicion that the director has attempted to mix in art.
The actors of "The Golden Head" are remarkable; I particularly have to
mention the names of Buddy Hackett, George Sanders and Robert Coote, and the
lovely child-actor Lorraine Power. As for the Hungarian actors, we can spot
actors such as Esztergályos Cecília, Pécsi Sándor, Maklári Zoltán and
Ungvári László in cameo roles. And I really enjoyed the voice of Márkus
László as "The Bearded Man". And finally, let’s not forget to mention: it is
unusual for the director of a movie to forget about some characters.
Nevertheless, this has happened here. Two thieves (trying to rob two other
jewelry thieves) are left in a cabinet – their fate remains a mystery.
"Das goldene Haupt" in der DDR
The original 4-page Progress Film Programme – top: Front and back pages, and
the text in the programme pages below informs about the movie's content.
"The Golden Head" was shown in the German Democratic
Republic. It premiered in various East Berlin cinemas in 35mm CinemaScope
film format on Friday, February 18, 1966.
"The Golden Head", original title: "Az Aranyfej" - Based on the short novel
"Nepomuk of the River" by Roger Pilkington
Co-production: Cinerama, New York and Hungarofilm, Budapest
Camera: István Hildebrand - Music: Szabolcs Fényes, Mitch Miller. (Author's
comment: "Mitch Murray" is the correct name. In some sources Szabolcs Fényes
is also called Peter Fényes)
Screenplay: Stanley Goulder, Iván Boldizsár – Director: Richard Thorpe
German translation: VEB DEFA-Studio for Synchronisation
A Hungarian-American film for children in colour and in CinemaScope
Palmer… George Sanders
Harold… Denis Gilmore
His friend… Buddy Hackett
Michael… Jess Conrad
Milly… Lorraine Power
Anna… Cecilia Esztergalyos
If you send in the return postage and the invoice amount beforehand, you
will receive the required film programmes if they are still available, via
the "Casino" cinema, 701 Leipzig 1, Neumarkt. You also have the possibility
of purchasing older film programmes from your cinema or venue. You can
purchase our programme booklets via mail subscription for a price per
quarter of 3.20 MDN. Progress star photos are available from your cinema or
in the relevant specialist stores at a price of 0.20 MDN per photo.
Retail price 0.10 MDN. (Author's comment: The MDN, "Mark der Deutschen
Notenbank", was cash in the German Democratic Republic from August 01, 1964
till December 31, 1967)
Published by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, 102 Berlin, Burgstraße 27,
Telephone: 42 59 71
"The Golden Head" (Londonski Lopov) – Top: Film programme and poster. Below:
A newspaper information from that time.
A short review about the movie from the Progress Film Press Office in the
German Democratic Republic: "The Golden Head", the first co-production
between Hungary and the USA – a crime film for children.
For the first time in history, America's film makers made a trip across the
pond to produce a film project in cooperation with a communist state. The
result of the collaboration speaks for itself, particularly in view of the
fact that it appeals to all age groups. "The Golden Head" unrolls as a
widescreen, colourful crime caper for children, which also provides parents
with an hour and a half of fun. The tale is perfectly suited for a
co-production: A little steam ship is travelling down the Danube carrying an
English father, who switches to four wheels as soon as he is over the border
so that he can attend an Interpol convention being held in Budapest. And
while he is in the conference room with his colleagues, discussing the
troubles faced by criminologists in general and, more specifically, a duo of
sinister antique thieves – his two children, who have been left alone on the
boat, are already hot on the heels of the villains, who have stolen the
golden head of Saint László, having realised the material value of the
precious bust. Director Richard Thorpe chooses the majestic countryside
along the banks of the Danube as the setting for his fun-filled pursuit,
where he not only showcases the treasures of Hungarian culture, but also the
customs of the country’s folklore. The crazy chase scenes are characterised
by earthy humour, elements of slapstick comedy delight again and again and
in the end, the only downside is a sense of regret that so few crime flicks
for children are produced in a similar vein.
At the time, the movie was also screened in 35mm CinemaScope film format in
former Yugoslavia. Distributor: In the poster is written "Croatia Film".
Title: "Londonski Lopov" (A Thief from London) "Američki film u koloru i
kinemaskopu" is written in the poster. (An American film in Color and
"Dolenjski List" is a weekly newspaper published in Novo Mesto since 1950.
Novo Mesto is a town located in the south-east part of Slovenia,
approximately 60 km south-east of Ljubljana. According to the newspaper
advert (see image) "The Golden Head" was shown in Ribnica on December 24 and
At last – now for the first time in the U.K.! "The Golden Head" presented in
70mm CINERAMA at London's Royalty Cinerama Theatre. It opened on Thursday,
April 08, 1965, and ran for 8 weeks until Wednesday, June 02, 1965.
Top: Full page movie premiere advert in the British trade magazine "Films
and Filming" dated May 1965, and below: "The Golden Head" announcement in
London's newspaper "The Observer" from that time.
After Stanley Kramer's all-star epic comedy extravaganza "It's a Mad, Mad,
Mad, Mad World" (USA, 1963) debuted "The Golden Head" at the Royalty
Cinerama Theatre on 08.04.1965. As supporting film was shown Lothar Wolff's
Oscar nominated short "Fortress of Peace" (Switzerland 1964) in 70mm
Cinerama – in the author's opinion in some way inappropriate for a
children's film as main feature.
In the advert is written:
CINERAMA presents an ideal holiday treat for the entire family! The Cinerama
and Hungarofilms Presentation: You revel in a whirlwind of suspense and
laughter! You are swept into the craziest treasure hunt ever for a king's
ransom in gold! You join a hilarious laugh chase after two international
crooks from London to Budapest and back!
"The Golden Head" was unfortunately not deemed a success. William R. Forman
of Pacific Theaters, one of the producers of the movie, had decided not to
release the film in the U.S., and it had consequently been hidden
away in a vault for a long time. It is reported that at the time only one
70mm print had been struck at Technicolor in London, and this print is now
occasionally shown at widescreen festivals. A 70mm print is expensive. It
costs about 6 to 8 times more than a 35mm print of the same film – much of
this extra expense involves the magnetic striping for the soundtracks. But
as a percentage of the total budget on a big picture, the purchase price of
70mm prints is not that significant. (Source: Trade magazine "Film
Technology" – Viewpoints / Editorial Notes)
William R. Forman also produced the 70mm Cinerama movie "Krakatoa, East of
Java" (USA 1969). At the time, Forman held a top position in each of the
three major industry branches: Production (film-making), distribution
(film-marketing) and exhibition (theater ownership and management) and
Cinerama was totally absorbed by Pacific Theatres.
By the way, the volcanic island "Krakatoa" is located in the Sunda Strait
west of Java. Shortly before the premiere, the producers noticed the
geographic error – the movie's whole shooting took place in Europe. But
after all of the advertising and publicity materials had been prepared it
was deemed too costly to re-do these materials, also with the risk that the
movie's premiere date would be postponed. The World Premiere took place at
the Pantheon Theatre in Tokyo on Thursday, January 09, 1969. (Source:
incinerama.com and the book: "Movie Roadshows / A
History and Filmography of Reserved-Seat Limited Showings 1911-1973" by Kim
Two reviews at the time of the movie's London premiere
"New York VARIETY" dated Wednesday, April 14, 1965:
"The Golden Head" (Technirama-Color,
Hungarian-American) - Naďve mildly diverting cops-and-robbers comedy.
Pleasant to look at and okay for family audiences.
Reviewed at Royalty Cinerama Theatre, London, Running Time 115 minutes.
Originally planned as "Milly goes to Budapest" and skedded to star Hayley
Mills, this co-production (Cinerama-Hungarofilm) filmed in 70mm Technirama
is a naďve, mildly diverting piece of cops-and-robbery which is not a strong
entry for Cinerama houses. But it will pleasantly entertain the indulgent.
Direction by Richard Thorpe is slow-moving and unimaginative, and a more
punchy script and brisker editing would have boosted the excitement. The
hybrid cast, drawn from Amerika, Britain and local sources is uneven in
quality but has not overmuch into which to get its teeth. There are some
nice shots of Hungary which could give some pep to the tourist trade, but as
a film for Cinerama audiences, now accustomed to such pictures as "How the
West Was Won", "Brothers Grimm" and "The Greatest Story", it can only be
looked upon as a theatre stopgap. Yarn concerns George Sanders and Buddy
Hackett as a suave conman and stooge who try to lift the valuable Golden
Head of St. Lazslo. But they are foiled by the amateur detective work of the
amateur detective work of the children of a British police official who,
with family, is in Budapest for a to level police conference. Events tend to
meander along till the climax, which is a chase through Budapest involving
the climbing of a suspension bridge, a speedboat dash on the Danube and a
frenzied ride on a fire engine. But, with Thorpe's leisurely direction, even
this finale doesn't add up to the pitch of excitement that might have been
expected. Sanders, though getting a shade the better for such rushing about,
plays his role with a mixture of debonair tongue-in-cheek and amusing
self-consciousness. But the employment of Hackett as his dumb stooge fails
to spark off much of a comedy team despite Hackett's determined mugging.
Major honors are copped by moppet Lorraine Power, as the little girl who
unwittingly starts all the bother. She is a wide eyed youngster, who is not
too cutely precocious, and who engenders much amusement by the way she
handles the detective routine. Cecilia Esztergalyos and Jess Conrad handle
the slight romantic rather pallidly. But Denis Gilmore, who plays the
Scotland Yard man with less aplomb than he is currently playing Sherlock
Holmes on tele, is okay. Robert Coote gets a few jokes as a fatuous British
Legation official. The Hungarian Folk Dancers and the Hungarian Opera Ballet
make brief, but colorful appearances, the first at a village wedding and the
second at a special gala performance, but both incidents have no bearing on
the story. They are merely brought in to add to tourist interest, as are
visits to a nightclub. The Technicolor shots are fine and art work and sound
are also okay. But, overall, theatre patrons are less likely to be
interested in whether or not Sanders gets away with his loot as whether or
not Budapest and environs is likely to be a pleasant place for this year's
A short review written by Robin Bean in the British trade magazine "Films
and Filming" dated June 1965:
"I think I can see the Iron Curtain" says Milly the nine old Sherlock of the
Danube as the White Rabbit cruises towards Budapest. Father (Douglas Wilmer,
television's Sherlock) has gone off to a detectives` conference in the
Hungarian capital, having secreted his tobacco in a cornflakes packet to
evade the customs. The young girl now sets out to solve the mystery of the
stolen Golden Head of Saint László lifted by two masterminds of art crimes
(George Sanders and Buddy Hackett). It sounds for the most part like a
children's serial. "The Golden Head" is a pathetic attempt at the first
story film in one lens Cinerama (formerly titled "Milly goes to Budapest").
The best sequences, the "travelogue" of Budapest, are wrapped around the
interval. It has quite a good chase sequence with fire-engine with George
Sanders and Buddy Hackett holding grimly on the back, being pursued through
the streets by two cars, but apart from that the film has little to
recommend it. Showing with the film in London is "Fortress of Peace", a
short which utilizes the visual effect of Cinerama very well. Directed by
John Ferno (author's comment: Also named "John Fernhout"), it shows the
Swiss army on military manoeuvres. The aerial shots of the Alps are
beautiful, as in a strange way are those of the troops crossing the
mountains in full pack. The mock battle scenes too are well shot: tanks
smashing through the woods, flame thrower fired at the camera, a row of
trees being felled by dynamite to block a road. In one shot the entire
screen seems to disintegrate, as a cliff face is blasted.
Cinerama in Budapest turns Winter to Summer
Initially, the show faced a serious weather problem: The story was set in
summer and it was already October – but in November the weather became
Here some information written in the movie's British Souvenir Brochure (16
pages, designed and printed by "The Upton Printing Group", Birmingham -
London - Redhill):
Budapest is blessed with many medicinal waters and hot springs, which have
been put to good use since the days of the Romans in a number of huge,
open-air swimming pools. And because of them, Cinerama brought a bit of
summer to Budapest in winter. "Not to include one of the pools in our
picture would be a great injustice to this beautiful city", said Richard
Thorpe, director of "The Golden Head", when he viewed the immense outdoor
pool of the deluxe Gellert Hotel. Told that it had been closed for the
season – it was now a slightly blustery November – he added: "We´ll just
have to pretend it's summer and open one." And in this way, one of the
magnificent pools of the Hungarian capital is part of this tenth Cinerama
production. Famed for centuries as one of Europe's most beneficial spas,
Budapest has 117 thermal springs feeding its baths. These pump over
70.000.000 gallons of hot therapeutic liquid a day. The calcareous,
sulphurated water is good for treatment of joint diseases, rheumatic pains,
neuralgia, neuritis, chronic exudate, arthritis, paralysis, inflammations,
heart diseases and neurasthenia, among other ailments.
Budapest's famous Gellert bath. The pool sequences were filmed on a fairly
warm November day in 1963. Note the huge Technirama camera. Image taken from
the website of the "American Widescreen Museum"
The particular day of the shooting of the pool sequences of the film – part
of a hilarious chase of co-stars George Sanders and Buddy Hackett by a horde
of children – turned out to be fairly warm, pleasant and windless one of 55
degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius). 200 extras were hired to parade
around in bikinis and other swim gear at the Gellert Greco-Roman pool, which
can normally accommodate some 1000 people. The Gellert pool, which adjoins a
similar sized indoor affair abounding with fun-and-health loving
Budapestians, is not the largest in the Hungarian capital. Beautiful
Margaret Island, situated in the Danube between Buda and Pest, boasts the
Palatinus open-air baths which can easily accommodate 15.000 people.
Supplied by two artesian wells, this pool covers an area of 70.000 square
yards. Many of the baths, including the Kiraly, on the right bank of the
Danube, have small tablets on the wall in different languages recording the
grateful thanks of people from all over the world who were cured here. The
Kiraly was originally built in 1560 during the Turkish occupation and served
the Pasha and his retinue, as today it serves the local populace and hosts
of visitors. Just as the waters cure people, the Gellert bath added one more
enjoyable sequence to "The Golden Head", even though it may have been a wee
bit out of seasons and Cinerama changed winter into summer.
From the Mailbox of Hungarofilm
A letter written by the movie's Executive Producer, Coleman Thomas Conroy,
Jr., addressed to Mr. E. Szilágyi, who was at the time team leader of
Hungarofilm – published in "Hungarofilm Revue" No. 1 / 1965.
November 26, 1963
Office of the President
410 Park Avenue
New York, 22. N.Y. .
Cable Address: Nikreis Code ACME
Mr. E. Szilágyi
Báthory utca 10
This note can hardly suffice to tell you how pleased I have been with our
personal and professional relationship together on the co-production MILLY
GOES TO BUDAPEST.
On behalf of my American and British production associates I wish to
compliment and thank Hungarofilm and Hunnia Studio for providing us with the
enthusiasm and devoted more that occasionally makes film making a pleasure
rather than chore. Perhaps the best way to express my feeling is to say that I am looking
forward to our next production and many more to come after that. Again many,
many, heartfelt thanks.
Kindest regards… C. T. Conroy (Producer / Vice President,
Author's comment: In the movie's souvenir brochure is written that Coleman
Thomas Conroy, Jr. had also worked on all nine previous 3-strip movies.
Additional information from the author: Not as Executive Producer but as,
e.g.: Technical Assistant on "Cinerama Holiday" (1955), from Production
Staff on "Seven Wonders of the World" (1956), Production Manager on
West Was Won" (1962), Co-Producer on "The Best of Cinerama" (1962 – Merian
C. Cooper's last film), as Camera Operator on "Windjammer" (1958), or later
Producer on "Cinerama's Russian Adventure" (1966), and so on.
"The Golden Head" was shown in Super Technirama-70 (print from Pacific
Theatres, USA) at the
Widescreen Weekend at the Pictureville Cinerama Cinema
in Bradford (England) on Saturday, March 11, 2006.
"The Golden Head" was shown in Super Technirama-70 at the
6th Todd-AO Film
Festival at the Schauburg Cinerama Cinema in Karlsruhe (Germany) on Sunday,
October 03, 2010 (with the presence of Jess Conrad – "Michael Stevenson" in
"The Golden Head" received its much belated public Super Technirama-70 U.S.
Premiere, only one performance, at the
Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood
on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.
…and on the occasion of Cinerama's 60th Anniversary its digital
presentation, remastered from Technirama and M.C.S. 70 negatives, on
Saturday, September 29, 2012.
Last but not least, some information taken from the book "Wide Screen
Movies" by Robert E. Carr and R.M. Hayes (ISBN 0-89950-242-3):
"The Golden Head": 70mm Roadshow version: RCA 6-track magnetic stereophonic
sound / AR: 2.20:1 / Running time: 115 minutes (author's comment: Most
likely here with included Overture, Entr´acte and Walk Out music – the 70mm
version has an intermission). Filmed at Budapest Studio and on location in
Budapest, Szentendre and Esztergom and on the Danube River in Hungary,
completed at Shepperton Studios (author's comment: Located southwest of
London). Hungarian "Az Aranyfej" version: Running time 102 minutes. Filming
process began in 3-strip Cinerama process but this was canceled and they
switched to 8-perf 35mm Technirama shooting.
A short Epilogue by the Author
"The End" – principal shooting of "Az Aranyfej" (The Golden Head) ended in
Hungary on Thursday, November 21, 1963 (see movie clapper – just to remind:
On following day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas), and now a last
meeting. Image taken from the informative Hungarian website: "MAGYAR FOTÓARCHÍVUM"
Meanwhile, David Strohmaier / Randy Gitsch have remastered the whole movie
and I am still hoping that it will be published on Blu-ray sometime. I saw "Milly"
for the first time at Bradford's Widescreen Weekend in 2006. It was
received. Some opinions about the movie read as follows: An unexpected
delight that was a great deal better than its reputation. "The Golden Head"
was the great surprise and a real treat. Excellent! Great to see the
legendary "The Golden Head"!
I especially like the picturesque Budapest / Danube shots by cinematographer
István Hildebrand and the musical score by Szabolcs Fényes. Yes, it is only
a naďve `cops-and-robbers comedy´, but pleasant to look at and okay for
family audiences and children and no more.
By the way, filming in Hungary has been prospered more and more. Have a look
at the website of the famous Korda
Studios – a
state-of-art film studio complex located 30 km (18 miles) west of Budapest.
It is named after Sir Alexander Korda (1893 – 1956), a well-known
Hungarian-born British film producer and director.
Ridley Scott's newest movie "The Martian" (USA, 2015) was shot here. They
also decided to film in Budapest because the studio has one of the biggest
soundstages in the world (Studio 6, some 64.300 sq ft). They used tons of
Hungarian soil in order to build a Mars plain. Limited filming took also
place at Wadi Rum in Jordan (Lawrence of Arabia, UK, 1962). Production was
also permitted to film rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, e.g., the lift off
of ORION's first flight test on Friday, December 05, 2014.
|Go: back - top - back issues - news index