Arena: Cestus III Fortress Set

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Scott Kellogg, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Good Morning Folks,

    Something I ran across you might find interesting. Remember the fortress set they beamed down into in "Arena?" I always kind of wondered about that one. A while ago, I was watching old Re-runs of "The Rat Patrol" and recognized the set they were using.

    "The Darers go First Raid" uses the same set as a German fortress.



    (Just pretend that the Sherman tanks they're using are German.)

    I gather that the fort was originally built for a show called "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" in 1956. It was torn down by the park service in 1974.
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    A rather different backstory for the set is given in Memory Alpha, this being attributed to an Alamo-themed film back in the thirties already; demolishing is also indicated to have happened in "late sixties". I'd gather the set would see a lot of use through the decades. Plus quite a few renovations and repairs, since it hardly looks like it would endure anything but the mildest weather...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Yeah, I'm not sure about the truth of the story. The internet is full of conflicting information on any subject.
    But, one thing's for sure:
    If that was supposed to be The Alamo, the people building it had no idea what the Alamo looks like. :)

    Scott Kellogg
     
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  4. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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  5. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    One additional thought:
    I can't be too sure, but it looks to me as if the area the Fortress is set up in changes
    from "Arena" to "Rat Patrol" to "77th Lancers"

    Perhaps it wasn't so much an actual set, but just a series of facades that could be moved as needed?
     
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  6. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

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    I appreciate your enthusiasm, but please try to condense your thoughts into one post, and definitely don't post three times in a row.

    From the board rules, pinned at the top of this thread:

    "Post no more than twice in a row. This is so you don't dominate a discussion/thread. Use the quote function if you need to answer multiple posts aimed at you."

    Thanks
     
  7. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Sorry about that.
    Is there an Edit function on here?
    I can't seem to find it.
     
  8. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

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    Don't worry about it now, just going forward.

    Yes there's an edit button but there's some kind of time and post minimum before it's enabled, IIRC.

    When it appears, it will be next to the time you posted at the bottom.

    Thanks.

    :techman:
     
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  9. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    I don't remember reading that at Memory Alpha, last time I looked for that entry, but no matter: it's easily checked.

    Vasquez Rocks - aerial photo taken 1954 - no fort visible

    Vasquez-Rcks-1954.png

    Vasquez Rocks - aerial photo taken 1959 - fort visible

    Vasquez-Rcks-1959.png

    It was becoming increasingly rickety and decrepit during the late 1960s, and was being used less and less frequently because of this. My understanding is that it had never been intended as a permanent structure, having been constructed as a shooting set for the 1956-57 television series. It remained in place after that show went off the air mostly because no one wished to pay for its demolition. So there it stood, until further use and weather it wasn't built to endure long-term ultimately rendered it unsafe for any purpose. I saw it still standing when I visited the site after it had been taken over by the Los Angeles County Parks system, but it was demolished a short time after. The 1974 date is accurate.

    No, it was a completely static construction. There was a certain amount of dressing and redressing which could be done to make it appear to be different locations, as called-for by whichever script was being filmed at the time, but there was nothing movable about it.
     
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  10. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Hmm! I'm surprised by that, and I bow to your first hand knowledge.

    When I first looked at the "Rat Patrol" episode, I thought they'd reduced the structure to a four sided box about the width of the gate. But, looking more closely at it (It only shows up for about 2 seconds) I can see you're right. The bulk of the structure was hidden by trees and clever framing. With the shadows on it, it only Looks like a 4 sided box.

    Very cleverly constructed. It almost looks bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. (Tardis tech? ;)

    I have to think that with all the CGI modeling of Star Trek out there, I wonder if anyone's tried to digitally re-create the fort.
    That would be interesting!

    Scott Kellogg
     
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  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The one remaining question would seem to be, could the structure have been erected out of elements that had something to do with the purported 1930s Alamo movie?

    A quick look at IMDB reveals only one such movie, said to reuse battle scenes from a 1926 flick and thus being an unlikely link in a chain of reuses of specific set elements all the way till 1974...

    Memory Alpha no doubt gets its information directly from the old Encyclopedia, which simply got it wrong somehow. It's not wrong in Asherman's TOS Compendium yet. (Asherman says the action was at Paramount Ranch and Vasquez Rocks, without quite specifying which bits were at the Ranch.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  12. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Here is a shot from The High Chaparral, 1968, where you can see part of the unfinished side. (Henry Darrow in the foreground, RIP)

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    For Reference: Here's the Alamo, which is why I question that this was a set for a movie about it.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    The "Alamo exterior" set which is seen in the 1937 movie does incorporate the familiar church front facade, though in other respects it's far from historically accurate.

    heroes-of-alamo-1937.png

    Looks like it's probably part of the footage borrowed from an earlier film, though. What's left in the first clip I found is kind of a mish-mosh, so far as identifiable sets are concerned. Much of it could easily have been filmed on a soundstage, using whatever backdrops and props the studio may have had handy. I see nothing to indicate the Agua Dulce / Vasquez Rocks location was used in it at all.

    There is another movie from same period, in which the Alamo may figure briefly, but only Southern California location given for it is the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth.

    Honestly not sure which bits of "Arena" would have been from Paramount Ranch -- a few close-ups and tight shots, if anything, as all of the medium and long shots pretty clearly show Agua Dulce / Vasquez Rocks.
     
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  15. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Alamo was more than just the chapel (which didn't have the "hump" in 1836.) Here's one map that shows the additional components that were defended in 1836.
     
  16. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    True (and I knew about the hump -- it was a later addition.)

    My comment re: historical accuracy was mostly to to with the height of the inner wall extending left from the corner of the chapel front.

    Per this diagram, the chapel wall had a height of 23 feet, but the wall extending left only 12 feet, or roughly half that of the chapel. The outer wall containing the gate may also be somewhat taller in the film version than the historical one was.
     
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  17. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @M'Sharak Gotcha. Still, not bad. At least the walls and palisade are roughly in the right spots.
     
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  18. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    I thought the same thing. :techman:
     
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  19. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Cartoon Premium Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  20. scotpens

    scotpens Professional Geek Premium Member

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    Back in my Boy Scouting days, one weekend my troop took a trip to Vasquez Rocks. Someone mentioned something about an "old Spanish fort" on the property, so I went to have a look. When I got inside the fort, I saw that it was made of two-by-fours, chicken wire and plaster -- not exactly authentic Spanish Colonial architecture!