Old bridge used for filming 'Escape'
"Watch out!" shouts a lighting technician. A heavy spotlight housing falls to the bridge deck below as other crew members in the vicinity move to avoid it.
A crew of more than 60 battles heat and humidity and fights off mosquitos and other numerous insects as it prepares the west end of a local bridge for the filming of the final scenes of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK a movie about New York City in 1997 which has been turned into a prison for more than 3,000,000 inmates.
The old Chain of Rocks Bridge, owned by the city of Madison and left abandoned for more than a decade since the construction of the I-270 span across the Mississippi River, had been given a new "lease on life," at least for the last several weeks anyway.
Slam Dunk Productions, a subsidiary of AVCO Embassy Films, came to the St. Louis are to film portions of ESCAPE the stars of which include Ernest Borgnine, Kurt Russell, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau and Donald Pleasence.
In the film, a huge wall surrounds the city which keeps the inmates inside and all others out. Air Force One, the president's plane, is sabotaged and crash-lands within the walls, but the president, played by Pleasence, survives and is taken hostage by the inmates.
The president is rescued from the hostages, but he and his rescuers must surmount the wall to regain their freedom.
The bridge in the film is a nonexistent bridge which leaves New York City, but is contained by the wall.
The "wall" was built on the west end of the old Chain of Rocks Bridge and took a month to construct. It was made under the watchful eye of Joe Alves, creator of the large "crater" which surrounded the huge spaceship in the final scenes of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.
Alves was also involved in the filming of JAWS II.
Of course, as in most films, stunt men are being used. In the photo at top left a stunt man for Kurt Russell, at right, talks to a technician near the "wall" as lighting and sound work on the set.
A view of the end of the bridge with the "wall" in the background is seen at upper left from behind one of the cameras used to film the scene. The camera's tripod and light-colored, oblong film canister is at right next to the underside of an overturned auto used in a previous scene.
Old, wrecked autos and other debris clutter the bridge deck near the west end through which the characters of the movie will run through in their fleeting escape from the city.
The director of the film is John Carpenter, at left, takes a smoke break while the set is readied by technicians for the next scene's filming.
After more than a month of preparation and four days of filming on the bridge, which included a scene shot on the east end of the bridge, the film company will again leave the old Chain of Rocks Bridge abandoned only to wait for someone else to find a use for it.
Movie-goers, of course, will have to wait until the release of the film to find out if the president and his rescuers make it over the "wall."