In 1969 a film crew arrived at the Hotel Lancelot in Arrecife to film a “suspense thriller” on the island. French director Georges Lautner had assembled a cast that included Robert Walker (who had appeared in Easy Rider the year before), and Mimsy Farmer, a young actress who had appeared in biker movies in the US and would go on to appear in several Italian cult films.
The biggest star of all, however, was Rita Hayworth, the most glamorous screen goddess of the 1940s. At the age of 52, however, she was already suffering symptoms of what would be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. It would be her penultimate film.
The film is a twisted romance, in which a drifter arrives at a Mexican town, is mistaken for Hayworth’s dead son and begins a strange, incestuous relationship with his “sister”, before the real son reappears. The topic of incest, and the fact that several nude scenes were included, meant that the press were told little about the film, for fear of upsetting the strict Franco regime. The film was banned in Spain, and it is unknown whether it has ever been shown publicly here.
Scenes were filmed in La Geria, at the finca where Bodega Stratvs now stands, as well as at Janubio, Papagayo and Arrecife. Heraclio Niz, the Arrecife policeman whose statue stands on Calle Real in Arrecife, also appeared in the film, as did Miss Lanzarote 1969, Milagros Prat, who would go on to marry the developer of Puerto Calero, José Calero.
Rita Hayworth is reported to have loved her time on Lanzarote. In financial difficulties at the time, she had arrived from a project in Italy, where she felt she had been mistreated on set, and praised the welcome that Lautner and his team extended to her. During her stay, she visited the recently-opened Jamoes del Agua, and described them as “the eighth wonder of the world.”
The film came out in 1970 and was not a success, mainly being shown as a support feature in double bills. It received some good reviews, but The Village Voice commented “If your taste runs to 70s actors having 60s sex in a 50s film so that a 40s star can suffer, then Road to Salina is for you.”
Since then, it has been praised for its strange, hypnotic atmosphere, a lot of which has to do with the unearthly Lanzarote landscapes; and its soundtrack, which featured French singer Christophe and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Twenty years ago, Quentin Tarantino chose two atmospheric pieces of music from the soundtrack to use in his Kill Bill films.
For regular updates, pictures and videos of Lanzarote be sure to like and follow our Facebook page “Gazette Life Lanzarote”.