by Woody Strode and Sam Young
They shot the film in Almeria, Spain. At that point in my career I was traveling with my own saddle, two 60-foot ropes and an 80-pound bow. Once you reach a certain level, you've got to have your own equipment. I remember there was one scene in SHALAKO where I had to go off-stage and shoot the fire arrows because nobody else could do it. Those are the types of things I had learned after thirty years of action pictures.
And, to go back for a second, in John Ford's TWO RODE TOGETHER, there was a scene where I came riding in with my Indian sub-chiefs. I stepped down off my horse, said something in Indian, hopped back on the horse and let out a war cry. I pulled out with all the Indian warriors on my heels. The horses crossed some light cables; the insulation was cut and the sparks went flying. John Ford got the shot: it was a great scene. I didn't realize how dangerous that run was until I started training for THE PROFESSIONALS.
Jack Carey told me, "Woody, I saw you in that goddamned TWO RODE TOGETHER. If your horse had fallen, those Indians would have run right over your ass. Anytime you're ridin' and you're leadin' a pack of horses, the pack has got to split and leave you an alley. That way if your horse falls, the pack runs around you."
That paid off when I got to SHALAKO. I had to make a 1,500 yard run on horseback with all my warriors following me. We ran 1,500 yards right at the camera; the camera panned and we ran 500 more yards up into the canyon. I had a bunch of Spanish Gypsies following me. They didn't look like the European Gypsies, who look more like white people. These Gypsies were real brown; I don't know how they got their color, but they made perfect Apaches.
I told them what I was going to do. "I'm going to run ten yards out in front. I want everybody to split up in two groups, one on either side of me."
The first run-through, my horse fell and I wasn't injured. The second run, I was holding my bow way out in my right hand; we ran right at the camera, turned and ran into the canyon. Probably the greatest horse charge in the history of film. We came back and Eddie Dmytryk said, "We've got to do this scene again."
He had us do it three more times. The third time my horse went wild. I had to take the bow and whip him because he was blowing up, snorting and flaring. I walked back to the camera and Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot, you can imagine all those high-class actors, said, "Woody, are you crazy? You'll get yourself killed!"
I said, "No actor can do what I just did." And Eddie Dmytryk never used that scene in the film.