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Obergurgl, Austria

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Obergurgl is a village in the Ötztal Alps in Tyrol, Austria. Located in the municipality of Sölden, the village has approximately 400 year-round inhabitants, and is mainly a tourist resort.

Hitchcock's Films

The Mountain Eagle (1926)

Writing in 1937, Hitchcock recalled struggling to pinpoint a suitable place for location filming whilst doing the film's pre-production in Munich until he came across a "postcard of the perfect location":[1]

I took the German assistant director I had just been given and went out to see [Obergurgel]. To get there we took a train to Innsbruck. We then drove for 7 1/2 hours in an open victoria. We then walked for 2 1/2 hours on our feet — no transport could reach it.

With every step we swore conditions would be so primitive, the place so out of the way, that to film anything there would be out of the question. But it had cast a spell upon me, that postcard. That was the ideal place to shoot the Kentucky hills (in German). Snow on the high ground, woods on the village level, thatch, a forgotten, almost a vanished, civilization. Grand.

I reached the place. For once it was up to the pictures of it. It was perfect. I went back to Munich as happy as a sandboy. But on the way I wanted to speak English. I was tired to death of German gutturals. I was sick of flogging my brain to think in another language. I was as mad to hear the sound of an English voice, as mad to speak and be understood in my own tongue as a claustrophobe is anxious to get into the open air. I know that feeling too: I had it in an Italian seaplane.

However I got back to Munich. There I picked up my company: Malcolm Keen was one of them. He was the most important to me: he brought out my engagement ring. Nita had not yet arrived, so we went out to do the out-of-doors shots.

We got to Obergurgel. We settled in a cottage. We went out in the evening and plotted out the work for the next day. A few long shots of the snow and the close-ups and medium shots amid the woods. Content as a dog promised a nice bone we went to bed.

When we woke up next day the village was a foot under snow.

That washed us out. The snow meant that we should have to wait six months at least to make the picture at Obergurgel. We took our snow scenes and made our way down the valley, hoping just to beat the falls as they, too, made their way steadily to the lower ground.

Unable to get the footage they wanted in Obergurgel, cast and crew moved 20 miles north along the valley to the village of Umhausen.

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Notes & References

  1. News Chronicle (1937) - Life among the Stars