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Umhausen, Austria

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Umhausen is a village in an Austrian municipality of the same name in the Imst district.

Hitchcock's Films

The Mountain Eagle (1926)

Following heavy snow in Obergurgl, cast and crew were forced to descend down the Austrian valley to try and get under the snow line again. Writing in 1937, Hitchcock recalled:[1]

It seemed only a fraction less perfect than Obergurgel. We made all our arrangements. We went to bed.

And the next morning the village was under snow.

What made it even better was that we were snowed up. It was still snowing. We couldn't shoot a foot of film. We couldn't stick our noses outside the door.

We spent four days sitting round a German stove. I had bought a few delicacies to take: 100 lemons, for I love lemonade and all soft drinks; a bottle of Cointreau; a couple of bottles of whiskey, and some biscuits. One of the actors was head-over-heels in love with a girl in England. He wrote to her every day. That was grand for the rest of us. It was grand for him. It wasn't so good for the girl: the post only went once a week!

When the snow stopped snowing we seemed sunker than ever. It had travelled farther and farther down the valley. The long shots we had taken committed us to this valley and the whole place was under feet of snow.

There was only one thing to do: produce a thaw.

I got hold of four men who formed the local fire brigade. I convinced them that they must get out the fire engine and wash the snow away. They argued, finally they agreed. They pulled out the great manual pump with its leaky hose and they turned it on the village.

We washed the snow from the houses, from the roofs, from the trees, from the ground. But one of the houses had a leaky roof, and the old peasant woman who lived there complained she was being really washed away.

I saw the Mayor. I told him my troubles. He said that a rich film company could probably get what it wanted — at a price. I asked him how much I should give her. He said "A schilling" — the Austrian coin then worth 7d. I gave her two. If I had given her ten I think I could have flooded the whole countryside, she was so pleased.

And on that small area of land, washed clean of snow with a fire engine, our exteriors were made.

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Notes & References

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