by Sidney Pink
Meanwhile, I kept in constant touch with our co-producers about casting the various roles designated for American stars. We agreed that the second lead, that of Fernan Gonzales' friend and mentor, Jeronimo, should unquestionably go to Cesar Romero, who fit the part as though he had lived in that era. The role of the king of Navarre, a choice cameo, was also reserved for an American actor. We were to provide another star for a major part to be mutually agreed upon.
I was able to contact Cesar Romero's agent, and after he read the script, he agreed to accept our offer. Romero was needed for ten weeks of shooting and an additional week for dubbing. The picture itself was set for twenty-eight weeks of principal photography, including time for the action and battle scenes which did not require the principals. That was when I first Cesar, a true professional and a joy to work with.
The sixties were the years of the teenybopper, and the idols of the day were Paul Anka, Richie Valens, Fabian, and, of course, Frankie Avalon. I met Frankie's agent, Bob Marcucci, at the AIP offices while he was negotiating Frankie's appearances in the beach party series. Bob was responsible for the success of many of those teen-age idols. We discussed the possibility of casting Frankie Avalon in the role of Jerifan the troubadour. In my version of the script, Jerifan opened and closed the picture singing the "Ballad of Fernan". He carried the exposition of the very complicated story line that had to be narrated to keep the film moving and to avoid the long expository scenes I removed from the original Spanish script. It was a difficult part that called for singing - not the pop-type, but I was anxious to get Frankie's name on the picture since it assured us of some teen-age appeal.
Having never been out of the States, Frankie was eager to see Spain. Marcucci, on the other hand, wanted to get Frankie some exposure outside of AIP, and the promise of a Warner release tempted him. He finally agreed to let Frankie make the picture, providing Marcucci had exclusive right to compose a title song and possibly two more songs for the picture. We agreed, but the songs had to be subject to our final approval, and the deal was signed.