by Bernard Gordon
My problems during this filming were not all technical or creative. Because of a variety of obstacles in London, including the disappointing performance of the earlier Westerns, it was increasingly difficult to carve out funds for my production. At the end of each week I had to have money to pay salaries; excuses were not accepted. The fascist Franco government did not permit unions or any kind of worker organization; but it did have a "corporate" structure that was supposed to protect workers' rights. In practice, this kept wages low, but an absolutely rigid rule was that wages due must be paid on the dot. If I let a payday pass without payment, I would be shut down the next day. !Ojala!, as they say in Spanish. (Working with an all-Spanish crew greatly improved by command of the language.)
Saturday was payday. Each Friday the accountant assured me there were no funds for the payroll. I would get on the phone to Yordan in London, explaining that I desperately needed money. This was Spain. No excuses would be accepted. All stalling tactics were out. These discussions would wind up with him telling me to write a check on my Los Angeles bank for $30,000 or $40,000 (money I did not have on deposit) and to send it down to the Banco de Bilbao, which would honor my check immediately and provide the necessary pesetas. He would also assure me that he would see that my check in Los Angeles would be covered because a bad check of that size would land me quickly in a Spanish hoosegow. Bad checks were a criminal offense in Spain and other continental countries.
Could I trust Yordan to cover my bum checks? I really didn't know. He seemed more relaxed about such transgressions than I, and I didn't feel this was the occasion to test the flexibility of the Spanish financial system. What choice did I have? We went through this routine repeatedly. Friday was shouting-on-the-telephone day.
Although the checks were covered, there were times when, in the days before electronic transfers, it took an unreasonably long time for checks to clear, and I heard complaints, short of threats, from my friends at the Banco de Bilbao. Sometimes the delays worked to my advantage, but more often, they resulted in protests. I became convinced that the bank, like most banks, enjoyed working on a float, enjoying the use of my money for a number of days before making payments.