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.45 Movie Blanks


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#1 gijive

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 09:34 PM

The recent discussion about the movie blanks prompted me to dig out some old stuff I have had around for several years. I took some pictures of a current style .45 blank made by Joe Swanson, an old unfired .45 blank (cut down 30.06 casing) from Stembridge and a fired .45 blank (30.06 casing) dug up (with the aid of a metal detector) at Franklin Canyon Reservoir in Los Angeles, CA. Franklin Canyon was one of several outdoor location sites used during numerous movie and television shows during the 1950's and '60's. The television series Combat! used Franklin Canyon extensively and the blank on the right was dug up in the 1990's at one of the regular sites used during the filming of Combat! It has been cleaned up with copious amounts of steel wool, gun oil and elbow grease.

Notice on the casings made from the 30.06 brass that the head stamps are 1954 and 1940 respectively. Surplus military brass was obviously used and was probably reloaded several times. A friend of mine that has researched the Franklin Canyon site has collected literally hundreds of .45 casings at the locations used during the Combat! series. The casings were usually buried from six to twelve inches under the sandy soil. Needless to say, some are obviously from the Stembridge Thompsons wielded by the fearless Vic Morrow a.k.a. Sgt. Saunders.

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#2 gijive

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 01:45 PM

PhilOhio,

You're right on target, no pun intended. My friend, who scouts these locations, is friends with Pierre Jalbert, the actor that played Caje on the Combat! series. Pierre actually thinks we're kind of crazy for collecting such items. He just shakes his head and laughs.
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#3 gijive

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 11:31 AM

PhilOhio,

You are very observant!. Actually, almost all the blanks that were dug up had the slight bulge around the middle of the case. We attributed this to a worn, pitted barrel which we surmised had Sgt. Saunders constantly recocking the weapon every several rounds to clear the chamber. Would we be correct in this assumption?
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#4 Ron Mills

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 11:42 AM

GI Jive: Yes, I remember instances where Sgt. Saunders pulled that actuator back during a firing sequence. I always wondered why; now I know. I've seen that with Kirby's BAR more often than Vic's Thompson.
I also recall the scene where Saunders is pinned underneath a wooden beam (happened more than once!); the German radio was blaring, so he had to shoot it. He fired a couple of rounds, the Thompson jammed. So he gave it the quick flick to the right in order to kick the bad casing outta there, then fired again. Nice move; didn't have to re-shoot the scene!
Thanks for posing those pics; makes you wonder if MGM and Stembridge had spare barrels for guns in inventory. Dan Shea could probably tell us.

Ron
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#5 gijive

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 11:53 AM

Ron,

I believe they did. Hence, the quick change feature which I mentioned in an earlier post. There are several episodes where Saunders had to re-cock the weapon during firing. Jack Hogan, the actor that played Kirby,and Pierre Jalbert remarked that Vic Morrow used to swear at the Thompson all the time because of the constant misfiring. Obviously, attributable to the worn barrels from the blank firing over the years.
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