Saturday, December 24, 2016

RIP Gil Parrondo

Spanish artistic director Gil Parrondo dies, winner of two Oscars

The decorator of 'El Cid', 'Lawrence of Arabia' or 'Doctor Zhivago' dies at age 95

Manuel Gil Parrondo y Rico will always be remembered for his visceral passion for cinema.  So much so that during the three years of the Civil War, which happened in Madrid, he continued to go to the halls as much as he could.  The decorator (hated the expression art director), one of the greatest technicians that had given Spain the seventh art, has passed away Saturday in Madrid at 95 years, after a very long career in which he became the first Spaniard to win two Oscars: for “Patton” and “Nicholas and Alexandra”, both of Franklin J. Schaffner. Came to Hollywood, as a young man, which seemed to him "a far-off place, in another galaxy.

Finally, it was that galaxy who came to Spain for a while and embarke in his films, which earned him the awards mentioned and a third nomination for “Travels with My Aunt”, by George Cukor. But he also worked in some mythical titles in the history of cinema such as “Doctor Zhivago”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “55 Days at Peking”, “King of Kings”, “The Fall of the Roman Empire”, “Circus World”, “Spartacus”, “The Battle of Britain” and “El Cid”: his first steps were at the hand of the producer Samuel Bronston, the businessman who brought the super-productions to Spain, soon his quality made him the receiver of calls from those who shot in southern Europe.

 "An Oscar is a good end to the race" - Gil Parrondo, the discreet man

Manuel Gil Parrondo - for his career his first name was removed studied painting and architecture at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, though his love of film led him in that direction. He started as an assistant decorator on the films of Florián Rey, one of the greats of the era, until finally debuting in 1951 as chief - responsible leadership team with artistic – “Day after Day”, by Antonio del Amo.

In the fifties he achieved his prestige with his work in films that open the doors of the American films that begin to arrive in Spain.  Thus, in addition to those, “Alexander”, and The Pride and the Passion”, of Stanley Kramer.  "The Oscar is a good end of the race, but do not forget that many wonderful actors or directors never got it," he said in 2000. "The one that made me happier was the first, because I was also the first Spanish to win it, and because the film is still around."  By the way, he never picked up the statuette in person because he was always working.

Gil Parrondo, his talent transcends eras and generations of filmmakers: his name appears in “The Wind and the Lion”, John Milius, “Robin and Marian”, Richard Lester, “The Boys from Brazil”, again with Schaffner.

Special mention deserves for his collaboration with José Luis Garci, (they started together in winning the Oscar and won four Goyas and four nominations.

Elegant and slim, with prominent sideburns, after more than 200 films, television series and plays still remembered every detail, thanks to a legendary memory.  And it was quite persuasive: he refused to move to Beverly Hills and moved the filming of El Cid United States Torrelobatón (Valladolid).

Tireless, he never retired: he was still active.  "I choose the films for the date, not because of a script I like it better if the director is especially brilliant. Whenever I can participate in a movie I say yes."

In 2006 he even competed for chairing the Film Academy against Ángeles González-Sinde, and remembered those days that a good film decorator had to have "sense of color, architecture and, above all, the frame".  With Gil Parrondo goes an artist and also the memory of a time when Peter O'Toole had bowls of vodka, an Almerian shepherd - accustomed to the shoots - was able to advise on goals or knew who had won the Oscar because his wife called a taxi at four in the morning after receiving a phone call from a friend of New York.

PARRONDO, Gil (Manuel Gil Parrondo y Rico Villademoros)
Born: 6/17/1921, Luarea, Asturias, Spain
Died: 12/24/2016, Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Gil Parrondo’s westerns – production designer, art director, set decorator;
Savage Pampas – 1966 [set decorator]
The Valley of Gwangi – 1969 [art director]
Four Rode Out – 1970 [art director]
Rustlers’ Rhapsody – 1985 [production designer]
The Return of El Coyote – 1998 [production designer]

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