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"Those trees," explained Studio Publicity Man Don Prince, who wore a burnoose and identified himself to everybody as Florence of Arabia, "are the same ones we shipped to Hawaii for South Pacific so we could place them where we wanted them and not have God's palms dictate our camera angles."
The workmen and special-effects crew had one more small task to perform before Notre Dame could meet Hollywood in the Fawz Bowl. The script called for oil gushers to spout up regularly during the game. This was accomplished by having pipes laid underground from a tank to strategic locations around the handmade field. A black and greasy liquid would spray forth. The gushers did not look exactly like Spindletop, but they looked real enough and made an impressive enough mess when turned on.
With the set completed and everyone on hand—stars, extras, technicians—an outsider unused to the ways of Hollywood might with good reason have guessed that the subject was not football but war (which might have been appropriate since Director Thompson had done Guns of Navarone and Director of Photography Leon Shamroy had done—Fox should excuse the word—Cleopatra). Loosely clustered around the desert were tents, trailers, buses, tractors, trucks, cranes, camera booms, automobiles, jeeps, camels and brigades of bronzed, bemuscled young men.
If a program had been printed listing the starting lineups for the Notre Dames and the Fawzians, it would have been both impressive and funny. Notre Dame, for example, fielded a team usually consisting of Craig Chudy, 6 feet 3, 220, ex- UCLA, ex-Steeler, ex-49er but certainly not ex-tough, playing at left end: Bruce Underhill, 6 feet 2, 250, ex- UCLA, at left tackle: Kent McWhirter, 6 feet 2, 230, ex-Utah, at left guard: Robert West, 6 feet 1, 210, ex-Jones County Junior College, at center: Jim Martin, 6 feet 2, 238, ex-Notre Dame All-America, ex- Detroit Lion All-Pro, current Baltimore Colt kicking specialist, at right guard; Kent Miller, 6 feet 5, 220, ex- UCLA basketball, at right tackle: Glenn Wilder, 6 feet 1, 200, ex-USC, at right end; Jim Dawson, 6 feet 1, 200, ex- UCLA, at quarterback; Ron Brown, 6 feet, 185, ex-USC, at halfback; Jim Steffen, 6 feet, 200, ex- UCLA, current Washington Redskin, at halfback; and Jerry Okuneff, 5 feet 11, 210, ex- UCLA, at fullback.
The Fawz team had individual credentials of a more singular nature. Its lineup read Jack (Ding-a-ling) Bellin, general contractor, at left end; Sam (Muffler) Midas, garbage collector, at left tackle; Ron Dawson, actor, at left guard; Ted Grossman, policeman and comedian, at center; George Sheffield, actor, at right guard; Bill (Peanuts) Weiss, former national weight-lifting champion and stuntman, at right tackle; Irving Koszewski, former Mr. Universe runner-up, at right end; Lou Elias, stunt man, at quarterback: Guy Way, actor, at halfback; Garry Downey, actor and world traveler, at halfback; and Dick Sweet, muscleman, extra and freelance karate practitioner, at fullback.
The man responsible for, or rather, guilty of, naming the lineups was Jim Dawson, tackle and captain of UCLA's 1957 team, who was talent chief for the Oakland Raiders last year and is now a scout for the Los Angeles Rams. Dawson probably would like to become an actor. He was hired for Goldfarb as technical adviser. In that capacity he advised about the purchase of $3,000 worth of authentic Notre Dame uniforms. And being an ex-lineman, he also advised that he play in the backfield.
Not even Jim Dawson knew how much technical advising he was going to have to do, but when Director Thompson got started shooting the game scenes where Notre Dame builds a 21-16 lead, it became clear that the monkey or the bear knew as much about football as the director.
One of the first questions Thompson, a Briton who had never seen a game of American football, asked Dawson was, "Jim, exactly in what manner should the umpire toss his hanky?"
The shooting began believably enough with Notre Dame scoring a touchdown on its first play, an end run where people like Jim Martin, Craig Chudy, Jim Steffen and Glenn Wilder caught a lot of Arabs from the blind sides and took some excruciating advantage of them.
"This is really great," said Dawson later. "You get to do all kinds of things here that you never got to do enough of in college. Really cream a guy."