John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Dean Martin among other stars shot Westerns in Durango


Mexican cinematographer Alfonso Serrano Maturino, born and raised in Durango, reveals in an interview how he decided to dedicate his life to the “Silver Screen”.

If I had not been born in Durango, also known as “The Land of Cinema”, I might have been a doctor, architect or maybe a priest, but since I was almost born at the same time as Pluma Blanca, the first commercial film filmed in my homeland – of nearly 150 productions that have been shot here, most of them Westerns—, I ended up being a film director.

I was five years old and my dad took me to see from afar how that Western by Robert D. Webb was filmed. We were on a picnic and I watched the Indians run and the camera running behind them on horseback. Because of its landscapes, Durango has attracted all the great directors of the Western genre, including Mexican Western, such as Alberto Mariscal.

It has a particularly blue sky where, especially in those times when there was no color correction in the cinema, and that’s why many foreign filmmakers came to film here. They also discovered that the capital city was very attractive for all the quarry buildings.

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I was attracted to the scenarios that were built for each film, the proximity to actors such as Kirk Douglas, Dean Martin and, of course, John Wayne, among others who came down here to film.

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Like many of my elementary and high school classmates, I participated as an extra in several films, and one day Anthony Quinn, who was filming “The Canyons of San Sebastian” (1968), invited me to play golf. It was casual, I was close to him and suddenly he invited me, maybe because he had no one else to share his day off. I didn’t know how to play, but of course, I accepted (this was Anthony Quinn for Christ sake!).

On another occasion, director Sam Peckinpah told me how to enter the picture during a scene, when I was just an extra in the movie “Major Dundee”, starring Charlton Heston. The occasional interaction with these actors and directors gave me no choice but to decide on cinematography.

I can say that my first teachers were Burt Kennedy, Henry Fonda, among others … And that Sam Peckinpah directed me (even though I was just an extra), oh yeah… and that I played golf with Anthony Quinn, of course!

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The Mazatlan Post Newsroom with information from