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Monday, November 30, 2009


"Merrill's Marauders" (1962)- Stars Jeff Chandler, Pancho Magalona, Luz Valdez, Ty Hardin, Peter Brown, Will Hutchins, Andre Duggan, Claude Akins/ Directed by Samuel Fuller

-->Set in World War II Burma, Merrill’s Marauders is the true story of the fighting 5307th Composite Unit led by Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill (Jeff Chandler) and manned by Stock (Ty Hardin),Chowhound (Will Hutchins), Kolowicz (Claude Akins), Taggy (Pancho Magalona) and other young dogfaces who after a few weeks of basic training had the fate of the world loaded on their backs. Their mission was to drive a fatal wedge between an enemy link-up.

The movie became the subject of controversy in 1962. The cause: Filipino star Pancho Magalona was billed way down below the cast, and his voice was dubbed in a voice, diction and accent not his. However, when the movie was released locally, Pancho's name was billed next to the lead star and even Luz Valdez's name who only had a brief non-speaking role in the movie was way up. I'm pretty sure that Pancho's voice in the dvd version was his. See the film clips below---

(click images to enlarge)

Literary Song-Movie Magazine/ 1962

Courtesy of Warner Bros.


TheCoolCanadian said...


Since Magalona wasn't a well-known Hollywood movie star that time, the producers would sell the film better by giving their internationally known stars the biggest billing.

Regarding dubbing, this was a common practice in the old days, especially with actors who have thick accents. Magalona, on the other hand, didn't have a thick accent, but I can see where the problem lies: his "blending" in his pronunciation was problematic because the words were pronounced almost totally separated from each other. For instance, Pancho would say: "Kill Him!"

He would say this in two syllables, all right, but separated by the sound of the L in kill, and the sound of H in him.

However, in the English language, the blending of the sound of the words always make or break the possibility of being understood. Hence, when an English speaker would say these words, they will sound almost like this: "Killim!"

The producers were so no-brainer in the first place. A lesson in IPA (international phonetic alphabet) would have fixed the problem. IPA, an international standard deemed by speech experts as the most well-understood accent in the world (based upon the accent of north American westcoast: California, Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia and Alaska). Obviously, the experts didn't think OKLAHOMA would be the ideal accent. He-he.

But, kidding aside, there are only 50 sounds in the English language. Magalona would have mastered them in a month or two by daily practice. But, producers can't be bothered by that. The days of Hollywood when producers gave their actors professional lessons in speech and drama are long gone. Now, the only thing they do is hire a speech expert and let him hang out on the set while filming, and if an actor has some accent problem, this tutor would correct it before the take. I know a person who does this here in Vancouver (Vancouver, BC is known as Hollywood north because of the huge number of films and TV series being shot here), and there are only 3 or 4 speech experts working on the set to help actors right now.

Regarding the billing in RP: the theater owners and the booking companies have actually the clout to CHANGE a movie's title and the BILLING as well. There were many Hollywood movies whose titles were replaced in the Philippines. I will not enumerate them all, but I'll give an example of a more recent film.

Leonardo di Caprio's
BASKETBALL DIARIES - a biopic of writer-rocker Jim Caroll, was actually replaced in the Philippines by the theater owners/booking company to: BOYFRIENDS. See?

I wasn't surprised at all when I saw the ad in a Philippine newspaper.

Rodolfo Samonte said...

Simon, JM,
I doubt if Magalona was dubbed. Your clip sounds like him, and I also have the VHS, and it's exactly the same. Samuel Fuller was a respected and intelligent director and Magalona's character was suppose to be a Filipino, so naturally he would have an accent. Also the clip was Magalona's longest dialogue, in where he even speaks Tagalog. His other speaking parts were two short sentences at the beginning of the movie, and another two near the end where his character dies. Now why dubbed him at all when he had such short speaking parts. If any dubbing was necessary, it would probably be the other way around: make him sound like a native. Magalona's diction and English is quite good, I think, he could pass for American.
When I first arrive in here, I really wanted to watch again a Clint Eastwood movie titled The Magnificent Gunfighter which I had seen in Manila and which had been one of my favorite and unforgettable westerns. I couldn't find it. It turned out the title here was For a Few Dollars More.


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