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 Night of the Iguana & Puerto Vallarta

Iguana Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Night of the Iguana: The Start of Puerto Vallarta


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The filming of Night of the Iguana in Puerto Vallarta 


In 1963, John Huston and Guillermo Wulff, a Mexican architect and engineer, met in the lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel and set plans in motion to film Tennessee William's play, Night of the Iguana.  It was Wulff who suggested the jungles of Mismaloya for the film's making, believing the isolated jungles and hidden beaches would provide the exotic atmosphere needed to make the film believable. 


At the time, the area had no modern roads, phones or even electricity.  The crew actually built structures, including cabins for the cast and a movie set, from nothing. 


The descriptions of the cast by Houston described the time spent filming as a "true vacation.  A time of friends."  And, similar to today's pop culture, the cast was a myriad of affairs and eccentricities. Elizabeth Taylor, then married to Eddie Fisher, accompanied Richard Burton although she was not actually in the film- a misconception often heard in stories related to Puerto Vallarta and the production of Night of the Iguana.  Tennessee Williams traveled with his lover, Freddy.  Sue Lyon, daughter of Ava Gardner, was escorted by her then otherwise married boyfriend.  Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr completed the group, making six. In jest, Huston gave the stars a gold derringer each inscribed with the six names of the group.


When the press arrived to cover the celebrities activities, they were aptly impressed with the charm of the simple fishing village and spread the word.  Puerto Vallarta quickly grew in popularity.  It wasn't long before celebrities estates were being built- many designed and developed by Wulff.  Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor later married in Puerto Vallarta.  They built several homes and remained for years. 





Movie Plot:  Night of the Iguana

Richard Burton plays Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, a minister expelled from his Virginia church who travels to Mexico in search of his sanity and self-respect.  He finds himself as a bus tour guide, leading a group of women on an adventure to see "the miracles of god... by a man of god."  The 17 year old nymphet, Charlotte Goodall (played by Sue Lyon) is persistent with her advances on the minister, creating chaotic events for both he and the other characters, leading to the hijacking of the bus and a wild ride through the jungle to a remote hotel of the widow, Maxine Falk, played by Ava Gardner where the demure Hanna Jelkes is added to the mix.








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