The Richard Burton san felipe connection

San Felipe, Baja, Mexico
Raid on Rommel
Burton in the Sand

In 1969 Richard Burton made an unspectacular movie called Raid on Rommel. This was filmed in the foothills just outside of San Felipe. On June 28, a few days before shooting began, Burton commented in his journal, "Two more days before I go to Mexico. Tales I hear of the place -San Felipe- are not too encouraging. Mean temp 113. Only two restaurants. Population 800. Shark-infested waters. Hurricane season. Only 33 beds in the whole town for visitors, most people living in caravan trailers and tents. No telephone. Only expert pilots can land there. Otherwise OK."

Burton had just remarried Elizabeth Taylor a few days before. And he had also stopped drinking. He seemed to view the San Felipe Desert as a reason to take refuge in his renewed relationship with Elizabeth Taylor. On July 8th he wrote in his journal, "A horrible day. The heat in the desert was insufferable and I spent half the day laying in the sand with my mouth agape pretending to be unconscious while the sand, stirred up by the wind which was blowing in exactly the wrong direction, blew up my nose and into my mouth. However I was excited at seeing E. so I was stoically good-natured."

Taylor's plane finally arrived and Burton rushed back to his hotel to meet her. His journal remarks, "Immediately everybody started making cracks about San Felipe and what a terrible place it was and one would have thought they had attacked Pontrhydyfen [Burton's birthplace] -I was so defensive. Never has a man been so chauvinistic about a shithouse. I feebly pointed out the beauty of its beach, and lamely said the sea was wonderful. Kate said it was too warm and was like taking a hot bath. I lamely and bravely said that there were horses for hire. I said it was much more cosmopolitan than Bucerias [a town near Puerto Vallarta] which is like saying that Hell is better than Purgatory. We went in a sullen silence to dinner at Reuben's and it was as stickily uncomfortable as I'd ever known it or perhaps it was just the same as usual but I imagined it to be the worst night of the year and that the weather gods were conspiring against me."

Well as we all know, San Felipe wasn't enough to keep Taylor and Burton together. Or keep them off the booze. Probably the reason why so few (re: none) movie stars make San Felipe their retirement home.