Site icon Catch the Moment

But despite appearances, the Italian side is harder to climb than the Swiss side

The Matterhorn formed millions of years ago when several land masses slammed into one another, forcing the ground upward. Geologists have determined that the hard gneiss rock on top of the mountain came from the African continental plate as it smashed into the Laurasian, or European plate. Its characteristic and unique shape make it a true wonder.

Facts about the Matterhorn

The first ascent of the Matterhorn in the year 1865, which cost the lives of four out of seven alpinists, changed the region (which had been isolated until then) forever. The Matterhorn became world-famous, and ambitious mountaineers aspired to climb it. The race had started in 1857 mostly with Italian climbers. Despite appearances, the Italian side is harder than the Swiss side.

Zermatt is known throughout the world for its skiing, especially Triftji for its moguls. The high altitude results in consistent skiing continuously throughout the summer. Skiing in Zermatt is split up into four areas: Sunnegga, Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn and Schwarzsee.

The Yeti is the main antagonist of the Disneyland attraction Matterhorn Bobsleds. It is a vicious monster that lives on the Matterhorn, attacking humans that dare to enter onto the mountain. Its vocal sound effects were provided by Frank Welker.

Movie Fame

Third Man on the Mountain is a 1959 American family adventure film by Walt Disney Productions, directed by Ken Annakin and starring Michael RennieJames MacArthur and Janet Munro. Set during the golden age of alpinism, its plot concerns a young Swiss man who conquers the mountain that killed his father. It is based on Banner in the Sky, a James Ramsey Ullman 1955 novel about the first ascent of the Citadel, and was televised under this name.

The film was based on the 1954 novel Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman, who had written The White Tower. The novel was based on the real life first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865.[3] Captain John Winter was based on Edward Whymper but the young character of Rudi was entirely fictional. The New York Times called it “a superb mountain climbing story for younger readers”.[4]


Movie rights were bought by Disney in July 1957.[5] It was his fifth film shot in Britain, following Treasure Island, Robin Hood, The Sword and the Rose and Rob Roy.[1] In January the lead role was given to James MacArthur, who had just been in Disney’s The Light in the Forest. Eleanor Griffin was assigned to write the script.[6] The job of directing was given to Ken Annakin, who had made a number of films for Disney. David Niven was to play the other lead.[7] Annakin did a location reconnaissance in Switzerland and did pre production in Los Angeles.[8] Annakin wrote “Jim was stocky, muscular, good-humoured — the adopted son of Helen Hayes — well educated and with an excellent sense of humour.”[9] In June 1958 Michael Rennie replaced David Niven.[10] Janet Munro made the film as the second in a five-picture deal with Disney, the first being Darby O’Gill and the Little People.[11]


Filming began June 23, 1958. The film was made on location in Switzerland with Gaston Rébuffat as the head of the mountain second unit photography.[12] it was mostly shot in Zermatt, a location that Walt Disney was familiar with from his ski trips. The studio portions of the film were done in London.[13] Zermatt was the model for the fictional town of Kurtal. Mountaineering scenes were shot in Rotenboden. The entire cast and crew, numbering 170, did a course in mountaineering before filming began on June 23, 1958.[1] James Donald fell eighteen feet off a crag shooting a scene but escaped with minor injuries. Assistant cameraman Pierre Tairraz fell in a crevasse and broke three ribs.[1] The extraordinary difficulty of making this film on the Matterhorn was chronicled in the “Perilous Assignments” episode of Walt Disney Presents. Helen Hayes visited her son MacArthur on location and told Disney that she wished she could be in the film. Disney had a small role written for her.[14] “On my day off I climbed the Matterhorn,” said MacArthur.[15]


The musical score for Third Man on the Mountain was composed by William Alwyn and features the original song “Climb the Mountain” by Franklyn Marks.[16]


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that “it is open to question whether the techniques of climbing pictured here, and some of the desperate deeds of mountaineering, were used almost a hundred years ago. Be that as it may, and however one feels about accuracy, the business of mountain climbing is excitingly visioned all the way … What’s more, the scenery is lovely.”[17] Variety said, “It has the sort of high altitude thrills to send the viewer cowering deep in his seat and the sort of moving drama to put him on the edge of it.”[18] Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “The scenery alone … is worth the price. A Walt Disney company spent grueling months in the Swiss Alps grinding out painful shot after shot, but they came back with a Technicolor treat that is high on suspense, excitement and simple, uncomplicated fun.”[19] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post declared it “a fine example of a Disney Fiction Film, well photographed and welcomely wholesome.”[20] Harrison’s Reports said, “As is the case with most Disney productions, meticulous attention has been paid to production values, and the film is overloaded with cloying sentiment. However, it is difficult to present a logical argument against a successful formula, and there seems to be no reason to deviate businesswise from the recent Disney pattern.”[21] The Monthly Film Bulletin called the mountain scenes “almost continuously impressive and terrifying. But Ken Annakin seems happier selecting camera angles and arranging foolhardy action sequences than directing dialogue. Everyone but Michael Rennie and James MacArthur overacts vigorously, possibly in an effort to prevent the valley scenes seeming too elementary for schoolboy audiences. But in fact the whole buoyant and absurdly exciting production seems set fair to become a children’s screen classic.”[22]

Annakin wrote the film became Walt Disney’s “favourite real-life movie and still has not been equalled for its climbing shots combined with a good story and romance. But there are purists who might say Walt fell between two stools. Climbing buffs have no time for the sentimental scenes between Jim and Janet, and Walt’s Swiss choirs and alpenhorns, which undoubtedly soften the impact of the movie. But you could never change Walt from his determination to make complete, all-around family entertainment.”[23]

The film inspired the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction at Disneyland Park when Disney sent a souvenir on a postcard to his lead imagineer at the time writing only two words: “build this”.[13]

WE&P by: EZorrillaMc

Exit mobile version