"The Queen of Swords" was developed by Ira Bernstein, the same man that created "Relic Hunter". (Although a no-name hack named Linda Lukens sued for billing in the titles.) Jay Firestone, Adam Haight and David Abramowitz are executive producers. Alvaro Longoria and Simon MacCorkindale are the co-executive producers. Ken Gord was the Producer. (My thanks to Ken for some additions and corrections.) David Abramowitz was also Creative Consultant, read Head Writer (the same hats he wore in Highlander). David Baker provided some weapons, in-cluding the Queen's sword and Anthony de Longis was Sword Master/Fight Coordinator for the first six episodes and appeared in the first episode "Destiny", in which he played Tessa's sword instructor Maestro Torres, and number 9, "The Hanged Man." He was replaced by Jean Louis Airola, one of the most experienced and exciting stunt coordinators/stunt men in the world. Jean Louis was the coordinator on "French Kiss" as well as "Ronin". Ken Gord worked with him recently on the French episodes of "Relic Hunter". Co-coordinator Richard Cruz, who brought his skill with horses to "Gladiator," "Sleepy Hollow," "Braveheart," and "First Knight", also worked on "The Queen of Swords". Assisting Ricardo were Hernan Ortiz Redondo and Luis Miguel Arranz. Luis is famous throughout Andalusia as an exceptional horseman and rejoneador, or mounted bullfighter. Roberta Brown did Tessie's stunts and doubled for some of the guest stars for the first 5-6 eps. until a French replacement could be hired in the person of Gaelle Cohen, who placed 3rd in fencing in World Championships, rides, falls, does acrobatics and fire work and was a competitive diver. But not before Roberta had a chance to have a great sword duel with Valentine Pelka's character, Col. Luis Ramirez Montoya in the ep "Honor Thy Father" as well as double for Bo Derek in ep. 5 "The Witness". Ms. Santiago also had a stunt double for riding, Natalia Guijarro Brasseur. Even Ms. Santiago's mount "Chico" had two stunt horse doubles, Escandalo and Champion. The beautiful white horse Captain Grwasham rode was Montero, the same horse Russell Crowe rode in "Gladiator". Col. Montoya's mount was Salan.
22 episodes of Queen of Swords have been filmed in San Jose and Texas Hollywood, outside Tabernas, Almeria, in the Andalusian area of southern Spain. Texas Hollywood was one of three Western towns in the deserts of Tabernas, Almeria, Spain. The other two towns are called Mini Hollywood (built for "For a Few Dollars More") and Leone Town (built for the home of Claudia Cardinale in "Once Upon a Time in the West".) The desert "The Queen of Swords" was being filmed in is the only desert in Europe and has been used for hundreds of Westerns since the 60's. Parts of "El Cid" (written by Ben Barzman, father of Paolo Barzman) and the storming of Aquaba in "Lawrence of Arabia" where also shot there. The location of the hacienda for "The Queen of Swords" was near Playa de Genovese and Playa de Monsul outside San Jose, Almeria. The beaches in that area were also used for filming.
The one-hour weekly series was produced by Fireworks/Morena Films/Amy International in association with Telefonica and M6, distributed domestically by Paramount Domestic Television in association with Mercury Entertainment and distributed internationally by Fireworks International.
The premise was that a Spanish noblewoman returns to 1817 California to uncover the truth regarding the death of her father. There she finds the town oppressed by the local government/military overseen by an Alcalde. She leads a double life: a gentlewoman by day and a masked avenger by night. She is advised by a gypsy woman, who reads the Tarot, and her father, who appears to her from beyond the grave. The title, "The Queen of Swords", comes from a card in the Tarot.
The leading character, Maria Teresa "Tessa" Alvarado, was played by Miami born Cuban actress Tessie Marie Santiago. This was her first series. Peter Wingfield played Dr. Robert Helm (the love interest) and the Alcalde, Colonel Luis Ramirez Montoya, was played by Valentine Pelka. Both parts were designed specifically for the actors. Anthony Lemke played Montoya's second in command, Captain Marcus Grisham, an American mercenary being blackmailed by Montoya. Marta, the gypsy tarot reader, was played by Spanish actress Paulina Gálvez, José Sancho played Don Alvarado, Tessa's dead father, and Elsa Pataky played Vera Hidalgo, the unfaithful wife of Don Hidalgo (Tacho González) and a spy.
Highlander alum James Thorpe was on the writing staff and Gillian Horvath wrote ep. 10 , "The Counterfeit Queen". Elizabeth Gracen was guest starring in ep. 10 "The Counterfeit Queen". Richard Martin directed two eps, "Counterfeit Queen" and "Running Wild". Emile Abossolo-M'bo (Luther from "Legacy") appeared in episode 9 "The Hanged Man" which also includes Anthony de Longis. The director of "The Hanged Man", "Fever" and "The Return" was Highlander director Paolo Barzman ("Blackmail" "Legacy" and "Forgive us our Trespasses"). Episodes 6 and 8 were directed by Peter Ellis, who worked on HL:TS and The Raven. Another HL alumni, Grant Russell, the British actor who played another Spanish character in "Justice" was in QoS ep "The Uncle" which was directed by yet another HL alumni, Jorge Montesi. Jorge also directed "The Serpent" with David Carradine. Jorge directed Highlander eps in season one. Highlander alumni directors Dennis Berry, Paolo Barzman, George Mendeluk, Jorge Montesi and Richard Martin are all helmed episodes of The Queen of Swords.
Bo Derek guest starred in ep. 5 "The Witness". Other guest stars included Daisy Fuentes.
The show had a Latin music soundtrack. Music for the opening and closing credits was performed by Jose Feliciano. The title song was "Behind the Mask". Philip Stanger provided a driving electric guitar soundtrack for the series. The series had a movie quality look to it as it was shot in super 16 mm film, which is the same as that used to shoot movies. Director, Jon Cassar; director of photography, Alwyn Kumst C.S.C; Production Designer Fernando Gonzalez's list of credits include "El Cid" (also filmed in Tabenas, Almeria), Richard Lester's "The Three Musketeers" and he has several Academy Award nominations; wardrobe designer, Evelyne Correard Trompier, Key Makeup Artist, Angel Luis de Diego Nieto; supervising editor, T.C. Martin; special effects, Carlos Fernandez, Tomas Urban; art director, Carlos Suarez Bodelon; set decorator, Marta Agullo Laguna.
After broadcasting all 22 episodes and a complete set of reruns, the series was not renewed. Videotapes are available through Fireworks.
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