Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

For an introduction to this blog and to the obsession a growing number of vintage film and TV fans have with the Iverson Movie Ranch — the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and TV history — please read the site's introductory post, found here.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• I've also begun a YouTube channel for Iverson Movie Ranch clips and other movie location videos, which you can get to by clicking here.
• Here's a link to Garden of the Gods, the best-known section of the Iverson Movie Ranch (featured in the movie "Stagecoach," the "Lone Ranger" TV show and hundreds of other productions).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
• Readers can email the webmaster at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mulholland and Cahuenga, 1945: Old L.A. roads and bridge surface in the Universal cliffhanger "The Master Key" (Off the Beaten Path)

"The Master Key" (Universal, 1945)

This location looked familiar to me when the shot came up in Chapter 2 of the old serial "The Master Key." The site is just off Cahuenga Boulevard between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood.

Same location in recent years (Google street view)

The road goes up the hill in both directions: Mulholland Drive in the foregound and Woodrow Wilson Drive in the background. Both roads work their way west through the Hollywood Hills. 

The intersection marks the eastern terminus of Mulholland Drive, and a number of major thoroughfares run through the area. You may want to click on the photo to enlarge it to read the road signs.

Mulholland Drive approaching Cahuenga

Pulling back from the previous shot for another Google street view of the area, this shot includes more of Mulholland Drive in the foreground.

A lamppost can be seen in the background, along with the shadow of a similar fixture in the foreground.

A lamppost is also visible in the same position in the 1945 screen shot.

Here's a better look at the lamppost as it appears today. While it is located in the same spot as the lamppost seen in 1945, this post is a newer design.

"The Master Key"

A closer look at the lamppost in the serial confirms that not only the light fixture, but also the post itself, has been updated since 1945.

Only in Hollywood? A production happened to be filming somewhere up Woodrow Wilson Drive at the same time that Google photographed these images for the street view feature on Google Maps.

The Google page indicates that these photos were taken in January of this year. The defective alignment of the sign is due to the process Google uses to piece together its street view images.

In the serial the action moves south on Mulholland and uphill — toward the camera in this shot — arriving at another intersection about a block south of the first one.

This is the same intersection as it appears today.

The intersection includes a bridge heading east over Cahuenga and the 101, connecting Mulholland Drive with Lakeridge Place on the east side of the freeway.

Here's another view of the west end of the bridge in modern times, this time looking south up Mulholland. You may have noticed that the bridge still features the old-fashioned light fixtures.

"The Master Key" (1945)

A similar shot of the bridge entrance looking south up Mulholland appears in the Universal serial. In the serial this bridge is referred to as the "Garvey Overpass."

"Garvey Overpass" — the Mulholland-Lakeridge Bridge in 1945

Here's a view of the bridge in "The Master Key," taken from Lakeridge Place looking west toward Mulholland. Notice the old lampposts lining both sides of the bridge.

The Mulholland-Lakeridge Bridge as it appears today

A recent Google street view, taken from approximately the same spot, again shows the bridge looking west toward Mulholland Drive. The shot reveals that the old lampposts remain in place today.

In the background of the screen shot from "The Master Key" we can see a wall of rock along Mulholland Drive.

The same steep rock wall is easy to identify today, even though it's partially concealed behind foliage. This shot also provides a good look at one of the old lampposts, at the right.

This shot from "The Master Key" shows the rock wall from another angle. I also want to call your attention to the curves along Mulholland Drive seen in the background.

The same steep rock wall and same curves can be seen in this recent Google shot.

A number of utility poles also turn up both in 1945 and in recent shots.

The utility poles have evolved in the 70-plus years since "The Master Key" was filmed, as one would expect, but I found it surprising that they've changed as little as they have.

"The Master Key"

The cliffhanger ending to Chapter 2 has a car going over the side of the bridge — and the same bridge over Cahuenga and the 101 is used in the shot.

The bridge today (Google street view)

It's not possible to duplicate the angle using a Google street view, but we can get a decent look at the same part of the bridge as it appears today.

Mulholland-Lakeridge Bridge (Bing bird's-eye view)

A bird's-eye view of the bridge in modern times shows that it spans the busy Cahuenga Pass, which connects the San Fernando Valley with downtown L.A.

The bridge and roads are identified here.

A wider bird's-eye view shows the Hollywood Freeway through the Cahuenga Pass, with the Mulholland-Lakeridge bridge noted near the center of the frame.
 
Mulholland Drive winds its way west through the Hollywood Hills from the area where the serial was filmed.

The neighborhood contains a number of well-known attractions, including the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Reservoir and Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

L-R: Milburn Stone, Jan Wiley, Alfred "Lash" LaRue and Sarah Padden in "The Master Key"

"The Master Key" has an interesting cast, including Lash LaRue in his first movie, before he was billed as Lash, and Milburn Stone before he became "Gunsmoke's" Doc Adams.
 
Milburn Stone as Doc ("Gunsmoke")

Stone, who played the lead role in "The Master Key," already had a 20-year career in the movies by the time "Gunsmoke" came calling in 1955. Then he wound up playing Doc for the next 20 years.


Off the Beaten Path is a series of posts that are not specifically focused on the usual subject matter of this blog, the Iverson Movie Ranch. You can go directly to the Off the Beaten Path posts by looking up the term in the long index of labels at the right of the page, or by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A long, strange trip through Silverland — where Jesus walked and two Lone Rangers rode

One of the most challenging areas for location research on the former Iverson Movie Ranch is Silverland, situated along the west side of Topanga Canyon Boulevard, adjacent to the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village.

"Silverland Clump" — the major surviving rock formation in Silverland

This part of what was once the Lower Iverson was largely destroyed after the land was sold off for development of the mobile home park in 1963. Only a handful of the area's rock formations survived.

West end of the Silverland Clump

Located at the top of the Topanga Cut, which was carved out in the 1960s to put Topanga through to the new 118 Freeway, the Silverland Clump effectively marks the eastern boundary of the Lower Iverson.

This bird's-eye view, looking north at Silverland and a portion of the mobile home park, notes the location of the Silverland Clump, so named because it is the primary surviving clump of rocks that didn't already have a name.

Another view of the area, looking west this time, reveals how the Silverland Clump, along with the rest of Silverland, is positioned at the top of the Topanga Cut.

"Johnny Ringo" TV series (1959): Peter Whitney in Silverland

The Silverland Clump turns up in a number of old productions. Here's a shot from the "Johnny Ringo" TV series, from the episode "Dead Wait," which premiered Nov. 19, 1959.

Two of the rocks behind Peter Whitney are identified "A" and "B" here.

The same rocks are easy to spot in this photo of the Silverland Clump in recent years — especially given that they still have the letters "A" and "B" on them.

The rock on the left marks the eastern end of the Silverland Clump.

"Canyon Ambush" (Monogram, 1952)

The same rock is again on the left in the Johnny Mack Brown B-Western "Canyon Ambush." Virtually all of the same background rocks are seen in the above two photos, about 60 years apart.

The foreground of the "Canyon Ambush" shot includes a stacked rock. Little is known about this rock, although it appears in a few other productions. Sadly, not a trace of it can be found today.

"Texas City" (Monogram, 1952)

 Silverland turns up again in another Johnny Mack Brown movie from 1952, "Texas City."

"From Hell to Texas" (20th Century-Fox, 1958)

Here's a nice shot of Silverland from the Don Murray-Chill Wills Western "From Hell to Texas." Click on the photo to get the full panoramic effect.

"The Cisco Kid" TV series (1954)

One of the signoff sequences used during the TV series "The Cisco Kid" was filmed in Silverland. An early color Western TV show, "The Cisco Kid" aired in syndication for six seasons, from 1950-1956.

Surviving rock photographed on recent visit

A short distance west of the Silverland Clump is this inconspicuous diagonal slab of sandstone. It may not look like much, but it contributes to the collective understanding of the area by its sheer force of will — by having survived.

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" TV series (1958)

The same diagonal slab can be spotted in old productions. In the above shot from the "Wyatt Earp" episode "Three," the diagonal rock appears toward the right of the frame. The episode premiered May 13, 1958.

The diagonal slab is a close neighbor to Saucer, which is well-known from the movies. Thanks to the diagonal slab, I recently discovered Saucer has survived.

"The Man From Colorado" (1948): Saucer at top left

This is a more familiar angle on Saucer — you can't miss it in the top left corner in this shot from the Columbia Western "The Man From Colorado." You may also recognize Mushroom Rock at the center of the frame.

If you can find the unnamed sandstone slab, you can find Saucer, though you'd have a hard time recognizing it if you didn't know what you were looking for.

Saucer today — an old friend from the movies

This is the top of Saucer in its current environs — its former high perch now just a figment of the past. Due to drastic changes in the terrain, it is impossible today to see the rock from the angles used in the movies.

Saucer today — another angle, pretty much the same

Saucer is worth another look, even if there's not much to see. The discovery that Saucer remains in place and can be identified is significant, while also frustrating due to the rock's diminished stature.

"Silver Range" (Monogram, 1946) — Saucer in its glory days

Saucer juts out prominently next to Johnny Mack Brown's head in the B-Western "Silver Range."

The screen shot includes a partial view of Mushroom Rock, which has also survived and which I've blogged about before. You may recognize Raymond Hatton on the left.

"Man From Sonora" (Monogram, 1951)

One more shot of Saucer in better days — the way a proud movie rock deserves to be remembered.

Scoop Rock, or Jump Rock, in the center of the screen, is one of the few other survivors in Silverland.

Scoop Rock and its distinctive "scoop" are noted here. The scoop — which bears a resemblance to an ice cream scoop — helps identify the rock in the movies and on TV, but lately it's hard to see due to foliage.

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp": Scoop Rock

Scoop Rock, or Jump Rock, appears at the left of the frame in this shot from the TV series "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp." This is another shot from the episode "Three."

Ice cream scoop — or as I like to call it, a "scooping iron"

I believe this is the kind of ice cream scoop that gives the rock its name. The name that I first heard for the rock feature was Jump Rock, but when I later heard it called Scoop Rock, the name resonated.

"Bonanza" episode "My Brother's Keeper" (premiered April 7, 1963)

The "Bonanza" episode "My Brother's Keeper" would be one of the final productions to shoot in Silverland, with the episode premiering the same year the land was sold off, 1963.

The screen shot from "My Brother's Keeper" features Scoop Rock, including a good view of its trademark "lip."

"My Brother's Keeper": Most of these rocks are gone now

Another shot from the "Bonanza" episode displays a bunch of rocks that were northeast of Scoop Rock. For the most part, these rocks have been cleared out.

The sad truth about Silverland is that there's not much left of it. The bulk of what follows is a parade of "non-survivors" — rocks that shone brightly in their Hollywood careers, but no longer exist.

"Perils of Nyoka" (1942) — Kinda Like Doglips

The dominant rock feature in Silverland during the filming era was this beauty. I call it "Kinda Like Doglips," because in the early days of my research I confused it with Doglips, located elsewhere on the Lower Iverson.

"Son of Paleface" (Paramount, 1952)

A color version of Kinda Like Doglips lurks in the background in this shot from the Bob Hope-Jane Russell-Roy Rogers Western comedy "Son of Paleface."

"Overland Trail" TV series (1960) — Kinda Like Doglips, on the left

The Western TV series "Overland Trail" includes this shot of Kinda Like Doglips from a slightly different angle. The shot comes from the episode "The O'Mara's Ladies," which was filmed in 1959 but premiered Feb. 14, 1960.

Kinda Like Doglips was destroyed along with most of Silverland after the land was sold in 1963.

"Texas City" (1952) — Silverland, including the shadow of Kinda Like Doglips

Here's an intriguing shot from the Monogram B-Western "Texas City," with the shadow of Doglips filling much of the right half of the frame.

Along with the shadow of Kinda Like Doglips, the shot features significant Silverland rocks.

The rocks in the background include the west end of the Silverland Clump, on the left, and a rock that doesn't have a real name but I still call it "the Rock in Question" because that's how it was ID'd in research years ago.

As if that weren't enough, the "Texas City" screen shot includes rocks on the east side of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. These rocks remain in place today, as does the Silverland Clump — but not the Rock in Question.

"The Living Bible" (Family Films, 1952): The Rock in Question

The Rock in Question once stood behind Jesus when he appeared in Silverland.

"The Lone Ranger Rides Again" (Republic serial, released Feb. 25, 1939)

The rock's fame doesn't end there: The Rock in Question can make a claim to being the original "Lone Ranger Rock," appearing as Silver rears up in the Republic serials, a good 20 years before Clayton Moore's more famous rearing-up sequence about a half-mile west of here.
 
The second of Republic's two Lone Ranger serials, "The Lone Ranger Rides Again" was filmed over a six-week span in December 1938 and January 1939, with the bulk of the location footage shot at Iverson — including key scenes filmed in Silverland.

"Texas City" (1952)

Another shot from "Texas City" reveals a wide variety of Silverland rocks. Sadly, most of these are gone now.

Of all the rocks noted here, only the Silverland Clump survives. But they're all interesting in their own ways.

"The Lone Ranger" TV show (1949)

Silverland gets its name from footage of the Lone Ranger taming a still-wild Silver. Iverson expert Ben Burtt introduced the name several years ago, and it caught on.

"The Lone Ranger" TV show: Episode 2, "The Lone Ranger Fights On"

The footage appears both in the second episode of the TV show "The Lone Ranger" and in the 1949 feature film "The Lone Ranger," an edit of the first three episodes of the TV series.

Before I heard the name "Silverland," I used to call the area the Manta Ray's Garden, based on Silver Rock's resemblance to a Manta Ray.

"The Lone Ranger Fights On"

I can't look at this picture without seeing the large head of a llama to the left of the Lone Ranger.

The "llama" is an illusion created partly by the Rock in Question. I hope you see it too — otherwise you might start to think I'm a little weird ... although that ship may have already sailed.

"The Roy Rogers Show" — Raccoon Rock

The most "raccoon-like" shot of Raccoon Rock may be this one from "The Roy Rogers Show."

The screen shot comes from the episode "Ambush," which was shot in 1955 and premiered Jan. 15, 1956.

"The Roy Rogers Show" — "Phantom Rustlers"

Raccoon Rock also sneaks into other shots where it's less obvious. This shot from "The Roy Rogers Show" features an unusual angle on the rock and the area below it.

The shot comes from the "Roy Rogers" episode "Phantom Rustlers," which premiered April 5, 1953.

"The Lone Ranger" — "The Letter Bride"

Raccoon Rock was relatively high, causing it to pop up in the background in shots taken along the heavily filmed chase road in front of Range Rider Rock, as in this shot from the color season of "The Lone Ranger."

The shot comes from the episode "The Letter Bride," which premiered Nov. 15, 1956.

You may have noticed a large concrete basin in the bird's-eye views of Silverland near the top of this post. The basin occupies the space where many of Silverland's most important movie rocks once stood.

Silverland today — the concrete basin

The exact purpose of the concrete basin has never been clear to me, but the story generally told is that the site was supposed to be some kind of sewage facility for the adjacent mobile home park.

As the story goes, the facility never functioned as it was supposed to, and it was quickly abandoned. The site's dilapidated state tends to support the story.

The top of Stoney Point is visible in the background in this shot looking south across the concrete basin. Prior to 1963 this shot would have included Silver Rock and the Rock in Question.

This is the area where Kinda Like Doglips once stood tall. These days the site is a frequent target of graffiti artists.

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp": "Three" (1958) — Silverland

Silverland's glory days are well behind it, but in its day, it was a special place.

"White Squaw" (1956) — Kinda Like Doglips in background

It was a corner of the Iverson Movie Ranch that left behind an impressive screen legacy.

"From Hell to Texas" (1958)

For all that is known today about Silverland, it remains a land of mystery.