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 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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Garden of the Gods, 1930: Walking in the footsteps of Gary Cooper in "Morocco"

Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich in "Morocco" (Paramount, 1930)

The early talkie "Morocco" has been a fixture on my Iverson Movie Ranch "to do" list for years. I've scanned it several times since 2011, but until last week I never found proof that it was filmed on the ranch.

Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in the Garden of the Gods in "Desire"

It's generally well-known that Gary Cooper was a fixture on the Iverson Ranch — I think my tally of Cooper's movies filmed on the ranch is up to at least seven and counting.

Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich's association with Iverson is less widely known — I might even go so far as to call her one of the Iverson Movie Ranch's "best-kept secrets."

"Rancho Notorious" (RKO, 1952)

Dietrich is hardly the type of movie star typically associated with the B-Westerns that are the Iverson Ranch's meat and potatoes. But Dietrich appears in at least four movies filmed on the ranch, including "Desire," which I've blogged about before, and the RKO "A" Western "Rancho Notorious," later in Dietrich's career.

"The Devil Is a Woman" (Paramount, 1935)

I was recently looking into another of Dietrich's Iverson movies, "The Devil Is a Woman," as part of a renewed focus on Paramount movies after last month's Woolsey Fire ravaged the Paramount Ranch.

DVD set containing five Marlene Dietrich movies, including "Morocco"

I picked up a five-movie Dietrich set, "The Glamour Collection," because it had "The Devil Is a Woman," but while I was at it I also took another look at "Morocco," which is in improved picture quality on the DVD set.

"Morocco" (1930): A rock that looks suspiciously like Iverson

When I got to "Morocco's" main rock sequence, something finally clicked: I think I know that rock!

The same rock, photographed last week

Then it was off to Iverson to check it out, and yeah, there's that same rock.

"Desert Tortoise" in 2017

Here's a wider view of the rock, which I call "Desert Tortoise." It's located on property that has been preserved as the Garden of the Gods Park, which is open to the public from dawn to dusk.

This is the part of the rock that appears in the "Morocco" scene. You can find a map to Desert Tortoise by clicking here — scroll down to the directions to the "fake rock arch," because it's the same spot.

Gary Cooper pokes around the Iverson rocks in "Morocco"

While I was there, I searched for the route that might have been taken by Gary Cooper as the sequence played out. In the movie Cooper's Legionnaire is sent on a dangerous mission that involves poking around in the rocks.

Gary Cooper, center, pauses near a large triangular rock

The sequence took Cooper and the "Morocco" crew to an obscure area in the depths of the western Garden of the Gods that was almost never filmed. Notice the large triangular rock behind Cooper.

The same triangular rock in 2018

The triangular rock looks different today, and was a challenge to find. Intrusive foliage makes it impossible to accurately match the movie shot. But the triangular rock was the key to finding "Morocco's" secret filming area.

Notice the "rock sliver" indicated here.

The same sliver of rock appears in the movie as the scene progresses and Cooper moves forward.

Gary Cooper emerges from a previously unknown cave

How cool would it be to find this obscure cave where Cooper poked his head out as he closed in on the end of his mission? When I began my own mission, it seemed like too much to hope for.

The same cave, discovered in 2018

But suddenly I found myself peering into that very cave. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but even after all the rocks and shooting sites I've explored, my heart was racing as I took this shot.

Any number of markers can be matched up between the recent shot and the movie shot, starting with these three rocks in front of the cave.

The same rocks, A, B and C, can be readily identified in the movie sequence.

Here we see a shot slightly farther along in the sequence, and I've noted two rock features.

Tab A and Slot B as they appear today

The rock parts may not meet the technical definition of "tab" or "slot," but for some reason I got nostalgic about when I was a kid assembling some plastic junk where the instructions would say "Insert Tab A into Slot B."

Notice the section of rock above Gary Cooper's head.

Sometime between 1930 and 2018, a big piece of rock that was up there fell off.

Marlene Dietrich in "Morocco"

Below I've posted a link to the DVD "Marlene Dietrich — The Glamour Collection" on Amazon. I paid about $10 for the set, which contains five movies on two discs, including at least two, "Morocco" and "The Devil Is a Woman," that feature scenes filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

New photos of Paramount Ranch as it appeared in the final days before the Woolsey Fire

The Paramount Ranch Western Town in October 2018, just days before the Woolsey Fire

My friend Marion Veal stopped by Paramount Ranch in late October and took photos of the Western Town during what turned out to be its final days — before the Woolsey Fire burned the place to the ground on Nov. 9.

The General Store, dressed for its final appearance

The General Store and other buildings were being used by an independent film company in October and November, with that filming disrupted by the fire. (Click on these photos to see larger versions.)

Interior of the General Store

The General Store building was open in October, with the production company filming some interior shots in the town. We rarely get a chance to see the buildings' interiors.

Rental truck parked in front of the Saloon in October

A Budget rental truck was on the site at the time, presumably part of the independent production. Notice the small gazebo near the front of the truck.

The gazebo in October 2018, just days before it was destroyed by the fire

The gazebo has been prominently featured in the HBO series "Westworld," which filmed at Paramount Ranch in 2016 and 2017.

The gazebo in 2017, dressed for a wild scene in "Westworld"

Film historian and photographer Jerry Condit was able to get this shot back in 2017 showing the gazebo as it appeared during production on a scene for season two of "Westworld."

The gazebo and neighboring buildings during "Westworld" filming in 2017

A wider view of the setting shows overturned tables and other signs of the chaos created by the "Westworld" scene. The building partially visible at top left is the Saloon.

You may recall this shot of the Saloon, taken by Jerry on the same visit. This photo was included in my Nov. 10 post showing the fire damage at Paramount Ranch, which you can see by clicking here.

The gray building at top right is the house where a Paramount Ranch administrator lived until the building was consumed by the Woolsey Fire.

The administrator's house in its yellow trim, in 2010

The administrator's house previously had a yellow paint job, as seen in this photo from 2010. Additional photos of these buildings can be seen in my recent post about the rebuilding effort at Paramount Ranch.

The Mining Equipment store in 2010, next to the administrator's house

The building next to the administrator's house was decked out for years as a mining equipment store.

The same building in October 2018 — as the "Trapper" building

But by the time the structure burned down this month, it had evolved into the "Trapper" building, part of the "Westworld" set.

A spelling error that survived for years

Readers with a sharp eye — or a productive form of OCD — may have already spotted this, but it's easy to miss. The sign on the building had an extra "t" in the word "equipment" throughout its "Mining Equiptment" years.

HBO's "Westworld" (2016): The walkway in front of the Saloon

Here's a screen shot from a "Westworld" scene in 2016. The shot is taken with the camera shooting down the walkway in front of the Saloon, with the gazebo visible at the far end of the walkway.

The same walkway in 2017

Jerry Condit framed this 2017 photo to match the "Westworld" shot. The town was still in its "Westworld" trim at the time, although this was a separate visit from the one in which the overturned tables were seen.

The Hotel Mud Bug and Grandmother Oak in October 2018

This shot by Marion Veal would be one of the last photos of the Hotel Mud Bug — and also one of the last, for the time being, to capture a healthy Grandmother Oak, seen looming behind the hotel.

The Grandmother Oak after the Woolsey Fire

It remains to be seen whether the Grandmother Oak, also known as the Witness Tree, will survive the fire. The tree's southern side appears to be in pretty good shape, but the northern half, which was closer to the old barn as it burned down, suffered significant damage.

"The Trumpet Blows" (Paramount, 1934): The old horse barn and the Grandmother Oak

Not surprisingly, the Grandmother Oak is so named because it's really old. This shot from the George Raft movie "The Trumpet Blows" includes a much younger version of the tree, on the left, about 84 years ago.

The section of the hotel highlighted here was where the front of Dr. Michaela Quinn's medical clinic was located in the hit CBS series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," which aired from 1993-1998.

Jane Seymour as Dr. Quinn, in front of her medical clinic

Here we see Dr. Quinn, played by Jane Seymour, standing near the doorway to the clinic. The TV series filmed extensively in the Paramount Ranch Western Town throughout its six seasons.

Notice the small building highlighted at the left.

The small building is "Isaac's Cafe," photographed here in October 2018. The cafe was a set for the Showtime series "SMILF," which premiered in 2017 and will roll out its second season starting in January 2019.

In an earlier incarnation the same building was a barber shop. This shot was taken in 2010 when a high school cross-country race was being held at the ranch.

"The Devil's Hairpin" (1957): The old racetrack at Paramount Ranch

It's not widely known that Paramount Ranch used to have its own racetrack, which held sports car races in the 1950s and appeared in a few movies. The track hasn't been used in more than 50 years.

The old racetrack bridge after the Woolsey Fire

Like the rest of Paramount Ranch, the remains of the old racetrack were damaged earlier this month in the Woolsey Fire. Mike Malone took these shots of the burned track remnants on one of his post-fire visits.

This shot by Mike shows the area where the old track goes under the bridge — as seen in the photo from "The Devil's Hairpin." You can see the lower section of the track at top right.

The Iverson Movie Ranch sign in its new home at the relocated Valley Relics Museum

Recent news about the fire at Paramount Ranch, and before that the Quentin Tarantino shoot at Corriganville, has been keeping the Iverson Movie Ranch on the "back burner," to use a shamefully inappropriate term.

"Beyond the Blue Horizon" (Paramount, 1942): "Sarong Queen" Dorothy Lamour at Iverson

But we can reassure readers who need their Iverson fix that research continues at a furious pace and we will get back to reporting on our favorite location ranch in the weeks, months and years ahead. Since the Woolsey Fire, we've been especially focused on any Paramount movies filmed on the Iverson Ranch.

"Beyond the Blue Horizon": Elephant rampage at Iverson

One thing we've been searching for — without success, so far — is the site where an elephant went on a rampage — a "movie rampage," anyway —  and where "Sarong Queen" Dorothy Lamour emerged from a cave on the Iverson Ranch during filming of Paramount's "Beyond the Blue Horizon." Stay tuned ...