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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.