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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

It's a wrap! Tarantino's Spahn Ranch set at Corriganville is being torn down

A section of the Spahn Ranch set at Corriganville — now being dismantled (photo by Jerry Condit)

Shooting has wrapped at Corriganville on the Quentin Tarantino movie "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," and a crew has begun tearing down the elaborate set, much of which was a re-creation of Manson-era Spahn Ranch.

The stone walls from Corriganville's old "Barn No. 2" stand alone again

The barn that was built largely inside the footprint of Corriganville's old "Barn No. 2" has been taken down — its walls can be seen stacked neatly in the background in this shot, waiting to be hauled away.

The "George Spahn house" at Corriganville — also to be removed (Jerry Condit photo)

Word is that the entire set will be removed, so early rumors that some of the buildings might be permanent have turned out to be just that — rumors. And false ones at that.

The "Spahn Ranch" motorcycle shop at Corriganville (photo by Cliff Roberts)

Since we're saying goodbye to the set, I'll round up some shots that came in during the last stages of construction. This one by Cliff Roberts shows the interior of the re-created Spahn Ranch motorcycle shop, and you can see the famous green Spahn Ranch stake bed truck in the background. (Click on these photos to see larger versions.)

The original Spahn Ranch stake bed truck can be seen in this shot from about 1969 — one of only a few photos I've seen of Spahn from that period that are in color. The green truck is at the right of the frame.

Tarantino's 2018 version of the truck (photo by Jerry Condit)

The Tarantino production has closely matched not just the colors of the original truck, but most of the details.

Here's a pretty good look at the original truck, again from about 1969, this time in black and white.

The interior of Tarantino's motorcycle shop is pretty detailed, as you can see in this photo from Cliff Roberts. The concrete slabs are part of the original foundation from Corriganville's hotel building.

Bird's-eye view of Corriganville's "Silvertown" from the filming era, looking southwest

This view of Silvertown, probably from the 1950s, includes the old hotel on the left.

You may be able to tell from the shape of the building that even though it functioned as a Western hotel front on the outside, the inside contained a working soundstage.

The Tarantino set in mid-September

This shot was taken by Jerry Condit around the time the crew was putting the finishing touches on the Spahn Ranch set. The photo again shows the degree of detail that went into the production design.

Taking a closer look at the sign, we can read even the smaller print, which includes the old "DI" phone prefix. I remember when we moved from the EMpire prefix in the East Valley to the DIamond prefix farther west.

The good news for fans of Corriganville is that with production finally over, the park will soon be fully open again. I hear the Sandalwood entrance has already been reopened, along with the main parking lot off Smith Road.

Corriganville's back parking lot: It just doesn't have quite the same charm

During the movie shoot, visitors to the park were directed to the back parking lot and forced to steer clear of Corriganville's historic Silvertown area.

Rock maze found in Corriganville's back parking lot

One fun thing did turn up in that back parking lot: a cool rock maze.

Damon Herriman (left) is playing Charles Manson (right)

I'm looking forward to the movie, mainly for the Corriganville set but also for the movie itself. I'm not familiar with actor Damon Herriman, who's playing Manson, but yeah, I can see how he might be able to pull off the look.

Tarantino's "Spahn Ranch" set a few weeks ago (Dennis Cohee photo)

If you would like to see additional photos and information about Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" set at Corriganville, please click here to read our previous post about the project, from Sept. 15, 2018.

Early stages of construction on the Tarantino set back in August (photo by Cliff Roberts)

You may also want to read our first post about the set construction, from Aug. 25, 2018 — but note that at that time we thought there was a chance some of the buildings might be permanent.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Digging into movie history in the Alabama Hills — "Then and now" shots from Lone Pine's master rock detective Don Kelsen

Lone Pine's Alabama Hills: Filming location seen in "Frontier Days" (photo by Don Kelsen)

Photographer and movie location researcher Don Kelsen has been tracking down filming locations around Lone Pine, Calif., for more than 20 years, and offered to share some of his favorite finds with readers of this blog.

"Frontier Days" (Spectrum Films, 1934)

Don's photo above matches this shot from the Bill Cody Western "Frontier Days." Notice the tiny figure of early cowboy hero Cody near the bottom of the frame, which gives an idea of the scale of the rocks.

Bill Cody keeps an eye on the bad guys in "Frontier Days"

Here's another shot from "Frontier Days" — which, incidentally, is the focus of a tour that Don will be conducting in connection with this year's Lone Pine Film Festival, running Oct. 5-8. Don's movie tours are typically one of the hottest tickets at the festival.

The same spot as it appears today — tracked down and photographed by Don Kelsen

Don learned the ropes at Lone Pine under the tutelage of the late Dave Holland, who was a heck of a rock detective himself. Dave remains a legendary figure among film location historians, especially for his work in Lone Pine, where he was a founder and longtime director of the Lone Pine Film Festival.

"In Old Colorado" (Hopalong Cassidy, 1941)

Don learned his lessons well, and today possesses a depth of knowledge of Lone Pine and its historic Alabama Hills that enables him to find almost any rock in the sprawling landscape.

The same scene in modern times (Don Kelsen)

Hopalong Cassidy is a big part of Lone Pine's film history, with almost all of William Boyd's beloved Hoppy movies filmed in and around the Alabama Hills.

"In Old Colorado": Morris Ankrum uses the rock to steady his aim

Another shot from the same sequence in the movie shows a little more of the background, particularly the area at the right of the frame.

"In Old Colorado" (1941)

In this shot from "In Old Colorado," Morris Ankrum, strolling across an unusual rock formation, shouts down orders to his henchmen James Seay, left, and Weldon Heyburn.

Here's Don's photo of that same confluence of rocks as they appear today.

Errol Flynn in "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936)

The svelte Errol Flynn, as Maj. Geoffrey Vickers, leaned on a certain acorn-shaped rock when he struck a pose for Warner Bros.' "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

The same rock today

Don was able to find the same giant acorn that provided a resting spot for Flynn.

Don Kelsen visits a shooting location for MGM's "The Firefly" (1937)

To explore a shooting location used in the 1937 Jeanette MacDonald movie "The Firefly," let's start with Don's wide shot of the area — which includes a shot of Don himself. The Eastern Sierra rises in the distance.

"The Firefly" (1937): Allan Jones' horse stops at the same rock

Here's the same spot as it appears in the movie — although with all those rocks, you may want a little help matching it up. As a starting point, the horse is standing near the same rock where Don stands in the recent shot.

This zoomed-in version of Don's photo approximates the framing of the movie shot — and as a bonus, provides a little better look at Don. The road below is Tuttle Creek Road, which was a dirt road when "The Firefly" was filmed but has since been paved.

If you concentrate on the group of rocks highlighted here ...

... you may be able to match them up with the rocks highlighted here in the movie shot.

Here's another scene from "The Firefly." The movie contains a beautifully photographed nine-minute segment filmed in the Alabama Hills.

Don's matching shot brings out some of the characteristic textures of the native rocks — especially the group in the bottom left corner. I recommend clicking on the photo, which should bring up a larger version.

"Strange Gamble" (1948): William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy in the Alabama Hills

Another movie tour Don will be conducting at this year's festival spotlights filming locations for the Hopalong Cassidy movie "Strange Gamble."

The same location in modern times (Don Kelsen photo)

"Strange Gamble" was the last of 66 Hopalong Cassidy feature films. While almost all of the Cassidy movies were filmed in the Lone Pine area, a number of them also filmed on the Iverson Ranch.

"Mystery Man" (1944): Hoppy at the "basin rock" on the Iverson Movie Ranch

Don and I joined forces two years ago to track down Iverson Ranch locations for the Hopalong Cassidy movie "Mystery Man." During our search for this spot we started calling it the "basin rock" because of the distinctive basin-shaped indentation in the rock.

The "basin rock" as it appears today, in the Garden of the Gods

We were able to find the basin rock hidden deep in the Garden of the Gods on the Iverson Ranch. You can click here to read about the location of the basin rock and our search for the other Iverson Movie Ranch locations seen in the climactic shootout.

"The Last Posse" (Columbia, 1953)

This screen shot from the Broderick Crawford/John Derek Western "The Last Posse" captures some striking Alabama Hills rock towers.

Here are those same rock towers in a recent photo by Don Kelsen.

"Have Gun Will Travel" TV episode "The Marshal's Boy" (1960)

Ken Lynch looks over his shoulder on a Lone Pine shoot for the "Have Gun Will Travel" season four episode "The Marshal's Boy," which premiered Nov. 26, 1960.

The same location in recent years

Don captured a photo of the same spot on a recent visit, matching the TV episode's original black-and-white look, but bringing out much more of the detail in the rocks.

"The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" (1934): Matte painting of "Mogala," set in Lone Pine's Alabama Hills

For a recent blog post I published about the Mogala set built in the Iverson Gorge for "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer," Don was able to find the exact spot in the Alabama Hills where this shot was taken for the matte painting.

Location used for the Mogala matte shot (photo by Don Kelsen)

By matching the above two photos, you should be able to see where the painted version of the Mogala set was inserted into the middle of the Alabama Hills location setting.

The real-world Mogala set, built on the Iverson Ranch

If you caught that post back in May, you may recall that the physical set for Mogala — the mountain stronghold of rebel leader Mohammed Khan — was built in the Iverson Gorge.

However, when it came time to introduce Mogala in the movie, the producers placed a painted simulation of the set against a Lone Pine backdrop.

While the set in the middle of the shot is fake, the surroundings are all bona fide Alabama Hills, as seen in Don's photo up above. Readers can click here to see the full post about Mogala and "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer."

Connections between the Iverson Movie Ranch and Lone Pine will be explored in a presentation on the Iverson Ranch at this year's Lone Pine Film Festival. The presentation will be given by yours truly at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, in the theater of the Lone Pine Museum of Western Film History.

Details about this year's Lone Pine Film Festival can be found on the festival's website at lonepinefilmfestival.org. The event schedule, including dates and times for Don's movie tours and the Iverson Movie Ranch presentation, can be found by clicking here.

The blurb above, taken from the Lone Pine Film Festival site, provides some background on why the Iverson Movie Ranch is crashing Lone Pine's party — and you can find more information about it here.