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, December 29, 2009

Classic Rock: Devil's Doorway — a "ride-through arch" located on the former Iverson Movie Ranch, featured in countless old Western movies and early TV series

This blog post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — rocks located on the former site of the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that were featured in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. Other entries in the series can be seen by clicking here.

"Oh Susanna" (1936)

Devil's Doorway is what might be called a "ride-through arch" — a group of rocks forming an arch that a rider on horseback can fit through. It's one of a number of such structures on the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch, but it was by far the most often filmed. It could often be seen in B-Westerns and early TV Western series as an entrance to an outlaws' hideout. The above shot from the Gene Autry movie "Oh Susanna" provides the view of Devil's Doorway as seen from the north.

 
This is what it looks like today from the north. Devil's Doorway is now surrounded by condos.

Here's Devil's Doorway from the south, again from "Oh Susanna." The rocky hilltop in the distance is Cactus Hill, which remains in place today.

This is the view of Devil's Doorway as it looks today from the south.

Below is a link to a DVD version of "Oh, Susanna" from Amazon.com. Check it out.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Classic Rock of the Iverson Movie Ranch: The Wizard


The Wizard sits prominently atop the southeast corner of the Garden of the Gods, overlooking Iverson Gorge and the Santa Susana Pass. This rock can be spotted in a number of movies, but always as a tiny speck in the background. I think the Wizard is ready for his closeup. Mr. DeMille?

Here's a detail of the Wizard's face. It's not the best photo, but he's hard to shoot. In person, in the right light, he's spectacular.
This post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone giants located on the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that became a part of not only America's physical landscape but also its cultural heritage, through featured roles in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. Other entries in the series can be seen by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Classic Rock: The Cul de Sac Crew

"The Golden Stallion" (1949)

The above shot is taken from the Roy Rogers movie "The Golden Stallion," in which the plot revolves around Roy's beloved horse Trigger being accused of killing a guy. Besides a really sweet woodie, the shot features part of the Cul de Sac Crew, a rock feature on the former Upper Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif. That tall, sort of triangular-shaped rock in the middle of the picture is the defining "character" of the crew.

 "The Adventures of Kit Carson": episode "The Baron of Black Springs"

The above screen shot comes from the TV show "The Adventures of Kit Carson," which aired from 1951-1955. This shot isn't the greatest picture quality, but the photo shows more of the Cul de Sac Crew. You may be able to match up that triangular rock, which appears in both of the above two shots. The rock feature's name is derived from its current situation, as it's now located on a cul de sac amid the estates that occupy much of what was once the Upper Iverson. The episode "The Baron of Black Springs" premiered Aug. 9, 1952, early in the second season of "Kit Carson."

Here's a look at the Cul de Sac Crew today, taken from about the same angle, from the middle of the cul de sac itself.

Another view of the Cul de Sac Crew in recent times. That's poison oak at its most virulent in the bottom left corner, with some of the leaves having turned red.

This post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone giants located on the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that became a part of not only America's physical landscape but also its cultural heritage, through featured roles in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. Other entries in the series can be seen by clicking here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Hi-Yo, Silver!" — was the famous opening sequence to the TV show "The Lone Ranger" colorized?


Shot from the opening sequence to "The Lone Ranger" — this color version is from 1956

EDITOR'S NOTE: Had I known then what I know now, I could have done a better job on this post. The good news is I've since done a fully updated and much more thoroughly researched post about the evolution of the opening sequence for "The Lone Ranger," and you can go to it by clicking here. Meanwhile, I'm leaving up this older post with a few minor tweaks, as it still tells a part of the story and has some historical merit. Note that this post is all about the 1956 reshoot of the opening. For details on the original 1949 opening, click on the link in this paragraph.

Here are some shots of the well-known "Lone Ranger" opening sequence, usually seen in black and white. The color version of the opening ran with the later color episodes of the TV show, Season 5, which aired from 1956-57. I originally posted that my hunch was that they just colorized the original opening sequence, which dates back to 1949. If so, it would have been a pretty nice job of colorization and a fairly early example. They did have the technology as far back as the 1920s, and I know they colorized some cartoons in the 1950s. But that's different, and this color version of the Lone Ranger opening looks pretty good. So it was a bit of a mystery to me, until a reader named Richard explained that the original opening was replaced by a new color opening for the color season, and that color opening was then "de-colorized" back to black-and-white for DVDs of the black-and-white episodes. Mystery solved.


"The Lone Ranger" title shot — in color

Conventional wisdom held for years that the first part of the opening wasn't shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch but at the neighboring Brandeis Ranch, also in Chatsworth, Calif. However, as is often the case, conventional wisdom turns out to be wrong. That's Pyramid Peak (aka Rocky Peak) in the background, a familiar background feature also seen in plenty of Iverson scenes. Brandeis and Iverson were right next to each other, so it can be hard to distinguish them on screen. One useful clue — albeit not a scientific one — is that Iverson was used a lot more than Brandeis, so when you're seeing this scenery, there's a better chance that it's Iverson. However, the Line of Trees seen in the background here — they look like pines, but I'm no expert — represented the boundary between Iverson and Brandeis, which would place the action shown here on the eastern side of the Line of Trees — the Iverson side.

Here's the "de-colorized" black-and-white title shot. The fact that it's crooked has to do with my camera work; it didn't run that way on TV.


The action shifts from the Upper Iverson to the Lower Iverson for this part of the opening. This shot shows the approach to Lone Ranger Rock on the Lower Iverson, and the rocks in the distant background are a familiar grouping just above the Upper Iverson Gorge: Sticky Bun (partially visible near the top, sticking out from the tree on the left), along with Cracked Meringue (directly above the Lone Ranger's head) and Stegosaurus (above Silver's nose). In the foreground, at the right, is the elusive Sea Leopard. You can find more information about most of these rocks elsewhere in the blog — try the massive alphabetical index along the right side of the page.

Here's a look at the rock cluster consisting mainly of Sticky Bun, Cracked Meringue and Stegosaurus today, hidden behind the condos. Sticky Bun is the one shaped like a sticky bun, kind of obviously. To its right, looking nondescript here, is Cracked Meringue, which angles downward from left to right. Below the two of them, largely hidden behind the condo building, is the larger Stegosaurus, which also looks nondescript here due to the presence of the condos. All three of these rocks are also visible in the Lone Ranger approach shot, above. Also in this recent shot is Lone Ranger Rock itself, almost directly in the center of the photo.


Here's the familiar shot of the Lone Ranger on Silver, rearing up next to Lone Ranger Rock. The rock can still easily be found at the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch, just off Redmesa Road in Chatsworth.

This is what the rearing-up scene looks like in its familiar black-and-white version. I posted a brief video of the "Lone Ranger" opening in an early blog entry that can still be found here, but what I would now recommend is that you go to a much more thoroughly researched post about the "Lone Ranger" opening sequence, with video clips of five or six different versions of the opening and a full explanation of how it evolved, which you can find by clicking here.

Check out a cool "Lone Ranger" DVD set on Amazon by clicking the link below:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Here's a one-minute Roy Rogers video filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch



This is a video someone posted on YouTube of Roy Rogers singing "It's Home Sweet Home to Me." Sorry, the picture quality isn't very good. But the background for the shot is the Upper Iverson in Chatsworth, Calif.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Flipping the shot in "Adventures of Kit Carson"

One of the tricks used to save money in the old movies and TV shows was flipping shots, apparently to get what looked like different footage but was in fact just the same footage mounted in reverse. In other words, left is right and right is left, like a mirror image. Here's an example from the TV show "Adventures of Kit Carson."

This shot is from about five minutes into the episode "Border Corsairs," which premiered Jan. 12, 1952. Kit, played by Bill Williams, is on the left and his sidekick El Toro, played by Don Diamond, is on the right. But this shot is in fact flipped.

Around the 10-minute mark of the same episode, this shot appears. The riders are now on opposite sides of each other. But if you look closely, you'll see that it's not just the riders who have switched sides — everything is reversed from the earlier shot. In the second shot, everything is correctly oriented. One of the better giveaways is that the curved white marking along the nose of Kit Carson's horse curves to the left in the first shot and to the right in the second.

The main feature in the background is Oat Mountain, the light-colored series of hills along the top of the shot. Another way to tell the shots are reversed is by looking at the dark triangle shape just above the riders — the Triangle Brand, as I call it, stamped on Oat Mountain. We know from seeing the orientation of the Triangle Brand in modern times — it's made up of a bunch of foliage on the side of the hill, and can still be easily spotted today — that this is the correct orientation for the shot.

Click here for another example of flipping the shot, from "The Roy Rogers Show."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Featured Iverson Movie Ranch "classic rock": GTR


Viewed from its most commonly seen front side (above), GTR is a subtle creature. Even so, it found its way into hundreds of movies simply because of its prominent perch atop a rock wall known as Hole in the Wall, in the Lone Ranger Rock/Nyoka Cliff area, or the the Upper Gorge. Here's one example:

The screen shot above is from the 1944 Roy Rogers/Dale Evans movie "The Yellow Rose of Texas." GTR can be seen in the top right corner.

For a look at GTR's charismatic alter ego (its back side), see the Jaunty Sailor.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Classic Rocks: Jaws — get a load of the choppers on this thing — and GTR

"Jaws": One of the many weird rocks in the Land of Weird Rocks
that is the former Iverson Movie Ranch

Here's something to sink your teeth into: Jaws, also known as Laughing Boy (not seriously — that's just sort of a pet name I have for it), is a cool rock — and it's one that is seen all too rarely in the movies, at least up close.

"Beauty and the Bandit" (1946) 

Above is a rare medium shot of Jaws in a movie, in the Cisco Kid Western "Beauty and the Bandit," from Monogram. Jaws is almost always seen from a greater distance than this, and is usually unrecognizable in its long-distance appearances on screen.

In case you're having trouble seeing it, here's another version of the same shot with Jaws identified.

Jaws, from the "T-Rex" angle

I have also referred to the rock as T-Rex based on its appearance from the angle shown above. I know, it doesn't even look like the same rock. But it is. You may or may not see the Tyrannosaurus rex resemblance, which may depend on whether you had a certain plastic replica of T-Rex in your dinosaur collection when you were a kid. Suffice to say I did have that toy, and I definitely see the resemblance.

Jaws, on the left, and Jaunty Sailor, on the right, as they appear today

Jaws is a close neighbor of GTR, which, like Jaws, has at least two distinct personalities. GTR is also known as Jaunty Sailor when viewed from its back side, as in the above photo.

The heavily filmed movie rock GTR/Jaunty Sailor, as it appears in recent times

Here's a look at the two main personas of GTR/Jaunty Sailor: as seen from the front, as GTR, on the right; and from the back, as Jaunty Sailor, on the left.


The above shot shows what might be considered a traditional angle on the area known as Hole in the Wall, which includes the features GTR, Jaws and the actual Hole in the Wall — all visible in the background near the top of the shot, as seen from the Upper Gorge. I'll identify these features below.

Here's the same shot with some of the key features pointed out. The shot comes from Roger Corman's great 1957 Iverson showpiece with the full title "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent." I can strongly recommend the movie if you want to see some terrific Iverson location shots — and it's a cool movie besides. Corman spent a lot of time at Iverson early in his career, honing his skills before going on to become one of the great cult movie directors and producers of all time.  

This post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone giants located on the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that became a part of not only America's physical landscape but also its cultural heritage, through featured roles in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. Other entries in the series can be seen by clicking here.

Check out these Amazon links to find movies featured in this post:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Classic Rock: It's not a Rock Lobster, it's a Rock Cockatoo (or "Rockatoo") — You see it, right?

This blog post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone giants located on the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., most of which were featured in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. The rock in the spotlight for this entry might be considered a "sleeper," not just because of its horizontal orientation but also because it has yet to be spotted in a movie. Other entries in the "Classic Rock" series can be seen by clicking here.


The Rock Cockatoo, or "Rockatoo" — at the bottom of the frame

Here's an Iverson character that the viewer may or may not "choose" to see. I suppose it's akin to those "magic eye" pictures that have a picture hidden within the picture, but you have to relax your eyes to be able to see it. To me, the Rock Cockatoo (or "Rockatoo") is as plain as day, ready to jump up and start chirping. In the photo above, the Rock Cockatoo is seen at the bottom of the picture, oriented horizontally. This rock figure is found in the widely filmed South Rim area of the Upper Iverson Ranch, but back a ways from where most of the movie action took place. I haven't spotted it in a movie yet.

Here's a photo of a sulphur-crested cockatoo for comparison.

In case you're having trouble finding the Rock Cockatoo in the shot at the top of this post, here's a detail from that photo showing just the cockatoo. The "eye" — which is a dark circle in both the real bird and its rock counterpart — is probably a good starting point for finding the bird's features, with the distinctive crack in the rock, above and to the right of the eye, forming much of the "bird's" bill. You may notice that the Rock Cockatoo also has a bit of that lovely yellow plume at the top of its head.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Classic Rock: Hangdog — then and now

This blog entry is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone behemoths located on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., that were featured in old movies, cliffhanger serials and early TV shows. The subject this time is Hangdog, a rock formation that, like many of Iverson's quirky rock giants, had multiple personalities — and still does.

"Thunder River Feud" (1942)

In the above screen shot from cinematographer Robert Cline's 1942 Range Busters masterpiece, "Thunder River Feud," the large rock formation behind the rider is Hangdog. This is the "gladiator armor" view of Hangdog, one of its more widely filmed angles.

Hangdog as it appears today, on the former Iverson Movie Ranch

The shot above shows what Hangdog looks like today, from something close to the same angle. It's located on private property in the "Above Nyoka" area of the Iverson Movie Ranch, just northeast of Nyoka Cliff.

"Albuquerque" (1948)

A different "face" of Hangdog is seen above, in the Paramount Western "Albuquerque," starring Randolph Scott. This is the view from the south, more or less, and you can see Cactus Hill in the background. 


Hangdog today, from still another angle

The recent shot seen above is taken from yet another angle, but it may be close enough to the "Albuquerque" screen shot above that you'll be able to spot some of the same features in the two shots.

More posts about Hangdog can be found here. For more entries in the blog series Classic Rocks, please click here.

You can click on the link below if you're interested in buying "Thunder River Feud" off Amazon. I recommend the movie — not for great acting or plot, but for a lot of weird shots of the Iverson Movie Ranch by the mad genius, cinematographer Robert Cline.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

The obligatory "then and now" shot of two Garden of the Gods fixtures, as seen in "Stagecoach" ... and some confusion about rock names

"Stagecoach" (1939) — the iconic scene with background provided by the Garden of the Gods,
on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif.

Same rocks as they appear today

Sphinx, on the right, also known as Eagle Beak, and Tower Rock, on the left, also known as Indian Head and sometimes as the Pinnacle, are among the most famous and most widely filmed rocks on the Iverson Movie Ranch. They're located in the Garden of the Gods on the former Lower Iverson, an area that has been preserved as a park.  

The sequence in which they appear in John Ford's landmark 1939 Western "Stagecoach" (top photo) is one of the most high-profile appearance of Iverson rocks on film, rivaled only by Iverson's other extremely high-profile feature, Lone Ranger Rock, and its appearance in the opening sequence of the "Lone Ranger" TV show. 

Sphinx, Tower Rock and Lone Ranger Rock tend to be the entry points for Iverson research, and they clearly have their appeal and their glamour. But in my own Iverson research, once I got past the initial excitement of seeing these familiar monuments in real life, I went on to discover hundreds of other rocks at the movie ranch that I found at least equally interesting. 

One bit of trivia about these two giants concerns their names: Indian Head is a name that has been applied to at least four different rocks at Iverson, including both of these. (Click here for a post that runs through all of Iverson's so-called "Indian Heads.") Sphinx (or Eagle Beak) has itself been referred to as Indian Head at least once in a movie. Additionally, before Lone Ranger Rock became identified with the Lone Ranger, it was known as Indian Head. And there's another Indian Head on the Upper Iverson, also known as Wrench Rock


"Batman and Robin" (Columbia serial, 1949) — Batman Rock at top right
 
The name "Indian Head" could easily have also been given to another Iverson rock, known as Batman Rock. Meanwhile, the name "Eagle Beak," which is now in wide use (probably more common, for example, than Sphinx, which is more correct), apparently came about as a result of an error, as it was reportedly confused with a different rock, Eagle Beak Rock, located on the Upper Iverson.
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