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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Robert Cline: The mad genius of the old B-Western cinematographers ... and his legacy of weird and wonderful shots

"Thunder River Feud" (1942)

I've watched hundreds of movies, serials and TV shows shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch, and almost all of them contain at least a few memorable shots. But the gift that keeps on giving is "Thunder River Feud." Either cinematographer Robert Cline was a genius, or he was accidentally brilliant in shot after shot. The above scene depicts the Iverson Movie Ranch's Upper Gorge, transforming it even in fuzzy old black and white — or especially in fuzzy old black and white — into a mystical wonderland.

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1959)

For comparison, this is what the same area of Iverson's Upper Gorge looks like in a more traditional shot, from an episode of the "Wyatt Earp" TV series called "Wyatt Wins One," which first aired Nov. 10, 1959. Not bad, and it sure is a lot easier to make out the rocks and other features. But to my eye it doesn't quite have the same magic as Robert Cline's earlier shot. And the cinematographer on this episode, Robert B. Hauser, was no slouch. Hauser had a long career as a DP, both in film and in television, including being nominated twice for Emmys for outstanding cinematography.

Squashed Sea Cucumber (aka Glenn Ford Rock), as seen in "Thunder River Feud"

On the surface, "Thunder River Feud" appears to be just another unexceptional hourlong entry in Monogram's Range Busters series, starring Ray "Crash" Corrigan, John "Dusty" King and Max "Alibi" Terhune. But I see it as much more — for one thing, it's the movie where I first encountered the Squashed Sea Cucumber, seen at the left in the above photo.

This is the same "Thunder River Feud" shot with Squashed Sea Cucumber identified. I later realized the rock needed a more accessible name, and for reasons you can read about by clicking here, it eventually became known as Glenn Ford Rock. 


Squashed Sea Cucumber — I mean, Glenn Ford Rock — as it appears today

Here's a look at the rock in modern times. It's actually made up of two separate rocks that create the illusion of being joined as one. Glenn Ford Rock sits on top of a rock feature known as Low Wall, situated just north of Garden of the Gods. The area directly to the left of Glenn Ford Rock in this shot is known as Boots Rock. (You can read about it here.)

Robert Cline, the cinematographer on "Thunder River Feud," was an Arizona native, born in 1898, who filmed something like 139 movies going back to the silent era. At the time he shot "Thunder River Feud" in 1941 (it was released in January 1942), he was getting a lot of work, filming as many as 15 movies a year. He shot a number of films on the Iverson Movie Ranch, including pairing up with "Thunder River Feud" director S. Roy Luby on other Range Busters productions, such as "The Kid's Last Ride" and "Fugitive Valley" (both 1941).



Robert Cline died in Hollywood in 1946, leaving behind a legacy of weird and wonderful shots. "Thunder River Feud" has been the subject of a number of other posts, including more than its share of "tricks of light." Again, was Robert Cline just lucky, or was he really that good?

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