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.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chinless Wonder: Isn't it ironic? (The Classic Rock that started this whole thing)

"Overland Stage Raiders" (1938)

The fuzzy black-and-white shot above is from a VHS tape of Republic's Three Mesquiteers B-Western "Overland Stage Raiders," starring John Wayne, Ray "Crash" Corrigan, Max "Alibi" Terhune and Louise Brooks. While the picture quality, especially on my screen shot, leaves much to be desired, it's an important movie to me, and an important scene: This was the first time I spotted an Iverson Movie Ranch setting in a movie.

What gave it away was the Elders — the line of light-colored, vertical structures seen in the background just above the center of the photo. The Elders themselves technically aren't at Iverson — they're a short distance south of the former movie ranch, across Santa Susana Pass Road, in the hills above Chatsworth Park. But they appear in the background in countless scenes shot at Iverson, and they have proved to be useful markers for Iverson shots, thanks to their distinctive shapes.

Closer to the foreground of the movie shot is Chinless Wonder, the dark figure on the left. Chinless turned out to be elusive, taking almost a year to track down. For most of that time my leading theory was that it had been destroyed to make way for Redmesa Road and condo development. Sadly, a number of important rocks in that area were in fact destroyed when the development took place, but it turns out that Chinless Wonder survived.

Doglips: Chinless Wonder from a different angle

Eventually a lightbulb went off and I discovered that not only was Chinless Wonder still around, it was simply an unusual angle on a rock that I already knew well — one I had come to call Doglips, which you can read more about by clicking here.

Chinless Wonder as it appears today

Unfortunately, because of a thick growth of trees where the camera would have to go, it is not possible to accurately re-create the angle that produces Chinless Wonder. But I've come as close as I could in the shot above, peering out through some foliage to the north of the rock. I know it's not easy to see that they're the same rock. For one thing the lighting is just about opposite: The movie shot was taken in the morning and my shot was taken in the evening. But if you look closely and compare whatever little details you can spot, it works out.

I generally avoid calling things "ironic," because it's an often-misused label and it seems as though most of the time it's just flat-out wrong. But in this case, I'll make an exception. Given that Chinless Wonder, as it appears in the above shot, seems to be making a point of proudly pushing out its prominent chin ... OK, it's ironic.

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.

The links below should take you to various Amazon listings for items related to "Overland Stage Raiders," including the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the movie:

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