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.
• 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 find other 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 go right to the great Iverson cinematographers,click here.
• 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.
• If you know of a way I can set up this blog so readers can subscribe to receive future posts via email, please let me know. In the meantime there's a link all the way at the bottom of this page that says "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)," and if you're inclined to try it, it seems to take you into a world of customizable home pages or something, and you can have blog updates as a part of that page ... whether this is useful to you, who knows, but I thought I'd let you know it's there.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave a comment on any post, or email me at iversonfilmranch@aol.com.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The many faces of Hangdog

Hangdog, on the Lower Iverson Movie Ranch

One of my favorite characters on the site of the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., is Hangdog, situated in the "Above Nyoka" area of the Lower Iverson. Not unlike many of the Iverson features, Hangdog has a split personality. I see it as sort of a lion on the left, Labrador retriever on the right. 

Hangdog also hosts a few smaller players, including a monkey head that lives in the Lab's eyebrow and a "mini-Hangdog," partially hidden behind a bush in this photo, down below the monkey head. You may be able to see these features better if you click on the photo for a larger view; you can also see "Mini-Hangdog" better in the photo at the bottom of this post.


That house in the background, known as the Old Folks' House, is where the original owners of the Iverson Movie Ranch lived for years. It burned down during the Porter Ranch Fire (also known as the Sesnon Fire) in October 2008. The Ruins, at bottom right, are one of the many mysteries that remained at Iverson well beyond the filming era.

The Ruins, with Hangdog, in 2008 (Bill Rock and Cactus Hill in background)

An estimated 3,500 movies and TV show episodes were shot on the ranch, mostly from the heyday of the B-Western through the early years of the TV Western, from the 1930s through the 1950s. I've been scanning old productions for a few years now trying to find the rocks and buildings of the Iverson Ranch, but it appears that the mysterious stone structure I call the Ruins was never used in the filming.


Hangdog, in recent times

I have a number of other posts on the blog about Hangdog, but I'd like to point you to one in particular, focusing on an especially cool appearance by Hangdog in the 1941 Republic serial "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc." Please click here to see that entry. Otherwise, check the long index at the right of the page for more about Hangdog, or click here to see a compilation of Hangdog-related entries

Classic Rock: Brainiac

"The Roy Rogers Show" (1955)

Here's one of those funny faces in the rocks that show up in movies and TV shows from time to time. I doubt anyone will be as amused by it as I am, but I hope you can at least see it. It looks perfect to me: little dark eye, button nose, grim mouth and that massive forehead. It's right in the middle of this screen shot, facing toward the left. This character, which I call Brainiac, appears in "The Scavenger," a 1955 episode of "The Roy Rogers Show." That's Dale Evans riding by.

In case you're having trouble seeing it, I've identified some of the key parts in this version of the photo. Brainiac the rock is actually the north end of a familiar movie rock, which I used to refer to by the unimaginative name "the Log" before I learned that it already had a name: Range Rider Rock.

Another "Brainiac-type" figure

Incidentally, Range Rider Rock — including its north "face," Brainiac — is now located in the Indian Hills Mobile Home Park area of the former Lower Iverson Movie Ranch. These days the rock is hidden behind some mobile homes, and it's no longer possible to grab a photo that looks anything like Brainiac.

Brainiac the supervillain, battling Superman

Another so-called Brainiac in popular culture is the supervillain of the same name in DC Comics, seen fighting with Superman in the action shot above. This Brainiac is no relation to the one on the Iverson Movie Ranch — even though Superman did do stuff at Iverson, and you can read about that by clicking here. Personally, I find this Brainiac's giant brain to be not fully exaggerated enough — even though I understand that for the purposes of fighting people like Superman, a larger brain could get in the way.


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.




Note: Volume 14 of the DVD set "Roy Rogers With Dale Evans" includes the episode "The Scavenger." See Amazon link below.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bugeye and Trapezoid

Bugeye and Trapezoid are a pair of rocks that show up pretty regularly in old B-Westerns. They're not not particularly dramatic but they are good landmarks, easily recognized sitting atop a relatively flat wall-rock that was located alongside a road used frequently for chase sequences and horseback scenes. In the shot above they're seen in the "Lone Ranger" movie, a 1952 release made from the first three episodes of the "Lone Ranger" TV show, originally shot in 1949. They're not clear in this screen shot, but they're the two rocks near the top of the photo, Bugeye on the left and Trapezoid on the right.

Today they live in the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village, located at Topanga and the 118 Freeway in Chatsworth, Calif.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Classic Rock: The Slates — the best thing since sliced bread


This blog post is part of a series on "Classic Rocks" — sandstone behemoths 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.

"Stage to Mesa City" (1947)

The Slates were located along a heavily used chase road on the Upper Iverson Movie Ranch, which meant the sandstone rock formation was captured on film with some regularity. The rock usually zips by pretty fast, but it's distinctive enough that it's often possible to spot it anyway. Watch for the Slates during chase scenes in old B-Westerns in particular. The above shot of the Slates comes from the PRC B-Western "Stage to Mesa City," starring Lash LaRue, with Al "Fuzzy" St. John as his sidekick.


The Slates as they appear today

The above recent photo of the Slates shows what they look like these days — in late winter and spring, when the surrounding foliage is green.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950)

This is another movie appearance by the Slates, in color this time. The Slates are seen at the right in the above shot from the Columbia Western "Calamity Jane and the Texan," which starred Evelyn Ankers as Calamity and Jimmy Ellison as the Texan. The shot looks to me as though it was also filmed in late winter or spring, as things were pretty green at the time.

Here's a selected listing of movies, serials and TV shows where the Slates can be found:

"The Tulsa Kid" (1940)
"Gauchos of Eldorado" (1941)
"The Phantom Cowboy" (1941)
"Code of the Outlaw" (1942)
"Canyon City" (1943)
"Phantom of the Plains" (1945)
"Story of G.I. Joe" (1945)
"The Virginian" (1946)
"Stage to Mesa City" (1947)
"Last Frontier Uprising" (1947)
"The Hawk of Powder River" (1948)
"Grand Canyon Trail" (1948)
"Partners of the Sunset" (1948)
"The Lone Ranger" (TV show, 1949-1957)
"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950)
"Frisco Tornado" (1950)
"Don Daredevil Rides Again" (Republic serial, 1951)
"The Roy Rogers Show" (TV show, 1951-1957)
"Wyoming Roundup" (1952)
"Adventures of Superman" (TV show, 1952-1958)
"Bonanza" (TV show, 1959-1973) (color)
"Five Guns to Tombstone" (1960)
"The Big Valley" (TV show, 1965-1969)