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.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I am searching for information on the great cinematographers of the B-movie era

I want to honor the legacy of the cinematographers and other production people who worked in relative obscurity during the heyday of the B-Western and the Saturday matinee serial. If you have information about DPs, directors, production managers or other behind-the-scenes people involved in making B-movies, serials or early TV shows from the silent era through the 1950s — especially those involved in location work and anyone who may have worked at the Iverson Movie Ranch — I would love to hear from you.



With the exception of the most high-profile figures from this period — movie stars and prominent directors, mainly — I have been able to dig up precious little information on the talented people who shaped our movie history and our culture through low-budget, independent productions. I think it would be tragic to allow their legacies to fade from memory while there are still people around who can tell their stories.

I would especially like to hear from the survivors — spouses, friends, co-workers, children, grandchildren and beyond — of those who played a role in making movies at Iverson, as well as anyone who is around who has memories of Iverson.

I am especially interested in hearing about the cinematographers — the men who aimed their cameras at Iverson's dramatic rock formations, among other things, and thereby recorded the ranch's legacy for posterity. I hope to hear from anyone who might be able to help flesh out their biographical information and gain insights into what made them tick.

Here are some of the cinematographers I would like to find out more about:

George Meehan
Bud Thackery
Jack Greenhalgh
Jack Marta
Mack Stengler
Marcel Le Picard
Benjamin Kline
Ira H. Morgan
George Kelley
Rex Wimpy
William Hyer
James S. Brown Jr.
Edward Kull
Ellis W. Carter
Harry Neumann
... and others who may not yet be on the radar

Please contact me by commenting on any of the blog entries or by e-mailing me at iversonfilmranch@aol.com.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ready for his closeup: A "character actor"
lurks in the bushes of the Upper Iverson

Here's a screen shot from the 1948 Rocky Lane movie "Sundown in Santa Fe," from Republic Pictures. Visible in the background is a cluster of fairly obscure rocks found on the Upper Iverson Movie Ranch, the focal point being the one with a large, flat "forehead" seen toward the right side of the shot.


Not nearly as flashy as some of the other landmarks of the Upper Iverson, this little group of relatively unknown rocks nonetheless got its share of screen time in the backgrounds of chase sequences during the heyday of the B-Western. They were (and still are) located below and between some of the larger and more iconic chase rocks found in the Upper Iverson's widely filmed South Rim area, such as Prominent Rock (also known as Medicine Rock) and Eagle Beak Rock. I started calling this cluster the Frankenstein Group a while back, because the large forehead on that one rock seemed to be asking for it.

I stumbled upon "Frankenstein" in real life on a 2009 visit to Iverson. I was intrigued by the look of the rock but did not immediately recognize it from the movies. I just thought of it as an interesting character, and I snapped a few photos. Here's one of them:


It wasn't until sometime later — just the other day, while sifting through photos — that it occurred to me there might be a connection between "Frankenstein" and my South Rim denizen. Sure enough, they turned out to be the same rock.

The rock doesn't look much like Frankenstein in real life — it's uglier than Dr. F's man in green. But then, that's a part of what makes it beautiful. Iverson's "Frankenstein" has also probably been in more movies than the famous movie monster — although admittedly, it could be a close call.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The rarely seen backside of Crown Rock

Iverson expert Jerry England sent me a 5-second video clip recently from the 1941 movie "They Died With Their Boots On" that knocked my socks off (sticking with the footwear theme of the movie, and whether said footwear is on or off ... in case you might have missed it).


The movie is several large notches up from the typical Iverson B-Western. It's a major feature from Warner Bros. starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in a romanticized telling of the life story of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, of Little Big Horn infamy. The bulk of the movie is non-Iverson, but when the action shifts to Indian country near the end of the story, it becomes an Iverson spectacle.

The clip Jerry sent me is a short pan shot, and it begins innocently enough with a shot of a rock I didn't initially recognize but which I knew from the subsequent pan had to be in the Upper Gorge section of the Lower Iverson.

I suspected it might be Crown Rock, and a visit to the photo archives matched it up.

Here's Crown Rock in the movie:

And here it is in more recent times:

That "backside" (north side) of Crown Rock is rarely seen in the movies, which generally show the rock, along with the rest of The Wall that it was part of, from the east. The rest of The Wall was destroyed to build condos in the Upper Gorge, but for whatever reasons the builders decided to spare Crown Rock and leave it in place as decoration for the development. These days Crown Rock sits alone between a couple of those condos, looking a bit like an old warrior who would have tons of stories to tell, if only he could — stories of the hundreds of movies and TV shows filmed in that immediate area during the heyday.

Here's Jerry's 5-second video clip:

video

What's remarkable here, besides everything, is the view of Rock Island at the end, along with the rare view of the eastern wall of the North Cluster, above Garden of the Gods. This scene is shot from an angle that was almost never used.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An important find: The Molar has survived

One of the most widely filmed rocks at the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., is the Molar, which turns up in the background of countless chase sequences filmed on the Upper Iverson back in the '30s, '40s and '50s and seen in B-Westerns, serials and early TV shows. As one example — and there are literally hundreds to choose from — here's a shot of Roy Rogers from 1955, showing him riding past the Molar, which appears in the top right corner of the picture. The shot is from an episode of "The Roy Rogers Show" called "The Scavenger."


In recent times the Molar has eluded film historians — until today. Previously thought to have been destroyed to make way for construction of the luxury homes of Indian Falls Estates, which now occupy most of the former Upper Iverson, it turns out the Molar was preserved and has been under our noses all along. It now sits proudly, if that's the right word, in the driveway of one of those homes. Here's the Molar today — literally today, as I went to the site earlier this evening, found the rock for the first time and snapped this photo:


The angles of the two shots are not identical, as usual, but it's possible to see markings on the rock that make its identification unmistakable, such as the curved line in the bottom half of the rock, near the center, and various indentations just to the left of that curved line. Click on the photos to enlarge them for a better look.