Grumpy, as seen in "South of Death Valley" (1949)
In a previous post about Fayte Browne, one of the great Iverson cinematographers, I briefly mentioned a rock I call Grumpy, because Browne featured shots of Grumpy in his masterpiece "South of Death Valley." You can see the Fayte Browne post here. But the time has come — it's way overdue, to be honest — to really put Grumpy in the spotlight.
Diplodocus, in "West to Glory" (1947)
I could have said the same thing about a rock called Diplodocus. I did a previous post that included Diplodocus in connection with examining the work of another great Iverson cinematographer, Milford Anderson. That post can be seen here.
Here's the head of a toy diplodocus. I know, it doesn't look that much like the rock. I may have been thinking of brachiosaurus. What can I say? It reminded me of a diplodocus at the time, and the name stuck. I guess I should get this out of the way too: I like to intentionally mispronounce it, because when I was growing up and played with toy dinosaurs, I always thought it was pronounced dip-low-DOCK-us; it was only years later that I learned it's supposed to be pronounced dih-PLOD-uh-cuss — not nearly as much fun.
Here's a little different angle on Grumpy, from "Ghost Town Renegades" (1947). The view here is from the south, looking north to Oat Mountain in the background. Grumpy was situated right next to one of the Upper Iverson's major chase roads.
The news flash is that Grumpy and Diplodocus are the same rock, shot from opposite sides. Either way it's a beauty. Shot from the west or southwest, it's Grumpy. Shot from the east, it's Diplodocus.
Grumpy, or Diplodocus, was located on the Upper Iverson's heavily filmed South Rim, and showed up in the background in countless chase scenes over the decades. In the shot above, from the seminal Republic serial "The Perils of Nyoka" (1942), you can see Grumpy just to the left of the chariot.
The Grump also shielded its share of shooters over the years — more often as Grumpy than as Diplodocus. Here's an example from the 1951 Tim Holt movie "Hot Lead."
Another look at Diplodocus, from the 1948 Eddie Dean movie "Check Your Guns." The research into this rock took another twist when I realized I was seeing the rock in some later productions, but something was missing. Compare this with the color shot below, a few years later, from "The Lone Gun" (1954).
That's Diplodocus again, on the right. But it's missing a big chunk. I think of it as the top lip being gone.
A closer look at the rock, from the Grumpy side, again missing the top lip. This shot is from an episode of the TV show "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" called "Just Before the Battle," which first aired on June 13, 1961. It's a little hard to recognize Grumpy from this angle, but it checks out. You may be able to tell by comparing it to the shot three photos above it, from "Hot Lead," which is taken from a similar angle. The piece of rock that the shooter is hiding behind in that shot — Grumpy's "top lip" — is gone now.
Back in its heyday — when it still had all of its original parts — Grumpy was sometimes used as a colorful framing device, as in this shot from a 1952 episode of the "Abbott and Costello" TV show called "The Western Story." This was probably one of the last appearances of the Grump with the top lip. I've been able to narrow down that the lip vanished by sometime in 1952, based on where and when Grumpy and Diplodocus show up with or without the lip. I can't help but wonder why the lip disappeared, but as it always was kind of precariously perched, it may have just fallen off. (In which case it should be lying around, right? Now there's a souvenir I'd like to have.)
Here's a glimpse of lipless Grumpy in "Gunsmoke," with James Arness and Dennis Weaver. It's from an episode called "Custer," which premiered Sept. 22, 1956. You can see Grumpy in the background, just above the head of Marshal Dillon (James Arness). You can enlarge the photo (and any of these photos) by clicking on it.
I've searched for Grumpy/Diplodocus countless times and haven't found it. I did find this cluster of rocks in a driveway in the same general area, and I've tried to match it up, but it's hard to get at the right angle. My guess is it's not the same cluster of rocks, and my sense is that Grumpy/D no longer exists. But I haven't completely given up on it.
There you have it — Grumpy and Diplo. I suppose the moral of the story is even a rock can have a hard time keeping a stiff upper lip.
Remember to say dip-low-DOCK-us — it's fun!