The above shot is from the 1947 Republic serial "The Black Widow," directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Fred C. Brannon, with cinematography by the great John MacBurnie. We're looking toward the north at what I believed when I originally posted this to be part of Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Chatsworth, circa 1947. I originally noted: "Anyone familiar with that corner of the San Fernando Valley knows that Topanga has come a long way from being an undeveloped two-lane country road with nothing but a fruit stand as far as the eye can see. These days it's fully built out and even at six lanes wide or more, constantly jammed with cars."
Among the landmarks in this screen shot are Stoney Point on the far right and some of the rocks at or near the Iverson Movie Ranch in the center background, which would be right where the 118 freeway now crosses Topanga. All the way in the background is Oat Mountain.
Here's a more recent shot of Stoney Point, which is a familiar sight to motorists traveling along the northern end of Topanga. It's a popular rock-climbing venue these days. It has minimal history as a movie location in its own right, but it appears frequently in the background of films shot at the nearby Iverson Movie Ranch.
Stoney Point also figures prominently in a well-known promo shot for John Ford's "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940), seen above. In the movie itself, Stoney Point was cut out of the shot, with the focus instead on the rich farmland that surrounded it in 1940 — all of which has since been fully developed into residential and business properties. Check out Jerry England's blog for a good entry on Stoney Point, including a bit more about "Grapes of Wrath."
Here's an example of how this shot is handled in the movie:
The sequence is shot from Iverson, although I've never been sure whether it's taken from Overlook Point (aka Camera Mount) or somewhere else. At any rate, this view signifies the arrival of the migrant family in the promised land of California, where they have been counting on finding agricultural jobs. After barely making it through the Mojave Desert, they're pretty excited to see how good the land is here.
While I've never been able to properly explain it, I find a sort of circular perfection — albeit a bit disturbing — in Hollywood telling the story of the migration to California for farming, when ultimately the even more defining migration to California may have been for Hollywood itself, for the burgeoning movie industry — a migration that in fact brought about the destruction of farmland for housing and movie sets (including Iverson), along with the decidedly "farming unfriendly" diversion of water from rural areas to L.A. Inevitably, Hollywood and L.A. got too big to even allow the industry's movie sets to survive, and they eventually succumbed to the spiraling development pressure and, in some cases (as in the case of the Upper Iverson), wound up hosting the sprawling homes of those who had made their fortunes in Hollywood. "The Real McCoys" offers another prespective, even if it's a lot lighter in tone.
On another lighter note, Stoney Point is a great place to see faces pop out of the rocks. Here are a couple of the characters I spotted in the recent photo of Stoney Point above: