Saturday, January 7, 2012
Cowboys and Aliens? Something's going on in the skies above a beloved TV Western
I love a good anachronism — who doesn't? Here's one in an early episode of the TV Western "Have Gun Will Travel." The episode, "Show of Force," originally aired Nov. 9, 1957, and the show was set in the Wild West days (obviously). But you can't miss the jet contrails in the sky — especially given that they did a nice wide pan shot.
It's a little bit surprising that the producers of the show didn't think it mattered — or just didn't notice, which is a good possibility. Contrails were so common at the time (not that they're uncommon now) that they could easily be overlooked. These were almost certainly military, as they were formed by two jets flying in formation. It was the Cold War era, and the military had a big Nike missile installation at Oat Mountain (the lighter-colored hill that appears at the right of the shot), which probably had nothing to do with the jets flying over, but who knows? Parts of the missile base were also regularly creeping into the backgrounds of productions shot around this time — you can see an example here (from "Panic in Year Zero," appropriately enough — a nuclear war movie).
The above photo is a two-part composite taken from a pan — a nice shot even without the contrails as it provides context for the bunkhouse, which was part of the Middle Iverson Ranch Set. I posted a detailed entry not too long ago about the set, which you can see here. I know these photos start out pretty small — especially in a wide format like the one above — so you may want to click on the picture to enlarge it for a better look.