One of the most acclaimed directors of Hollywood's Golden Age — and the director of the movie that many film lovers call the best of all time — Michael Curtiz had a history at Iverson. While he didn't shoot "Casablanca" at the ranch, he visited Chatsworth on a number of occasions to add Iverson's dramatic backdrops to his movies.
"Noah's Ark," 1928
Curtiz directed for years in his native Hungary in the silent era before relocating to the U.S. in 1926. One of his first Hollywood projects, the silent biblical epic "Noah's Ark," produced the iconic special-effects shot seen above, in which the massive Ark is "beached" on the familiar rocks of Iverson's Garden of the Gods — notably Tower Rock and Sphinx, sometimes called Indian Head and Eagle Beak. Curtiz collaborated with legendary studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck on the movie, which starred a lineup of silent era A-listers including Dolores Costello, George O'Brien, Noah Beery and Myrna Loy.
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca"
Curtiz went on to direct a string of cinema classics in the 1930s and early 1940s, being nominated for an Academy Award for "Captain Blood" (1935) — a write-in nomination, leading to a second-place finish in the voting for the Oscar — receiving two nominations for best director in one year for the 1938 movies "Four Daughters" and "Angels With Dirty Faces" and chalking up still another nomination for best director for "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942) before winning the Academy Award for his masterpiece, "Casablanca" (1942).
Joan Crawford in "Mildred Pierce"
Notoriously caustic toward actors, Curtiz nonetheless worked with the best in the business. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, John Garfield, Ann Blyth, William Powell, Paul Muni, Eve Arden and Claude Rains all received Oscar nominations for their work in Michael Curtiz movies, while James Cagney ("Yankee Doodle Dandy," 1942) and Joan Crawford ("Mildred Pierce," 1945) picked up statuettes. The list of Hollywood legends he directed is too long to do it justice, but it also includes Bette Davis, Al Jolson, Elizabeth Taylor, Edward G. Robinson, Sophia Loren, Bing Crosby, Alan Ladd, Patricia Neal and Robert Taylor, among many others.
"Charge of the Light Brigade" was one in a series of Michael Curtiz movies that paired Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn. Others included "Captain Blood" (1935), "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), "Essex and Elizabeth" (1939) and "Dodge City" (1939).