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.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Off the Beaten Path: A visit to Pioneertown turns up a clump of famous movie rocks


Pioneertown, Calif.

The Western town at Pioneertown, Calif., built around 1946, is one of only a handful of old Western movie town sets still standing. But in my eyes the most impressive historical artifacts in the Pioneertown area are the magnificent rock formations surrounding the town.


Silver Canyon" (1951) — rock clump near Pioneertown

Just back from my first visit to Pioneertown, I checked my archives and found this beauty — a screen shot from the Gene Autry B-Western "Silver Canyon." Autry was a key player in the early movie and TV history of the Pioneertown area.

This is a shot of the same rock clump today, taken during a road trip over the weekend. This spectacular group of rocks is one of countless similar rock features spread all around the area, mile after mile. They're so plentiful that it feels like a small miracle to be able to match one up from the movies. We found this one after a random decision to hang a right on an obscure dirt road. But in many cases the most spectacular rock features can be found right off the highway.

Here's another beauty in the Pioneertown area — this one is right next to the highway, probably less than two miles north of the Western town. Have you seen this group of rocks in an old movie or TV show? I haven't spotted it yet, but I have a feeling it will turn up. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please leave a comment if you've seen this one or any other noteworthy formations.


Off the Beaten Path is a series of posts that are not specifically focused on the usual subject matter of this blog, the Iverson Movie Ranch. You can go directly to the Off the Beaten Path posts by looking up the term in the long index of labels at the right of the page, or by clicking here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Remarkable shots of a partially dismantled — and flooded — Iverson Western street in 1956, as seen in the TV show "Whirlybirds"

The "Whirlybirds" episode "Ghost Town Flight," which first aired Feb. 15, 1957, and was probably shot in late 1956, offers a rare look at the Iverson Movie Ranch's Western street in a partial state of teardown. The picture quality, at least on the version of the show I have, isn't great, but the unusual views of the town provide clues to the town's final days. 

Most of the town — or what was left of it in late 1956 — can be seen in the above shot. Built by Gary Cooper for the 1945 movie "Along Came Jones," the town became known alternately as El Paso Street (for its appearance in glorious Cinecolor in the 1949 movie "El Paso"), Iverson Village or simply Iverson's Western street. In the above shot, the prominent building on the left, with the steep sloped roof, is the hotel, which apparently outlasted some of the other buildings in town, albeit in deteriorated condition. Please click on this and any photos on my blog to get a larger view.



Here's what the town looked like in better days, as seen in the movie "Calamity Jane and the Texan," released in 1950. Take a look at the row of buildings along the right side and compare them with the photo below, from "Whirlybirds."


This screen shot is part of the same sequence seen at the top of this post, presumably shot from a helicopter. The sequence captures the Iverson Western street not only with its dismantling under way, but also with the town flooded — something that apparently happened regularly during the 12 years or so that the town stood, but was only caught on film a few times. This shot focuses on the buildings along the east side of the street, showing that the roofs and other features are in a state of decay. The building at the right, with its four vertical windows, is among the most instantly recognizable structures in town.



Here's a slightly closer view of the same general area, still part of the "Whirlybirds" sequence. Even though these two shots are pretty similar, I posted them both because this one provides a better look at the deterioration of some of the roofs and outer walls, while the previous shot offers a better overview and really captures the flooding.



Still another shot from the "Whirlybirds" sequence, here the focus is on a building near the north end of the street, seen at the top of the frame. I call it the general store, as that's how it first appeared in "Along Came Jones" in 1945, but the building had many incarnations in a string of productions over the years, often appearing as a stagecoach stop. One thing I love in this shot is the building in front of it — at the right of the frame — which is crumbling to the point where it's little more than a pile of lumber.



Here's another look at the general store — again, in better days, from the 1950 movie "Calamity Jane and the Texan," where the building appeared as the stage depot. The building at the right of this shot is the same one that looks like a "crumbling pile of lumber" in the shot above this one.


One other example of a flooded version of the town being used in a production can be seen in this episode of "The Roy Rogers Show" called "Ghost Town Gold." The episode first aired May 25, 1952, so the shoot probably took place after a rain during the winter of 1951/52. That's series regular and Roy Rogers sidekick Pat Brady driving his beloved Jeep, "Nellybelle," through the flooded town, with the show's co-starring German shepherd, Bullet, in the passenger seat. (You'll have to take my word for it, as it's impossible to make them out in the fuzzy screen shot.)


Another shot from the "Roy Rogers" episode "Ghost Town Gold" shows the flooded town. Flooded or not, the Iverson Western street, which always was far less sparkling than rival Western towns found on many of the studio lots, was often presented as a ghost town, especially during its waning years. One reason I picked this shot is because it shows some of the deterioration of the town, which was already starting to fall apart in 1952. The rooftop of the building at the far right really shows it. The town still did get "spruced up" a few times in its remaining few years.


One more shot of Pat Brady and "Nellybelle" on their joy ride down the flooded street. One story I've always heard about this particular "Roy Rogers" episode was that the crew showed up for what was supposed to be a regular shoot in the town, and when they found it flooded they wrote the flooding into the script. True or not, I like the story.

You can find other posts about the Iverson Western street by clicking here or looking up "Iverson Village" in the long index found at the right of this page.


This eight-episode "Whirlybirds" DVD being sold by Amazon.com is one of precious few "Whirlybirds" sets commercially available — possibly the only one. Luckily, the set includes the remarkable episode "Ghost Town Flight," featured in this post. Click on the icon above to check it out on Amazon.