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.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• To find specific 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 join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• 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.
• 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 go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
• Readers can email the webmaster at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hangin' around Hangdog: Great Iverson Movie Ranch scene found in the 1941 Republic serial "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc."

The 1941 production "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc.," starring Ralph Byrd, is considered by many fans to be among the best serials ever made. It was the fourth and last of Republic's four Dick Tracy serials — a series that also included "Dick Tracy" (1937), "Dick Tracy Returns" (1938) and "Dick Tracy's G-Men" (1939). The last three installments all included sequences shot at Iverson.

I recently got my first look at "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc." and ran across a particularly compelling Iverson sequence — including the above view of a dynamic rock I call Hangdog. The rock was at the center of a big shootout sequence, with one guy picking people off from on top of the rock and a bunch of other guys shooting at him from behind cars, as seen above. The shot really shows the scale of the rock, with a normal-sized man positioned atop Hangdog and dwarfed by the rock.

Hangdog is still intact, and looks like this today. Other views of the rock give a better idea of why it's called Hangdog. Click here to see a previous blog entry featuring additional shots of Hangdog.

 Stunt jump off Hangdog, Part 1

Stunt jump off Hangdog, Part 2

Stunt jump off Hangdog, Part 3

Stunt jump off Hangdog, Part 4

Included in the sequence is the above stunt jump off Hangdog — off a rock that looks to me like a shoulder — into the covered bed of a truck.

Here's what that same "shoulder" of Hangdog looks like today.

Scene from "Spy Smasher" (1942)

In a mildly amusing example of cross-promotion, the above shot from the 1942 Republic serial "Spy Smasher" includes a plug for "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc." in the form of a set of posters on a gate.

Here's another shot of Hangdog in recent times, which I think shows the rock's two main "faces" — I tend to see it as a lion on the left and a Scooby-Doo-type dog on the right. Or another lion.

Ruh-roh! (Catch phrase often attributed to Scooby-Doo, 
above, but in fact originated by Astro on "The Jetsons")

The thing that really elevates the "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc." shootout sequence, in my opinion, is its bird's-eye views, including the above shot of a frequently filmed area known as Devil's Pass or Vultura's Pass. That's Hangdog again at top right, above the car, although the angle makes it hard to recognize. The pass itself starts to the right of the truck and continues east, behind Hangdog.

Vultura's Palace, in "Perils of Nyoka" (1942)

The same site turns up again the following year as the location of Vultura's Palace in the seminal Republic serial "Perils of Nyoka." That's a portion of Hangdog — including the shoulder, again — at the right in the above shot. You may notice the similarity between the rock directly above the palace entrance (at top center in the above shot) and the one seen in the "two-faced" shot of Hangdog a few shots up (above the Scooby-Doo cartoon), in the top-left corner. That's because it's the same rock in both shots. For more about this location, click here.

Another bird's-eye view from the "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc." sequence, this one shows the guy posted atop Hangdog in the foreground, with an unusual angle on Bill Rock, the large rock at left center, near the car. The road where the vehicles are parked, which would pass by the front of Vultura's Palace the following year in "Perils of Nyoka," is sometimes called Vultura's Trail. Also visible here, in the background — and not in much detail — are the Devil's Doorway Cluster and Devil's Doorway Wall, in the top-left corner. The low, horizontal rock all the way in the corner is Devil's Doorway Wall.

This shot shows the same general area from a lower angle, with a portion of Bill Rock again seen at the left, the cars parked along Vultura's Trail, and Cactus Hill in the background. The flat area below Cactus Hill is where much of the Cal West Townhomes development now stands.

Reggie Lanning, at far right, operating the camera 
for the 1930 movie "The Big House"

The cinematographer on "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc." was the great Reggie Lanning, a Republic stalwart who was responsible for some of the best camera work at Iverson from the late 1930s through the 1940s — not the least being the serials "Zorro's Fighting Legion" (1939), "Jungle Girl" (1941) and "Perils of Nyoka" (1942). He also did some nice work at Iverson for the Roy Rogers movies "Cowboy and the Senorita" (1944) and "Song of Arizona" (1946). For more about Lanning's incredible track record at Iverson, please read this blog entry. And please click here for more about the forgotten legacy of the great cinematographers of the B-movie era.

In the above promo still for the 1930 movie "The Big House," Lanning — who was uncredited on the production — works alongside cinematographer Harold Wenstrom shooting the film's star, Chester Morris. It's a rare glimpse of Lanning at work.


If you're interested in getting your own copy of "Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc." on DVD, you should be able to buy it off Amazon by clicking on the image above.

No comments: