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.
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• 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.
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• 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.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ma and Pa Kettle's Wild Ride: The rural American archetypes take a "shortcut" through the Iverson Movie Ranch — see the video below

The archetypal rural American characters Ma and Pa Kettle, played by Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, were featured in a series of popular comedy movies released by Universal over a period of about 10 years starting in the late 1940s.

Pa Kettle behind the wheel, with Ma riding shotgun during rampage at Iverson

The fourth installment in the 10-movie series, "Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm," from 1951, included a wild jalopy ride that covered much of the Iverson Movie Ranch, along with a few other spots in Chatsworth, Calif. The sequence provides a high-speed scenic tour of Iverson, and ranks among the most memorable action sequences shot at the ranch.

Early in the sequence the Kettle clan arrives in the family convertible at the old Chatsworth Train Station, which was torn down around 1962. The station was next to the train tracks that roughly follow Canoga Avenue, between Devonshire and Lassen. (Please click on any of these photos to enlarge them.)

In this shot the car enters Sheep Flats on the Iverson property, with a nice view of Smooth Hill in the background — complete with the same telephone poles that occasionally snuck into the old Westerns as anachronisms. The Indian Hills Mobile Home Village now fills Sheep Flats, and Smooth Hill was leveled when the 118 Freeway came through in the late 1960s. The top half of Smooth Hill is now gone, replaced by a large apartment complex and some condos — as seen in the photo below.

This is all that's left of Smooth Hill today, dominated by the Summerset Village Apartments, with a few condos visible at the far left and the 118 Freeway slicing through the middle of the shot.

Another shot from the Sheep Flats sequence reveals that the filmmakers brought in a few cows — presumably to add to the rural feel of the movie. They would have had to pay a small daily fee per head of livestock to the Iverson family as part of the price of filming at the site.

Later in the sequence, Pa Kettle's "shortcut" takes the group through Iverson's Upper Gorge, roughly following the course the Lone Ranger rode on Silver in the opening to the TV show "The Lone Ranger." When the Lone Ranger got to about where the car is here, he turned right and rode up to Lone Ranger Rock — visible at the far left in the above shot. The Lone Ranger then famously reared up on Silver at the start of each episode, and could be heard shouting his trademark "Hi-yo, Silver!" Most of the rocks in the above shot, including Lone Ranger Rock, remain in place today and are in an area that has been preserved as a park.

This shot — a rare view of the Iverson Movie Ranch without any rocks — shows the Kettles powering through Iverson's eucalyptus grove.

In this scene the old jalopy is traveling along the stagecoach road at bottom right, with the large boulders making up Lower Nyoka Cliff in the bottom left corner and Stoney Point in the background, along with a portion of the road that would now be Topanga Canyon Boulevard. (Back then it was Santa Susana Pass Road.) For the record, the so-called stagecoach road, which ran below Nyoka Cliff, was never a real stagecoach route. But it was used so often as a stagecoach road in the old Westerns that it became known as the stagecoach road and that's what it's still called.

Here's a nice view of the corral area directly south of Iverson Village, complete with hay bales that were probably brought in special for the movie — in fact, I'm sure of it, because at one point Pa Kettle crashes into the hay bales. In the background are Hook Rock, just left of center, Lash LaRue's Arch, partially visible to the right of Hook Rock, and a number of other rocks that collectively are called the Cave Rocks — although from this angle I usually call them the Corral Rocks.

The Middle Iverson Ranch Set is prominently featured in the jalopy sequence, including the above shot of the bunkhouse. You'll know you're at Middle Iverson when the car rips through a bunch of laundry hanging on a line.

The Kettles speed through an area north of Garden of the Gods that I call the North Cluster. Today this area borders the Cal West Townhomes development, and some of these rocks have been destroyed while others survived. The large rock at the top-center of the photo — which I call Faux Hangdog 1 for research reasons that are too complicated (in other words, too embarrassing) to get into here — can still be found today. But it's a hard one to locate, as it is now concealed beneath a large tree. The rocks in the foreground have been removed, and condos now stand in that area.

The clip below contains the bulk of the jalopy ride, including most of the shots seen above. The clip includes much more Iverson material than I've been able to spotlight in photos. The clip consists mostly of Iverson footage, but does briefly show one building that was non-Iverson, along with a couple of additional train sequences that are shot nearby in Chatsworth but not at Iverson — including a nice shot of the train emerging from the tunnel above Chatsworth Park. The Smooth Hill/Sheep Flats sequence mentioned above appears a little bit earlier in the movie and is not included in the clip.

Here you go — hang on:


Anonymous said...

The Ma & Pa Kettle YouTube clip is blocked,;-( but the whole movie is here ;-)...

Anonymous said...

p.s. FFwd to 1:05:00

Swami Nano said...

Thanks, Anonymous.

For some reason the clip still plays OK for me here, and on YouTube. But if anyone's having trouble playing it, definitely check out the link.


Anonymous said...

While watching the Roy Rogers movie, Heldorado, I spied what I believe to be the Chatsworth Train Station at 40 minutes and more up to the 50 minute mark. Your blog is great fun and pure entertainment for me, thank you!