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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Here's a music video from 40 years before MTV got started, shot at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif.

The clip below comes from the 1942 Charles Starrett B-Western "Pardon My Gun," and features the cowboy singing group Texas Jim Lewis and His Lone Star Cowboys. It's shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch, among a group of buildings called the Middle Iverson Ranch Set, also known as Halfway House. The song is "Sing Song Kitty." It's not in sync, but it makes up for it by being short!



The clip features a couple of the buildings that made up the ranch set — especially the main house. The early barn can also be seen in the background. Click here for more photos of the place in a detailed blog post focused on the Middle Iverson Ranch Set.




Thursday, August 15, 2013

Behold the Window of the Gods — a fixture of movies going back to the silent era

"The Paleface" (1922)

Here's a screen shot from the Buster Keaton silent short "The Paleface" showing a couple of the lesser-known formations on the Iverson Movie Ranch. These beauties are found just north of Garden of the Gods, in an area I call the North Cluster. The actors sprinkled among the rocks are portraying Native Americans, as you may be able to tell or may have guessed from the title. The large rock at top right and the one behind it are still around, and from a different angle they form a sort of "window" — a crack, really, between two huge boulders (see first color photo, below). The proximity of this formation to Garden of the Gods led to its being called Window of the Gods, at least in my own research. The rocks seen in the foreground — including a partially visible Man in the Moon at top left — no longer exist.

"Rocky Mountain Rangers" (1940)

Another look at the same group, this time from Republic's Three Mesquiteers B-Western "Rocky Mountain Rangers" and from much farther back, showing Elders Peak, above Chatsworth Park, in the background — the highest point seen in this shot. Both of the above shots are essentially looking south. Most but not all of the main rock features seen in the center of the shot remain in place today. As mentioned above, Man in the Moon and the rest of the group in front are gone, having given way to development. The area where the riders appear is occupied by condos now.

This is the Man in the Moon part from the above shot, near the front of the group of rocks at the center of the photo. But I have a much better shot of it elsewhere on the blog. Click here to see that blog entry, which is all about Man in the Moon.

"Bullets for Rustlers" (1940)

Here's the angle that got me thinking about the Window of the Gods group for the first time in a while. It's from Columbia's "Bullets for Rustlers," a Charles Starrett B-Western that also stars Lorna Gray — known for her tour de force performance as the evil Vultura in the 1942 Republic serial "The Perils of Nyoka." The giant clump of rocks at top left, consisting of three big sandstone boulders, is Window of the Gods again, from a much different angle, kind of looking northwest. It's hard to be precise about the directions.

Window of the Gods today

Behold the Window of the Gods, as it survives to this day — "kind of" looking west.

Here's a look at those same three big boulders in modern times, from yet another angle ... along with a glimpse of a gray-haired movie location researcher. The "window," as seen in the shot above this one, would be between the rock at the far right and the one next to it, looking out between them to the right. This view is "kind of" looking south again.


For those of you who might be into this sort of thing, the image up above from "Bullets for Rustlers" is full of mysterious and elusive "rock faces." Try these next couple on for size ... and for the more serious researchers out there, feel free to skip this part. I just figure it can't hurt. Who among us has never once enjoyed seeing faces in the clouds and so forth? This is kind of like that.

This one's as good an example as any. I see a big-brained alien with a number of possible faces at lower left, nearly all of them portraying some degree of malicious intent ... but your mileage may vary.

Part of that alien head intrudes again here, in the top right corner, but focus on the center and the lower left. I don't know, I keep seeing faces here, including one pretty good cyclops, but they tend to shift around.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Riders of the Badlands" (1941): Old pro cinematographer Benjamin Kline showcases the Upper Iverson

"Riders of the Badlands," a 1941 Columbia B-Western starring Charles Starrett and Russell Hayden, contains some fine cinematic images of the Iverson Movie Ranch. The movie was shot by Benjamin Kline, who was a regular at Iverson in the B-movie era — both as a cinematographer and as a director. Kline was DP on this one, with Howard Bretherton directing. Here are a few sample shots, all filmed on the Upper Iverson.

Nothing flashy here — just a nicely composed shot of a stagecoach at speed, filmed looking west. The riders have broken off part of the team and are making a getaway. In the background, the flat area on the other side of the trees is the neighboring Brandeis Ranch, which was also a filming location for a few years in the 1930s and 1940s. Visible in the foreground and beyond the stage are a number of the chase roads and insert roads that ran parallel to each other to enable the camera car to track the movement of the horses, wagons and stagecoaches being filmed.

Another stagecoach shot, this one shows a couple of the Upper Iverson's native oak trees along with another corner of Brandeis Ranch in the background. Parallel chase roads can again be seen, along with the line of trees separating Brandeis and Iverson, directly in the center of the shot. The line of white dots visible against the line of trees is made up of the white tips of dark fenceposts supporting a nearly invisible fence between the two properties.

A portion of the line of trees separating Iverson Ranch and Brandeis Ranch included the double row of trees seen above, in the top left corner of the shot. This is a relatively rare view of that double line of trees, revealing a dirt road running between the tree rows. This little stretch of road ran north and south, culminating in a cluster of rocks, visible at the top left. Early in my Iverson research I began calling this formation Rocks Across the Way, as the rocks are usually seen in the distance, across the expanse of the Upper Iverson. These rocks have also been referred to as the Festival Rocks by some film historians, but in my own research the name Rocks Across the Way has stuck. By my designation, the cluster of rocks in the top left corner is Rocks Across the Way-West, and the clump seen at top right is Rocks Across the Way-East. Most of these rocks remain intact today, but now they're surrounded by a gated community of large estates.

Here's a shot that combines an impressive view of about 14 of those fencepost tops — the white dots at the top of the shot, along the left half — along with a peek up the road between the double line of trees, now near the top right corner. These aren't spectacular shots at first glance, but the Iverson features depicted in these scenes generally weren't filmed in a way that made it possible to discern any detail, and these unusual angles are quite revealing. Location researchers live for this stuff.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

B-Western bad guy Charles "Blackie" King at Devil's Doorway, 1935

Here are a couple of nice screen shots from the 1935 Tom Mix serial "The Miracle Rider," featuring an actor who might have played bad guys more than anyone else in movie history, Charles King.


These shots are from a scene filmed on the Lower Iverson, with King seen here against some of the rocks that make up the Devil's Doorway cluster.


I really like these two shots. Charles "Blackie" King was in 400-plus movies, almost always as a baddie. If you want to see a great site about Charlie King, please click here.