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.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rhonda Fleming — and why there's a Rhonda Fleming Rock in Chatsworth, Calif.

Screen icon Rhonda Fleming appeared in a number of movies shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch, including the 1959 Bob Hope Western comedy "Alias Jesse James." But her most memorable Iverson movie may have been the 1955 Ronald Reagan-John Payne Western "Tennessee's Partner" — which included a defining moment involving the actress and a particular rock.

Rhonda Fleming, and Rhonda Fleming Rock, in "Tennessee's Partner" (1955)

In the movie, Fleming is seen riding in a rarely filmed area just west of Garden of the Gods, and at one point, as seen in the above screen shot, she hides behind a monolithic rock that, now, more than a half-century later, film historians call Rhonda Fleming Rock. To date, "Tennessee's Partner" is the only movie where I've seen this rock.

Here's a short video clip of Fleming's moment in "Tennessee's Partner," featuring  the monolith that now bears her name:



So why is it that the rock almost never appeared on film? It might have had to do with the rock's appearance, being perhaps a bit too, well, upright for some tastes. But I think the main reason probably was because it was out of the way and hard to get to — especially when hauling a bunch of cumbersome movie equipment. The hillside on which Rhonda Fleming Rock is located is just that — a hillside — and filming there would have been tricky.

Rhonda Fleming Rock in 2008, after the Sesnon Fire

Rhonda Fleming Rock remains in place today, and is not hard to find — especially if you know where to look for it. (Check out the bird's-eye view near the bottom of this post.) In general, it's just west of the big sandstone monsters that define Garden of the Gods. Climb down from Garden of the Gods heading west, walk around a little and you'll probably stumble onto it. It's a bit "tucked in" among foliage and other rocks, so it doesn't exactly jump out and say "Here I am!" But it's there and you should be able to find it.

Rhonda Fleming Rock in 2011

Above is another recent view of the rock, along with some of its much larger neighbors along the western edge of Iverson's Garden of the Gods.

Another view of Rhonda Fleming Rock in 2011

Today the rock, visible at the bottom center of the above shot, is part of a landscape that includes condos and, above them, a sprawling church complex. Rocky Peak can be seen in the distance, to the west.

Garden of the Gods, Chatsworth, Calif.

Here's a Bing bird's-eye view of Garden of the Gods that includes Rhonda Fleming Rock, a little to the left of the center of the photo. This is the view looking toward the east. You may want to click on the photo for a larger version. But unless you're in the mood for a "Where's Waldo"-type hunt, you can take a look at the next photo, where I've pinpointed Rhonda Fleming Rock.

This is the same view of Garden of the Gods from Bing, with notes added that should help you find the rock. First you have to get to Chatsworth, Calif., and if you make it that far, find Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and just south of the 118 Freeway, head west on Santa Susana Pass Road, then turn right on Redmesa Road and park just before the condos. You should see the trail into Garden of the Gods, behind the iron gate on the west side of Redmesa. Have fun!

I've blogged before about "Tennessee's Partner," which includes a memorable Ronald Reagan death scene shot in central Garden of the Gods — just around the corner from Rhonda Fleming Rock. Click here to read my blog entry all about the location where Reagan was gunned down.

Below you'll find links to a few different versions of "Tennessee's Partner" on DVD, for sale on Amazon.com. If you can snag the DVD that has both "Tennessee's Partner" and "Cattle Queen of Montana," starring Barbara Stanwyck, that one's an especially good deal for Iverson Movie Ranch aficionados, as both movies were filmed on the ranch.

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