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.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at 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.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Toucan makes an appearance in "The Cisco Kid" — and brings along its pal Freddie Frog

"The Cisco Kid" TV show episode "Montezuma's Treasure," which first aired Feb. 24, 1955;
I. Stanford Jolley appears as crooked Professor Danforth.

Here's a screen shot from the "Cisco Kid" TV series showing the juxtaposition of a bunch of great old movie rocks. The shot is set in the northern reaches of Garden of the Gods, in an area I call the North Cluster.

Iverson Movie Ranch aficionados may recognize the rock noted here, known as the Saddle or Saddle Rock. It's worth noting that, for the most part, the rocks in this shot have survived — although many of them have seen better days.

Above perennial B-Western bad guy I. Stanford Jolley's head, is a rock I call the Toucan — not that it looks like a toucan here, but it did in "The Lone Ranger," where I first saw it. I've blogged about it before, and you can click here to read a post that reveals how the mystery of the Toucan was solved.

"The Lone Ranger" TV series — shot in 1949

This is the shot that gave the Toucan its name — my first sighting of the rock, in an early episode of the "Lone Ranger" TV series. The same shot can be found in the movie "The Lone Ranger," released in 1952, which is an edited version of the first three episodes of the TV show. (The movie is also sometimes called "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" or "Enter the Lone Ranger.")
As it appears here, the rock reminds me of a toucan's beak, even though the effect turns out to be an optical illusion. It may be hard to tell that the rock in this shot and the one in the blue rectangle in the "Cisco Kid" shot above are the same rock, but they are.

For comparison, here's an actual toucan. I know — the beak is curved, and the rock really doesn't look much like the bird. Still, that's what came to me at the time, and I've been stuck with it ever since.

Here's the Toucan — the rock — as it appears today. It's hard to get a decent shot of it because these days it's hidden under a tree. It even has a coating of moss on it from being in the shade all the time.

Back to "The Cisco Kid," the blue rectangle here highlights a rock I call Freddie Frog. Freddie doesn't look at all like a frog here, but I think it does in the next shot — kind of a cartoonish frog.

"Range Beyond the Blue" (1947)

That's the same rock, Freddie Frog, at the bottom center of the frame, showing a little more personality than in the "Cisco Kid" shot. You may also notice the Toucan again making an appearance, in the center of the shot, directly above Freddie Frog.

"Freddie the Frog" — the plush toy

Here's an example of a "Freddie Frog" in the real world, if toys are the real world. It's a plush toy called "Freddie the Frog" that you can buy anywhere as part of the NoJo Jungle Babies line. I get that not everyone will see the resemblance, but I have to say it works for me.

"The Living Bible" (1952)

Freddie Frog pops up again in the 1952 production "The Living Bible," which was marketed under a variety of titles including "Jesus, the Christ" and "The Life of Christ." That's Freddie at the left in the above shot, and once again, the Toucan shares the screen with him. The Toucan is harder to make out here, but that's it just above the two guys at the right.

A "meaningless" pile of rocks containing clues to movie history

It took me a few years to figure out what happened to Freddie Frog — the rock — but I finally unlocked the mystery on a visit to Iverson earlier this month. The Freddie story turned out to be a bit more convoluted — and definitely more interesting — than I ever suspected. The secret of Freddie's fate was contained in the pile of rocks seen here.

First, to put that pile of rocks in its place in the universe, here's a slightly wider view of the spot. The pile of rocks appears at the right, but pay attention to the larger rock at the left of the shot. That same rock, which is unnamed, can also be seen in the "Cisco Kid" shot, as noted below.

In the "Cisco Kid" shot, I've highlighted the "unnamed larger rock" as it appeared in the TV show. I've also highlighted Freddie Frog again to point out how close these two rocks were to each other.

Now let's take a closer look at that pile of rocks ...

These two large rocks have splotches of cement and concrete all over them, revealing that they were used to hold another rock in place during the filming era. That other rock, of course, was Freddie Frog, and these rocks formed its base. The large crack between the two rocks can be seen in the "Cisco Kid" shot, highlighted below.

The crack is one of the key identifiers revealing that the two rocks at the site today — seen in the photo above this one — formed the original base for Freddie.

Here's a closer look at some of the cement that once held Freddie's head in place. This is the same patch that's near the top of the frame in the "traces of cement and concrete" photo a couple of shots up, and it apparently secured the "north leg" of Freddie's head, if that makes any sense. It looks just like sand in person — as cement tends to do — but it's hard as a rock.

And the mystery is solved: These two unrecognizable rocks are the former Freddie Frog, having been toppled off his carefully cemented perch for unknown reasons and apparently splitting in half in the process. The two rocks that were once Freddie's head now fill the spot where the bad guy stood in the "Cisco Kid" shot. It remains unclear whether Freddie got his block knocked off by vandals, an earthquake — maybe even as part of preservation efforts. Regardless, Freddie Frog has survived, in a way — even if he's not quite ready for his closeup anymore.

You may want to take a look at the "Cisco Kid" TV show DVD sets being sold on Amazon — highly recommended if you're into the Iverson Movie Ranch, location research in general or just old TV Westerns. The picture quality is generally really good — I'm not sure how well it comes across in the screen shots you see here, but this is by far the best "Cisco Kid" TV show stuff I've seen. Click on the links above to order the same sets I'm using for these posts. One minor note of caution: I don't think Collection 1 has as much Iverson content as Collections 2, 3 and 4.


Anonymous said...

Cool! Fun to see this stuff about old filming locations...THE CISCO KID has a fan page on FB:

Swami Nano said...

Thanks for your comment ... and thanks for getting the word out about the Facebook group (and getting the word out to the group about the blog). It looks like a fun group.

In case you missed it, I did a follow-up blog post right after this one with a lot more about the location shoot for "The Cisco Kid." You can see it here:

Especially with Keith Richards appearing in a number of "Cisco Kid" episodes, it is incumbent upon us all that we ...

... Keep on rockin' (!)