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.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I know, it's only Plaza Rock ... but I like it

As those great rock 'n' roll philosophers the Rolling Stones once said, you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

"The Bold Caballero" (1936)

I had an experience along those lines recently when I was searching the grounds of the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., looking for a particular "classic rock" from the movies — a stacked formation I call Plaza Rock. You can see it in the shot above, from the old Republic Zorro movie "The Bold Caballero," starring Bob Livingston. That's Plaza Rock filling up much of the left half of the screen.

"The Old Corral" (1936)

I started calling it Plaza Rock in my research because often when I saw the rock in the movies, it had a sort of dirt "plaza" in front of it, and appeared to be positioned strategically at a crossroads, as if presiding over the plaza. You can get an idea of the plaza in the above screen shot from the Gene Autry movie "The Old Corral." You may also want to pay attention to that much larger rock in the top right corner, which sort of lurks meaningfully behind Plaza Rock. That rock will be discussed in the post that follows this one, and it is a big part of the Plaza Rock story. But for now I'm going to hold off on talking about it and keep the focus on Plaza Rock itself.

Here's that same shot from "The Old Corral" with a couple of features noted, just to make sure we're on the same page.

"The Lone Ranger" (Republic serial, 1938)

During the years when the Gorge Cabin was in place, from about 1936-1944, Plaza Rock was one of the nearest rock features to the cabin. In fact, one thing that makes Plaza Rock especially important is that it helps pinpoint the location of the cabin. I've blogged previously about Gorge Cabin, and you can read more about it and see a bunch of other movie shots of the cabin by clicking here.

Promotional still, circa 1940-1943, featuring Gorge Cabin and much of Iverson's Upper Gorge

The above promotional still comes from the collection of film historian Jerry England, and it's one I've featured before on the blog. In addition to providing one of the clearest looks at the Gorge Cabin, this shot includes a number of important features of Iverson's Upper Gorge. No one has successfully determined — yet — which production the shot was made for, although it's thought to be from a Columbia serial, possibly "Batman" (1943). For now I'll have to give a date range for it rather than a specific year.

Here's that same early 1940s promo shot, with a number of key features marked. One thing that becomes clear upon studying some of these photos is that the cabin essentially occupied the "plaza" area in front of Plaza Rock.

"Outlaw's Son" (1957)

The above screen shot from "Outlaw's Son," a relatively obscure Western feature from United Artists that starred Dane Clark and Ben Cooper, provides a look at the same area where Gorge Cabin stood, but after the cabin was gone, in 1957. The camera angles are comparable, though far from exact, between this shot and the early 1940s promo shot above, and a couple of key rocks appearing in both photos serve to further pin down the location of the cabin. It would have been in the flat "plaza" area adjacent to Plaza Rock, toward the back of the shot, behind the tree that appears directly in the center of the shot.


The above markup shows an experiment I did that attempts to draw a closer comparison between the two preceding shots — with and without the cabin. I can't honestly say I'm convinced that this effort contributed much, if anything, to the process of pinpointing the former location of the cabin. But it was something I thought I'd try and this was the result, for better or worse. Besides Plaza Rock, the same large foreground rock appears in both shots, and the dotted line between the two rocks should intersect the cabin location.

Well, I didn't get what I wanted — I never found Plaza Rock in the real world, although I eventually developed a pretty solid theory as to what happened to it. I'll delve into that subject in the next post. (Please click here to read it.) For now I'll just mention again that in the process of searching for Plaza Rock, I found something unexpected, and pretty darn cool in its own right. As the Stones might say, I got what I needed. I've already dropped one big hint: It has to do with that larger rock you see hovering above Plaza Rock in some of the shots above. I'll fill in the details in the next post.


In the meantime, here are some links to Amazon in case you want to try to track down DVD copies of some of the productions mentioned in this post — or if you're Jonesing for some Old Stones:



Click here to see Western movie location expert Jerry England's blog, where he talks about the Iverson Movie Ranch, other filming locations in the Santa Susana Mountains, a little family history and all things cowboy.

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