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 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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Iverson's "Angry Cardinal" — not to be confused with other "Angry Birds"

Iverson Gorge, as seen in "Panic in Year Zero" (1962)

One rock feature I began seeing in movies early in my study of the Iverson Movie Ranch came to be known in my research as the Angry Cardinal. It typically appears in overviews of the Iverson Gorge filmed from the camera mount area at Overlook Point, as in the above example from the 1962 Cold War movie "Panic in Year Zero." In this shot looking northeast, Angry Cardinal is seen to the left of center, just below the background hills. I'll highlight it in the next shot.

This is the same "Panic in Year Zero" screen shot, with Angry Cardinal identified. The shot also includes a number of other Upper Gorge features, such as Sticky Bun in the top right corner, Doglips almost exactly in the center of the frame and Lone Ranger Rock to the right of Doglips. You can learn more about each of these features by clicking on the links in this paragraph, and I'll identify them below to make it easier for you to find them in the photo.

In this busy version of the photo I've identified a number of the other features seen in the "Panic in Year Zero" shot. All of these features of Iverson's Upper Gorge turn up frequently in old movies and early TV shows, and you can find information about most or all of them by searching for the rock names in the extensive index at the right of this page, or by clicking on the various links in this post. Here are a few additional links to blog entries containing info about the rock features seen here: Zorro's Cave, Cagney Rock, Overhang Rock.

This is a detail shot of Angry Cardinal from the above "Panic in Year Zero" screen shot.

For comparison, here's a look at one of the logos of the Louisville Cardinals — which apparently is also called the "Angry Cardinal." I know it's far from a perfect match, but maybe it's close enough to point out how I arrived at the name for the rock. You may notice that the Iverson rock even has a similar "angry eyebrow."

Of course, the "Angry Cardinal" of Louisville University isn't the only red bird around with a bad attitude. The Louisville logo has a lot in common with the familiar red meanie from "Angry Birds." But before I wander even further off track, suffice to say the Angry Cardinal found at the Iverson Movie Ranch doesn't have anything to do with "Angry Birds."

"The Vanishing Legion" (1931)

This is probably one of the earliest appearances of the Angry Cardinal on film. The screen shot comes from the 1931 Mascot serial "The Vanishing Legion," and offers almost exactly the same view of the Gorge and Angry Cardinal found more than 30 years later in "Panic in Year Zero," although this 1931 version is not as sharp — and therefore the cardinal may not appear quite as angry.

Closeup of Angry Cardinal from the above "Vanishing Legion" screen shot.

"The Lone Gun" (1954)

A beautiful shot of the Iverson Gorge, in color, can be found in the 1954 George Montgomery Western "The Lone Gun," from United Artists, as seen above. It's taken from an angle that's similar to those used in "Panic in Year Zero" and "The Vanishing Legion," but I've made it a point to include this shot because it adds a few important features and also because it's easier to make out some of the features, such as Lone Ranger Rock, here than it is in the shots up above. The Angry Cardinal again appears in its full fury, although being in color this time — pretty dated color, I must say — doesn't really add much. I'll point out a few key features in the shot below.

One thing I like about this shot is that it provides a good look at a portion of Iverson's so-called "Stagecoach Road." I'm putting it in quotes because it's easy to get confused and think it was once an actual stagecoach road, which it was not. The real stage road did come into the San Fernando Valley from Simi Valley not far from here — a few miles south and west, below Santa Susana Pass Road. But this one was strictly a movie stagecoach road.

The area where the two actors are fighting is the camera mount, also known as Overlook Point — a vantage point from which countless film and TV crews aimed their cameras toward the Iverson Gorge. The site still has remnants of the old metal camera track and mount used for the movies, as I've mentioned elsewhere on the blog. You can click here to find out more about it.

 "Al Jennings of Oklahoma" (1951)

Although Stage Road Rock appears small in some of these photos — especially those presenting a wide vista of the Gorge from the camera mount, which was some distance away — it was, and is, a substantial rock. The above scene from the Columbia Western "Al Jennings of Oklahoma," shot from the top of Nyoka Cliff, gives some idea of the rock's size. This photo also provides a good look at the clearing next to the rock, which was a favorite site for stagecoach holdups.

It's worth noting that features such as Stage Road Rock and Lone Ranger Rock, along with much of the "stagecoach road," have been preserved as part of Garden of the Gods Park and can be easily visited today. Most of the features you see in this blog entry remain in place along the east side of Redmesa Road. That side of the road is not marked as a park — the plaque above is located in the section of park on the west side of Redmesa — but it's all public parkland. Feel free to hike there, as long as you steer clear of the condos just to the north — and please watch out for rattlesnakes and poison oak.

The story of the Angry Cardinal — and in particular, what became of it — has a few additional twists. I've added a follow-up entry that goes into detail about that part of the Angry Cardinal story, which you can read by clicking here.

I've also included a few links below where you should be able to find DVD versions of some of the movies discussed in this post ...

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