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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lorna Gray, Bad Girl of the Republic Serials — and the Katniss Everdeen of the 1940s

Lorna Gray, aka Adrian Booth

As a contract player at Columbia early in her career and later as one of Republic Pictures' top stars, actress Lorna Gray was a regular at the Iverson Movie Ranch. She racked up a string of screen credits in serials, B-Westerns and other productions from the late 1930s through the 1940s before retiring from acting back in 1951. Born Virginia Pound, she worked for about a decade as Lorna Gray and then wound down her career under the stage name Adrian Booth.

Lorna Gray as Vultura in "Perils of Nyoka" (1942)

Gray made what was probably her biggest impact at Iverson as the villainous Vultura in the 1942 Republic serial "Perils of Nyoka," leaving behind an unusual legacy of rocks and other features on the movie ranch that now bear informal "Vultura-related" nicknames: Vultura's Pass, Vultura's Trail, Vultura's Trail Rock, Vultura's Stakeout, etc.

Vultura's Palace, as seen in "Perils of Nyoka"

I've posted before about Vultura's Palace, which was a set for "Perils of Nyoka" that was built on the Lower Iverson. You can click here to see "then and now" shots of the area where the palace stood. The structure was a false front built on some high-profile rocks that remain in place in a privately owned section of the former movie ranch.

Lorna Gray takes aim in "Daughter of Don Q" (1946)

Gray earned a reputation as an actress who was "good at being bad," and frequently wound up playing villainous characters. But her versatile chops enabled her to break out of that mold from time to time, something she did with panache in the 1946 Republic serial "Daughter of Don Q."

Gray segues smoothly into the spotlight as the serial's heroine — and she is an action heroine in the purest sense. Much of the action in "Daughter of Don Q" takes place on the Iverson Movie Ranch, including all of the screen shots you see here from the production.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games"

Gray's bow-and-arrow-wielding heroine was a forerunner to — and possibly inspiration for — later heroic female archers such as Katniss Everdeen of "The Hunger Games" ...

... or red-haired Merida of Disney/Pixar's 2012 animated feature "Brave."

Kirk Alyn and Lorna Gray in "Daughter of Don Q"

Gray stars with Kirk Alyn in "Daughter of Don Q." Two years later Alyn would become the first Superman of the movies, starring in the 1948 Columbia serial "Superman" and later in the 1950 sequel "Atom Man vs. Superman."

This shot from behind the actors locks in where the scene takes place — it's in the North Cluster section of the former Iverson Movie Ranch, with the well-known movie landmark Cleft Rock providing a positive ID.

Here's a markup of the previous shot highlighting Cleft Rock. This movie rock is still in place at Iverson, as you'll see below, and you can click here to see a post containing additional photos and other details about Cleft Rock.

Lorna Gray and Charles Starrett in "Bullets for Rustlers" (1940)

In her 20s Lorna Gray was a contract player at Columbia, where she starred opposite movie cowboy Charles Starrett in 1940 in "Bullets for Rustlers," which shot much of its outdoor action at Iverson.

Gray wasn't afraid to mix it up with the boys, and got right in the middle of the action for this shootout among the rocks of Iverson's North Cluster in "Bullets for Rustlers."

 "Bullets for Rustlers" (1940)

Coincidentally, Gray shares the screen here too with Cleft Rock, as she would again later in "Daughter of Don Q," as noted above. This shot contains a number of features that are worth pointing out, which I'll do in the next photo.

This is the same shot from "Bullets for Rustlers," with a number of rock features highlighted — along with Lorna Gray. Notice the large rock in the center foreground, with the major cleft pointed out.

Here's a photo of that same area from a recent visit to Iverson. The rock with the major cleft appears again here, as I'll note in the photo below.

I found it intriguing that both Cleft Rock and a rock that appears to share a common geological ancestry with it — a sort of "melted down" version of Cleft Rock, with a similar "split muffin top" — would wind up in such close proximity to each other.

Another shot from that recent visit offers a better look at Cleft Rock, at top right, along with its geological next-of-kin in their current habitat. The "melted" version of Cleft Rock that fills up much of the left half of this photo is crying out for a name, and from a "scientific" standpoint, Melted Cleft Rock makes sense. So I'll go with that.

Monte Hale and Lorna Gray — billed here as Adrian Booth — in Republic's 1947 B-Western "Under Colorado Skies."

Other movies Lorna Gray — by this time working as Adrian Booth — shot at Iverson included a number of Republic Pictures' Monte Hale titles: "Home on the Range" (1946); "Out California Way" (1946), with Hale, Roy Rogers and a young Robert ("Bobby") Blake; "The Man From Rainbow Valley" (1946); "Under Colorado Skies" (1947); "Last Frontier Uprising" (1947); and "California Firebrand" (1948), to name a few.

Lorna Gray and Don Douglas in "Deadwood Dick"

Gray starred with Don Douglas in Columbia's 1940 serial "Deadwood Dick," another Iverson production, and worked the Iverson Ranch yet again in Republic's "The Gallant Legion" (1948), starring alongside Wild Bill Elliott.

The movies I've mentioned are just a sampling of Gray's Iverson Movie Ranch filmography — of her 69 film credits in the span of a career that lasted just 14 years, it's probably not a stretch to say that most of those movies were shot at Iverson.

Adrian Booth Brian in 2009

Lorna Gray, who now goes by Adrian Booth Brian, is still going strong at 96 and continues to make the rounds of movie conventions and other industry events.

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