Remember when fish sprouted legs and climbed out of the water, setting up housekeeping on dry land? Of course not, and neither do I. No one does. It was a long time ago. But maybe you read about it.
Regardless of whether Darwin got it right, Darwin, too, was a long time ago, and as his critics like to point out, it's "only a theory." At any rate, here's a shot of Charlie out walking his fish.
"Adventures of Captain Marvel" (1941)
Feast your eyes on Evolution, just above the center of the frame. This beauty turned up in the old Republic serial "Adventures of Captain Marvel," in a sequence set in the Upper Gorge on the old Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif. Maybe you see it and maybe you don't, but what I see is a fairly literal depiction of Darwin's walking fish, formed out of solid rock.
"Evolution," as seen in "Adventures of Captain Marvel"
How about a zoomed-in version? I see gills, fins ... maybe even teeth — not to mention an almost fully formed leg. Of course, none of this proves a dagnabbed thing, as an old geezer might say in an old B-Western. So I would hope nobody feels threatened or offended or otherwise violated right about now. To me it's all just a part of the beauty and weirdness that is old movie rocks.
"The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" (1935)
The "Split Roof" feature is hard to see in the "Captain Marvel" shot, but it also turns up in other movies and TV shows. While the feature is part of the larger rock formation Evolution, it's worth identifying separately because it appears in shots where there's no way Evolution itself could be seen. Evolution is one of those rocks that has to be viewed from a precise angle or it doesn't work. In this shot, Split Roof is in the top left corner, immediately to the left of the tower.
read by clicking here. Nyoka Cliff, seen in the background here, is one of the best-known of the Iverson Movie Ranch rock features, and has appeared many times in this blog. You can find it in the long index at the right of this page, or click here to see a compilation of posts about it.
"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1958)
The above shot from the "Wyatt Earp" TV show provides a better look at the Split Roof rock feature. The shot comes from the episode titled "One," which aired toward the end of season three, premiering April 15, 1958. Split Roof can be seen near the top of the frame, toward the right — directly above the head of the middle rider.
Split Roof in its contemporary setting
The Split Roof feature can still be found on the former Iverson Movie Ranch. That's it in the above shot from a 2014 visit to the site. The tree that appears near the center of the shot and partially blocks the view of Split Roof can also be seen in the "Wyatt Earp" shot above this one.
"Adventures of Captain Marvel" (1941) — Angular rocks noted
Those same angular rocks can be seen in the original "Adventures of Captain Marvel" screen shot. They're hidden in shadows here, but if you look closely you should be able to make them out. The angular rock on the left forms what might be called the "leg" of the walking fish, if you look at it that way.
The rock formation Evolution, now mostly hidden behind foliage
If you're playing along at home, you may have already put this together: If Split Roof is still in place, and Split Roof was a part of the larger rock feature Evolution ... and if the Angular Rocks are still in place, and one of them formed the "leg" of the movie rock Evolution ... then that means Evolution is still in place. And yes, it is, although you would never recognize it. That's it in the above photo. These days it's mostly hidden behind foliage — especially that same tree from the "Wyatt Earp" era. About all that can be seen of Evolution today is the Split Roof part of the rock — along with the Angular Rocks below it.
Cal West Townhomes — the Football appears in the background
As for the Football, Evolution's neighbor to the northeast, with its trademark grass insert, it's also alive and well — and much easier to find than Evolution. These days the Football is a part of the backdrop for the Cal West Townhomes condo complex.
"Zane Grey Theatre" (1956)
Here's a shot that includes the Football and the grass insert in the background, taken from an episode of the Western TV series "Zane Grey Theatre" called "Vengeance Canyon," which premiered Nov. 30, 1956 on CBS. That's a blurry Walter Brennan in the middle of the shot, punching some guy.
"The Lone Ranger" TV show (1949)
The truth is the grass insert almost always WAS in focus, as another TV shot, this one from "The Lone Ranger," illustrates. The shot comes from the episode "War Horse," which aired early in the show's first season, premiering Oct. 20, 1949. The grass insert is a little harder to find in this shot, but it's there if you know where to look.
"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1958)
Sometimes the grass insert is the only way to identify the location for a particular shot, as in the above example from an episode of the "Wyatt Earp" TV series called "Two," which first aired April 29, 1958 — part of the same series of shows as the episode "One," which is featured higher up in this post. In this shot the Football and the grass insert can be seen near the right edge of the frame.
Recent shot of the Football and the grass insert
This shot from recent years offers a good look at the movie rock the Football, along with its distinctive grass insert.
"Oklahoma Justice" (1951)
This shot from the Monogram B-Western "Oklahoma Justice," starring Johnny Mack Brown, showcases a lost and lamented movie rock known as Overhang Rock, in the foreground at the right. But it also ties together many of the rock features we've been examining in this post — features that remain in place today at the site, including the Football, with its grass insert, Evolution, with its Split Roof, and the Angular Rocks below the Split Roof.