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.
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• 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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Monday, September 22, 2014

Where did Daniel Boone teach his son how to shoot? On the Iverson Movie Ranch!

Fess Parker in "Daniel Boone" (1965)

Fess Parker became the quintessential TV version of not one but two legendary real-life American frontiersmen, first as Davy Crockett in a miniseries that aired from 1954-1955 as part of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color," and later as Daniel Boone in a popular adventure series that ran for six seasons on NBC, from 1964-1970.

It was as Daniel Boone that Parker found his way to the Iverson Movie Ranch. The above shot from "Doll of Sorrow," an episode of the NBC series, includes a portion of Rock Island in the background, at top left. The episode premiered April 22, 1965, and featured this opening segment shot on the Lower Iverson along with a later segment taped on the Upper Iverson.

Fess Parker and young Darby Hinton in "Daniel Boone"

In the opening moments of the episode, Daniel Boone teaches his son, Israel Boone, or "Izzy," played by Darby Hinton, how to shoot the frontiersman's trademark Pennsylvania long rifle.

The target is a small gourd hanging from a tree, at the center of the shot. In the background the familiar rock wall and other rock features known collectively as "Hole in the Wall" can be seen.

This version of the shot highlights the rock arch that gives the Hole in the Wall its name (noted in yellow), along with other key components of the widely filmed Hole in the Wall rock formation.

Today the Hole in the Wall provides a rocky backdrop for the Cal West Townhomes.

This shot pinpoints a couple of key features of the Hole in the Wall rock group to help match up its current setting with the features as they appear in "Daniel Boone." Please click here to read a previous blog post about the Hole in the Wall, which was a common feature in movies and TV shows throughout the filming era at Iverson.

To young Izzy's delight, his Pa finally lets him handle the rifle. The male bonding session plays out against the backdrop of the Lower Iverson's Rock Island along with some of the features of an area I call "Batman Corner," which is around the corner from Batman Rock.

Of course the first thing the youngster does with the heavy weapon is drop it. Fess Parker's patience and fatherly tenderness are on ample display during the sequence.

This version of the shot identifies some of the main rock features seen in the background.

Izzy shows he's game, even as he continues to struggle with the heft and length of the rifle.

With the help of a rudimentary monopod, young Izzy finally does get a shot off — and at least in this fictionalized version of the lesson, he hits the target.

Unfortunately, a traveling salesman happens to be rounding Batman Corner at that moment in his horse-drawn cart. The large rock seen near the top of the frame, above the horses, was one of the most prominent features of Batman Corner, but appears to have been buried when that part of the Iverson Gorge was filled with dirt during grading for condo development in the late 1980s. The rock is also partially visible above in shots of Fess Parker helping the youngster with the rifle.

Izzy's shot frightens the traveling salesman's horses, who rear up and then take off running.

As the horses run out of control they race up Garden of the Gods Trail, where they pass Hawk Rock.

This version of the photo identifies a number of the features seen in the "Daniel Boone" shot, including Hawk Rock.

A recent photo of the same area provides a similar view of Hawk Rock. For more about Hawk Rock, please click here.

This version of the shot pinpoints Hawk Rock. Additional material about the rock can be found by looking up Hawk Rock in the long index of labels found at the right of the page.

The runaway horse sequence ends in a wagon crash, which leads to some hard feelings. As Izzy looks on, Fess Parker, right, talks over the situation with Seth Jennings, the angry owner of the horse cart, played by prolific character actor Edward Binn.

With Izzy, at the far left, still keeping an eye on the action, the elder Boone winds up before leveling a right cross on Jennings, who has picked a fight. The fisticuffs take place in a lightly filmed section of the Lower Iverson I call the Arena, which is still intact and is located just off the main trail into Garden of the Gods.

This is what that same area of the Arena looks like today. The large rock on the left, with a distinguishing notch along its right edge, is the same one Izzy is standing in front of in the "Daniel Boone" shot. You can read more about the Arena in an earlier post by clicking here.

As Boone and Jennings continue to scuffle in the Arena, we get a closer look at a rock cluster dominated by a distinctive "ledge" rock.

Here's another view of the ledge rock and its neighbors as they appear today. This area is now on public parkland and can be easily accessed by visiting Garden of the Gods Park in Chatsworth, Calif.

Entrance gate into Garden of the Gods, on Redmesa Road

Directions to Garden of the Gods, and the Arena: From Topanga Canyon Boulevard just below the 118 Freeway, head west on Santa Susana Pass Road and take the first right, onto Redmesa Road. Park just below where the condos begin, and you should be able to find the trail into Garden of the Gods, behind the metal gate on the west side of Redmesa. The Arena is a short distance up the trail, on the right side.


Mark said...

I love the then and now photos. Daniel Boone was one of my favorite shows back when I was a kid. Thanks for this post!

Swami Nano said...

You bet! Thanks for your feedback, Mark.

I've only found one episode so far that was shot at Iverson, but as you can see, it contained some good shots.

I'm still going over the rest of the series, but 1964-1970 was a bit after the target period for Iverson and I'm not really expecting to find anything else. They were probably already building the 118 Freeway by the time they shot the "Doll of Sorrow" episode, so it would have been one of the later productions to shoot on the Lower Iverson. (Not counting the occasional "straggler" like "Deathsport" in 1978.)

Thanks again!