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.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

One of the Iverson Gorge's best-kept secrets is revealed in a low-res screen shot from the 1931 Rin Tin Tin serial "The Lightning Warrior"


 "The Lightning Warrior" (1931)

This shot from the Rin Tin Tin adventure "The Lightning Warrior," one of the earliest "all-talking" serials from Mascot, didn't look like much at first, but like one of those "magic eye" pictures where you have to let your eyes relax and then the hidden image "magically" materializes, this shot, too, held a few surprises.

Surviving rock features in the "Lightning Warrior" screen shot

The photo contains a number of the features of Iverson's Upper Gorge, and appears to be shot from the flat area where the Gorge Cabin would later be built — and where a row of condos now stands. The rock features I've noted above have all survived, although in some cases they're a little hard to find nowadays.

The Football, with grass insert, in its contemporary setting

The Football, with its distinguishing grass insert, is a well-known feature that survives today as part of the scenery surrounding the Cal West Townhomes condo complex. To read more about the Football, please see this previous post.

The Angular Rocks and Split Roof, as they appear today

The Angular Rocks  and Split Roof can be found today in the far northeast corner of the Upper Gorge, just below the first row of condos. Split Roof is largely hidden behind foliage now and can be difficult to see, depending on the time of year and the level of growth. Click here to read an earlier blog post with more photos and information about both of these rock features.

Lancer Arch, as seen in "The Lightning Warrior"

Other features seen in the "Lightning Warrior" screen shot did not survive. Lancer Arch, visible near the right edge of the frame, was destroyed to make room for the condos. To read more about Lancer Arch, named for its appearance in "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer," please click here.

"Thundering Trails" (1943)

The same area is also seen several years later in the Three Mesquiteers B-Western "Thundering Trails," from Republic, filmed in 1942 and released in early 1943. The rocky area seen in this shot is noted below in the shot from "The Lightning Warrior."

"The Lightning Warrior"

The views of this section of the Upper Gorge that appear in these two productions can be coordinated to gain insights into some of the sets that appeared in the area during the 1940s.

"Thundering Trails" — Gorge Cabin Mine

At the time "Thundering Trails" was filmed, the Gorge Cabin was in place, and although the cabin itself does not appear in the movie, a couple of manmade sets associated with it do appear. The cabin set included a fake mine, visible at the right of the above shot, and a stable, a small portion of which is just visible at the left of the shot.

Here's the shot from "Thundering Trails" with the manmade sets noted.

"The Lightning Warrior"

Putting together the information contained in the two productions, we can pinpoint the elusive location where the Gorge Cabin Mine was situated, as indicated above.

The distinctive cluster of rocks that helps nail down the location where the Gorge Cabin Mine once stood can be thought of as (what else) the Gorge Cabin Mine Rocks. This rock cluster no longer exists, a fact that underscores the value of finding historical markers such as these in the productions filmed decades ago.

"Thundering Trails"

This shot from "Thundering Trails" provides another look at the Gorge Cabin Mine Rocks, along with the Gorge Cabin Stable — another feature that the rocks help pinpoint.

Mascot was understandably proud of its new "all talking" capability at the time it produced "The Lightning Warrior," and the studio made a point of touting the technology in this 1931 poster. The production followed an even earlier Rin Tin Tin talking adventure, Mascot's 1930 serial "The Lone Defender." As you can see on the poster above, the promotion for "The Lightning Warrior" includes the text: "Hear Rinty — He barks, yelps, howls, shrieks, and cries. Rinty moans, groans, and grunts! Hear him! See him!"

Frankie Darro

Child star Frankie Darro, who was 13 at the time "The Lightning Warrior" came out, had the "human lead" in the serial, opposite Rin Tin Tin. Darro, whose parents were circus performers, was an unusually adept action hero even as a kid. He continued his acting career as an adult, and also became a stuntman, working regularly in productions filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch.

Rin Tin Tin (aka Rin-Tin-Tin, Rinty)

"The Lightning Warrior" was the last film role for Rin Tin Tin, who died in 1932 after a career primarily in silent movies. A number of other German shepherds later appeared in various productions as "Rin Tin Tin Jr.," and it has been said that at least one of these animals — featured in the Mascot serials "The Law of the Wild" (1934) and "The Adventures of Rex and Rinty" (1935) — was in fact sired by the original Rinty.

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