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, December 29, 2014

The Year in Review: The Top 10 "Goof Photos" sent out to the Iverson Movie Ranch Blog mailing list in 2014

Readers who are already on the Iverson Movie Ranch Blog Mailing List know all too well about the "Goof Photo" that accompanies each mailing, but for those few remaining poor souls out in the world who have yet to sign up, I've compiled the best of the year's Goof Photos. Below you will find the top 10 of the year, in no particular order.

For anyone who wants to sign up for the Mailing List, please send an email to me at:

iversonmovieranch@gmail.com

Just say "add me to the list" or whatever else you want to say to get the message across.


Once you're on the list you'll get an email — including the all-important (and occasionally really stupid) Goof Photo — letting you know whenever I put up a new blog post. It has been averaging once every four or five days.

And now, without (much) further ado ...













As I mentioned up above, if you would like to sign up for the Iverson Movie Ranch Blog Mailing List, just send me an email at:

iversonmovieranch@gmail.com

... and say something along the lines of "add me to the mailing list."

Thank you, everyone, for your interest in the Iverson Movie Ranch. Have a great New Year's ... See you in 2015!

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.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Year in Review: Top 10 Iverson Movie Ranch finds of 2014


2014 was a busy year in Iverson Movie Ranch research. As I was looking back over the year's blog posts to help put together a Top 10 list of the most significant finds of the year, I realized it would be difficult to narrow it down to just 10. So in addition to the Top 10 Countdown that follows, you'll find a "Next 10" list at the bottom of this post, highlighting the discoveries that didn't quite make the Top 10.


Here's a countdown of the Top 10 Iverson Movie Ranch finds of 2014:

No. 10: Proof that Elvis Presley filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch

Promotional still for "Harum Scarum" (1965)

It has been known for some time that Elvis Presley's 1965 Movie "Harum Scarum" was filmed in part on the Iverson Movie Ranch, but I had to put together a few puzzle pieces to prove that the King himself was captured on film at the ranch. The above promotional still played a key role in proving it.

Click here to read the blog post from October all about what Elvis was up to while he was at Iverson.

No. 9: The Forsythe Oak

The Forsythe Oak, located on the former Upper Iverson Movie Ranch

2014 was the Year of the Tree in Iverson research, with the Forsythe Oak being one of three trees to make the Top 10. Named after actor John Forsythe ("Bachelor Father"), the tree was spotted in an episode of the Western anthology series "Zane Grey Theatre" and helped unlock a broader discovery, the Midway Oaks — a small grove of trees that appeared in many productions, with quite a few of the trees still in place on the former Upper Iverson.

Click here to read the blog post from August about the Forsythe Oak.

No. 8: Evidence that Bald Knob was manmade

"The Virginian" (1963) — a bolt found in the rock known as Bald Knob

The secret behind the gravity-defying rock Bald Knob, a frequently filmed feature of the Iverson Gorge, appears to have been inadvertently revealed in an episode of "The Virginian," where a bolt can be seen presumably helping to keep the rock from tipping over.

I did an in-depth examination of Bald Knob in two posts back in August, starting with this one, which examines a number of appearances by Bald Knob, including in an episode of "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" that contains a sequence I call the Battle of Bald Knob. The Bald Knob series continues with this post exposing the bolt and other possible enhancements that were made to the rock feature.

No. 7: The Charles Bronson Hanging Tree

"Bonanza" (1964) — Charles Bronson hanging from the Charles Bronson Hanging Tree

The tree from which Charles Bronson was apparently hanged during his guest appearance on "Bonanza" in 1964, in the episode "The Underdog," was found to still be in place on the former Upper Iverson. I blogged about the tree and the Bronson appearance back in September, and you can read that blog entry by clicking here.

No. 6: Tornado's Mine

"Zorro's Black Whip" (1944) — Tornado's Mine

Fellow film historians and location experts, including a number of readers of this blog, collaborated with me on my personal Iverson Movie Ranch research in 2014 more than ever before, with one example being the discovery of Tornado's Mine by Jerry Condit. Thanks to Jerry I found not only the exact location of the mine, but even some remaining pieces of the old movie set that are still in place.

I detailed the discovery of Tornado's Mine in a blog post in November that you can read by clicking here.

No. 5: Stone buttressing near Garden of the Gods

"Adventures of Captain Marvel" (1941)

Another collaborative effort went into the discovery near Garden of the Gods of the stone buttressing noted above that appeared in the Republic serial "Adventures of Captain Marvel." A sighting by "Spin and Marty" webmaster Kurt Spitzer launched the search, but it was intrepid Iverson explorer Cliff Roberts who found the structure.

You can read a post from November all about the buttressing, its location and its discovery by clicking here.

No. 4: Tom Mix bootholes from 1935

"The Miracle Rider" (1935) — Tom Mix contemplates his bootholes

I blogged in October about the discovery of the Tom Mix bootholes from the Mascot serial "The Miracle Rider" in a rock now known as Tom Mix Rock, which remains in place near the Garden of the Gods. The holes were spotted in the serial by a reader of this blog, Scotty, and I was able to track them down at the location and match them up with the holes as they remain in place today.

You can read my blog post about the bootholes by clicking here.

No. 3: The remains of Freddie Frog

"Range Beyond the Blue" (1947) — Freddie Frog

Freddie Frog was one of those rock formations at Iverson that I thought must just be my imagination — especially after trying in vain for years to find it. When I finally managed, back in February, not only to determine the location where the rock once stood, but also to find the busted-up pieces of what was once Freddie Frog, I realized I wasn't crazy.

I blogged about the Freddie Frog discovery in February, and you can read that post by clicking here.

No. 2: Bear Tree

"The Adventures of Spin and Marty" (1955)

Bear Tree was one of the first big Iverson Movie Ranch finds of 2014, and like many of the year's top discoveries, it was the result of a collaborative effort. "Spin and Marty" expert Kurt Spitzer tipped me off to the possibility that this scene from the Disney series might be filmed at Iverson, and some heads-up work by field operative Cliff Roberts produced the first confirmed contemporary photographs of the tree.

Bear Tree today

The discovery of Bear Tree helped open up a whole new "branch" of Iverson research, as it soon became apparent that in many cases a tree can be just as much help as a rock in telling a story about movie history. Following the discovery of Bear Tree, other secrets have begun to surface about the Oak Flats area, where Bear Tree is located, as well as the Midway Oaks and other tree-filled sections of the former Iverson Ranch.

To read the blog entry from back in March about Bear Tree then and now, please click here.

No. 1 — the Top Iverson Movie Ranch find of 2014: Hobbit House

Hobbit House, hidden among the condos on the former Lower Iverson

The discovery of Hobbit House early in the year helped tie up a number of loose ends about the movie history of the Upper Gorge, on the Lower Iverson. Hobbit House connects many of the dots among the Angry Cardinal, Plaza Rock, the Gorge Cabin and other features, while also revealing just how much history has been lost to the "fill dirt" used in construction of a condo community on the site.

"Stagecoach Express" (1942)

This photo of Hobbit House from 1942 gives some idea of the grandeur of the rock feature when it stood tall — before about three-quarters of it was buried. Click here to read the original blog post from March about the discovery of Hobbit House, including additional movie appearances by the rock feature. A follow-up post, which can be found by clicking here, goes into detail about Angry Cardinal, a larger rock feature of which Hobbit House forms the "top lip."


Here are some noteworthy Iverson Movie Ranch discoveries of 2014 that didn't quite make the Top 10 list — you can click on any entry to see the original blog post about the item; in no particular order:

• The site of the Snakeskin Mine Shack in "Gun Belt"

• Bigfoot Subdues Dracula

• Buster Keaton's "armory" in the towers of Rock Island

• Evolution

• Carey's Cabin on the Upper Iverson

• Lancer Arch, named for "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer"

• A new view of the Sheep Flats adobes, as seen in "The Light of Western Stars" (1940)

• Iverson after the brutal Southern California fires of fall 1970, as seen in "Cade's County"

• Crouching Cat, disguised by fake plaster rock material in "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp"

• Saddlehorn Village in widescreen CinemaScope in "Escort West"

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rex Allen — the Arizona Cowboy — in the Shootout at the Fury Corral

Rex Allen

Rex Allen was one of the last of the singing cowboys, chalking up a string of credits in B-Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s and headlining his own TV show, "Frontier Doctor," in the late 1950s. The Arizona Cowboy, as he was known, was a regular on the Iverson Movie Ranch.

Here's a shot of Allen from "Frontier Doctor" in which the doc is engaged in a shootout at the Fury Set on the Upper Iverson. He did as much shooting as healing on the series, but always for a good cause.

Visible behind Allen are a number of features of the Rocky Peak area in the Santa Susana Mountains to the west of the Upper Iverson. "Frontier Doctor" aired in syndication for one season — 39 episodes — in 1958 and 1959. This shootout took place in the episode "Drifting Sands," which premiered March 28, 1959.

Fury Barn, in "Frontier Doctor" (1959)

The bad guy, who was holed up in the Fury Barn, quickly gives up, enabling the episode to wrap up in under 30 minutes. The TV show was produced under the banner Hollywood Television Service, which was part of Republic Pictures as the company was winding down its movie operation and shifting its focus to TV.



Allen had an accomplished career as a recording artist, including scoring a country hit with "Don't Go Near the Indians" in 1962. (You can hear the song on the video file above.) His biggest hit was "Crying in the Chapel," released in 1953 — about seven years before Elvis Presley recorded his well-known version of the song.

Allen also was the star of a series of comic books, with a number of the covers — including the one seen above — shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch. The cover above includes one of the most important background features when it comes to identifying Iverson — a feature I call the Triangle Brand.

Here's the same comic book cover with the Triangle Brand identified. The "brand" appears on Oat Mountain and is seen in the backgrounds of hundreds of productions shot mainly on the Upper Iverson.

Hills northeast of the Iverson Movie Ranch as they appear today

The darkened triangular area on Oat Mountain is created by vegetation and has held up over decades of filming at Iverson. It can still be seen in the hills above Chatsworth, Calif., today — it's visible at the far left in the above shot.


Oat Mountain, the Triangle Brand and other features of the hills above Chatsworth, Calif.

Here's the same recent shot with some of the key features identified. All of these features appear in the backgrounds of hundreds of B-Westerns, TV Westerns and other productions.

"Frontier Doctor" comic book

Allen's TV show "Frontier Doctor" shot portions of most of its episodes on the Iverson Movie Ranch, with additional outdoor footage shot on the Republic Pictures backlot in Studio City. "Frontier Doctor" also became a comic book.

Rex Allen Memorial, Willcox, Ariz.

Allen is an icon in his hometown of Willcox, in Cochise County, Arizona, where a memorial to the Arizona Cowboy can be found. Rex's faithful horse Koko is said to be buried at the foot of the statue of Rex.

Willcox, Ariz., is also home to the Rex Allen Museum.