"Man From Sonora" (1951): The stage rolls past Phineas, on the Lower Iverson
I'm not saying it's a great movie — this isn't about the quality of the plot, the script, the acting or the direction. This is mainly about what's going on in the backgrounds.
"Man From Sonora": Holdup men lurk behind Chili Pepper
The movie is a spectacular showcase for the Iverson Movie Ranch. "Man From Sonora" contains shot after shot of rarely seen rocks, unusual angles, and clues to the history of the location ranch.
Gilbert Warrenton in 1921
The camera shots on "Man From Sonora" are the work of cinematographer Gilbert Warrenton, who had a number of strong outings at Iverson during a 50-year career stretching well back into the silent era.
Mushroom Rock in recent times
When I was writing this post early this year, I noted the "impressive green Afro" worn in recent years by Mushroom Rock, which today is located adjacent to the mobile home park and shares space with a collection of garbage bins and unused construction material. But on a visit to the site a few months later, I was delighted to find that Mushroom Rock had received a "haircut" and it's distinctive crown is now on display again. You can see it here.
"Man From Sonora"
As the stage holdup winds down, we get a wider look at the area. In the background, directly above the stage team, is a readily identifiable overhanging saucer-shaped rock.
Chili Pepper, were removed to make way for the mobile home park. As to which rocks have survived and which were destroyed, not all of those questions have been answered.
Then there's this beauty. I'm tempted to call it Sonora Rock because it's featured so nicely in "Man From Sonora."
The other Leaning Tower
The other Leaning Tower is visible in this shot, as noted above. As I hinted earlier, the term "Leaning Tower" refers to two different rock features in the area.
Bugeye & Trapezoid in modern times, part of the Indian Hills Mobile Home Village
Bugeye & Trapezoid form one of the most widely filmed rock features in this area that can still be found relatively easily. Unfortunately, you'll be driving around a mobile home park and won't want to linger too long. But one thing rocks are good at is standing still for a photo.
North of Bugeye & Trapezoid, the plot thickens — from a rock standpoint.
This seemingly routine frame is the kind of shot that elevates the value of "Man From Sonora" for film location research. There's more here than meets the eye, and I want to at least point out Fireplace Rock.
Lewis D. Collins (Neal Graffy Collection)
Some of the credit for the Iverson rocktacular that is "Man From Sonora" has to go to director Lewis D. Collins, who built his resume largely on serials and B-Westerns. Collins clearly knew his way around the movie ranch.
But I want to single out cinematographer Gilbert Warrenton again, as he was the man looking through the lens of the camera and capturing these great rocks on film. Near the end of his career, Warrenton shot the 1962 bomb scare movie "Panic in Year Zero," which is also on my "Great Iverson Movies" list.
Below you'll find links to a couple of terrific Iverson movies shot by Gilbert Warrenton. "Man From Sonora" is on Volume 1 of the Monogram Cowboy Collection, a set of nine remasters that includes six Iverson movies, all in nice picture quality. I'm also including a link to Warrenton's fun Iverson movie "Panic in Year Zero."