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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• 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).
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fifty years later, an Elvis Presley filming location has been found on the Iverson Movie Ranch

Colorized promo shot for "Harum Scarum" (1965): Elvis Presley and Fran Jeffries

Elvis Presley worked on the Iverson Movie Ranch 50 years ago, during production of his 1965 movie "Harum Scarum," and a number of the shooting locations have only recently begun to be found. One such location, seen in this colorized promo shot, was discovered just in the past couple of weeks on a visit to Garden of the Gods.

Original black-and-white promo still with a wider version of the same shot

The photo, originally shot in black-and-white, shows Elvis and Fran Jeffries in a romantic encounter in front of a tent. The tent scene was filmed at Iverson, but was later reshot in the studio. The Iverson version is widely seen in promo pics for the movie, but does not appear in the movie itself — making the scene all the more intriguing.

Lobby card for "Harum Scarum" using the tent photo

I wanted to show readers this photo of a well-traveled lobby card for the movie because I think the tape marks and overall wear-and-tear tell their own story: Someone loved this photo enough to put it up on a wall or mirror, not realizing — or not caring — that it might diminish the item's future value for collectors.

Shooting schedule for "Harum Scarum"

The Elvis promo shot was brought to my attention by Bill Bram, the author of "Elvis: Frame by Frame." Bill, who has done his homework on Elvis movie locations, knew from the shooting schedule for "Harum Scarum" that the scene was shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch. The schedule also gives us the date of the shoot: March 17, 1965 — almost exactly 50 years ago.

March 2015: Site of the Elvis tent scene, 50 years later

The question was the same as it usually is when it comes to filming locations: Where, exactly? The answer turned out to be right in the middle of Garden of the Gods, on the Lower Iverson.

Photo taken on March 2015 expedition into Garden of the Gods

These shots show the location as it appears today. The key to matching up the movie shot, as usual, is the rocks. The same rocks appear in the tent scene as in the recent photo.

The tent scene, in which Elvis sang "Animal Instinct" to Jeffries, was shot in virtually the same spot where Ronald Reagan's character was gunned down 10 years earlier in "Tennessee's Partner."

"Tennessee's Partner" (1955): John Payne, left, and Ronald Reagan

This screen shot from "Tennessee's Partner" is taken in the same spot where the tent scene was filmed. I blogged previously about this sequence, in which Reagan's character is killed. You can read that post by clicking here.

This version of the recent shot shows which rocks appear in the "Tennessee's Partner" screen shot.

Here the rocks are noted in the "Tennessee's Partner" screen shot. The angle is different from the recent shot, but you may be able to match up the rocks.

One thing I found interesting in the "Harum Scarum" promo shot is that it contains a shadow that probably shouldn't be there. My guess is the shadow belongs to a boom mic and a sound shield or sound man. 

"Harum Scarum" (1965): Tent scene, as reshot in the studio

When "Harum Scarum" came out, the Elvis-Fran Jeffries tent scene bore little resemblance to the sequence that was filmed at Iverson. The scene had been reshot in the studio, with sand, fake plants and a fake background.

Elvis and Fran Jeffries at Iverson, shooting the original tent scene

A number of promo shots from the original Iverson tent scene, including this rare color shot, have surfaced among collectors. While the color reproduction isn't great, the colors are closer to reality than on the colorized promo shot.

Colorized promo shot, with all the wrong colors

The colorized promo shot, seen again here with some color notations, contains one of the most widely circulated photos of the original shoot. But it gets it all wrong when it comes to the colors. Note how the dull green color of the grass resembles AstroTurf, in contrast to the vibrant green of the recent shot.

Most of the promo shots from the Iverson tent scene are black-and-white. In this one, a few of the rocks of Central Garden of the Gods remain visible in the background.

The kiss: Another "Harum Scarum" still from the Iverson tent scene

This kiss between Elvis and Fran Jeffries during the tent scene was reportedly not in the script. But it wasn't exactly improvised, either. The director is said to have worked it into the shoot at the last minute, just after Elvis finished his song to Jeffries, "Animal Instinct."

Studio promo shot: Fran Jeffries, left, Elvis Presley and Mary Ann Mobley

Elvis had his hands full with multiple love interests in "Harum Scarum" — not an unusual scenario for the King, either in the movies or in real life. Vying for the affections of Elvis along with tent scene seductress Fran Jeffries was Mary Ann Mobley, who proved to be a formidable contender in her own right.

"Harum Scarum" promo still: Elvis Presley and Mary Ann Mobley ride the Iverson Gorge

Mobley, too, put in time at Iverson in photo shoots for "Harum Scarum," mainly in horseback scenes with Elvis. For the most part, the horseback shots that made it into the movie featured doubles sitting in for the main actors. But the stars were called to duty for the promo stills, where it's possible to make out their faces even at a distance.

Promo still for "Harum Scarum": Elvis romps among the rocks of the Lower Iverson

Elvis scampered around Iverson in a number of scenes for "Harum Scarum," including this one shot not far from where the tent scene was filmed. This sequence yielded its own promo stills, notably the one seen above, and the footage actually wound up in the movie. Please click here to read an earlier post about this shoot.

"Love me Tender" (1956): Elvis, right, with Neville Brand

Elvis author Bill Bram and I collaborated last month on some research at the former Bell Location Ranch in connection with another Elvis movie, "Love Me Tender," which you can read about in this recent blog post.


PGU said...

Thank you for the meticulous work on this topic. Added to my list of Elvis movie locations to visit ... someday!

Swami Nano said...

My pleasure, PGU.

I hope you do make it to the Central Garden of the Gods to visit the Harum Scarum rocks ... and maybe by then we'll have a few other Elvis sites nailed down that you can check out.

If you do plan a trip to Iverson, shoot me an email ahead of time and we can try to meet up.

Thanks for your feedback ...