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, June 20, 2015

New find in a really old "Batman" movie — and in the Crouching Cat area, near the top of Nyoka Cliff

David King, a reader of this blog, made a cool find on a recent visit to Iverson. He was exploring the area around Crouching Cat, near the top of Nyoka Cliff, and snapped this photo of a rock with a distinctive crack in it.

"Batman and Robin" (1949)

David recognized the scene and pinpointed it as the same location seen in this shot from the Columbia serial "Batman and Robin." Readers should be able to spot the same leaning rock, with its upside-down L-shaped crack, toward the left in both shots.

Crouching Cat

The leaning rock is just around the corner from Crouching Cat, which I've blogged about in the past. This was not a high-traffic area for filming, even though back in the day Crouching Cat was situated near the end of a dirt road that climbed toward the top of Nyoka Cliff. Please click here to read my earlier post about Crouching Cat.

Today the area is harder to access than it was in the filming era, and David's discovery of this site demonstrates that even with all the exploration that has already taken place, many of the Iverson Movie Ranch's secrets have yet to be revealed.

"Montana Desperado" (1951)

To add some context to the new find, this shot of Johnny Mack Brown in the Iverson Gorge captures the leaning rock — along with the walkway next to it where the characters are seen in "Batman and Robin."

The setting is way in the background, but the "Montana Desperado" shot captures the perfect angle, showing not only the leaning rock and the walkway, but also an important nearby tree. The large rock feature directly behind Johnny Mack Brown is Nyoka Cliff.

While the eye is drawn to the top right corner of the frame and the familiar tree atop Nyoka Cliff, the top center is where the real action is. This version of the shot identifies the Walkway area and Crouching Cat Tree.

Here's a bird's-eye view of the area in recent times, with some of the main features identified. The shot looks toward the south, with Redmesa Road traversing the right of the frame. Santa Susana Pass Road and the railroad tracks can be seen near the top of the photo.

Zooming in on the same bird's-eye view, this shot identifies key features of the Crouching Cat area. Crouching Cat Tree is of particular interest, because it pops up over the years in footage of the Nyoka Cliff area, and the tree remains in place today.

This recent shot of Nyoka Cliff points out Crouching Cat Tree, along with the walkway area and a tree that blocks the view of the leaning rock.

"Batman and Robin"

Crouching Cat Tree is the same tree seen in the "Batman and Robin" shot back in 1949, although it has filled in quite a bit since then.

"Trailin' West" (1936)

The sparseness of foliage on the tree in "Batman and Robin" is an anomaly. Back in 1936 the tree was far more leafy when it appeared in the Warner Bros. B-Western "Trailin' West," starring Dick Foran.

The leaning rock also turns up in the "Trailin' West" shot.

The usual view of Crouching Cat Tree that we see today consists of the top portion of the tree, with the rest of the tree hidden behind Nyoka Cliff.

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1959)

Here's a typically low-key appearance by Crouching Cat Tree in the background of an episode of the "Wyatt Earp" TV series where Nyoka Cliff is prominently featured. The shot appears in the episode "Last Stand at Smoky Hill."

The episode premiered Jan. 20, 1959, during the show's fourth season, and would have been shot in 1958. The shot is taken from the west side of the Gorge in Garden of the Gods, looking east.

Here's a good look at Crouching Cat Tree from a recent visit to the site. Note the tree's distinctive "topknot" sticking up above the rest of the tree, toward the right.

The topknot is interesting because it has survived over many decades.

"Trailin' West" — Crouching Cat Tree's topknot already visible

The topknot could already be seen in 1936 in "Trailin' West," almost 80 years ago.

"Fighting Seabees" (1944) — Bulldozer vs. tank in a fight to the death

You may already know that the main tree at the top of Nyoka Cliff — I suppose we can call it the Nyoka Tree — moves around from time to time. In this shot of a famous sequence in John Wayne's "Fighting Seabees," the position of the tree is pinpointed between two of the main boulders near the top of the cliff.

"Man in the Saddle" (1951)

In this color shot several years later from the Randolph Scott Western "Man in the Saddle," Nyoka Tree remains in the same spot where it was seen in "Fighting Seabees." The tree was positioned here throughout the bulk of the filming era.

In modern times, however, the tree is located in a different spot, a little to the southwest. Of course, the tree itself hasn't pulled up its roots and relocated — it's safe to assume it's a different tree.


I want to congratulate David King and give him a well-deserved thumb's-up on his great detective work in the Crouching Cat area. Thanks a lot, David, for sharing your cool find!



Speaking of Dick Foran and "Trailin' West," check out the above link to a cool new DVD set on Amazon — "Dick Foran Western Collection," part of the Warner Bros. Archive Collection. These are remastered versions of 12 Dick Foran Westerns in great picture quality. Besides "Trailin' West," the set includes the Iverson movies "Land Beyond the Law," "Blazing Sixes," "California Mail" and "Guns of the Pecos," and a bunch more.

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