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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Friday, June 5, 2015

William Bendix escapes prison ... only to wind up on the Iverson Movie Ranch

"Crashout" (1955): William Bendix as an escaped convict on the Upper Iverson

Oscar-nominated actor William Bendix — fondly remembered for the TV series "The Life of Riley" and for his performance as Babe Ruth in the 1948 biopic "The Babe Ruth Story" — popped up on the Iverson Movie Ranch after escaping prison in the movie "Crashout," from the little-known studio Standard Productions.

In this scene Bendix's character, escaped convict Van Morgan Duff, rests on a rock on the Upper Iverson's South Rim, with the location pinpointed by a couple of familiar rocks in the background that I call the Saltshakers.

"The Virginian" TV series (1963) — The Saltahakers

Here's a better look at the Saltshakers, from the TV show "The Virginian." The shot comes from the episode "Echo of Another Day," which premiered March 27, 1963, and was probably shot in late 1962.

Coincidentally, the episode was also about someone who had just got out of prison. "The Virginian" ran from 1962-1971, making the NBC series one of the longest-running TV Westerns.

The Saltshakers as they appear today

The Saltshakers are still around, and still look pretty much the same, as this recent photo shows. It might have made more sense to call them the Salt and Pepper Shakers, but "Saltshakers" sums it up well enough.

"Crashout" — guards use Turtle Rock as an observation tower as they search for escapees

The prison escape movie includes this unusual shot of Turtle Rock, located a short distance east of the Saltshakers. Even though Turtle Rock was one of the most distinctive and frequently filmed rock features on the South Rim, I can't recall another production that included a shot of someone standing on top of it.

"Wyoming Roundup" (1952)

Turtle Rock usually looks more like this, as seen in the Whip Wilson movie "Wyoming Roundup." The rock towers above the South Rim, and it would have taken some doing to put someone up there without breaking his neck.

Years before William Bendix hid out on the Upper Iverson, he parlayed his high-profile role as baseball legend Babe Ruth into a series of endorsements — including ads for Chesterfield cigarettes.

In 1949 — one year after the release of "The Babe Ruth Story" — Bendix was associated with a different tobacco brand as part of the Turf Cigarettes Movie Cards series.

Meanwhile, a cartoon version of Bendix as the Babe hawked Popsicles in comic books.

Bendix also had his own comic book series, built around his association with the "Life of Riley" franchise. Bendix played the hapless Chester A. Riley first in a hit radio series that aired from 1944-1951, then in the spinoff 1949 feature film "The Life of Riley" and later on the TV series, which aired from 1953-1958 on NBC.

At one time it seemed as though William Bendix was everywhere — even in a magazine ad for the American Meat Institute.

When he was at Paramount, the studio saw fit to put his mug on a button.

William Bendix and Doug McClure — promo shot for "Overland Trail" (1960)

Bendix didn't do a lot of work in Westerns, but he and Doug McClure co-starred on the short-lived NBC Western TV series "Overland Trail" back in 1960.

William Bendix in "Wake Island" (1942)

Bendix's Oscar nomination came in 1943, for the World War II movie "Wake Island," released in 1942. He was up for Best Supporting Actor, which went to Van Heflin that year, for the film noir "Johnny Eager."

William Bendix, center, on the South Rim in "Crashout"

Here's another shot of Bendix and some of his co-escapees on the Iverson Movie Ranch in "Crashout."

I scanned "Crashout" years ago, but had forgotten about it until film historian Bill Sasser reminded me about the cool Iverson content in the movie. Besides being a movie location buff, Bill is the director-at-large of the Williamsburg Film Festival in Virginia. Thanks, Bill!


Anonymous said...

Loved him in "The Life of Riley"
Thanks for all your research!

Mark Sherman said...

I love this site! You never know what you're going to find! Mark Sherman