"The Silent Man" (1917): Gorge Arch (Garden of the Gods in background)
"The Silent Man" contains the earliest images I've seen of a number of Iverson rock features — including this early shot of the Gorge Arch. Garden of the Gods can be seen in the background, at top center.
Lobby card for "King of the Jungle" (1933): Gorge Arch
The Gorge Arch went on to a fruitful screen career, but was rarely seen again in the "middle of nowhere" setting in which it appears in the 1917 shot.
The arch is most commonly associated with the Gorge Cabin, which stood in the Iverson Gorge from about 1936-1944. As you can see in this screen shot, the Gorge Arch was situated adjacent to the cabin.
After the cabin was removed from the area, the arch continued to appear in movies and TV shows. Sadly, the Gorge Arch was destroyed when development came to the Iverson Gorge in the late 1980s.
"The Silent Man" (1917): Looking through Devil's Doorway
Another natural arch, known today as Devil's Doorway, also turns up in "The Silent Man." In this shot the camera looks north through Devil's Doorway, with riders visible on the other side of the arch, at bottom center.
Devil's Doorway in modern times
Unlike the Gorge Arch, Devil's Doorway is still standing. Today it can be found among the condos of the Cal West Townhomes.
Crown Rock, in "The Silent Man"
Another image from "The Silent Man" captures Crown Rock in 1917. In this shot Crown Rock fills much of the left half of the screen.
"The Silent Man": Major rock features of the Upper Gorge, filmed in 1917
The images in this shot don't immediately leap off the screen, but it may be the most historically significant of any of the screen shots from "The Silent Man." On close examination, three particularly important rocks can be discerned in the top right corner.
Angry Cardinal here, Hobbit House here and Plaza Rock here.
With any "stacked rock," such as Plaza Rock, the question comes up as to whether the feature occurred naturally or was created by human intervention, possibly with a smaller rock being cemented on top of a larger rock.
Plaza Rock in 1957 ("Zane Grey Theatre" episode "The Freighter")
While not conclusive, the existence of Plaza Rock in 1917 — early in the evolution of the movie ranch — adds weight to the theory that the rock was naturally occurring.
"The Silent Man": William S. Hart and Vola Vale
Here's a shot of the two main stars of "The Silent Man," William S. Hart and Vola Vale, in the Iverson Gorge. Some readers may recognize the large rock feature seen behind the actors.
"Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932) — Cheeta on Three Ages Rock
The same view of Three Ages Rock — spotlighting the north end of the rock — appears in the final sequence of "Tarzan, the Ape Man," the 1932 feature that launched the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan franchise.
"The Big Show" (1936)
We get another look at the north end of Three Ages Rock in the Gene Autry movie "The Big Show," which we examined in a recent post that you can read by clicking here.
"The Fighting Seabees" (1944) — Iverson Gorge, looking south
Three Ages Rock also turns up in this shot of the Upper Gorge from the John Wayne war movie "The Fighting Seabees." Near the right of the frame is Crown Rock, which was discussed above. All of the rock features shown here took a hit when development came to the Iverson Gorge.
A promotional photo for "The Silent Man" shows Hart and Vale in an area just above the Iverson Gorge. The photo includes a copyright date of 1919, but the shot would have been taken during filming at Iverson in 1917.
please click here.
Premiere of Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre, Feb. 1, 1918: "The Silent Man" on the marquee
"The Silent Man" provides an interesting snapshot of early Hollywood history — and of the role the Iverson Ranch played in that history. When Sid Grauman's famed Million Dollar Theatre held its grand opening in Los Angeles on Feb. 1, 1918, "The Silent Man" was the featured attraction.
The Million Dollar Theatre in modern times
The Million Dollar Theatre became a Spanish-language venue way back in the late 1940s, and for decades was one of the country's most important sites for Hispanic films and live productions. Located at 307 S. Broadway in downtown L.A., its stature has been diminished in recent years but it remains a functioning theater.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre — opened in 1927
Sid Grauman went on to build Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in 1922 and Grauman's Chinese Theatre — the last and most famous of his silent-era movie palaces — in 1927. The three theaters have all changed hands over the decades, but all three remain in operation today.
Thomas H. Ince, "Father of the Western"
One of the key players behind the scenes of "The Silent Man" was Thomas H. Ince, who supervised production. In previous years Ince had his own Western filming location, Inceville, in the Palisades Highlands near L.A. But the pioneering director and producer had abandoned Inceville a couple of years before "The Silent Man."
Inceville, in the Palisades Highlands above Pacific Coast Highway
Inceville is regarded today as the first modern film studio, and with Ince producing as many as 150 films a year at the site — most of them Westerns — he became known not only as the father of the Western but also as the creator of the Hollywood studio system.
Ince-Triangle Studios, Culver City, Calif. — the original Greek colonnade still stands today
Ince co-founded Triangle Pictures and the Ince-Triangle Studios in Culver City with his new partners D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett in 1915, but the partnership lasted only a couple of years. By late 1917 Ince was between studios, and it's around this time that we begin to find Ince productions filmed on the Iverson Ranch.
Thomas H. Ince Studios, Culver City
At least two Thomas Ince Westerns — "The Silent Man" and "The Narrow Trail," released one month later — were filmed at Iverson in late 1917. Ince would shift his focus again in 1918, when he began construction on his new state-of-the-art Thomas H. Ince Studios, a few blocks from the old Ince-Triangle Studios.
Sony Pictures Studios — built on the old Triangle lot in Culver City
Both of Ince's Culver City studios remain in use today. The old Triangle lot is now the home of Sony Pictures Entertainment, after serving as an MGM lot for more than 60 years.
The Culver Studios in recent years — the former Thomas H. Ince Studios
The old Thomas H. Ince Studios went through a number of incarnations, including stints as DeMille Studios, RKO-Pathe Studios, Selznick International Pictures and Desilu Studios, before being bought by an investment group and becoming The Culver Studios, as the facility is known today.
This post is part of a series of entries exploring silent movies filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch. We have previously reported on a number of the Iverson silent films, and you can read those posts by clicking on the links below:
• "Man-Woman-Marriage" (Dorothy Phillips, 1921): This post explores a large-scale battle sequence filmed near Garden of the Gods in 1920 that was billed at the time as "so stupendous that it amazed even the film colony of Los Angeles."
• "Richard the Lion-Hearted" (Wallace Beery, 1923): Click here to see how a massive Medieval castle was created amid the huge rock features of Garden of the Gods.
• "Three Ages" (Buster Keaton, 1923) — Buster's "armory": This movie may be the best-known of the silent-era Iverson shoots, and this post explores a rarely discussed set for the movie — an "armory" controlled by Buster's caveman character, built high atop Rock Island in the Iverson Gorge.
• "Three Ages" (1923) — the fake cave house: Please click here to read about a fake cave house that stood near Garden of the Gods for several years in the 1920s — and possibly as far back as the 1910s — which had a prominent role in the 1923 Buster Keaton silent feature "Three Ages."
• "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" (Ramon Novarro, 1925): Click here to see some terrific behind-the-scenes photos provided by Jill Bergstrom, the granddaughter of the great Iverson cinematographer George B. Meehan Jr., who was part of the camera crew on "Ben-Hur." (Note that most of the material in this post is non-Iverson, even though parts of "Ben-Hur" were filmed on the location ranch.)
• "Tell It to the Marines" (Lon Chaney, 1926): This MGM production featured construction of an elaborate Chinese arched bridge supported by fake rocks, and we were able to find several anchor points for it, carved into the rocks north of Garden of the Gods.
• Noah's Ark (Dolores Costello, 1928): Here's where the label for this series comes from (see above), in which Noah's Ark is "beached" on top of the sandstone giants of Garden of the Gods. The movie is directed by Michael Curtiz, who later directed "Casablanca" and who brought film crews to the Iverson Movie Ranch on a number of occasions.