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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• 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.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Singing cowboy Dick Foran visits a cabin in "Song of the Saddle" — and we can visit the same spot, in Iverson's Garden of the Gods

Dick Foran was a singing cowboy who starred for Warner Bros. when the studio stepped up production of B-Westerns in the mid-1930s. A number of his movies were filmed on the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif.

"Song of the Saddle" (1936): Small wooden cabin in Central Garden of the Gods

The Dick Foran movie "Song of the Saddle," filmed in 1935 and released in early 1936, featured a small wooden cabin that was situated in the area we now know as Central Garden of the Gods.

Site of the cabin, as it appears today

I was able to find the location where the "Song of the Saddle" cabin stood, thanks to some readily identifiable nearby rocks. I took the above photo of the area on a recent visit to Garden of the Gods.

Several key rock features can be seen in both the recent shot and the movie shot. The two rock areas noted here are probably the best identifiers.

This photo identifies those same rock features as they can be seen in the movie. The camera is aimed more or less toward the east.

Comparing the recent photo and the movie shot, I'd say this diagram is a reasonable approximation of where the cabin stood in 1935.

The movie also presents this view of the cabin area, with the camera repositioned to catch just the corner of the cabin, along with part of a rock wall located immediately to the west of the building.

This is a view of the same rock wall as it appears today. The wall is located on the south side of a huge rock known as the Phantom.

All of the markers noted here, as seen in the movie, can still be found at the site, with one exception — "Rock Slab B" has mysteriously disappeared.

In this photo I've identified the same markers as they appear at the site today. Note that Rock Slab B, which was positioned immediately to the left of Rock Slab A when the movie was filmed, is now missing.

This is probably the best view in the movie of those two rock slabs. Separated by a vertical crack, the slabs can be seen between the two actors, at the center of the frame.

Another angle on the cabin area seen in the movie shows a cluster of low rocks a short distance east of the cabin. The rocks are seen here near the center of the frame, just above the horse's hindquarters.

I call this group of rocks the Harum Scarum Cluster, based on their role in the outtake "tent scene" from the 1965 Elvis Presley movie "Harum Scarum." You can find a detailed examination of that shoot by clicking here.

"Revenge" (1928)

The Harum Scarum Cluster turns up in productions going all the way back to the silent film days. I recently spotted the rocks in a brief sequence in the 1928 silent movie "Revenge."

Here's a look at the Harum Scarum Cluster as it appeared this past spring.

While we're in the area, I wanted to point out the Old Yeller Tree. This tree played a prominent roll in the 1957 tearjerker "Old Yeller," and can be seen in a number of other productions. The tree did not survive.

Dick Foran, left, calls the shots in a gathering on the south side of Phantom, outside the cabin. The group is standing in front of Rock Slabs A and B, which are concealed behind the actors.

Foran sets a plan in motion at the front of the cabin. Before he became an actor, Foran, who stood 6-foot-2 and had red hair, studied music and the arts — and also played football — at Princeton University.

Here's a look at Foran in the corral area adjacent to the cabin. Foran died in 1979 at age 69, following a 35-year career in movies, on TV and on the stage. He's buried in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery — at the other end of the San Fernando Valley from the Iverson Movie Ranch.
 
This recent view of the area where the cabin once stood is taken looking north, toward what would have been the front of the cabin. The Phantom appears at the left, with the Sphinx at the right. Today a large tree occupies a prominent position in the area, blocking the view of the south side of Phantom.

I found it interesting that a large limb has recently broken off from the tree and remains stuck below it. Unusually strong winds have buffeted the area in the past couple of months, and with California in an extended drought, many of the trees are dry and relatively fragile.

I'm hoping the fallen limb and other brush in the area will be removed. If the dead brush is cleared out, visitors may finally get a decent view of the historically significant area on the south side of Phantom.

Here's how to get to the site of the "Song of the Saddle" cabin. Find your way to Redmesa Road in Chatsworth and park on the street, just before the condos. The blue gate on the west side of Redmesa marks the Garden of the Gods Trailhead. Follow the trail to the top and head south between the two giant rocks, then veer right.

5 comments:

billyray said...

Great Find, Dennis!

Mark Sherman said...

This is the best one yet!!! Thanks for your hard work and dedication. Mark Sherman

Brian Harrington said...

Well done, thanks for sharing with the rest of us Western fans..!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another fine post. The descriptions, diagrams, and location map are excellent.

Catskill Cowboy said...

Thanks for the excellent work finding the cabin location. I just wish I lived closer to California.