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.
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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).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Little Big Horn": Tracking down the infamous grassy knoll where Sheb Wooley met his demise in the 1951 Lloyd Bridges-John Ireland movie

"Little Big Horn" (1951): A grisly end for Sheb Wooley's character on the grassy knoll

Film historians have struggled over the years to find the location for the haunting scene in the 1951 Western "Little Big Horn" in which the brutalized body of Sheb Wooley's character, "Quince," is found propped up on a stick. But I'm excited to report that the grassy knoll where the scene was filmed has now been found.

"Little Big Horn" — closeup of Quince's body

The closeup of Quince provides clues to the location, with the landmark Elders Peak, south of the Iverson Movie Ranch, seen in the background. "Elders Peak" is my research term for this frequently filmed hill, which has also been known by a number of other names including Sunset, Retz Peak and Rockridge.

Note the alignment of background features in the red circle

Veteran movie location hunter Eddie Henn was the driving force behind the discovery. Eddie noticed the alignment between Elders Peak and a distinctive notch in the ridgeline atop the Santa Monica Mountains, which form the southern boundary of the San Fernando Valley.

The same features as they line up today — from the grassy knoll

Eddie and I got together in January for an expedition onto the former Upper Iverson to see whether we could locate the sweet spot where the background hills would line up. As we approached our "target zone" at the west end of Cactus Hill, suddenly there it was: the grassy knoll.

Wider shot of the grassy knoll

At the top of the knoll it quickly became obvious that it was the filming location for "Little Big Horn," as everything matched up. The above shot provides a wider view of the grassy knoll with its contemporary background.

"Little Big Horn"

I don't know of any other movies in which the grassy knoll has been used for filming, but it's such a nondescript setting that it would be easy to miss. While the Iverson Ranch as a whole is defined by its rock features, the grassy knoll is virtually rock-free.

Looking south from the Grassy Knoll (photo by Jerry Condit)

On a return visit to the site within days of the discovery, we brought along another intrepid location hunter, Jerry Condit, who took a black-and-white photo that nicely matches the closeup of Quince from the movie.

Quince on the Grassy Knoll — "Little Big Horn"

Here's another look at the haunting Quince closeup to facilitate comparison with Jerry's photo above this one. The detail in Jerry's shot reveals that much of the background remains virtually untouched, even 65 years later.

The view from behind Sheb Wooley, which also appears in the movie, provides more insights. With the camera looking north toward a portion of the former Upper Iverson, some of the rocks at the west end of Cactus Hill come into view near the right of the frame.

This is what the view looks like today. A few of the estate homes that now occupy the former Upper Iverson can be seen here, along with Oat Mountain filling the top of the frame.

Note the two rocks identified here as "A" and "B."

The same rocks can be seen in the recent photo, although the trees surrounding Rock "A" have grown considerably in the intervening years, and now conceal much of the rock.

Both the 1951 screen shot and the 2016 photo also feature two distinctive foothills situated just to the north of the Upper Iverson. My nickname for these hills is the Tetons.

The Tetons as they appear today are identified in this shot.

The approximate location of the grassy knoll is noted on this Google aerial. The location remains on private property today, and access is restricted.

1 comment:

Bret said...

That is so cool. Thanks.