"The Green Goddess" (Warner Bros., 1930)
Some terrific Iverson Movie Ranch footage surfaced in a few clips that turned up on the TCM website from the VERY early Warner Bros. sound movie "The Green Goddess," starring Oscar winner George Arliss.
Click here to get right to the clips.
Tornado's Mine Rocks (Iverson Gorge)
Jerry Condit snapped this shot in the Iverson Gorge in 2014. I call this small rock cluster the Tornado's Mine Rocks because they point to the rocky alcove where Tornado's Mine, named for Zorro's horse, used to stand.
"The Green Goddess": Plane crash in the "Himalayas"
A key plot point in the movie involves a plane crash in the Himalayas. The crashed plane was filmed in Iverson's Upper Gorge, with the familiar Hole in the Wall rocks visible in the background.
Same rocks seen in the plane crash shot above
The people who live in the Cal West Townhomes know those rocks well — they're still holding down the Hole in the Wall area at the end of Sierra Pass Place, the first of the driveways into the condos off Redmesa Road.
Alice Joyce and H.B. Warner meet "The Raja," played by George Arliss,
in "The Green Goddess"
The crash survivors meet The Raja in a sequence I initially assumed was filmed in the studio. I soon learned that appearances can be deceiving in "The Green Goddess."
The Gorge Arch and a portion of the "Green Goddess" set
The "meeting the Raja" sequence turns out to be filmed on a large set that was built in the Iverson Gorge. This shot, with the Gorge Arch rock formation at top right, pinpoints the location.
"The Silent Man" (1917): The Gorge Arch, 12 years earlier
The arch was already a "veteran movie rock" by the time "The Green Goddess" filmed at the site in 1929. The unusual rock formation's film resume goes back at least to 1917, when it was part of a massive shoot on the Lower Iverson for the William S. Hart movie "The Silent Man."
A portion of the "Green Goddess" set in the Iverson Gorge
The "Green Goddess" set may have been the first major set built on the Iverson Ranch in the sound era. The ranch was about to experience a boom as the arrival of the talkies fueled a surge in film production.
"The Utah Kid" (1930): early set in Iverson's Garden of the Gods
During the same period, a small Western town set stood a short distance to the west, just across the Gorge, in the Garden of the Gods. This set, seen in "The Utah Kid," may have been left over from the silent era.
"The Utah Kid": three adobe buildings beneath the Garden of the Gods behemoths
While the "Green Goddess" and "Utah Kid" sets appear unrelated from a production standpoint, they are linked historically, standing on nearby sections of the Iverson Ranch circa 1929-1930, during the transition to sound.
The 1923 version of "The Green Goddess" — not filmed at Iverson
It's easy to mix up 1930's "The Green Goddess" with Goldwyn's silent version, released in 1923. The 1923 movie also starred George Arliss and Alice Joyce, but appears to have been filmed mainly on the East Coast.
Plane crash scene from the 1923 movie — filmed on an indoor set
The 1923 version of "The Green Goddess" also features the staging of a plane crash — considered spectacular at the time. But a careful look at the background reveals that the scene was created in the studio.
Poster for the 1930 Warner Bros. version of "The Green Goddess"
By 1929, when the Warner Bros./Vitaphone/Iverson Movie Ranch version of "The Green Goddess" was filmed, virtually all of the studios had set up headquarters in Southern California.
1930 "Green Goddess" set, Iverson Gorge
Both the Iverson property — still not yet formally known as the "Iverson Movie Ranch" — and the film industry as a whole were poised by 1930 to experience a huge boom, with Hollywood's "Golden Age" just around the corner.