Rudolph Valentino and Wanda Hawley in "The Young Rajah" (1922)
We're barely into 2018 and we've already had a historic Iverson Movie Ranch sighting in a super-old movie — the Paramount silent feature "The Young Rajah," starring Rudolph Valentino.
Rudolph Valentino as "The Young Rajah" in a publicity still for the movie
Like much of Valentino's early work, "The Young Rajah" did not survive intact. A lot of what we know of the look of the film comes from promotional stills.
"The Young Rajah": a single surviving photo taken on the Iverson Ranch
The version of "The Young Rajah" that circulates today was stitched together from surviving film fragments along with still photos. But as luck would have it, one of those still photos, seen here, was taken on the Iverson Ranch.
The same location in 2018
This is as close as I could come to duplicating the shot on a recent visit. The movie angle is impossible to match today without the use of camera scaffolding, as the original shot was taken from well above ground level.
"Green Hill" as it appears today
Green Hill remains in place today, a short distance west of the Garden of the Gods. The hill is situated south of Santa Susana Pass Road and appears to be on land that was once part of the Spahn Ranch.
"Wanted: Dead or Alive" TV series ("Drop to Drink," premiered Dec. 27, 1958)
Green Hill comes up regularly in old movies and TV shows, and can be an important location identifier. It pops up when the cameras are in the vicinity of the Garden of the Gods and are pointed west or slightly southwest.
Spring 2015: Green Hill and other hills to the west of the Lower Iverson
Green Hill does tend to be greener than the other hills in the area. Appearing in the lower part of this photo is the Church at Rocky Peak, which today occupies the plot of land directly west of the former Lower Iverson Ranch.
Getaway Rock, at right, and other features at the west end of Central Garden of the Gods
The fake rocks in "The Young Rajah" prevent us from seeing most of the Central Garden of the Gods area, including Getaway Rock, situated at the west end of the clearing.
"The Young Rajah": Why the fake rocks?
Filmmakers sometimes brought in fake rocks specifically to conceal existing rock features, but I doubt that's the case with "The Young Rajah." The fakes may have been used to facilitate the staging of extras for the battle sequence, or to create the narrow pass needed for the battle scene to work.
Unfortunately, with the battle footage from "The Young Rajah" presumed lost, we're left to speculate about how the sequence played out and what role the fake rocks may have played.
post from 2016 about the Joan Crawford movie "Montana Moon" will lead you from Redmesa Road to the Getaway Rock area, walking directly through the "Young Rajah" battle site.