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.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• 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.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dinosaur Claw found in Chatsworth, Calif. — with dead guys all over the place

"Wagon Team" (Columbia, 1952)

I've been intrigued by a rock formation that reminds me of a giant dinosaur claw since I first spotted it a few years ago in the Gene Autry movie "Wagon Team."

It's in a heavily filmed area, but the formation itself is not commonly seen in productions. Maybe filmmakers thought it looked too much like a dinosaur part to be believable as a background rock in the Westerns.

"Fast on the Draw" (Lippert, 1950): The front "toe" of "Dinosaur Claw"

It did pop up in a promo shot for "Fast on the Draw," one of the "Lippert Six" Westerns discussed in a recent blog post. The angle is rotated about 90 degrees from the "Wagon Team" shot, with the camera aimed west here.

They ran a color version of the same shot as part of a lobby card for "Fast on the Draw," only they cut the dead guy out of the picture.

Well, I should say they "kind of" cut the dead guy out. You can still see part of him.

"Dinosaur Claw" in 2018 — minus the dead guy

The giant claw turned out to be pretty easy to find in the real world. However, it's hard to get a decent photo of it because these days a tree is blocking a lot of its light.

But even in the shade, a couple of the rock's markings, along with its overall shape, make it easy to recognize.

The same round hole and diagonal gash noted in the 2018 photo above can also be found in the promo still for "Fast on the Draw."

Dinosaur Claw in 2018: Letdown-osaurus

This is probably the formation's most "Dinosaur Claw-like" angle. I was disappointed when I finally saw it because the feature doesn't look nearly as much like a dinosaur claw in person as it did in the movies.

Hidden Valley — on the former Upper Iverson's South Rim

The rock formation is located on the former Upper Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., in an area known as Hidden Valley, on private property in the fringes of a gated community of high-end estates.

"West of the Brazos" (Lippert, 1950): Tom Tyler with a fallen "co-henchman"

Those Lippert Westerns tend to have a lot of dead guys lying around among the rocks. This shot was taken not far from the Dinosaur Claw dead guy, about a stone's throw to the west down a dusty old movie road.

Here we find the same rocks on a recent visit — and wouldn't you know it, there's yet another dead guy draped over the rock. No wait, it's just Iverson researcher Cliff Roberts taking a break from our strenuous hike.

Here again, the promo shot can also be found as part of a color lobby card.

"West of the Brazos": Tom Tyler and his ill-fated co-star

Another shot from the movie offers a slightly different angle on these rarely filmed rocks. In the background we get a glimpse of the much more prominent Totem Rocks or Totem Pole Rocks.

Here's another look at the same rocks from our recent expedition.

To point out something that's probably kind of obvious, the rock in the back has a distinctive hole in it.

The same hole keeps turning up in the "West of the Brazos" shots.

The Totem Rocks, or Totem Pole Rocks

Pulling back for a wider shot from an expedition a few years ago, we get a better look at the Totem Rocks. I've also referred to these rocks in the past as Easter Island or the Easter Island Committee.

The rocks in "West of the Brazos" are located near the base of the stone pillars that form the Totem Rocks.

"The Tomb" (1986): Camels on the Upper Iverson, below the Totem Rocks

The Totem Rocks turn up all the time in movies and TV shows. Here's a shot of them in "The Tomb," one of the later movies to film on the Upper Iverson — and quite possibly the last time anyone brought camels there.

Joe Iverson rides a camel in the Iverson Gorge in 1934

There's a long tradition of camels on the Iverson Movie Ranch, something we touched on last month in a post about Colonial India movies and "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer." (Click here to see that post.)
 
It can be weird seeing Iverson rocks in later movies where they're not only in color but also extremely clear. Good thing the actors and camels are there or this might look just like a photo someone took on a visit to the site.

Here's a shot I took of the same rocks just a few years ago. It's not that much different from the camel shot ... other than not having any camels in it. It also looks as though someone might have mowed the lawn.

I suppose eons ago — and this is one time we can use the term "eons" literally — some of those rocks strewn about on the ground might have been hanging around up here. Be glad you weren't there when this thing fell apart, because it probably would have woken you up.

"Tarzan and the Slave Girl" (1950): Lex Barker on Notch Rock

You may have seen this shot on the blog before. It's Tarzan — played in this case by Lex Barker — not fooling anyone into thinking he's in Africa as he stands on top of Notch Rock.

"Seminole Uprising" (1955): Hard to miss Notch Rock

Notch Rock may be TOO instantly recognizable. Almost anytime it's in the picture, the eye is drawn to it.

"Cripple Creek" (1952): The Reflecting Pool, Wrench Rock ... and oh yeah, Notch Rock

Even with a lot of other interesting stuff in the shot, Notch Rock commands attention.

All of these "attractions" have been featured previously on the blog. You can look them up in the long index on the right of the page, or click here to see a really old and confusing post about Wrench Rock and the Reflecting Pool.

"Wild Horse Ambush" (Republic, 1952)

Even from halfway across the Upper Iverson, we can still pick out Notch Rock. This shot provides a look at the rocks of "Bobby's Bend" from the north.

Take a bow, Notch Rock ... and no, I don't mean that literally.