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.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Into the "Pit" to discover the truth about an ancient movie set

Mysterious set in the Iverson Gorge

Photos surfaced a while back of an idyllic film set in the Iverson Movie Ranch's Upper Gorge, complete with a small adobe building and a serene pond.

The construction included a set of stairs below the adobe, along with a number of unusual rocks.

A wider shot of the set shows that it included what appears to be some additional adobes along the top of a large rock, visible at the very top of the frame, toward the left.

The wide shot also reveals a second set of stairs, much larger than the original set. You should be able to click on any of these photos to see a larger image.

Many of the same features seen in the first photo can be seen again in the wide shot, although the "weird rock" is partially hidden behind what looks like a fern.

A third photo of the set provides additional context, including a familiar rock. This shot also reveals that the additional "adobes" are only fronts.

The rock can be identified as Three Ages Rock, which is still in place today in the Gorge. However, it is impossible today to see the rock from this angle.

In addition to the adobe fronts that are lined up along the northern extension of Three Ages Rock, this third photo again shows the large set of stairs, and also captures a little bit of the pond.

You may have noticed that an old car found its way into the photo. I can't get a good look at it, but it looks something like a Model A Ford. I'm always glad when a car sneaks in because they can help date the photo.

As is often the case, the photos came to me with no dates or other information. Naturally, one of the first things I wanted to do was figure out which movie the set was built for. It took a while, but I did eventually find it.

"Flight Into Nowhere" (Columbia, 1938)

The set turned up in a 1938 Jack Holt movie called "Flight Into Nowhere" — not to be confused with the 1946 movie "Flight to Nowhere." Based on my Internet searches, the two movies are commonly mixed up.

"Flight Into Nowhere": The Iverson Gorge set, as it appears in the movie

This is what the set looks like in the movie — virtually identical to how it looks in the behind-the-scenes photos. The set plays a native village where a U.S. pilot is stranded after a crash landing in the South American jungle.

Native women use the pond set to do laundry in "Flight Into Nowhere"

Only a few scenes in the movie are filmed on the Iverson Ranch, making it kind of surprising that they would have built such an elaborate set. But they do feature every part of the set in the movie.

The Americans arrive at the pond in "Flight Into Nowhere"

In this scene a group of Americans and their jungle guides arrive to rescue the stranded pilot. The camera looks east, providing a view in the background of the farthest reach of the Upper Gorge.

A crowd of extras gathers on the set

A fairly large group of cast members and extras took part in the shoot. Here everyone crowds onto the Gorge set during a climactic meeting between the Americans and the natives.

Bing aerial (2018) showing the location of the set, east of Redmesa Road

The good news is we can approximate where the set was located. Unfortunately, due to the construction of the condos in the 1980s — and the tons of dirt hauled in during grading — the site is no longer recognizable.

The rocks marked here with X's were destroyed to make way for the condos.

The fate of the "weird rock" is slightly less certain, but I've looked for it and can say with some degree of confidence that it does not appear to have survived either. The pond site also has never been found.

"The Pit": What's left of the site where the "Flight Into Nowhere" set once stood

Today the area is unrecognizable, as the original terrain was buried under dirt, which then spawned a diverse array of foliage. I call this area "the Pit," due in part to its tendency to harbor poison oak and rattlesnakes. 

Below is a link to the "Flight Into Nowhere" DVD on Amazon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

It's a wrap! Tarantino's Spahn Ranch set at Corriganville is being torn down

A section of the Spahn Ranch set at Corriganville — now being dismantled (photo by Jerry Condit)

Shooting has wrapped at Corriganville on the Quentin Tarantino movie "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," and a crew has begun tearing down the elaborate set, much of which was a re-creation of Manson-era Spahn Ranch.

The stone walls from Corriganville's old "Barn No. 2" stand alone again

The barn that was built largely inside the footprint of Corriganville's old "Barn No. 2" has been taken down — its walls can be seen stacked neatly in the background in this shot, waiting to be hauled away.

The "George Spahn house" at Corriganville — also to be removed (Jerry Condit photo)

Word is that the entire set will be removed, so early rumors that some of the buildings might be permanent have turned out to be just that — rumors. And false ones at that.

The "Spahn Ranch" motorcycle shop at Corriganville (photo by Cliff Roberts)

Since we're saying goodbye to the set, I'll round up some shots that came in during the last stages of construction. This one by Cliff Roberts shows the interior of the re-created Spahn Ranch motorcycle shop, and you can see the famous green Spahn Ranch stake bed truck in the background. (Click on these photos to see larger versions.)

The original Spahn Ranch stake bed truck can be seen in this shot from about 1969 — one of only a few photos I've seen of Spahn from that period that are in color. The green truck is at the right of the frame.

Tarantino's 2018 version of the truck (photo by Jerry Condit)

The Tarantino production has closely matched not just the colors of the original truck, but most of the details.

Here's a pretty good look at the original truck, again from about 1969, this time in black and white.

The interior of Tarantino's motorcycle shop is pretty detailed, as you can see in this photo from Cliff Roberts. The concrete slabs are part of the original foundation from Corriganville's hotel building.

Bird's-eye view of Corriganville's "Silvertown" from the filming era, looking southwest

This view of Silvertown, probably from the 1950s, includes the old hotel on the left.

You may be able to tell from the shape of the building that even though it functioned as a Western hotel front on the outside, the inside contained a working soundstage.

The Tarantino set in mid-September

This shot was taken by Jerry Condit around the time the crew was putting the finishing touches on the Spahn Ranch set. The photo again shows the degree of detail that went into the production design.

Taking a closer look at the sign, we can read even the smaller print, which includes the old "DI" phone prefix. I remember when we moved from the EMpire prefix in the East Valley to the DIamond prefix farther west.

The good news for fans of Corriganville is that with production finally over, the park will soon be fully open again. I hear the Sandalwood entrance has already been reopened, along with the main parking lot off Smith Road.

Corriganville's back parking lot: It just doesn't have quite the same charm

During the movie shoot, visitors to the park were directed to the back parking lot and forced to steer clear of Corriganville's historic Silvertown area.

Rock maze found in Corriganville's back parking lot

One fun thing did turn up in that back parking lot: a cool rock maze.

Damon Herriman (left) is playing Charles Manson (right)

I'm looking forward to the movie, mainly for the Corriganville set but also for the movie itself. I'm not familiar with actor Damon Herriman, who's playing Manson, but yeah, I can see how he might be able to pull off the look.

Tarantino's "Spahn Ranch" set a few weeks ago (Dennis Cohee photo)

If you would like to see additional photos and information about Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" set at Corriganville, please click here to read our previous post about the project, from Sept. 15, 2018.

Early stages of construction on the Tarantino set back in August (photo by Cliff Roberts)

You may also want to read our first post about the set construction, from Aug. 25, 2018 — but note that at that time we thought there was a chance some of the buildings might be permanent.