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 iversonfilmranch@aol.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 iversonfilmranch@aol.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.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your posts are always interesting...Thanks!

Mark said...

The Adobe was a predictor of things to come...Thanks again for more interesting fun facts and great photographs!

Unknown said...

Absolutely GREAT RESEARCH!! Keep it up!!

Marc Wanamaker said...

GREAT Research including the great frame enlargements, keep it up!!

Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives