Monday, November 17, 2008

Robert Mitchum at the Lone Pine (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36° 36.370 W118° 07.000)
Alright, it has been a few months since my last Alabama Hills movie location. If there was one actor I feel like I try to "emulate" in the real world it would be Robert Mitchum. Of course, if you saw me in the real world you would come to a different conclusion. In my mind, I act like him. lol. He is one of the best of the strong silent types. Mitchum started out in small parts in Hopalong Cassidy movies. Many of those movies were filmed out in the Alabama Hills. He really got his career started out there. He starred in two b-movies there: West of the Pecos and Nevada. As I remember, Tim Holt was to star in them, but went off to fight in WW2 so Mitchum had the part. It is interesting to note that Richard Martin, Tim Holt's sidekick, he is Mitchum's sidekick in these movies.
This is one of the first "difficult" locations I found when I first started to try to find locations in the Alabama Hills. This one took some work for me to find. Keep in mind I was going off of memory and not printing out pictures to take with me at the time. It took me a trip or two to figure it out. My location intuition eventually took me to it. I was so proud. Then I later found out that it was on one of the tours you can take at the festival. If I had only known about the tour at that time.

This was taken during the recent film festival. I am standing right in front of the plaque that they had for this location. You can see the weather conditions were very cloudy in the background. You can compare the grounded rock in the foreground and the bunch of rocks in the middle (slightly to the left) background. The "Lone Pine" would have been just in middle, and maybe slightly to the right in my picture. My assumption is that it was "planted" there for the movie, but I could be wrong about that.
Robert was supposed to meet his sidekicks at the "Lone Pine." He hears a shotgun blast and goes to investigate it.
Naturally, in the b-western formula, the good guy gets framed for murder and spends the rest of the movie trying to prove his innocence. So, Mitchum, who has good intentions, get's accused of murder because he is at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I took this picture over the summer. I do not have the right camera angle, in which I would move further to the right, but this is good enough. That is the same rock he and his sidekicks both pass.
I like this narrow passage they go through. It has a nice feature of Lone Pine Peak in the background.
It is exactly the same as it was in 1944, but with one change. This huge rock dropped down:
You can get by it, but it is in the way. Usually, these rock formations show little change, but I have encountered a few areas in the Alabama Hills where rocks have come crashing down. These few areas look different now compared to the movies.

I mentioned this in the video, but I might as well do it here too. The term "Lone Pine" is used only twice in all the Alabama Hills movies filmed there. It was mentioned once in one of Tom Mix's sound movies where a lady is driven into town and comments how beautiful Lone Pine is. This Mitchum movie, Nevada, is the only one I know of that hints at the town's origin name. Supposedly, there was a lone pine that existed somewhere out there. This is how the town got its name. The movie makes a nice homage to it.

(Edit 12/3)

I wanted to come back to this entry to add one more thing about the horse Robert Mitchum used in this movie. His name is Steel. If you look at the picture above of him you will notice he has three white stockings. Steel was a very popular horse for actors in the 1930's to 1940's. I will name a few: Buffalo Bill (Joel McCrea), Four Faces West (Joel McCrea), Tall in the Saddle (John Wayne), Yellow Sky (Gregory Peck), Across the Wide Missouri (Clark Gable), It's a Big Country (Gary Cooper), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Ben Johnson horse), Rio Grande (Ben Johnson's horse), West of the Pecos (Robert Mitchum), and, of course, Nevada (Robert Mitchum). Steel was one of those horses that was so well trained it would never buck its riders off even if a scene in a movie called for it. Unfortunately, Steel developed a nervous twich of having guns fired to close to his ears which began ruining his appearance. He had to be put down because of this. I wanted to mention this because sometimes these horses are better actors than their riders. If you watch for them you will see some of the same horses in these movies.

For more on horses in movies check out Petrine Mitchum's Hollywood Hoofbeats: Trails Blazed Across the Silver Screen. I met Petrine, Robert Mitchum's daughter, last year. She is super cool and is very knowledgeable about horses. The book is a must have for the content and the pictures!