Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Not so Scenic Stagecoach Location (The Iverson Ranch Series)

(GPS: N34 16.500 W118 36.720)

(Edit 1/22/10: I added a video for this one:

It's about time for another Iverson Ranch location. Iverson Ranch movie locations are some of the easiest to find, but there is a trick to them that can make them difficult. The difficult part is all the housing that is on top of the old movie locations. Finding them is one thing, but then you have to keep in mind you are in an area that is partly private and partly public. Then you may find a location that is drastically different than when it was used in a movie. Here is one that I am going to admit was not the highest on my list of finds that I was excited about.

This picture is from John Ford's Stagecoach. The stagecoach reaches the next destination only to find that the way-station has been burned to the ground. Focus on the rock in the upper left side of the picture.
Okay, here is the best I could do to show you that rock. Bleah! Not so pretty is it?! The rock in the upper middle to the right is the identical rock. I wonder if anyone has ever watched this scene of Stagecoach in this residence, or one nearby and thought, "This stagecoach is driving right through our house right now."
As they drive the stagecoach away they show a bit more of the rock formation that too me looks like the side of a huge face (see the big nose and mouth?). They then cross the Kern River which is mysteriously, with editing, only a few feet way from the picture below.
You can still see the big face, but it is covered up a bit. Obviously, the place is different with a more modern type of stagecoach in it.
I have seen this area used a few times before. I do know it was also used in Buster Keaton's Three Ages. This Batman and Robin serial from the late 40's used it.
You get the idea...
One of my all time favorite episodes of Have Gun, Will Travel is called Gold and Brimstone. If I remember correctly it was the last episode of the second season (it is on DVD). I will say more about it below, but the following picture is either the same area or very close. That rock formation you see on the right side should be the "face" above, but done at a different angle (northern side).
In the episode, Paladin and his two clients are are hiding in the bushes from this wagon. They then ambush them. The area at this time was a big open area. Now, all this area has been planted with houses and the streets. At the time of the movie making you would have been able to see the Garden of the Gods rock formations in the distance. In fact, there are times in Stagecoach this actually happens. This is not possible today.

As I have indicated, this location is not the most attractive site I have been to. In fact, it is not one I was actively trying to find. When I found it I was just walking on the nearby trail and then realized I had seen it in movies before. Sometimes it is fun to find something like this with small traces of what it once was.

I wanted to mention some more about the Fire and Brimstone episode of Have Gun, Will Travel. This episode is fun because had we not known who Paladin (Richard Boone) was from the previous episodes and seen this episode in isolation you would think that it is something out of The Twilight Zone. He seems more like a mysterious devil in this episode in the way he helps out his clients in this one. I have often wondered if Akira Kurosawa ever saw, read, or heard about any episodes of this series before he made Yojimbo. A typical Have Gun, Will Travel episode will have Paladin work the opposing sides against each other, but for the common good. This episode is a little different though. It is something to think about if you like Yojimbo, Sanjuro, or Fistful of Dollars or like that type of anti-hero theme.