Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #10 (The Shootist Coat)

It is kind of fitting that I started off this tribute in Lone Pine and we are going to end there. John Wayne's career began with movies made here, and he ended here with filming a commercial for Great Western Savings in the Alabama Hills.

This is the coat John Wayne wore while filming The Shootist. It is in the Lone Pine Film Museum.
I remember they had it on display when the museum opened. For some reason I did not take pictures of it. Then when I came back, paid money to get in assuming it was there, they did not have it out for some reason. That was the whole point I went in there for, or I would not have done so. Some items are on loan so I assumed it might have been shipped out. Then during the last festival I saw in in a this display in a different area. So, this is what I took.
Naturally, it is behind a glass case making it hard to take pictures of it without reflections.
One thing to notice is you can see the "bullet holes" and "blood" in the coat in the above and the picture below. I lightened up the picture more that I normally would below so you can see what I mean.
Those holes and fake blood represent the final death of John Wayne on camera. Maybe it is more of a fitting way to remember the actor and the character that he played in The Shootist than his death in the real world.

This has been a fun month doing this tribute to this icon. It was something that I had wanted to do over the past year or two. While I do have other locations with John Wayne, the month is over and will probably show those at a later time. I hoped you enjoyed this tribute.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #9 (The Shootist at Washoe Lake)

(GPS: N39 14.320 W119 46.160)

As I have said before, sometimes when I go location hunting I am not always trying to find exact spots. Sometimes I just enjoy getting the general feel of the area. This is one of those that I kind of knew before going there that I was not going to find exact camera spots.

Washoe Lake State Park is not that far from Carson City, NV. After I visited the place in the last blog I continued on to this Lake which was about a 15-20 minute drive away.

In The Shootist, this is the scene where John Wayne and Lauren Bacall take a ride out to this lake.
Okay, in my picture they were not exactly here, but at least I got the horizon correct if you compare the mountains/hills in the background. One thing to note is the water level was probably down a lot than usual mainly because of the dry year(s) we have been having.
I have not looked to see what this mountain is. Most of the high mountains in Nevada are not as high as the ones in the Eastern Sierra. Still, it was one I am curious in.
My picture looking across the lake.
Zoom in. There are some antennas up there.
This is when they were leaving.
You can see where the ridgeline goes down.
So, I was close by, but it looks like so much has changed in the last 30 years that this is the closest I was able to get.
It was warm so once I got some pictures taken I took off. I was content with what I got, but I probably will not come back here. There was an interesting looking trail on behind me from this lake on the other side of the road, but it is a low priority on my list of hikes right now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #8 (The Shootist at the Krebs-Peterson House)

One of the rules I have on here is, under normal circumstances, I do not like to share areas that are privately owned. There are bunch of places I know of or been to that I would love to share, but I do not blog about them for this reason. Most of the fun I really have on my adventures is being out in the middle of nowhere with no worries of the sensitivities of the big city.

This is an exception. The reason I am allowing this one is that it is a well known historic place in Carson City, Nevada. It is on part of an official tour of mansions known as the "Kit Carson Trail" which is a tribute to the towns namesake. I am not going to list GPS coordinates for it, but there is a map on the official site that leads you right to it. Still, please be respectful when you go there. They have a radio broadcast you can listen to as you drive by. In fact, a John Wayne impersonator talks about the history of the house. Let me link the podcast here (right click and open in your browser) and you can listen to it as you look at my pictures.

The Shootist is probably my favorite John Wayne movie. In someways I feel like I am watching a tv movie they way it was done, but I like the story. Some of the inspiration for the original book was based on the end of the life of John Wesley Hardin, and if you have read this blog in the past you know he is the old west personality that I have spent the most time reading about. The importance of this movie is that it is the last movie John Wayne did. His character, J.B. Books, is dying of cancer like Wayne was. It was a nice movie to end his career on.

Here John Wayne is meeting up with Ron Howard in front of the Kreb-Peterson House.
Normally, I do not like to show really bad shady pictures like your going to get here. Trees are not the best things to reference compared to rock formations. Usually, trees die and are replaced over short periods of time. It turns out the three trees out in front are the same trees from the movie. The area is not as open, but the way the trees branch out from the base is the same.
Seeing how there is more tree coverage in the area there is a lot of shade. Since my time was limited the morning I did this I had to settle for less than ideal lighting conditions.
In the story, Wayne lives at this place and Lauren Bacall plays the owner and the mother of Ron Howard.
Most of it is the same now. The extended patio area looks like it was taken down. OH! See that little tree in the first picture that Wayne is riding towards? It looks like it has grown up!
One final thing is I do believe they did use the insides of this place to film the movie. What is odd is while facing the front here all you have to do is turn to your right and move a couple of homes down and you find the Nevada Govenor's Mansion. Here its podcast (right click and open in your browser).
I wanted to list one more of these mansions here. This is on the official register of Nevada's historical places. This is the Rinckel Mansion. You can listen to its podcast here.
There are a bunch of really nice places here. It is quite impressive to drive by them and check them out if you are not gambling your money away.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #7 (True Grit at Hot Creek Continued)

As I have been saying over and over in the past few blogs, there is enough to know you are in the right area here, but when you really examine things a lot has changed. From the last blog, I walked up a little higher to see if I could see how the small home could have been climbed onto.
Okay.
So, just movie to right a bit should get us to where he climbed up on the top of the small home.
This is what I got out doing that.
A lot appears to be going on here. Erosion and other geological issues are probably an issue here. I kind of think there has been some man made work done here too. You can see there is a sign at the bottom that fell over. From what I can tell that dark looking rock on the far left does seem to be one that was here from the filming, but all the rest do not seem right. You can compare the other side of the river with the movie picture if you want.

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Youtube Version)

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Vimeo Version)

For the video I used the following music from Incompetech:  Americana, Crusade, and In the West.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #6 (True Grit at Hot Creek)

(GPS: N37 39.750 W118 49.650)

Some years back I was reading an exchange back and forth on an e-mail list about various movies filmed in California. At one point a person had mentioned True Grit, along with others, being filmed in California. One of the next messages was something like, "Oh no! True Grit was filmed in Colorado. I lived there. I have been all around California and nothing there looks like Colorado!"

When I had read that I thought, "He is for a shock. The best scene in the movie takes place in California!" Well, maybe best scene is debatable, but it does take place at Hot Creek. Certainly Colorado is a beautiful place and most of True Grit was filmed there, but for some reason they chose this place to film this scene.

This area of Hot Creek was the one I was after this particular morning. I had driven up HWY 395 almost six hours that morning. I had about another hour I had to drive before I could get to the summer home. I had been at another nearby location I may show at another time. Even though I adjust to high elevations pretty quickly, driving long periods and then walking around areas starts to get me tired. I was starting to fatigue, but I told myself that it was important I get this area then I would be done.

True Grit was what got John Wayne his Best Actor Academy Award for his potrayal of Rooster Cogburn. This scene is the one where he confronts the men in this small house. He has them "smoked out" by having the top of the chimney covered so the smoke stays inside.
In the last blog I was down below on the other side of this picture. I knew I had to do some climbing which usually is not that big of deal, but considering that I had been up since around 3am and had driven a few hundred miles the fatigue was starting to kick in.

I felt pretty good about this picture. What I call the "island barge" in the middle is the my main point of reference with the movie picture. It looks like the land next to where the house was has broken off over the years. A few rocks are the same, but like I mentioned in the last few blogs this is an area where the geological features have changed due to its environment.
In the previous blog about Nevada Smith I mentioned that Brian Keith was camping down here. This is essentially the same area used in that movie. If you watch that movie all the rock formations in the distance they show are the same. Here is John Wayne near the "island barge" confronting the men in the house.
This is the main picture I was after that day and probably my favorite.
It looks like they filmed this scene sometime around October to get that orange look. Mine has the August green look. Almost anytime of the year, except during the late summer time on a dry year, you will see snow on the mountains in the background. Usually, sometime during September or October the first snow fall will leave snow on some of the mountains.
I wanted to show the rocky cliff formations on the other side of the creek.
You can see how they have the trail that keeps one out the areas below. Look for the moon between the goal posts. ;)
What you do not see in the above pictures is there was a lot of steam coming out of the creek near where the small home was in this movie. I will show that next time.

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Youtube Version)

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Vimeo Version)

For the video I used the following music from Incompetech:  Americana, Crusade, and In the West.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #5 (North to Alaska at Hot Creek)

(GPS: N37 39.640 W118 49.720)

North to Alaska was another film that used this location. And, surprise, it was not filmed in Alaska. Once in a while, online, I will see this movie get the complaint it was not filmed in Alaska. Well, duh...most movies are not filmed where the story claims there are at. There are lots of reasons for this, but the bottom line is that it does not matter.

The following captures are from a television recording I took of the movie some years back. I have not watched the movie in quite some time, but if my memory is correct John Wayne and his partners had two places they were living at in Alaska. One was on one side of the river and the other was on the other with bridge between them. You can see one of the homes on the other side of the river.
From the last blog, I moved down the trail a bit below and took this picture. I added the white circle to show where it looks like the house in the above capture would have been.
This is from the movie showing the bridge and the house from close by.
The frustrating thing about Hot Creek is the fences and gated off areas around it. Had I been able to go over the roped off areas I could have gotten almost the same picture as above. The following picture should get the job done showing the above area as it is now.
The rock formation you see above in the middle of the two pictures is shown below. I just kept walking until I was parallel with it.
I kept walking past it. The fences you see were a common problem in trying to get around this area. Some areas were blocked off. I cannot remember if there was a sign further up telling me not to go any further. The area I was really after this time was behind me anyways. So, I went back.
Although you cannot see too much of it here, there was steam coming out from the other side. The sign there tells you to stay out.
So, what I got that morning for this movie's location was okay. I was satisfied. I could probably watch the movie again and figure out a little more if I really wanted to. What I was really after was the True Grit location that was filmed here. I headed back to where I came from for that. It will be what I show next time.

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Youtube Version)

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Vimeo Version)

For the video I used the following music from Incompetech:  Americana, Crusade, and In the West.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steve McQueen at Hot Creek Location

(GPS: N37 39.730 W118 49.610) 
I thought I would interrupt my tribute to John Wayne with this since in the next blog I am going to continue with the tribute with more on this area. Hot Creek is just east of HWY 395 outside of Mammoth, CA. Movies filmed here are at a higher elevation than the ones filmed at the Alabama Hills. When I think of the Sierra Nevada I think of forests and high mountains, not deserts. The general rule I go by is anything going west of the 395 is going to have the cooler forests and mountains, but anything going east of the 395 is warmer and deserts. When I drive it I usually like looking towards the west than the east of the 395.
 
(Note: my gps readings seemed a little off when I checked the Google maps at home. Like all my gps coordinates I post they should get you really close, but it is up to you to figure out the rest. The next time I am there I will have to recheck them.)

The whole Mammoth area has a volcanically charged geological history. At Hot Creek the cooling, but HOT, magma below heats the water. The water is very warm here with lots of steam at some points. If my memory is correct, they had a bunch of signs warning that somewhere around 13-16 people have either been severely injured or died here. This was a popular area to swim at, but has been prohibited for the past few years due to the instability of the area.
 
Nevada Smith is a Steve McQueen movie that the used a lot of different Eastern Sierra locations. The movie is good, but they really did do a lot of work on trying to show different locations in the movie. This is probably my favorite one.
You may notice the rock in my picture on the right looks it has been cut in half. I am not sure what to make of that. I will say more about this below. Many, many years ago I came here, but I was much further down the creek to the west. A lot of people fly-fish that side. Although I knew of the movies that were filmed here I was not really as into the locations then. In the years after, I had a hard time visualizing where they shot the movies. For the above picture all they did was go up the road more to the east. There is a nearby parking lot. In fact, there was a road right behind me near where I shot these pictures.Steve is looking down on Brian Keith below. This rock formation was really strange to me. It really felt right, but when I looked it did not look quite right. These rock formations seemed to have changed a bit quicker over the years compared to stuff I show from the Alabama Hills. Red Rock Canyon is a little like this too. In any case, you should be able to see indentation under Steve's right arm and compare with mine.One thing I wanted to note is trying to get the right angle for how the camera was positioned to film Steve was very tough. I think the camera may have been close to where I was and zoomed in. This area he is looking down is a cliff. I had to be careful around here in where I was putting my feet. It was slightly exposed; if I were hiking I would consider this class 3 terrain. It seemed like a lot of work and risk for a camera man to film here. Steve (or his stuntman Loren James) would have dropped down right below where he was standing. There is an area to do that, maybe it was not so bad almost 45 years ago, but it not something I would want to quickly go down today.
In the next blog I will go down below. I will continue the tribute to John Wayne, but I will try to point out some more of where Nevada Smith was filmed as well. It is mostly the same areas.

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Youtube Version)

Having Grit at Hot Creek (Vimeo Version)

For the video I used the following music from Incompetech:  Americana, Crusade, and In the West.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #4 (His Gravesite)

(GPS: N 33 36.610 W 117 51.205)

Today is the 30th anniversary of John Wayne's death so I thought I would show some of my older pictures of his gravesite. For quite some time after his death his gravesite was unmarked. I do not remember how long ago it was before they put a plaque at his site.

I had thought I had been to this cemetery since I took these old pictures, but I was wrong. I do remember the day very clearly though. I was a bit annoyed how it worked out. I got there very early since I wanted to visit the site and then head off to the nearby beach. When I drove close to the area I noticed two men messing around some of the gravesites. One guy was on his knees holding down something over a gravesite and another guy started watching me right away. I did not park where this picture below was taken, but further down the road. I believe this is a "378" and it is on the highest road in the cemetery in the back. If my memory is correct there were some vaults behind me from where I took this picture.
Wayne's gravesite is right next to this tree in the picture below. Back to my annoying story...this guy kept watching me from where my car was parked. If I took a direct path to where I thought the gravesite was I would have to pass right by these guys. I do not know about most people, but I do not come to places like this to have casual conversations with the living. So, I decided to "fake" my way around to the location. I dropped down the road below and looked at various gravesites before moving up to where this tree was.
I had passed around them enough that I was in the clear in that I would probably not have to deal with them. I had no idea what they were doing and did not care. I was moving around in circles near the big tree. FINALLY! I saw the name. Just as I had stopped to have my private moment with John Wayne I hear this, "Is that John Wayne's Gravesite?" I replied it was, and he came over and started talking to me.
Basically, this guy and his friend were making some sort of "imprints" of gravesites of famous people. He came right out and admitted they were doing it for money. He was trying to get information out of me of other celebrity type of people sites I knew of. I told him that he would have to go to Forest Lawn in Glendale, and he said he already was planning to do that. After about 10 minutes or so he left. I turned back to the gravesite and felt like the moment had been totally ruined by that guy. I took two pictures and left.
Here is a zoom in of the inscription. You can double click the picture of you want to see a bigger version.

John Wayne on Find a Grave

So much for my "quiet time" with John Wayne. Even though I live about 20 minutes away from this cemetery I still think it is much more fun to visit old movie locations over something like this. I will show a few more of his movie sites this month.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #3

I am not sure what to make of this...
Men's room, Lone Pine Film Museum.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tribute to John Wayne #2 (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 36.110 W118 07.060)

John Wayne made around 13 films that were at least partly shot in the Alabama Hills/Lone Pine area or just outside of it. Some of these were his early Republic b-westerns when he was first starting to act in movies. Usually, when one thinks of John Wayne scenery they think of the John Ford epics shot in Monument Valley. Although these b-movies are not that great, if you watch them with the right attitude they can be quite fun and usually show some of the more classic Alabama Hills locations. Here is a pretty well known location that has been used lots of times:
This is not a difficult one to find. It is just a matter of walking around the roads and you will run into it sooner or later. The following picture is from, I Cover the War, a Universal Pictures movie where Wayne plays a newsreel cameraman. This is a good non-western that is a bit atypical for a b-movie. I have this on dvdr, but AFAIK, it has not been released officially on dvd. The Alabama Hills play the Middle-East here. It is interesting to me because there is a scene with airplane shots from above that look like they were filming the mountains from up high. The following picture has Wayne and partner in a tent checking out the Arabs messing around with their gear. I drew a square around the area to show the rocks that are the same. I am up a bit higher than the camera would have been. I think you have to head down to where those two posts are near the road below to get the right shot. If you are in the mood you can double click the picture to make it bigger and compare with the above. A hint: look just next to Wayne's forehead to see what looks like a "cracked rock" and now compare below.
The same area was used in King of the Pecos. In this movie, the area was the ranch the bad guys take over. John Wayne and company have to fight it out with them. Although Wayne was here for this movie, more than likely the following picture is a double for him. The key is that big rock there.
Here is that rock connected to the rest of the rocks. To take this picture I came back at a different time and movie about 50 feet or so to the south (or to the left) of the picture I took above.
I moved more to the north and then shot back to the south in this next picture. This rock formation was used in a lot of scenes that had horses racing around this corner.
Spencer Tracy was here too in searching for the man he was looking for in Bad Day at Black Rock.

Although I do have more John Wayne at the Alabama Hills locations this is the last I will do for now. I want to move onto a few more other areas he filmed at.