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At The Movies ... in Owens Valley



fighting man of the plains
Fighting Man of the Plains - 1949
gal who took the west
The Gal Who Took The West - 1949
threes to kill
Three Hours to Kill - 1954

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Lone Pine Film History Museum

Lone Pine, Where the Real West Becomes the Reel West

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Movies/Documentaries/TV Series Filmed in Owens Valley

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Note: "OLLP" at then end of a text block indicates the text was taken from On Location in Lone Pine by Dave Holland.

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MAJOR FILMING AREAS IN THE ALABAMA HILLS

NOTE: To get more of the details of these areas please consult On Location in Lone Pine by Dave Holland

movie location

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zane grey

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Preserving the Empire

For years, the sprawling boulders of the Alabama Hills were Hollywood's perennial substitute for India's rugged Northwest Frontier. From the mid-thirties into the '50's, if it was about the British Army preserving the Empire, they shot it at Lone Pine and we believed every dust second of it. Even today, when you hike through the Alabams, you half expect to hear a distant bagpipe or bugle... that's how vivid the memories are.

At the head of the column, sitting ram-rod straight in the saddle, is Errol Flynn or Gary Cooper, or Cary Grant and Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Behind them the eager junior officers, David Niven or Franchot Tone or Patric Knowles, always so anxious, so impulsive. But who could blame these gallant young men? This was, after all, the land of Kipling, the land of the Bengal Lancers and the Khyber Rifles, the land of adventure and romance and danger. They believed it, we believed it. And for a detailed look behind-the-scenes at Lone Pine's hallmark British Army film, see Gunga Din - the making of a classic. [Gunga Din - the making of a classic is in Dave Holland's book - On Location in Lone Pine]

OLLP
gunga din
Gunga Din - 1939
Alternate: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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The Western Stars
Rex Allen
1920-1999
     
rex allen
Slim Andrews
1906-1992
   
slim andrews
Richard Boone
1917-1981
 
richard boone
Yul Brynner
1920-1985
 
yul brynner
Yakima Canutt
1895-1986
Yakima Canutt
 
Buster Crabbe
1908-1983
Buster Crabbe
 
Andy Devine
1905-1977
Andy Devine
 
Dick Foran
1910-1979
 
Dick Foran
Glenn Ford
1916-2006
Glenn Ford
 
Gene Hackman
1930-
Gene Hackman
 
William S. Hart
1864-1946
William S. Hart
 
Tim Holt
1919-1974
 
Tim Holt
Guy Madison
1922-1996
Guy Madison
 
Tim McCoy
1891-1978
Tim McCoy
 
Robert Mitchum
1917-1997
Robert Mitchum
 
Bob Nolan
1908-1980
 
Bob Nolan
Jack Palance
1919-2006
jack palance
 


 
Bill Pickett
1870-1932
bill pickett
 


 
Tyrone Power
1914-1958
tyrone power
 
 
Whip Wilson
1911-1964
whip wilson

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born to the west

Zane Grey's "Born to the West" - 1937
John Wayne and Marsha Hunt also starring Johnny Mack Brown
[Colorization by: www.worth1000.com]

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roy rogers and trigger

song of the west

The Names Remain

The movies so influenced the Lone Pine area that even today's place names reflect Hollywood's presence from so long ago.

Not quite three miles west of that [lone] traffic light, that road turning off north into the rocks is officially called Movie Road. It was kept the flattest and smoothest by the film companies all those years for use as an "insert road" - which means this:

Say you have a long shot of Roy Rogers dashing along on Trigger but yo want to cut to a close-up occasionally (to show that it's really Roy riding so fast and so dangerously and not his long-time stunt double, Joe Yrigoyen).

That close-up will be inserted into the long shot and to get that shot, the camera obviously needs to be closer so special insert roads were built which allowed the heavily weighted camera cars (sometimes called insert cars) to drive along just as fast but twice as smoothly and film the horses or wagons running alongside.

More? Locals still call that whole area west of Movie Road "Movie Flats."

And on the east side of Movie Road is a certain narrow road twisting through the rocks called "Lone Ranger Canyon." And since Indian actor Chief Thundercloud played Tonto in the Republic serials about the masked man, there's a "Thundercloud Lane" in the Alabama Hills residential area (go South on Horseshoe Meadow Road and left on Sunset).

Then there's Gene Autry Rock and Gary Cooper Rock and the Backgroind Rocks and the Lone Ranger Ambush Sit. Not to mention Bogart Curve and Bengal Curve. You'll know them all before we're through.

Meanwhile, back on Whitney Portal Road, that whole S-curve area where the road dips down to cross Lone Pine Creek just west of the Movie Road turn-off is called "Red Dog" because of what went on there 60 years ago!

For a big 1930 Technicolor musical-western with John Boles called Song of the West, Warner Brothers built a rather large town on those still-bare flats north of the road just west of the crossing. There was a Red Dog Saloon in town - the town itself may have been called Red Dog, too - and the buildings remained in place for so long afterwards, the name stuck - to this day!

OLLP

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unknown

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hell bent for leather
Hell Bent for Leather - 1960
broken arrow
Broken Arrow - 1950
James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget

FULL LENGTH MOVIE

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Sets Still In Use

Usually, movie companies took down their sets as soon as filming was completed, selling or giving away the debris, much to the delight of Lone Pine residents.

Dr. and Mrs. George Shultz used the wood from the Rawhide stage station (Fox 1951) to build a cabin along Lone Pine Creek. Lumber from the Yellow Sky house and barn (Fox 1948) did double duty: it went into a new home for the Clarence Christenson family and a cabin for Don and Alice Homer. Paramount turned over its Star Trek V sets to Jodi Stewart and Mike Patterson to use renovating the old mining town of Cerro Gordo. And when Gunga Din's big native village of Tantrapur set was taken down in 1938, Russ Spainhower trucked remnants of that to his Anchor Ranch at the southern edge of town on U.S. 395 and began building the only permanent set Lone Pine had for years, a mission/hacienda/ranch house complex.

OLLP

yellow sky

Images from Yellow Sky - 1948
yellow sky
Gregory Peck and Anne Baxter
yellow sky
Gregory Peck and Anne Baxter
yellow sky
Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark, Robert Arthur,
John Russell , James Barton, Charles Kemper

star trek v
star trek v
star trev v crew
L to R: Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Walter Koenig, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner


rawhide
Images from Rawhide - 1951
rawhide
rawhide
Jack Elam and Susan Hayward
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Hugh Marlowe and Tyrone Power
rawhide
Susan Hayward
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riders of the purple sage

army girl

The First Filming


To highlight the added historical significance of The Roundup, it is generally accepted that this was the first film made in Lone Pine.

Those scrapbook snapshots are dated January, 1920. In those early days, it was hard to avoid the movies in Lone Pine. Some of the companies would film town scenes right out on Main Street or on the side streets. The bank looked like a bank so they filmed bank robberies thee. Other companies (like Fox for its 1925 Tom Mix adventure, Riders of the Purple Sage) would actually cover real buildings with their own facades or put up false front buildings right in the middle of a street if that's what would look best.

So thee would be a lot to talk about at dinner - particularly if Dad or Brother did what so many of the young rancher-cowboys in and around Southern Inyo County did on those early cowboy pictures: they signed themselves (and their horses) on as background extras. And why not? It paid five dollars a day!

"And you earned it, I'll tell you," laughed Roy Cline of Bishop, who would later play one of John Wayne's vigilante "singing Riders" in 1935's Westward Ho (they wee the ones who wore white scarves and rode white horses so they would be quickly identified in a big fight with the "bad guys.")

"In the beginning," Cline told me, "they didn't haul the horses out, you'd ride 'em out. Ride one and lead six."

Henry Olivas - everyone called him "Leakey" - remembered it that way, too. "There were no paid wranglers in those days," he once told the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce when it began preserving memories of the "movie days."

"After breakfast," he said, "you had to go to the corral, catch your own horse, saddle him and ride to location,. You worked all day, rode back at night and then took care of your own horse. No hired wranglers to do this for you (like now-a days)."
westward ho
"And you really did it all for five dollars," Cline said. "You did a fall or rode or played one of the good guys and one of the bad guys, it didn't matter, it was everything for five dollars, sun-up to sundown. So seventeen of us formed the Inyo Riders Association and got a raise to $7.50. Then, when the Actors' Guild came in, it went to $11 for eight hours." And he laughed again.

"(You) did whatever there was to do," Henry Olivas said, "Wrangling, packing, be an Indian, I did it all. Sometimes I drove a dump truck or the water truck," he continued.

"When we did Army Girl (1938), Cline said, "there was one scene where we had to slide down those sand bluffs east of Lone Pine on our horses so they greased up some two-by-twelves and put 'em just under the dirt so the horses would slide better.

"In another shot in that picture," he went on, "one of our riders was a fella name Hardrock Jim. He wore these big thick glasses, couldn't see a thing without 'em and naturally, they didn't want him wearin' the glasses on camera so there we are, racin' along with this tank chasin'

us right toward a four-inch cottonwood tree. That's where Hardrock and his horse parted company." Cline couldn't help laughing. "That night," he grinned, "he took his axe and went out there and took that thing down."

Even into the '50s, townspeople signed up as extras. "'Bout al you had to do was show up to be in a crowd scene," Rellis Arnick said. "On Brigham Young (1940), I think half the town was down thee for the river shots. And they almost roasted. Everybody was bundled up like it was winter and it was 100 in the shade!"

OLLP


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Images from Westward Ho - 1935
westward ho
Glenn Strange, Frank McGlynn Jr., Sheila Bromley, John Wayne
westward ho
Sheila Bromley and John Wayne
westward ho
westward ho

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The Round-Up (1920)
(Courtesy Museum of Western Film History)


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Images from The Roundup - 1920
fatty arbuckle
Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle
fatty arbuckle


fatty arbuckle
Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Julienne Scott

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Monache Meadows Cowboys  
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Sam Lewis & Sierra Lady Pack Station
 
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Ed Brown - Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Packer and Cowboy Poet  
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More At the Movies ... in Lone Pine
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This page was last updated on 21 June 2017