Western RoundUp: Another Look at Western Movie Locations!
It’s time for another look at some western movie locations!
This year I’ve visited several interesting film-related locations, starting with Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. There is a cave in Bronson Canyon that has been featured in numerous films; the most important western filmed there was that of John Ford The Seekers (1956).
Lots of scenes in there The Seekers were filmed in Monument Valley, but the scene where John Wayne says “Let’s go home, Debbie” to Natalie Wood was filmed at the “back” entrance of the cave. The cave is actually a tunnel with two entrances.
In the final scene, John Wayne rides his horse down that hill:
The cave is currently fenced off with chain link fences, but I have a 2020 photo looking out the back of the cave towards where Ethan rides down the hill.
The most famous role of the cave? It was the bat cave in the 1960s TV series Batman. Here’s a shot from the front of the cave where the Batmobile would exit.
This spring we took a road trip that included a brief stop in Keeler, California. Keeler is a few miles from Lone Pine, a filming location I’ve written about here many times, and is almost a ghost town; the current population is about ten people.
There’s a fascinating old train station, the Carson and Colorado Railroad Depot, that looks like it’s about to be blown over in high winds. The information I found online suggests it may date from the 1880s.
This train station features in the movie Hopalong Cassidy Dark Journey (1948).
The transmitter was also seen in the silent film classic greed (1924), directed by Erich von Stroheim.
John Fords 3 godparents (1948) was filmed in Keeler, but I was unable to reconcile train station footage from that film with what is left. Finally, the thriller I’ve died a thousand times (1955) starring Jack Palance, filmed at a gas station in Keeler.
Our next road trip destination was Utah, where we visited three national parks and one state park. We particularly liked Moab, which is perhaps John Ford’s most important location after Monument Valley.
One afternoon we were driving along the highway outside of Moab that runs parallel to the Colorado River; Thanks to books and websites, we’ve been able to find some wonderful places, starting with Fisher Towers.
Fisher Towers can be seen in the background of Ford wagon master (1950), one of my favorite films. The Bureau of Land Management sign at Fisher Towers even mentions the Ford connection!
First, here is a screenshot of wagon master by Russell Simpson and Kathleen O’Malley on the lead wagon:
And this is what Fisher Towers looks like today:
Sorcerer (1959) starring Henry Fonda and Richard Widmark was filmed at Fisher Towers, as was the John Wayne film The Comancheros (1961).
A little further downriver is Red Cliff Lodge, which was originally George White’s ranch Rio Grande (1950) filmed.
There is a large open area near some of the lodge’s guest cabins…
…and it was quite exciting to see screenshots of the film’s famous “Roman Riding” sequence and to realize that we were standing where Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. and Claude Jarman Jr. had filmed this wonderful scene.
The rock formations in the background go together perfectly!
We also found the spot on the Colorado River where Wayne and his officers rode the Rio Grande to speak to the Mexican officer.
Here’s a screenshot of that scene to show how the backgrounds fit together.
Taza, son of Cochise (1954) and Rio Conchos (1964) was also filmed in the Moab area; Taza filmed at Arches National Park and Rio Conchos filmed at Dead Horse Point State Park – as well as those previously mentioned Sorcerer and The Comancheros.
Here is one of the impressive views at Dead Horse Point State Park:
For more Western RoundUp columns on western film locations, see my previous articles on Kanab, Corriganville, Lone Pine, and Iverson Movie Ranch.
– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub
Laura can be found on her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she has been writing about film since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film buff, Laura loves classics like Disney, film noir, musicals and westerns. She regularly reports on classic film festivals in Southern California. Laura will be writing all about westerns at the Western RoundUp for CMH.