Western RoundUp: Lone Pine Film Locations

Lone Pine Film Locations

This month the Western RoundUp column will pay a return visit to Lone Pine, California, to look at some interesting Western movie locations.

The present-day photos seen in this column were mostly taken when I was in town last fall for the 32nd Lone Pine Film Festival. My husband and I visited numerous movie locations that week, both on our own and as part of festival tour groups.

The Alabama Hills National Scenic Area sign at Lone Pine California
The Alabama Hills National Scenic Area sign at Lone Pine

The Round-Up (1920), starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and directed by George Melford, is believed to be the first feature-length film shot in the Lone Pine area.

This year we took a tour of a new-to-us area along the Owens River, where The Round-Up filmed a number of scenes. What’s amazing is that some of the same wooden fences seen in the movie are still standing, over a century later.

Here’s a screen shot of actress Mabel Scott provided by our guide, Greg Parker:

Mabel Scott in The Round-Up (1920)
Mabel Scott in The Round-Up (1920)

And here’s the exact same fence today:

Lone Pine Fence The Round-Up (1920)
The fence as it stands today

A cabin seen in the film was right here:

Lone Pine cabin location The Round-Up (1920)
Location of where the cabin once stood

Here’s the cabin as it looked in the movie, again thanks to Greg’s screen shot booklet:

The Round-Up (1920)
The Round-Up (1920)

The remains of a decayed wooden bridge which was seen in numerous films including The Round-Up, The Man From Utah (1934) starring John Wayne, and The Nevadan (1950) starring Randolph Scott:

Here’s how it looked in a shot from The Man From Utah:

Owens River Bridge from The Man from Utah (1934)
Owens River Bridge featured in The Man from Utah (1934)

The Round-Up also stars Wallace Beery and features Buster Keaton in a small role as an Indian, Sagebrush Charlie. Last year Kit Parker Films released The Round-Up on Blu-ray, with the print from the Library of Congress 35mm archival master.

John Wayne often worked in Lone Pine while making “B” Westerns in the ’30s. The New Frontier (1935) was one such film:

John Wayne in The New Frontier (1935)
John Wayne in The New Frontier (1935)

The above scene was filmed on a dry lake bed very close to the other locations seen above. Additional movies which filmed scenes on the lake bed include Army Girl (1938), Three Faces West (1940), and the Hopalong Cassidy film Secret of the Wastelands (1941).

Here’s how the lake bed looks today:

Lone Pine lake bed film location
The lake bed location today

Here’s another screen shot, this time seen as William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd rode through the area in Secret of the Wastelands:

Hopalong Cassidy in Secrets of the Wasteland (1941)
Hopalong Cassidy in Secret of the Wastelands (1941)

And as it looked facing that direction last fall:

Lone Pine lake bed film location
The lake bed today

Speaking of Hopalong Cassidy, one of the famous rocks in the Alabama Hills is “Hoppy Rock,” which takes its name from the Hopalong Cassidy film Silent Conflict (1948). Here it is as seen in the movie:

Hopalong Cassidy in Silent Conflict (1948)
Hopalong Cassidy in Silent Conflict (1948)

And Hoppy Rock photographed from that side today, accompanied by a shot from another angle:

Some of the other “named” rocks in the Alabama Hills include Gary Cooper Rock and Gene Autry Rock.

I wrote about one of the locations for the Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher film The Tall T (1957) here in 2021. This time around we’ll look at Anchor Ranch in Lone Pine, where some of the movie’s opening scenes were filmed.

Lone Pine Anchor Ranch entrance sign
Sign for Anchor Ranch

Early in the film Scott’s character visits a friend’s ranch. Here’s a shot with a barn in the background:

Randolph Scott in The Tall T (1957)
Randolph Scott in The Tall T (1957)

Here’s the barn again, still standing today:

Lone Pine The Tall T (1957) barn
The barn still stands today

Scott’s character, Pat Brennan, leans on an iron fence at one point:

Randolph Scott The Tall T (1957) fence
Scott leaning on an iron fence in The Tall T (1957)

Amazingly the fence pole still exists today as well, albeit now on the ground; my husband (at left) and some other members of the tour picked it up for a photo:

Lone Pine Anchor Ranch The Tall T (1957) fence today
Remnants of the fence today

An incredible number of Westerns were filmed in the areas around Lone Pine; look for more location shots here in the future!

For additional Western RoundUp columns on Lone Pine film locations, please visit my past articles from 2021 and 2018. There are even more Lone Pine locations pictured in my articles on the films Hop-a-Long Cassidy (1935) and The Violent Men (1955).

Beyond Lone Pine, additional movie location photos may be seen in my articles on KanabMoabCorriganville, and Iverson Movie Ranch.

The photographs of the Alabama Hills and most of the screen shots accompanying this article are from the author’s personal collection.

– Laura Grieve for Classic Movie Hub

Laura can be found at her blog, Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, where she’s been writing about movies since 2005, and on Twitter at @LaurasMiscMovie. A lifelong film fan, Laura loves the classics including Disney, Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns.  She regularly covers Southern California classic film festivals.  Laura will scribe on all things western at the ‘Western RoundUp’ for CMH.

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7 Responses to Western RoundUp: Lone Pine Film Locations

  1. Jerry Entract says:

    Laura, you already know how much I love seeing these location tours. So thanks again!
    My friend John Brooker toured many of these sites around 1969-70 and had face-to-face interviews with quite a few of the westerners who had filmed there, such as Bob Baker, Charles Starrett and more.

  2. Woody Wise says:

    Thanks for all you do Laura. I am late saying this but your writings have always been favorites. I will share your writings where ever I can.

  3. Walter says:

    Laura, another good write-up of a most favored movie location. I so enjoy your writings and photographs of the Lone Pine Country. Keep them coming.

    Last night we re-watched THE LONG, LONG TRAILER(filmed 1953, released 1954) starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The famous harrowing mountain climb road scene with the trailer was filmed on the Mount Whitney Portal Road, which has been viewed in many movies over the decades.

    I realize that THE ROUND-UP(1920) is believed to be the first feature-length movie filmed in Lone Pine, but does anyone know when CUPID, THE COWPUNCHER(1920) starring Will Rogers was filmed? This movie was released on July 25, 1920 and THE ROUND-UP was released on October 10, 1920. Which one was filmed first? Both are feature-length and were filmed in Lone Pine.

    Pre-dating both THE ROUND-UP and CUPID, THE COWPUNCHER is the 15 chapter serial LIGHTNING BRYCE(1919) starring Jack Hoxie, Ann Little, and Paul Hurst. This serial was filmed in Lone Pine and was directed by Paul Hurst and photographed by Herbert(Bert) Glennon. The first chapter was released on October 15, 1919. LIGHTNING BRYCE still exists and there is a dvd from Grapevine Video and it is on YouTube. Does anyone at Lone Pine ever talk about LIGHTNING BRYCE and CUPID, THE COWPUNCHER?

    I look forward to your next write-up.

  4. Such a cool photographic tour! I got to spend a couple hours in the Alabama Hills and around Lone Pine fifteen years ago and it was such a thrill walking the ground where so many of my favorite actors and actresses filmed!

  5. Laura says:

    Thank you all so much for your comments!

    Jerry, I’m delighted you enjoyed seeing more location photos. I am so envious of John Brooker’s opportunities to meet the great Western stars of the past. I wish I could meet John one day and hear more!

    Woody, thank you for stopping by! I’m truly delighted to know that you have enjoyed my articles and deeply appreciate you sharing them. Thank you for all you do for the Lone Pine Fest!

    Walter, Thank you as well! I am unfamiliar with CUPID, THE COWPUNCHER and LIGHTNING BRYCE — I haven’t happened to hear either discussed at the Lone Pine Fest that I can recall, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened! Thank you for the info on the availability of LIGHTNING BRYCE. Do you know if CUPID still exists? I would love to learn more Lone Pine history.

    Rachel, I’m so glad you were able to visit the Alabama Hills, however briefly — it truly is thrilling to walk in the footsteps of our Western cowboy heroes and heroines, isn’t it? I hope you can visit again one day.

    Best wishes and thanks to all,

    • Walter S. says:

      Laura, CUPID, THE COWPUNCHER(1920) may very well be considered a lost movie. A print isn’t in the Library of Congress Archives, UCLA Film and TV Archives, or anywhere else. Although as we know, it could show up somewhere in an Eastern European archive.

      CUPID, THE COWPUNCHER was a Samuel Goldwyn production directed by Clarence G. Badger. The movie featured Will Rogers, Helene Chadwick, and Guinn “Big Boy” Williams. Helene Chadwick was engaged to Director William A. Wellman at the time, and they were married from 1921-23. Chadwick’s last film appearance was in Wellman’s A STAR IS BORN(filmed 1936, released 1937) as woman at the movie preview. Her heyday as a star was from 1916-1929. It’s been written that at her height of popularity she was being paid $2,000 a week.

      Hopefully someone will do some research on CUPID, THE COWPUNCHER and its Lone Pine History.

  6. Laura Grieve says:

    Walter, just a follow-up to thank you for all that interesting info! I’m familiar with discussion of “lost” Lone Pine films (most notably John Wayne’s 1936 film THE OREGON TRAIL), but CUPID is a new title for me so that’s all very interesting. I will stay on the lookout for more information on it. Thank you!

    Best wishes,

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