Western RoundUp: Lone Pine Film Locations
In past Western RoundUp columns, I’ve written on multiple occasions about Westerns filmed in Lone Pine, California.
Countless Westerns were filmed in Lone Pine’s Alabama Hills and other nearby areas. Past columns include a look at Hop-a-Long Cassidy (1935) On Location in Lone Pine and Lone Pine Favorites; the latter column includes photos of Lone Pine locations from Rawhide (1951), 7 Men From Now (1956), and The Hired Gun (1957).
It’s great fun for a Western fan to explore the area and see where favorite films were shot. For this month’s column, here’s a look at a few more Western locations filmed in the Lone Pine area.
The Cisco Kid and the Lady (1939)
Cesar Romero plays the Cisco Kid in a very enjoyable film which I saw for the first time at this year’s Lone Pine Film Festival.
In a story somewhat reminiscent of the oft-filmed Three Godfathers story, the genial bandit the Cisco Kid and his friend Gordito (Chris-Pin Martin) find a dead miner’s baby in the middle of the desert. The baby ends up in the care of a lovely schoolteacher (Marjorie Weaver); meanwhile, the Cisco Kid works to locate the mine which is the baby’s inheritance.
After seeing the movie, we went on a tour of the locations with guide Greg Parker, who prepared a booklet of screenshots for us to compare to the actual locations.
Here are two examples of screenshots and my photos of the actual Alabama Hills locations, which haven’t changed a bit since filming. A few decades are but a blip of an eye in the history of these rocks!
Yellow Sky (1948)
Yellow Sky is a terrific William Wellman Western starring Gregory Peck as an outlaw, with Anne Baxter as a woman Peck and his gang (including Richard Widmark and John Russell) meet while hiding in a ghost town.
I wrote about the movie in my 2018 Lone Pine Favorites column, but at the time I didn’t have location photos to share. This year we did some exploring on our own and found the water hole seen in the movie.
First, here are a couple of screenshots of the area as seen in the film. That’s Baxter standing on a rock while holding a rifle; Russell is drinking water at the bottom of the photo.
Compare those scenes to the actual location, seen below; the water hole was located in the foreground. We were delighted to discover that a tiny man-made “dam” created by the filming crew to create the water hole still exists today.
Visitors to the Alabama Hills can also find permanent changes left behind by the crews of several other films, including Army Girl (1938), Gunga Din (1939), The Hitch-Hiker (1953), and King of the Khyber Rifles (1953); they might not be readily apparent to the casual observer, but those in the know can spot them easily.
The Law and Jake Wade (1958)
The ungrateful Clint later takes Jake and Jake’s girlfriend Peggy (Patricia Owens) hostage, and they ultimately have a confrontation in a ghost town.
Unlike many Westerns shot in the Lone Pine area, The Law and Jake Wade didn’t film in the Alabama Hills; instead, the crew built a ghost town on the opposite side of town, in the same area where a town was built a couple of years earlier for Bad Day at Black Rock (1955).
Like movies filmed in the Alabama Hills, the ghost town scenes have the same great views of Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney in the background.
…and I also have a 2019 photograph of tour guide Jerry Condit holding a still of the ghost town set:
The Tall T (1957)
The Tall T is one of the outstanding Westerns Randolph Scott made in collaboration with director Budd Boetticher.
Ride Lonesome (1959)
I wrote about another Scott-Boetticher film, Ride Lonesome, in my very first Western RoundUp column. It’s a film I’ve seen multiple times, which gets better on each viewing.
This year our friend, Lone Pine tour guide Don Kelsen, took us and a few other people on a hike to a location seen at the beginning of the movie. It was a bit of an uphill climb getting there, but very worthwhile!
Here’s a screenshot of an opening scene in the film where Randolph Scott captures James Best:
And here’s the location today. The rocks in the screenshot can easily be matched up with this photo.
Visiting film locations such as these is both fun and informative, giving the Western fan new perspectives to appreciate when watching films made in Lone Pine.
The photographs of the Alabama Hills 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.