On Location in Lone Pine by By Dave Holland


The Holland House Presents
"On location in Lone Pine"
A pictorial guide to movies shot in and around California's Alabama Hills


It was almost thirty years ago that I first walked theses Alabama Hills. For as long as I can remember, poking around Californian and the West (looking for the various spots where they mad the old movies) has been a favorite pastime, one that has brought about many a glorious morning and many a hot afternoon hiking thorough the rocks an brush at the old movie ranches (Iverson's and Corriganville) and at Hollywood's more "distant" film locations, Red Rock Canyon, Vasquez Rocks, Beale's Cut, Lake Sherwood , Old Tucson, Monument Valley, Oak Creek Canyon, the Alamo Village at Brackettville, Texas, so many more - even Bronson Canyon, which is right in Hollywood! - Looking for (and finding) where the Indian chase in Stagecoach began, where John Wayne held and killed off the Indians in Apache Rifles, where the Lone Ranger Rock was and the Nyoka Cliff and Ford Point.

Then one day, I noticed something interesting…no, make that fascinating, for it has certainly proved to be that. Looking at a Gene Autry photo from Boots and Saddles, I noticed that he and his sidekick, Frog" (Smiley Burnette) were sitting their horses by a tall, thick cucumber shaped rock which was - it was so obvious, it was startling - at the very same spot where the Indian chase in How The West Was Won began and where Tim Holt had tired ditching a posse in one of his RKO pictures called Guns Of Hate! And these were films as many as 25 years apart (in 1937, 1962, and 1948, respectively! (I was on the verge of "discovering" a new gold mine of movie locations to go explore.

They were shot, I learned, near a town some 3 -4 hours north of Los Angeles - I would later be astonished to learn how many films had been done on location in Lone Pine - more specifically, in that unusual grouping of rocks and canyons called the Alabama Hills, one of Hollywood's favorite locations now for 70 years,

We headed north immediately.

Needless to say, when we first drove out into these Alabama Hills, it was love (and immediate recognition) at first sight. I knew I had been here there, countless times - first in the private darknesses of so many movie theatres, and then camped in front of the TV set.

"This is the Khyber Pass," I announced. "I don't care what that sign says, this is the Khyber Pass!"

Hurrying back into the town of Lone Pine, I asked where I could buy a book on all the movies done out in the Alabama Hills, the Hop along Cassidy Movies, the British Army in India Movies, the ones with Roy Gene and John Wayne. "There isn't one," I was told. Well, there is now - and thanks for letting me be the one to enjoy the thrill of the hunt, a
poring through photos at film conventions and paper conventions and in studio archives, at Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee store, at Collectors Bookstores, at Larry Edmunds Books, among others. Thanks for letting me be the one to interview and get to know the townspeople and the movie-makers who worked there.
Now we can all stand where John Wayne stood. And the Lone Ranger and Tom Mix and Randolph Scott.

I hope it was worth the wait.

Dave Holland Granada Hills, California

Dave Holland & Lone Pine Host Gregory Peck - 1995

Hollywood legend Gregory Peck returned to Lone Pine as guest of the 1995 Lone Pine Film Festival. He made three films in Lone Pine - Yellow Sky, The Gunfighter, and How the West Was Won.


Referencing the Alabama Hills - "The place really came alive for me after I picked up Dave Holland’s handy little book“On Location in Lone Pine.” Filled with anecdotes, maps and lots of photos, Mr. Holland walks you back through time and points out dozens of landmarks, the precise location of scenes and the history behind many of the shoots. His nthusiasm is infectious. But one epic in particular was deserving of his attention; Gunga Din, produced by RKO starring Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., was released in 1939 which is generally regarded as Hollywood’s finest year."
By John Treadwell Dunbar

About Dave Holland

Dave was a friend of many in Lone Pine and around the world, having been a co-founder of the Lone Pine Film Festival in 1990, author and film historian with a special focus on the B westerns.

Dave was born on January 22, 1935 in Raleigh , North Carolina and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. He moved to Los Angeles in 1938 after two years at Auburn University.. Dave had many jobs during his life including photographic journalist in the Navy, Theatrical Press Agent, and Unit Production Manager. It was while working on location on commercials in the Lone Pine area that Dave recognized several landscapes from B westerns he had watched several times. This discovery led him to purchase movie stills from classic films and westerns, then come on location to the Alabama Hills to find the exct location where the camera was placed.

As his discoveries found during weekends spent roaming the scenic area accumulated, he made friends with local residents and the idea of a film festival focused on this unique history was created. Local resident Kerry Powell was the first Festival director in 1990, and Dave supplied the knowledge of locations, contacts with Hollywood and the event management expertise to begin the first film festival. Present director Chris Langley met with the team before that first event. Several local businesspersons have been deeply involved over the years, including Dow Villa owners Jeanne Willey and Lynne Bunn, Frotnier Best Western owner Ray Powell, Dean and Bev VanderWall, Dorothy Bonnefin, and Jaque Hickman.

"Dave was the greatest thing that ever happened to the Lone Pine Film Festival;" regular guest Loren Janes, a founder of the Stuntmen's Association of motion pictures said in the L.A. Times last week. " He had great enthusiasm for Lone Pine and these films."

Kerry Powell commented, "Dave was the film festival, basically. He couldn't have done it without hundreds of volunteers, but he had a lot of ideas. He put it together, and we all backed him up as best we could.

Chris Langley remarked, "Dave was very generous with his time, sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with all of us. He was in his element when he was hiking up in the rocks looking for specific movie sites. Now, it is common on almost any weekend to run into film enthusiasts following in his footsteps looking for favorite movie locations.

The success of the Festival attracted the attention of Jim Rogers of Sunbelt Communications, who suggested a museum. While initial planning for the project was done by Holland, he moved to Santa Clarita in 2003 to be nearer his children. While the museum is in final construction, Dave Holland did not live to see this dream come true.

His passion for Lone Pine films and "The Alabama Rocks" will be missed by all who came in contact with him over the years. The Festival he began and the museum he dreamed about for many years will be his legacy.

Dave Holland died on Monday, November 14 after a brave fight against cancer. He was surrounded by his wife Holly and close, long-time friends Dave and Kirsten Smirnoff at his home. He will be missed.

The Guardian U.K. January 20, 2006
Obituary for
Dave Holland by Christopher Reed

The awesome view of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains in California, rearing up the eastern side with the contrast of the Alabama foothills below, kept nagging at the mind of the western film historian Dave Holland, who has died aged 70.

Eventually he realised he had seen the same formations on film, and more than once. One rock he noticed was in Gene Autry's cowboy classic Boots and Saddles (1937); it also marked the spot where the chase began in How the West Was Won (1962). So began Holland's chronicling of the place that provided more locations for Hollywood than anywhere else.

His search turned into the annual Lone Pine film festival, held in the small town that served as a movie-making centre for such stars as John Wayne, Virginia Mayo, Gary Cooper, Audie Murphy, Susan Hayward, Robert Mitchum, Randolph Scott and Roy Rogers. Most films made there were 1940s and 50s B- movies, but with the festival's popularity - it celebrated the 15th last October - Lone Pine has become better known. Holland, the festival director from 1991 to 1999, lived to see a film museum open there last autumn.

A total of 300 cinema productions were filmed in the Alabama Hills after comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle shot The Roundup there in 1919. Television directors of Lone Ranger, Bonanza, Wagon Train and others, as well as commercials, chose the area for locations that could pass as the Andes, Alaska or the Crimea.

Holland, author of From Out of the Past: A Pictorial History of the Lone Ranger (1989), combined his research in a 1990 illustrated guide, On Location in Lone Pine. His success in persuading stars to visit his festival came from his former Hollywood career, as a reporter, drama critic and editor of the Valley Times of LA. He later worked as a press agent and film production manager.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Holland grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, moving to LA in 1958 after two years at Auburn University, Alabama, and time in the navy as a photographer's mate. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Holly, and their son and daughter.

·David Thomas Holland, film historian, born January 22 1935; died November 14,2005

Alabama Hill Links

The Alabama Hills

Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce

Off-Road Exploring in the Alabama Hills Near Lone Pine, California Jun. 24, 2010 By Jim Brightly


"I’ve probably been to Inyo County, California's Alabama Hills, in my imagination at least, about as often as I’ve been anywhere in the world. I grew up completely devoted to my favorite film stars, western heroes such as the Lone Ranger and Tonto and Hopalong Cassidy. As far as I could tell, they actually lived in the Alabama Hills. Many of their movies and television series were shot among these rounded rocks at the base of the Sierra Nevada’s sharp east side and at the foot of the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney. As a kid and later as an adult, I’ve traveled in person throughout the Alabama Hills many times. The best day I ever spent there was with the late Dave Holland. Dave devoted himself to interpreting the movie history of the hills and their surrounds and wrote a terrific book, “On Location in Lone Pine.” He loved showing people around his favorite haunts. We had a lot of fun together. I enjoyed his personal warmth, his affectionate way of telling stories and his large and spontaneous sense of humor. As far as I’m concerned, Dave will always be in the Hills riding shoulder-to-shoulder with those he honored, the legends of yesteryear."

List of Movies made in Lone Pine
Lone Ranger Canyon
Then and Now - Site of Lone Roanger Ambush

More Pics to come.

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