Posts by Sterling Price

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    About four and a half years ago on the first page of this thread someone had asked if anyone knew where the filming location was for the "dugout" scene. There were some attempts to try and nail it down but no one ever did quite hit the mark. I've been there several times over the past 35 years and have photographed it myself as part of a photo assignment I had back then. It is in an area known as Hot Creek, California and it is but a mere stone's throw from the Mammoth Lakes Airport. The airfield has only one N/S runway and is bordered on the West by Hwy 395 (split 4 lane).

    Just past the airport (travelling north) is a small 2 lane ashphalt road called: "Hot Creek Hatchery Rd". In about less than 2 miles and travelling east there will be several choices along hot creek to park your vehicle and walk down into the creek. The steam vents are most spectacular during late autumn when the early morning air is cold and crisp.

    I'm going to take the liberty of posting some screen shots from 3 of the most well known movies that were shot there and also one of my own shots at the end to show how different one location can look depending upon one's point of view......

    Jenny's honeymoon cabin - North to Alaska 1959/60

    North to Alaska

    North to Alaska

    JW in North to Alaska - Mt peak on the right is Mt. Whitney, Calif.

    North to Alaska

    Nevada Smith 1965/66 - Steve McQueen and Brian Keith

    Brian Keith in Nevada Smith

    True Grit 1968/69 - Dugout shown in lower left - Ned Pepper's gang riding up in center of frame.

    This is how I photographed the same scene in 1984. Late Autumn and slightly further downstream and "leaning" further out toward the creek in order to include the mountain shown in upper left of the frame. I used a slightly longer than normal lens in order to "compress" the image somewhat and lend more 'drama' to the mountains in the background.

    Ten years ago I had this same image printed on a 28X40 inch stretched canvas and it has hung in my den ever since. I never get tired of looking at it....great memories.

    Just about 40 years ago I saw for the first time what was to become my most favorite movie of all time...... "True Grit". I didn't think that John Wayne could possibly have done a better acting job than he did in the "Searchers" but I was wrong. His performance as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit was absolutely flawless.

    To begin with, nobody, and I mean nobody......could ever ride a quarter horse the way the 'Duke' could. He never "sat" in the saddle......he "stood" in the stirrups and absorbed the shock of the gallup with his legs and let the flexing of his knees control his upper-body movement. When he rode a horse it was as if there were gyroscopic stabilizers hidden under his saddle to smooth out his every movement. With few exceptions, not many on-screen western actors could even handle a slow "trot" without looking like a bouncing 'bobble-headed' toy.

    Wonder how many experienced "horse people" there are on here.? Ever actually try and shoot a Model 94 "modified" Winchester lever action rifle at a full gallup - with one hand - or even two hands for that matter? That rifle was modified for the sole purpose of being able to "cock" it with one hand. If you're lucky you might get off one shot without hitting your own horse in the leg like I once saw happen on the set of the TV version of "Hondo". Ralph Taeger played the part of Hondo Lane in that short lived 1967 series and never rode a horse in his life before "Hondo", unless of course you count the number of times he 'practiced' trying not to fall off of one at the Robert Taylor ranch in Mandeville Canyon near Brentwood, California.

    Thank God, the round that went off accidently in one of the first on location scenes was a blank but the 'wad' that hit the horse in its upper front quarter scared the hell out of it and that gelding almost threw Taeger ass-over-tea kettle at a full gallup. And that was only just the first day of shooting on location near Lancaster, Calif.

    That ".....Fill your hands you son of a bitch...." scene where Rooster takes the reins in his teeth and 'cocks' the Winchester with his right hand while also holding a "navy revolver" in his left hand ..... was nothing short of shear 'Hollywood' genius.

    In the original story, Portis only makes reference to Rooster's rifle at the dugout when he shoots Moon in the leg. However, he did write that Rooster had more than one "saddle revolver" . In that now famous scene, Portis writes: 'Rooster had one of the navy revolvers in his left hand and he held the reins in his right hand'. Then, as the assault begins, Portis further writes: '.....and he took the reins in his teeth and pulled the other saddle revolver and drove his spurs into the flanks of his strong horse Bo and charged directly at the bandits'. Portis then writes: 'He held the revolvers wide on either side of the head of his plunging steed.'

    There aren't too many (even good) movies that really stand out as a true classic unless something as unique as a brilliantly written short piece of dialogue such as: "......Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." or, "STELLA!!", or the cocking of a Winchester rifle with one hand and the now famous dialogue: "Fill your hands you son of a bitch".

    Without the cocking of that "rifle" with one hand, the 'visual' of that precise moment would not have been nearly as dramatic as it ultimately turned out to be nor would have all of the future promotional post-production advertising looked quite as "artistic" as that one-eyed fat man sitting on top of a horse with a lever action rifle in his right hand - instead of just another navy revolver.

    Sometimes, it's just the 'little things' that are the hardest to forget.