Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beyond Boulder Pass -- Bell Location Ranch

See to find my books about Chatsworth movie locations: Rendezvous at Boulder Pass: Hollywood's Fantasyland - 2010 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21522-8) and Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas - 2008 (ISBN: 978-0-615-21499-3) by Jerry England, and published by Echo Press

The Bell Location Ranch (photo above Four Guns to the Border) sat high-up on a plateau in the Santa Susanna Mountains overlooking the San Fernando Valley and Chatsworth reservoir.  It was situated just off Box Canyon Road on Studio Road (south of Santa Susana Pass Road) about half way between Chatsworth's Iverson Ranch and Simi Valley's Corriganville.  

Supposedly the area had been used for filming since the silent days (I cannot find any titles or credits before the 1950s).  According to location expert Tinsley Yarbrough (in the 1920s it was known as the Bell Moving Picture Ranch).  Yarbrough's research reveals that a gentleman named Berry later purchased the Bell property, and sold the 120 acres to Rosemary Couch and Jean Forsythe.  They named their new property the Berry Ranch.  I have located news articles about the Berry ranch, but no reference to early filming information can be found.

About 1950, five acres were sold to Tony Stimolo who then named his property the Bell Location Ranch.  In 1955 Stimolo built a Western street on the ranch.  The street burned to the ground in the mid 1960's, and was immediately rebuilt.  Eventually disputes with neighboring land owners (who also shared narrow Studio Road), and complaints about the impact of film crews forced the location to close shortly after 1988.

Bell Location Ranch filmography:

Carson City (1952) starring Randolph Scott, Lucille Norman, Raymond Massey (Bell Ranch) (lobby photo above) Warner Bros.

Man Behind the Gun, The (1953) starring Randolph Scott (Bell Ranch) (Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros

Riding Shotgun (1954) starring Randolph Scott (Bell Ranch) (lobby photo above) Warner Bros.

Four Guns to the Border (1954) starring Rory Calhoun (Bell Ranch) (movie still above) Universal

Gunsight Ridge (1957) starring Joel McCrea (Bell Ranch)(Iverson Ranch) (screenshot above) United Artists

Sierra Stranger (1957) starring Howard Duff, Gloria McGehee and Dick Foran (Bell Ranch) Columbia

Face of a Fugitive (1959) starring Fred MacMurray, Lin McCarthy, Dorothy Green (Bell Ranch)(Corriganville) (screenshot above) Columbia

Outrage, The (1964) starring Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey and Claire Bloom (Bell Ranch) (photo above) MGM

Quick Gun, The (1964) starring Audie Murphy (Bell Ranch) (screenshot above) Columbia
Talisman, The (1966)  [Adult Western] starring Ned Romero/Linda Hawkins (Bell Ranch)(Spahn Ranch) Gillman

Hombre (1967) starring Paul Newman, Fredric March, Richard Boone (Bell Ranch) (screenshot above) (Iverson Ranch) 20th Century-Fox
Hard on the Trail (1972) [Adult Western] starring Lash La Rue, Julie Conners, Bob Romero (Bell Ranch) 
Santee (1973) starring Glenn Ford, Michael Burns, Dana Wynter (Bell Ranch) Crown
Sunset (1988) starring Bruce Willis, James Garner, Malcolm McDowell (Bell Ranch) TriStar
Assignment: Survive (1988) starring Vincent Barbi, Michael Christian and Joseph Marina (Bell Ranch)
"Gunsmoke" (1955 TV Series) starring James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake
"Cheyenne" (1955 TV Series) starring Clint Walker, Philip Carey, Booth Colman
"Maverick" (TV Series 1957–1962) starring Jack Kelly, James Garner and Roger Moore

"Zorro" (1957 TV Series) starring Guy Williams, Gene Sheldon, Henry Calvin (photo above is the remains of Zorro's cabin used in the TV series -- it's on private property today)

"Bat Masterson" (TV series) 1958-1961 starring Gene Barry, Bill Baldwin and Allison Hayes
"Bonanza" (1959 TV Series) - Episode: The Rattlesnake Brigade (1971) starring Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon
"Dundee and the Culhane" (1967 TV Series) starring John Mills, Sean Garrison, Roy Poole


  1. You my friend, have done an absolutely unbelievable, outstanding job on bringing back to life, so much that I grew up on!! I almost, came so close to breaking down, breaking out in tears.

    Because I grew up on WESTERNS! Like so many of us boys did back in the 50s and 60s. I would not take nothing whatsoever for the time that I grew up. Especially when I see the America that young boys are growing up in now.

    And especially this administration in Washington. It disgusts me more than any, any past administration. But I digress. I don’t even wanna get started talking about that. I spent a good two hours reading and reading.

    And I will be back!!! Lord yes and I’m going to subscribe if, I can. You have such a wealth of information you were leaving your grandsons!!!

  2. Glad you found something worthwhile. Happy Trails my Amigo.

  3. Thanks for doing all the research to put this together. I wish Hollywood would have had resident historians back then to document all of this. So much has been lost with the people who have passed away. I grew up in Simi Valley. Very close to Big Sky Ranch. Not too far away were Corriganville, Iverson ranch, Spahn ranch and Bell Ranch. At one point or another I have been on all of these properties. Amazing how many films and Stars were being filmed there. Great memories