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This somewhat off-the-beaten-path-formula for a Saturday matinée B-western has Johnny Mack Brown being hired by stageline owner Chet Norman to stop a series of stagecoach holdups that always take place when the driver, Pete, sees a mystery rider and hears the weird notes of a silver whistle. Sheriff Dave Holland, in love with Chet's niece, Beth Fairchild, and jealous of Johnny, gives grudging help. Town banker Roger Claine, is the mastermind behind the gang led by the Mystery Rider and Slade, and is having an affair with waitress Cora, and has promised her he will kill Slade when they have enough money. Beth is shot by Dave in an aborted holdup that reveals her to be the Mystery Rider, working with Claine in a spirit of revenge, thinking that her uncle had stolen the stageline from her father. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
I visited the set of "Whistling Hills" when I was 8 years old.
It was 1951, I was all of eight-years-old when I stepped out of our 1946 Packard Clipper with my little brother, Bobby, at my side--both of us dressed in our spiffy cowboy outfits. It never occurred to me that I was putting my young boot-covered feet on what would become hallowed ground for us B-Western fans--the dust and tumbleweed covered soil of the Iverson Ranch.
My aunt worked in the Publicity Department for Monogram Pictures and had arranged for us to visit a shooting set. "It's somewhere out near Chatsworth," she said. "Way, way out there, past the boondocks." We drove through a San Fernando Valley never to be seen again--down Ventura Boulevard, with its quaint, small villages, broken up by peaceful countryside, where mighty skyscrapers stand today. Then up Topanga Canyon Boulevard, not much of a parkway back then, just a two-lane country road lined with pastures and grazing livestock, chiseled into the foothills at the west end of the basin--at present, an unstoppable city of concrete. The directions my aunt had given us were rather vague. All she had said was that we were to turn off on the first dirt road we came to after Topanga Canyon Boulevard turned into The Santa Susana Pass. It was our very first time on that steep and narrow, winding route--though it would not be our last--and after a few worrisome moments, we were there. No sign; no nothing. Just a deserted, sandy path, it seemed--stitched, almost evenly on both sides, with sparse, wind-whipped weeds and rusted barbed-wire.
Once inside the ranch proper, and without any further directions from my aunt, we had absolutely no idea where we were supposed to go. We felt quite lucky to see an old pickup with a man working beside it. After telling him we were looking for the movie set, he asked, "Which one?" It seems that there were more than just a single movie company shooting on Iverson land that morning. We were more specific, and within minutes we were traversing an area covered with unique and colorful rock formations--Iverson's Garden of the Gods. We wound around a few more blind curves, perfect settings for stagecoach holdups or a good ambush, and finally saw a configuration of vehicles parked behind some old, wooden buildings. This, as it turned out, was the Lower Iverson Western Street. And it was there that my brother and I disembarked on one of the most memorable days in our young lives.
A whistle blew from somewhere. A loud voice yelled, "Quiet!." That stopped us dead in our tracks. It stopped others, too. My Mom was just getting out of the car when a man, one of a few who were close by, shushed her with a finger to his lips. "We're shooting sound," he whispered. "Everyone's got to be reeeel quiet." So we waited--and waited. We could hear nothing. Another loud voice yelled, "Cut! That's a keeper." People began to move again. I grinned to my brother. We were actually on an honest to goodness B-Western movie set.
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