Monday, October 13, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Dynamite Pass (1950) at the Lone Pine Film Festival

Friday morning was the first full day of the Lone Pine Film Festival. Longtime readers know I've become quite a fan of Tim Holt over the past couple of years, and he's the reason I left our motel room early that day, when it was still dark out!

I made my way to the McDonald's across the street from the high school for a small breakfast, which was a bit more exciting than bargained for due to a brief power outage which hit the entire town! Fortunately the power was restored within a few minutes, and after eating I headed to the high school auditorium for the screening of a Tim Holt film I'd never seen, DYNAMITE PASS (1950).

The films I saw in the high school auditorium were all DVDs shown on a projector, and I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation quality. I was also pleasantly surprised by how many people turned out to watch Tim at 7:00 a.m.! That's the high school campus in the photo at the right.

Although DYNAMITE PASS has been shown on Turner Classic Movies, it's not yet among the Holt films out on DVD from the Warner Archive, so it was especially enjoyable seeing it in this setting.

DYNAMITE PASS is a 61-minute film directed by Lew Landers, whose work I have so enjoyed getting to know over the past couple of years. DYNAMITE PASS had an especially good cast and was a fast-paced film presented with Landers' usual flair. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Tim plays Ross Taylor; he and best pal Chito (Richard Martin) come to the aid of a young woman, Mary (Lynne Roberts), and her husband Dan (Regis Toomey).

Mary and Dan want to build a new road so that local settlers no longer have to deal with nasty Anson Thurber (John Dehner) and his toll road; Anson continually blocks the project, and a despondent Dan has taken to drink. Dehner is always such a good oily villain, small wonder one of his victims hits the bottle!

(Funny side note: In Mary's first scene I thought she was calling Dan "Dad," which is perhaps understandable, as Toomey is a couple dozen years older than Roberts!)

Cleo Moore has a small but flashy role as a blonde who catches the eye of girl-crazy Chito. The supporting cast also includes Robert Shayne, Don Harvey, Denver Pyle, Don Haggerty, and Ross Elliott.

DYNAMITE PASS was filmed by Nicholas Musuraca, who did great work at RKO for many years, notably on OUT OF THE PAST (1947), which was filmed further up Highway 395 in Bridgeport. DYNAMITE PASS filmed extensively in Lone Pine's Alabama Hills, as we shall see below.

As soon as the movie ended, those of us with tour tickets boarded a bus waiting in front of the high school to drive us down Whitney Portal Road to Movie Road and the Alabama Hills. Every seat on the bus was filled!

In a really nice touch, we were each provided with an 18-page booklet of screen captures to help us match up scenes in the movie we'd just watched with the terrain in front of us. This was a really splendid idea which added a lot of fun to the experience.

The bus took us to several different sites in the hills, and I think we must have walked over all of the ground seen in the movie! The tour was due to end at 10:00 a.m., but as it happened we didn't get back to town till 11:00. I don't think anyone minded spending another hour as we were all having a good time.

For those who have seen the film or catch it in the future, here we're on the road where Lynne Roberts drives the covered wagon up to the toll road chain. She drives down this road toward my camera. The boulder in the foreground of the picture was not there when the movie was made; roughly 20 years ago it sheared off a big rock at the side of the road during an earthquake and fell to block the path.

Here we're looking toward the boulder, which is right about where the chain was which Tim Holt shoots down, after which the wagon takes off, coming toward my camera, to get away from the bad guys.

This page of the booklet shows Chito (Richard Martin) and Dan (Regis Toomey) in a shootout with the bad guys; screen captures of the scene include the top right and bottom center. (Click to enlarge for a closer look.)

Here our guide is standing pointing out the rock to us where Martin and Toomey stood in the scene.

If you look closely you can match up the groves in the rocks with those in the booklet photos.

Tim rides away for help in a completely different area of the hills, seen here first in the booklet and then as it is today:

We also saw where other scenes were filmed, including the scene where Chito bandages Tim's arm and where the dynamite explodes. I couldn't help musing what Tim and Richard would think if they could have known that over six decades later people would be so interested in figuring out the precise spots where they'd worked!

During the festival many photos from films are enlarged and placed on stands near the locations they were taken, which is a neat touch. Here, for example, is a scene with Holt and Martin in BORDER TREASURE (1950):

Here's a scene from THE TALL T (1957). See how the rocks match up with the rocks in the far background of the still?

While I was on the DYNAMITE PASS tour, my husband took a three-hour horseback ride through the Alabama Hills which was the highlight of the trip for him.

I'll be sharing more from the festival in the near future, including additional tours and screenings. Stay tuned!

For more on the film DYNAMITE PASS, check out Toby's post of last year at 50 Westerns From the 50s.

For more on the Lone Pine Film Festival, please visit The 25th Lone Pine Film Festival in Review, which includes all links to all of my festival coverage at the end of the post.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love that picture from The Tall T and the fact you could stand on the same spot shown in the still!

12:01 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Vienna! It's really special being able to stand in the places where such special movies were filmed. Many of them, such as THE TALL T, have been so important to many classic film fans so being able to visit the locations is extra-special.

Best wishes,

6:53 PM  
Blogger KC said...

7am is crazy early for a screening! Sounds like it was worth it though. I love how personal this festival feels, with all the guided tours and friendly stars. I'm really enjoying learning about it.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, KC! It ended up being kinda fun waking up to Tim and Chito. :)

The festival really does feel very personal -- my husband was told it probably won't grow beyond its current size as there's a limit to what can be supported in terms of hotel rooms and screening facilities. So anyone interested should sign up right away when tickets go on sale next summer for October 2015! :)

Best wishes,

9:34 PM  

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