2003 2003

Home movies, guests and fun at the ranch

badgerhouse.jpgLone Pine, California December 31, 2003: The images danced a bit, not because the people were having fun in the snow, but because the sprockets of the old 35 mm nitrate film were brittle, the film a bit shrunken. Jere Guldin of the UCLA Film Archive was leaning in over my shoulder getting joy from the images that he had worked so laboriously to retrieve from the reels of deteriorating film.

Next to me sat David Stenn, author of biographies on Jean Harlow and Clara Bow, through whose persistence what we were viewing was retrieved from the masses of film. He would exclaim, "That's Leatrice Joy in that group! Her hair is shorter."

There was no order to the clips on the reel. The film hummed a bit as it wound itself around through the large console before us to produce the small image we strained to see. At one point a group of Mr. Badger's guests were up in the snow, at the edge of the Sierra where the pinion start to hug the rough landscape. Snowballs flew and it was clear these refugees from Hollywood were having a rare experience in the snow. Another sequence showed the cars (David Stenn thought they dated from 1924 or 1925) parked by the main lodge. Now surrounded by trees, the building rested out on those empty foothills, exposed to the harsh desert winds. A negative labeled "Woman In a Hat" showed a woman in what appeared a Mexican hat by Lone Pine Creek, the creek just below full flood stage.

Faces, we can only assume Badger family faces, would reappear. The woman in the hat had the look of either Mr. or Mrs. Badger's mother, but at this time we are unsure. There was a baby, and a young boy who seemed be older in some of the clips. Sadly, we have no program by which to tell the players. The clips are often short, occasionally damaged by decomposition. Clarence Badger seldom appears so we have to assume he was behind the camera. Obscure titles appear as if a professionally produced film, but their meaning is not obvious. One can imagine the people in the films sitting around, laughing at their meaning. Today we are merely puzzled. You had to be there to understand it and see the humor.

The films are wonderful, if tantalizingly short and rough. In terms of similar home movies, Guldin explained you had to go to the William Randolph Hearst home movies a couple of years later to see anything like them. Silent film stars were on vacation here in Lone Pine.

For Lone Pine these films provide a unique and rare view into one aspect of the history of the town. Clarence Badger building his ranch here, definitely made the town familiar to the "cream" of Hollywood society The movies have partially shaped the character of Lone Pine.

A few clips may lurk still in the massive amounts of film in the cache turned over to UCLA. The labels on the cans turned out often to be misleading. It is surmised that Badger left the film behind when he sold the property to Lesley and Irene Cuffe and immigrated to Australia. Apparently as the film decayed, often at different rates in different cans, Cuffe would dispose of the contents and use the can for his own project, which was Mysteries of the Universe. From his own family photo album we have pictures labeled 1926 where he is at the Wilson Observatory working on the documentary. It was made into many half hour parts to be shown at theatres. Though Cuffe was Badger's camera technician and projectionist, he also at times in his career ran movie theaters, one at Lake Arrowhead and, before his death, one in Lone Pine.

badgeraircraft.jpgIt was because of David Stenn's persistence that the clips were uncovered. The archivists at UCLA were excited about the can labeled Red Hair, but when it turned out to be Mysteries of the Universe, their attention went to other projects. Stenn admits that his search for the missing Clara Bow film Red Hair (1928) has been a personal search for his "Holy Grail." Finally the test color scenes for Red Hair were actually discovered on another reel. Then a whole reel of another lost Bow film Three Week Ends (1928) was also uncovered. It was, however, in very bad decay and after tedious and dedicated work, Guldun was able to salvage about a minute and one half.

Stenn arranged to have the Bow pictures preserved at his own expense. He used the royalties from his Bow biography Running Wild to pay for this work. A successful scriptwriter for hit shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Hill Street Blues, he lives on his television work. He explained, "Without the Bow films, all his research and writing on film history is pointless."

The film clips are wonderful and it is obvious why Clara Bow became the first sexy mega star in the 1920's. The pieces that remain appear to be extended shots rather than edited scenes from the finished film. With the color section that began Red Hair, the clapboard shows and then the actress becomes the on screen persona Clara Bow, the "It" girl. Badger must order "Cut!" from off screen for Bow then relaxes back to a human being from her on screen siren role. Other scenes also preserved would have been tinted blue and yellow, but the Archive has not finished this process of restoration. Why Badger had unedited sections up at the ranch is a mystery unless he was working on editing the film there. We may never know. The clips were shown in Italy at a silent film festival and in L.A. at the Cinecon Festival in September to rave reviews from the film buff audience.

It is so very little. Perhaps much more had existed stored in that pump house in Lone Pine where the films were recovered. Stenn has adopted a healthy attitude. "You can't focus on what you have lost, but what you have found. And who knows where more of this film, one of the 'missing' films most sought after by film historians might still show up." Stenn told a story of his based on a report by a man who said he had been shown a copy by his college film professor. After ten years, Stenn finally found the professor in Louisiana. The man told him he had a list of all the films he had seen during his career and he had never shown Red Hair to a class or seen it himself. Apparently the story was fabricated for attention. Then Stenn told a similar story except this time the search ended in the recovery of another minor Bow film, The Primrose Path (1925), which Stenn was having preserved.

This story ends with a simple bottom line. The Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History has begun raising the funds to have the Badger Lone Pine home movies preserved. The process is measured by the foot and the price tag will be a hefty $5500. If we don't act quickly, a piece of Lone Pine's film history that we could have saved will be lost forever.

You will be hearing much more about our efforts to raise the money to save the film. If you are interested in saving Lone Pine's film history, won't you donate to the fund or call about how you can help in the fundraising process.

Chris Langley, Executive Director

Rogers-Evans riders in Rose Parade represent

December 31, 2003

The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum Riders will be representing the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History in this year's Rose parade. In the past, the riders have represented their namesakes museum in Victorville. When that museum closed and moved to Branson. Missouri, Cheryl Rogers Barnett, daughter of Roy and Dale, a long time attendee at the annual Lone Pine Film Festival and Board member of our museum, decided to continue riding and from now on to represent the Lone Pine Film History Museum.

Dorothy Bonnefin, Festival Director and Museum Board member, stated "We are excited about it. The telecast goes all over the world. The Riders are pegged to be entry 60, a little over the half way mark and scheduled to ride directly behind the mayor of Pasadena. Besides Cheryl and her husband Larry, Jim and Beverly Rogers of Sunbelt Communications have been pivotal in the project. There are sixteen riders scheduled to be in the equestrian ensemble. "It's hard to get in that parade," Bonnefin said. "It's very hard to even be included in it!"

Intense research on Silent period turns up more than 20 new silent films made in LP

By Chris Langley, Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History

November 11, 2003:

art-acord.jpgThe Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History has known for a long time that our list of silent films with scenes made in Lone Pine was very incomplete. Recently, Museum Executive Director Chris Langley has been focusing his research on filling in the missing film titles with good success. Nancy Masters, Inyo County Librarian has helped him use the microfilm records of the Lone Pine newspaper published from 1924 to 1931. It was called The Mt. Whitney Observer, and although the first two years are incomplete most the last part of 926 on is very complete. The local newspaper often reported when film companies were filming in Lone Pine, often with in depth coverage of how the film crews "interacted" with the town. The only challenge has been to trace from the working title to the film's actual release title.    
While still a project in progress the following films have definitely been identifies as Lone Pine films.

Clearing the Trail Hoot Gibson
The Silent Rider 1928 Hoot Gibson
The Sunset Trail 1924 William Desmond
The Western Rover 1927 Art Accord
The Man in the Raw 19-- Jack Hoxie
Brass Commandments 1923 William Farnum
The Clean-Up Man 1928 Ted Wells
The Border Cavalier 1927 Fred Humes
Chasing trouble 1926 Pete Mirrison
The Enchanted Hill 1926 Jack Holt
The Brute 1927 Monte Blue
Overland Red ____ William Desmond (wrking title of The Sunset Trail?)
Bad Lands 1925 Harry Carey
The Salt Lake Trail 1926 George Kesterton
Gun Gospel 1927 Ken Maynard
Swiss Movements 1927 Jimmie Admans
Splitting the Breeze 1927 Tom Tyler
Whistling Jim 1925 Big Boy Guinn Williams
Taking Chances 1925 Fred Humes
The Gold Trap1925 Fred Humes
The Square Shooter 1927 Fred Gilman
The Stolen Ranch 1926 Fred Humes

We have not identified any existing copies of any of these films yet. If anyone can help in this regard, please contact us.

Museum/Festival to cosponsor Owen Badgett documentary

December 14, 2003:

The Lone Pine Film Festival and the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History have agreed to work with Linda Lou Crosby to produce a one hour documentary on cowboy poet Owen Badgett. The Museum/Festival will be an umbrella nonprofit organization to help the production company procure grants and other financial aid for the project. The film will be titled "Owen Badgett: The Gypsy Cowman."

In part, the project description reads, "This is a proposal for a one-hour documentary telling the tale of a cowboy poet who lives and works on a ranch in Eastern Montana. Like his father before him, Owen calls himself a 'Gypsy Cowman.' A gypsy cowman is one who runs his herd of cattle on land he does not own."

The proposal continues, "To celebrate life as he knows it, Owen has written and self-published three books of his poetry and stories, which have been enjoyed by many across the country. Owen has appeared at a number of cowboy poetry gatherings, including the 'Granddaddy of them all' Elko, Nevada; Lewiston, Montana; Salinas; Ridgecrest; and Lone Pine, California (appearing during the Lone Pine Film Festival)."

While the Museum/Film Festival will not provide funding, Chris Langley, Inyo County Film Commission will provide services to the company when they film in and around Lone Pine and in the Alabama Hills. The Festival will also screen the final film at this or next year's fall classic

Additional information can be reached at Linda Lou Crosby at 760-377-5001, or Chris Langley at 760-937-1189 or by emailing through this website.

Rand Brooks: The Playful Gentleman has had his last waltz

Getting the celebrity guests to where they belong on time at the Film festivalis the task of the “Star Wrangler.” It often requires the combined talents of a mother, a first grade teacher and a psychologist to keep all the talented yet disparate people on schedule It was one of those busy days at Lo-Inyo School in Lone Pine when everyone was trying to get every lesson covered in an effective way. Schools function on schedules, organization and efficiency. When I found out my classroom was going to be disrupted by a trip to the Lone Pine Airport, I was a little unsettled. So a world-class celebrity was going to stop by. What learning would come of that? I had to admit, however, I was curious.rand brooks.jpg

The day was busy and things were going ok but the Star Wrangler at the Lone Pine Film Festival was feeling tired, a little harried and frustrated. To someone sensitive or perceptive, the telltale droop of the shoulders and wrinkled brow were noticeable. The star came in, took one look and whisked the woman around the room in an elegant waltz, cheering her up and energizing her for the next couple of hours.

With a laugh, a twinkle of the eye and a kind voice, Rand Brooks, a playful gentleman, helped Sandy Langley get everyone where they needed to be..

Rand died on September first of cancer at the age of 84. He will be remembered fondly in Lone Pine where he worked many times in the movies.

Rand was born a Los Angelino and died at his ranch in Santa Inez, where he had retired with his wife Hermine to raise horses following an award winning second career with his company Professional Ambulance Service of Glendale, which he started in 1966.

In films, Rand’s most famous role was as Charles Hamilton, Scarlet O’Hara’s first husband in Gone with the Wind. Here in Lone Pine, we best remember him as Lucky, the eternally-smitten-with-love-at-first-sight sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy in the last 12 of the film series.

Rand broke into movies in an uncredited role in Love Finds Andy Hardy in 1938.

He made it to Lone Pine in the second of his Hoppy films, The Devil’s Playground (1946) as the famous Lucky Jenkins. The film is being shown Friday October 10th, 10:00 am at the High School Auditorium and you can see for yourself if it was the Lucky role that Rand was talking about when referring to the struggle to overcome his GWTW character.

“Charlie didn’t help my career. It hurt it. At the time it was such an asinine role. He was so in love it was sickening. I got typecast that way.”

Other Hoppy films made in Lone Pine with Rand include: Unexpected Guest (1947), Dangerous Venture (1947), Silent Conflict (1948), The Dead Don’t Dream (1948), Borrowed Trouble (1948), False Paradise (1948), and Strange Gamble (1948).

Rand was back in Lone Pine in 1949, starring with Roddy McDowell in the classic horse story Black Midnight. Again, in 1953, he played John Grant in Born to the Saddle with Chuck Courtney and then again in Comanche Station (1960) playing the Station Man with lead Randolph Scott.

Rand was present in Lone Pine for a first in television history, the first color episode of The Lone Ranger series. He played Al Sommers in an episode called “The Wooden Gun” about a boy and a wooden rifle and some real rifles.

Rand television credits are long and range from various western series like The Roy Rogers Show, Adventures of Wild Bill Hickock to Perry Mason and Adam 12. While he did seem to resent the romantic stero-type he was cast into, Rand did get to give Marilyn Monroe her first screen kiss in Ladies of the Chorus (1948).

Rand’s playful nature was always on view to anyone who knew him here in Lone Pine. Friendly, outgoing yet gentle, Rand was the perfect gentleman at the Hopalong celebration, both at the dinner at Ruiz Hill and later at the screening of the movie not far from Cooper Rock. However, he began to realize that he was getting a little too old still to be tromping around the Alabamas.

Rand began his ambulance service with two used ambulances and a credit card, but the company grew to the largest private ambulance 9-1-1 paramedic provider in Los Angeles County. During his ownership the ambulance service won several awards, commendations and was considered one of the best in the country. Rand and his wife Hermine, an executive with the company, sold the company in 1995. They had two children, a daughter and a son, Rand Brooks, Jr.

Lone Pine audiences will remember Rand as Lucky Jenkins, sweet and constantly lovelorn, but those of us who work behind the scenes at the Festival will remember him as a playful gentleman, always ready with positive or kind words of encouragement.

(Chris Langley can be reached at 760-937-1189 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Contact Info

The Museum of Western Film History
701 S. Main Street
Lone Pine, CA 93545