The Idyllwild Area Historical Society is currently featuring an exhibit chronicling the Idyllwild area’s history as a film, television and video location site. As part of the exhibit, old movie equipment is on display, loaned by Frazier Drake and Don Zeigler.
Photo by Marshall Smith

Lynnda Hart and Suzy Bowman of the Idyllwild Area Historical Society have mounted an impressive exhibit of the Hill’s history as a location for feature films, short films, videos and television shows.

The exhibit will run as a complement to the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema that runs through Sunday, Jan. 15, and will continue indefinitely during regular museum days and hours after the festival closes. 

During IIFC, the museum is open every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. “What I wanted to do with the film festival was to coordinate Idyllwild’s history as a film location,” said Hart. “We wanted to let visitors and the town know that we have a varied history, and one that includes having movies made on the Hill for many years.”

As part of the exhibit, there is a book detailing the more than 100 movies written and/or filmed wholly or partially in the Idyllwild area beginning in 1914 when Cecil B. DeMille filmed cattle on the “open range” at the H.J. Ranch between Keen Camp and Garner Valley for his silent film, “The Squaw Man.” 

Elvis is in the house, at least on display at the Idyllwild Area Historical Society Museum during the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema this week. This is part of a historical display on movies filmed in Idyllwild.
Photo by Marshall Smith

A number of Westerns have been filmed at Garner Ranch in Garner Valley, including “Guns and Guitars” (1936), “Heading for the Range” (1936), “Springtime in the Rockies” (1937), “Brothers in the Saddle” (1949), “Riders of the Range” (1949) and “Storm Over Wyoming” (1950). Garner Ranch also stood in for exteriors of the hit TV show “Bonanza” starring Lorne Greene. 

Idyllwild was used for the biker funeral scene from the 1966 film “The Wild Angels” and featured the exterior of Silver Pines Lodge, renamed for the film the “Hillbilly Lodge.”

Also noted in the exhibit are the many writers and film luminaries who have had homes here, including Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester, Raymond Chandler, Lucille Ball, Doris Day, Marjorie Main and Dinah Shore. 

There is a large photo spread of Elvis Presley (yes, Elvis is in the house), since his 1962 musical “Kid Galahad” was filmed on location here and used locals as extras.

There is a visual nod to Herb Jeffries, longtime and much-loved Idyllwild celebrity, and his movies, including “The Bronze Buckaroo.” 

And finally, there is a hat-tip to Stephen Savage, who has used Idyllwild as a location for a number of his feature films including “Vertical,” “Cosmic Radio” and “Legacy,” and created IIFC to further promote his hometown.