MOUNTAIN AND THE MOVIES: A lot of people might assume that when a Hollywood Western went on location in the early days of the business, that meant Simi Valley or Chatsworth. And that is correct; a lot of movies were made in that area, but it wasn't the only hill-backed getaway that served as a de facto Hollywood backlot. There was also Lone Pine, which isn't nearly as close to Tinseltown as Chatsworth and Simi Valley, but it does have something rather notable: Mount Whitney. Well, Mount Whitney is in the distance, anyway, as are the beautiful jagged Sierra Nevada mountains and the low, rock-strewn Alabama Hills. It was a setting that was at once both ideal and unusual for Westerns, and for lots of other movies, too; "Iron Man" shot in the area only a few years back. So the fact that there is an excellent film museum in town doesn't surprise. Nor does the fact that Lone Pine throws a three-day-long film festival each year, as it will again from Oct. 5-7, 2012.
ON THE DOCKET: Paramount Studios will receive a special spotlight during the fest; the festival site says that the studio made over forty films in the Owens Valley area, so bet those will be a centerpiece of some sort. Visits to film locations are in the mix. And special appearances and Western-cool live music is also part of the deal. And if you haven't visited the Lone Pine Film History Museum, and you are a Western fan, seriously, this alone is worth the road trip. It's a really interesting place, and has some non-Western artifacts, too; yep, we love the giant sand worm model from "Tremors," which was shot in the area. In fact, we love all of Lone Pine, one of the coolest towns in California.