COBWEB CORNERS: Colorado Springs in films

By Mel McFarland

       This time of year there are lots of old movies on TV, but a few of these I watch with interest. These are ones that were filmed around here. One or two are shown regularly on TV. Maybe you have seen them without knowing, or just suspecting they were filmed here.
       The first one I know of is the "Great K&A Train Robbery." It is a silent movie from right at the end of that era. It was filmed in the canyon of the Royal Gorge and starred Tom Mix. The film is a classic railroad Western.
       It does not take much watching to see one of the 20 or more that have been filmed in the Durango area, such as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
       One of the best known local movies is "The Incident," which was filmed 15 years ago in Old Colorado City as well as downtown. Many of the scenes were shot at the Pioneers Museum. The court rooms, offices, hallways and elevator were used very creatively. In some of the scenes, the employees even show up as extras. Rock Ledge Ranch, Fairview Cemetery and the old Alexander Film Works were also featured.
       The museum is also used for a movie called "Switchback." It is interesting that the name Colorado Springs does not appear in the credits. It seems that the movie has been retitled several times, and somewhere along the line they forgot where some key scenes were done. The museum is shown clearly on the outside, but the interiors were done in Hollywood. The building is supposedly in Amarillo, Texas! Most of the second half of the film was shot near Leadville.
       Some 30 years ago, a film called "The Lawyer" used several locations in downtown, including the brand-new, then-unfinished library. Several buildings near the old Chief Theater were also used. These were torn down not long afterward. Several locations were used near Calhan. The film was used as a pilot for a television series, but the location was changed to Arizona.
       The last one is a Korean War film that was done 50 years ago at then-Camp Carson. It starred Robert Mitchum and was titled "One Minute To Zero." A few scenes were filmed at the airport, but most were in an area just off 115. The Army maintained the little village and regularly used it for training about Korea, and later refinished it to be a Vietnamese village. They did a good job of not showing Pikes Peak, but Cheyenne Mountain was shown several times.
       Then there was the movie, "The Cowboys," one of the many filmed near Canon City.