The Movies of Beale's Cut


This is Beale's Cut (from "Stagecoach", 1939)

This is not Beale's Cut (from "Cowboy Serenade", 1942). Notice how the approaches to this cut are almost horizontal.


Beale's Cut (also called Fremont Pass, San Fernando Pass, and the Newhall Pass) was a popular movie location for many years. I have tried to obtain a copy of every movie that the cut was reported to be in. I used the internet and location books to collect the names of the movies and came up with the 37 movies in the below table. Of the 37 movies, I was able to obtain 30 of them (see the movie sources at the bottom of the page). The others are unfortunately presumed lost. Of the 30 that I was able to view, 18 used Beale's Cut and 12 did not. Movies that used the cut, but were partly animated (The Devil Horse) were counted as using the cut. Lost movies where there was some document, like a magazine article, that mentioned the cut as a location, I counted as using the cut.

The final count was out of 37 movies, 24 used the cut, 12 didn't, and 1 is unknown. I suspect that many more movies used Beale's Cut, but finding them will be difficult.

To show how each movie used, or didn't use, Beale's Cut, I have created short film clips and stills from all of the movies that I have. Note: the clips are MP4 (MPEG-4) files. You must have a viewer for these files. Real Player or Windows Media Player should work.

I have also created a separate webpage for Three Jumps Ahead due to its almost legendary status.

Links to sites and books containing information about Beale's Cut and the movies:

Selected Filmography: Beale's Cut
Visiting the Movie Sites - Beales's Cut
Movie Trivia from Beale's Cut
Beale's Cut
Western Movie Making Locations, Volume 1, Southern California, by Jerry Schneider is available on amazon.com


Table of Movies That Were Alleged to Have Used Beale's Cut

(Movies with light green background contain the cut. Movies with light red background do not. The other movies may, or may not, use the cut.)

Title Date Studio Director Main Cast Remarks MP4 Film clip
Broken Ways 1913 Biograph Company D.W. Griffith Henry B. Walthall, Blanch Sweet, Harry Carey Silent 17 min short. Earliest known (by me) movie using Beale's Cut. Clip
Twisted Trails 1916 Selig Polyscope Tom Mix Tom Mix, Frank Clard, Eugenia Besserer Silent 41 minutes Clip
Straight Shooting 1917 Universal Jack (John) Ford Harry Carey, Duke Lee, George Berrell Silent, Ford's first feature picture Clip 1, Clip 2
The Lion's Lair 1917 Universal William B. Pearson Fred Church, Eileen Sedgwick, T.D. Crittenden Lost silent. Photo of cut with Fred Church in Moving Picture Weekly of September 8, 1917 and Motography of August 11, 1917. Moving Picture Weekly, Motography
The Iron Test 1918 Vitagraph Co Robert N. Bradbury, Paul Hurst Antonio Morena, Carol Holloway, Barney Furey Lost silent. 15-chapter serial. In Episode 11, The Red Mask's Prey, the cut is used. How, is explained in Motion Picture News of December 21, 1918. See here for the article.
Hell Bent 1918 Universal Jack (John) Ford Harry Carey, Duke Lee, Neva Gerber Silent; Aka The Three Bad Men; Only print from the Czech Film Archives Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3
A Fight for Millions 1918 Vitagraph Co. William Duncan William Duncan, Edith Johnson (Duncan's real wife at that time), Joe Ryan Lost silent. 15-chapter serial. In episode 5, The Path of Thrills, has a leap on horseback across a chasm (Cambridge Mass. Tribune, 6/17/1918). That chasm might have been Beale's Cut. Movie lost
The Man of Might 1919 Vitagraph Co William Duncan William Duncan, Edith Johnson, Joe Ryan Lost silent. 15-chapter serial. Episode 2 (The Leap Through Space) ended with the car in the middle of the jump over a chasm where the bridge had just been blown up by the bad guys. Episode 3 (The Creeping Death) began with the jump being completed. That chasm was Beale's Cut. In Photoplay magazine of February, 1922, Duncan explains how the auto jump was done. There are also two stills showing the cut being used (see below). See here for the Photoplay story.
Desert Love 1920 Fox Film Corp. Jacques Jaccard Tom Mix, Francelia Billington, Eva Novak Lost silent. However, I found an ad (from the Sullivan Indiana Daily Times of 6-28-1920) saying that the Fremont Pass was used. Since this is Tom Mix film and he used the cut in other movies, I believe that he did use it here. See here for the ad.
The Sky Pilot 1921 First National Pictures King Vidor John Bowers, Colleen Moore, David Butler Silent. See here for more info on this film. Clip
The Paleface 1922 Buster Keaton Productions Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts Silent comedy Clip
Three Jumps Ahead 1923 Fox Film Corp John Ford Tom Mix, Alma Bennett, Edward Peil, Francis Ford Silent presumed lost, although some think that a print might exist in the Czech film archives. I don't think that there is any doubt that a rider jumped over the cut. There is just some doubt who that rider was. Movie lost
Uncensored Movies 1923 Pathe Exchange, Inc Roy Clements Will Rodgers, Ena Gregory, Earl Mohan This movie spoofs, among others, Mix and the Three Jumps Ahead leap Clip
The Iron Horse 1924 Fox Film Corp John Ford George O'Brien, Madge Bellamy, Charles Bull Silent. Made O'Brien a star Clip
Seven Chances 1925 Buster Keaton Productions Buster Keaton Buster Keaton, T. Roy Barnes, Snitz Edwards Silent comedy. Buster had to get married to receive a fortune and so was chased by seemingly every single female in town. Clip
Pioneers of the West 1927 William Mix Productions Marcel Perez Dick Carter, Dorothy Earle, Olin Francis Silent Western Clip
The Swift Shadow 1927 FBO Pictures Jerome Storm Ranger the dog, Lorraine Eason, William Bertram Lost silent. How the cut is used is not explained in The Film Daily of October 11, 1927. See here for the article.
Tide of Empire 1929 MGM Allan Dwan Renee Adoree, George Duryea Silent. No Beale's Cut. Clip
The Apache Kid's Escape 1930 RJ Horner Robert J Horner Jack Perrin, Fred Church, Josephine Hill The approach up to the cut is shown and just a very small section of the entrance Clip
The Devil Horse 1932 Mascot Otto Brower Harry Carey, Noah Beery, Frankie Darro 12-chapter serial. Animated horse and rider jump Beale's Cut. Clip 1, Clip 2
Come On, Danger 1932 C&C Television Co Robert F Hill Tom Keene, Julie Haydon, Roscoe Ates No Beale's Cut, but the Towsley Canyon narrows was probably used. Clip
Via Pony Express 1933 Majestic Pictures Lewis B. Collins Jack Hoxie, Lane Chandler, Marceline Day Jack gets strung up in the cut Clip
Rainbow Valley 1935 Monogram Robert N Bradbury John Wayne, George "Gabby" Hayes No Beale's Cut Clip
Trailin' West 1936 Warner Brothers Noel M. Smith Dick Foran, Paula Stone, Bill Elliot Singing cowboy Foran. Horse walks across log over cut Clip
Santa Fe Bound 1936 Reliable Pictures Harry S Webb Tom Tyler, Jeanne Martel, Richard Cramer No Beale's Cut Clip
The Fighting Devil Dogs 1938 Republic English and Witney Lee Powell, Herman Brix, Eleanor Stewart 12-part serial. Motorcycle jumps over cut, but not Beale's Cut Clip
The Last Stand 1938 Universal Joseph H. Lewis Bob Baker, Constance Moore, Fuzzy Knight Singing cowboy Baker Clip
Stagecoach 1939 United Artists John Ford Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Andy Devine Finally, a stagecoach that actually is driven through the cut Clip
Adventures of Red Ryder 1940 Republic Pictures John English and William Witney Don Barry, Noah Beery, Tommy Cook 12-chapter serial. No Beale's Cut. Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3
Cowboy Serenade 1942 Republic Pictures William Morgan Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette No Beale's Cut Clip
Shut My Big Mouth 1942 Columbia Pictures Charles Barton Joe E. Brown, Adele Mara, Victor Jory No Beale's Cut Clip
The Phantom 1943 Columbia Pictures B. Reeves Eason Tom Tyler, Jeanne Bates, Ernie Adams 15-chapter serial. In Stagecoach, Tyler was Luke Plummer. He was killed by John Wayne final showdown Clip
Bells of San Fernando 1947 Screen Guild Productions Terry Morse Donald Woods, Gloria Warren, Byron Foulger The Cut is the only way in, or out of, the valley Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3
The Man From Texas 1948 Eagle-Lion Leigh Jason James Craig, Lynn Bari No Beale's Cut Clip
The Bold Frontiersman 1948 Republic Phillip Ford Allan Kane, Black Jack, Eddy Waller No Beale's Cut Clip
Laramie 1949 Columbia Pictures Ray Nazarro Charles Starrett, Fred Sears, Tommy Ivo They actually stole the Indian chase scene, including the stage through Beale's Cut, from Stagecoach! Clip
Thunder in God's Country 1951 Republic George Blair Rex Allen, Mary Ellen Kay, Buddy Ebsen No Beale's Cut. In fact, they use two different non-Beale's cuts Clip


Stills (if available) from the Movies


Broken Ways (1913) - Earliest known (by me) use of Beale's Cut



Twisted Trails (1916) - Tom Mix is being chased by a posse (who are actually the bad guys) and comes to the edge of Beale's Cut which has a board extended over it (for some unknown reason). Tom rides rides over the cut on the board. This looks like a real stunt. Mix once said that to keep a horse going straight, you have have to make him go fast, so I suspect he crossed over at a pretty good pace.

Twisted Trails - Tom is tying a rope to the board and then to his horse to pull the board over the edge so that the posse can't follow him. The board must be about two feet wide based on how Tom is straddling it.



Straight Shooting (1917) - the gang of outlaws

Straight Shooting - Harry Carey riding up the cut



The Lion's Lair (1917) - Fred Church



Iron Test (1918) - Lobby card



Hell Bent (1918) - Harry Carey

Hell Bent (NFA = Narodni Filmovy Archiv = The National Film Archive in Prague)



A Fight for Millions (1918) - Lost silent film serial


From the Trenton (New Jersey) Evening News of July 12, 1918

From the Chester (Pennsylvania) Times of July 18, 1918

From the La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune and Leader Press of January 23, 1919



From the Abilene (Texas) Semi-Weekly Reporter of June 6, 1919. Was the auto jump over Fremont Pass (which wasn't called Beale's Cut at that time) "absolutely genuine"? Yes. William Duncan wrote an article in Photoplay magazine of February 1922, explaining how it was done. He also wrote another article in Pantomime magazine of March 11, 1922, with a shorter version.

Photo showing the jump being filmed. From the Motion Picture News of November 16, 1918.

Still from movie with car in mid-flight. From the Motion Picture News of January 19, 1919.

A car was also pushed into the cut in an episode. From the Moving Picture World of December 28, 1918.



Desert Love (1920) - Tom Mix swings across the Fremont Pass (not shown in any ad). bottom of the cut.

Francelia Billington at the left next to Tom Mix, Eva Novak at the far right.

Sky Pilot (1921) - horse and rider crossing the bridge over the cut. Note the fake raging water at the bottom of the cut.

Sky Pilot - a shot has been fired scaring the horse causing it to plunge into the water below. A fake horse and rider are doing the fall off the bridge.



The Paleface (1922) - the Indian on the left is chasing Buster Keaton on the right



Same bridge that was used in The Paleface, but the scene (with a car) is not from that movie. This is evidently from a different, unknown, movie, or possibly a sceen from The Paleface that was not used.



Three Jumps Ahead (1923) - These might be the only two stills from this movie. They were probably in some sort of movie magazine. See here for my page on Three Jumps Ahead.



Uncensored Movies (1923) - an animated horse and rider jump over a very wide canyon. There was only one loop. I have seen as many as four loops reported. This was a spoof of Tom Mix by his friend Will Rodgers.



Iron Horse (1924) - the first view of the cut near the beginning of the movie. This is a glass shot where the cut was painted on glass and placed in front of the camera.

Iron Horse - the hero on the left (George O'Brien) tying a rope to the bush so that he can climb down the cliff. The villian on the right (Cyril Chadwick) will cut the rope. The cut is suppose to be a shortcut for the railroad that is being built. Again, the snow is a glass shot. It was painted on glass and placed in front of the camera.

Iron Horse - O'Brien (or stuntman) lowering himself with the rope down the smooth face of Beale's Cut just as the rope is cut.



Seven Chances (1925) - after sliding down the left side, Buster Keaton runs up the other side. All the potential brides are coming through the cut. They have been chasing him because to inherit 7 million dollars he has to get married later that day. He is actually running to his girlfriend's house to get married there.



Pioneers of the West (1927) - Dick Carter saving captured white girl from jumping into Beale's Cut. She had to choose between being the squaw of the Indian chief or the evil white renegade. She chose death.



The Swift Shadow (1927) lobby card.



Tide of Empire (1929) - not Beale's Cut, although a nice night jump, although the cut looks a little fake.



The Apache Kid's Escapes (1930) - Here Jack Perrin as the Apache Kid is riding down the approach to Beale's Cut. Just a small portion of the cut at one of the entrances is shown (see clip).



A Holy Terror (1931) - Although not on anyone's list of Beale's Cut movies, this one certainly could have been. Here is George O'Brien (probably his stunt double) jumping over a gap similar to Beale's Cut.



The Devil Horse (1932) - the devil horse (called El Diablo in the movie) must jump Beale's Cut. This is obviously animated in the film. Only the boy is on the horse for this jump.

The Devil Horse - later in the movie, the boy and Harry Carey must jump the cut. They can't make it, but there is water down below to save them.



Come On, Danger (1932) - this is not Beale's Cut. It looks more like the Narrows in Towsley Canyon.



Via Pony Express (1933) - Jack Hoxie riding through the cut. Men on both sides ready to toss their ropes.

Via Pony Express - they roped him from both sides and are pulling the ropes to raise him up and will leave him dangling in the cut.



Rainbow Valley (1935) - This is obviously not Beale's Cut



Trailin' West (1936) - Dick Foran is being chased and comes to the cut with a large log spanning it. Or is that a bridge with some branches sticking out to make it look like a log? It has an unnatural concave curve to it. This sceen is very similar to the one in Twisted Trails.



Santa Fe Bound (1936) - Not Beale's Cut



The Fighting Devil Dogs (1938) - Lee Powell is jumping over this cut with his motorcycle. This is definitely not Beale's Cut.



The Last Stand (1938) - riding into the cut

The Last Stand - that's Glenn Strange on the left and Bob Baker on the right. You may remember Strange as Sam the bartender on Gunsmoke, but he also had a long career in the movies. He actually played Frankenstein's monster for a few movies after Boris Karloff.



Stagecoach (1939) - classic John Wayne with great cast



The Adventures of Red Ryder (1940) - this is not Beale's Cut. This could be the same gorge as was in the Fighting Devil Dogs.



Cowboy Serenade (1942) - again, not Beale's Cut



Shut My Big Mouth (1942) - this is not Beale's Cut that Joe E. Brown is walking through. Joe E. Brown was quite a popular comedian in his day



The Phantom (1943) - After setting up dynamite in the pass, the bad guys are getting the plunger ready. Note in the background the "tower" geological structure in the top right middle and the road above Elsmere ridge on the top left. On the other side is Elsmere Canyon. This is a view toward the northeast.

The Phantom - the expedition is entering the pass. They will soon have to turn around and run for their lives after the Phantom warns them about the impending blast.



The Bells of San Fernando (1947) - Escaping from the valley up the Cut.

The Bells of San Fernando - Escaping from the valley down the Cut.



Man From Texas (1948) - not Beale's Cut (two horseman jumping this time)



The Bold Frontiersman (1948) - seen this before, but it's not Beale's Cut



Laramie (1949) - they stole the whole Indians chasing stagecoach sequence, including the stage riding through Beale's Cut, right from Stagecoach!



Thunder in God's Country (1951) - still not Beale's Cut, in fact it looks like the same scene from Cowboy Serenade. And then they use a different cut (see video) probably stolen from another film.


Sources for Movies:

johnnysrareserials.com - many of the B westerns were purchased here
LovingTheClassics.com
SinisterCinema.com
amazon.com
MoviesUnlimited.com
SilentFilmsOnDvd.co.uk
grapevinevideo.com