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SCV In the Movies | Episode 40: Canyon Hawks

Uploaded 04/11/2014

Episode 40: Canyon Hawks

Stuntman Yakima Canutt stars in the 1930 talkie, “Canyon Hawks,” from National Players/Big 4 Film.

Both of those facts are usual – Yak having a starring role, much less in a talkie. He’s far better known for his prowess as a stunt coordinator and second unit director, from the 1930s to the 1970s. With his gravelly voice, he really didn’t make the transition to talkies as an actor – although he did appear as the villain in a series of 1933-35 Westerns starring John Wayne and shot in Placerita Canyon.

“Canyon Hawks” is directed by Alan James and J.P. McGowan, the latter being no stranger to the Santa Clarita Valley. McGowan directed numerous films locally, particularly in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

As for this film, it’s said to have been shot partly in Santa Clarita’s “Mystery Canyon,” which we have to presume is the canyon below the often-filmed Mystery Mesa off of Vasquez Canyon road in Saugus.

Another “SCV regular” to appear in this picture is Cliff Lyons, a stuntman whom Canutt often hired.




E.J. Stephens E.J. Stephens is a noted Hollywood historian, author, lecturer and tour guide. An Indiana native, E.J. has lived for 10 years in the Santa Clarita Valley with his wife Kimi and their two children, Mariah and Dylan.

By day, E.J. can be found in Burbank on the Warner Bros. Studios lot where he is a tour guide and an audience coordinator on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show. When not giving tours at the studio, E.J. and Kimi host tours of their own for their Newhall-based company, Newhallywood Tours.

Early Warner Bros. Book E.J. has co-written four books on subjects ranging from the history of Warner Bros. and Paramount to Griffith Park and the Santa Clarita Valley (the latter with Kimi and Dr. Alan Pollack). The trio is currently working on another SCV history book titled “Then & Now: The Santa Clarita Valley,” scheduled to hit the shelves in early 2014.


Bill West Bill West is a movie nut who serves on the board of Friends of Hart Park, gives tours of the Hart Mansion and maintains the Friends’ website.

In his spare time, Bill writes software for Walt Disney Imagineering, where he has contributed to Star Tours, Toy Story Midway Mania, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and other attractions. Previously, he wrote software at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Bill and Liliana Bill enjoys lounge music and he plays the drums for pickup bands. He lives in Santa Clarita with his Realtor (his wife Liliana) and their son Josh. Pets include Maya the Mutt, Luigi the Canary, and a cat whose name he can’t pronounce but is Polish for “kitty.”

(c)2014 SCVTV
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