Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
"Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" Ep. 25
Vasquez Rocks | Agua Dulce, California


The penultimate episode of the single-season "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" — Episode 25: "Akbar the Great," which premiered on NBC April 7, 1957 — makes extensive use of Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce and shows a lot of the fort that was built for the show. Most other episodes seem to be filmed primarily on a sound stage, with only a smattering of the fort and the rocks.

The underlying source of this digital copy is a poor-quality print (which we do not have). We've never seen a high-quality print of this television series. Columbia Pictures has never released it on DVD, suggesting that either no high-quality print exists or there is no market for it (or both). It's not exactly what one one call "politically correct" today.

Western character actors Philip Carey ("One Life to Live") and Warren Stevens star in the TV adaptation of 1935's "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" with Gary Cooper and Franchot Tone. It capitalized on the popularity of 1939's "Gunga Din" with Gary Cooper at a time when there was nostalgia for the flagging British Empire, India having just thrown off the colonial yoke in 1947.


Film historian Jerry L. Schneider writes (Schneider 2011:576):

At one time, a fort sat on the property on the level field between the major rock formations and the current 14 Freeway. The fort was built for the television show "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" from Screen Gems, a Columbia Pictures subsidiary, erected at a cost of $117,843.17.

"Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" lasted one season on NBC (26 episodes, 1956-1957) and starred Philip Carey, Warren Stevens and Patrick Whyte.

The fort appeared in many subsequent productions including the "Star Trek" episode "Arena" (air date Jan. 19, 1967) where Captain Kirk (William Shatner) fights the Gorn commander (Sand Canyon resident Bobby Clark).

In the early 1970s the County of Los Angeles removed the fort, which was reportedly made of 2x4's, chicken wire and plaster. It was gone by 1974 ("Blazing Saddles").

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