Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

For an introduction to this blog and to the obsession a growing number of vintage film and TV fans have with the Iverson Movie Ranch — the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and TV history — please read the site's introductory post, found here.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• I've also begun a YouTube channel for Iverson Movie Ranch clips and other movie location videos, which you can get to by clicking here.
• Here's a link to Garden of the Gods, the best-known section of the Iverson Movie Ranch (featured in the movie "Stagecoach," the "Lone Ranger" TV show and hundreds of other productions).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
• Readers can email the webmaster at

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Joe Iverson's butterflies and big game trophies turn up in "Death by Dialogue"

"Death by Dialogue," a low-budget horror flick that went straight-to-VHS back in 1988, had one of the most intriguing location shoots ever done on the Iverson Movie Ranch.

"Death by Dialogue" (1988) — Inside Joe Iverson's trophy room

The unusual shoot for the movie takes viewers inside the home of Joe Iverson, who oversaw filming on the ranch for more than half a century.

One of Joe Iverson's hunting trophies, in "Death by Dialogue"

Joe ran the Lower Iverson from the 1920s into the 1970s, and for years oversaw both the Lower and Upper ranches. He was an avid big game hunter, and "Death by Dialogue," which features a taxidermist as one of its main characters, works Joe's prize collection of hunting trophies into the storyline.

A character in the movie examines part of Joe Iverson's butterfly collection

A number of Joe Iverson's hobbies turn up in the movie. A man of diverse interests, Iverson turned much of his home into a museum, housing his collections of butterflies, gemstones, rocks and artifacts.

Iverson's hobbies are deeply interwoven into the plot of "Death by Dialogue." The above shot, looking through the horns of one of his hunting trophies, displays part of his extensive collection of precious stones.

Laura Albert is drawn to something in the Joe Iverson collection

Early scenes in "Death by Dialogue" depict the movie's five young protagonists being dazzled by Joe's collection.

And a dazzling collection it is. Here we see a panel highlighted by a variety of blue butterflies.

The blue butterflies are just a small part of a massive collection. Kelly Sullivan, who plays Shelly in the movie, is seen here with a portion of the butterfly display.

The scale of Iverson's collection of hunting trophies, like that of many of his passions, was enormous, although only a fraction of the collection found its way into the movie.

Joe Iverson's rock collection, in "Death by Dialogue"

Joe reportedly owned part of an opal mine in Australia, which was a source of items in his collection of opals, minerals and other precious stones.

Theodore Lehmann as Uncle Ive

In the movie the collection belongs to "Uncle Ive," played by veteran actor Theodore Lehmann. Although Uncle Ive is confined to a wheelchair, the mysterious collector, taxidermist and world traveler has more than a few things in common with Joe Iverson. My personal feeling is that "Uncle Ive" is based in part on Joe Iverson.

Front yard of the Iverson home, in "Death by Dialogue"

In addition to taking viewers on a tour of Joe Iverson's museum, "Death by Dialogue" ventures outside the home for rare shots of rocks, trees and other features of the front yard, many of which remain in place today.

Laura Albert at the pond near the Iverson house

The movie also captures a portion of the pond that once was part of the home's front yard.

Cast members, left to right: Ken Sagoes, Jude Gerard Prest,
Laura Albert, Kelly Sullivan and Lenny Delducca

Several of the main cast members of "Death by Dialogue" went on to successful careers in the entertainment business.

Laura Albert, who plays Linda in the movie, had a series of acting roles before moving into a career as a performance driver, stunt performer and stunt coordinator. She continues to find steady work, with recent stunt credits on "Grey's Anatomy," "Shameless" and a number of other productions.

Ken Sagoes as Lenny in "Death by Dialogue"

Ken Sagoes has worked as an actor, writer and director. Around the time of "Death by Dialogue" he had a run as Darryl on "What's Happening Now" and appearances as Kincaid in some of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies.

Jude Gerard Prest, as Gene

Jude Gerard Prest has focused mainly on producing TV programming in recent years, including a long run as a director and supervising producer on the Saturday-morning nature show "Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin."

"Death by Dialogue" serves as a reminder that filming did not end on the movie ranch when the era of B-Westerns and early TV Westerns ended. After Bob Sherman took over running the ranch in the early 1980s, it remained a working movie ranch for the better part of the next two decades.

Joe Iverson, left, and Bob Sherman, ca. 1983

Joe was no longer around by the time "Death by Dialogue" filmed in the house where he had lived for decades. Before Joe died in 1986, he sold the house to Sherman, along with turning over operation of the movie ranch to Sherman. Sherman maintained both the ranch and Joe's collections into the late 1990s.

"Motorcycle Cheerleading Mammas" (1997)
Directed by Bob Sherman and filmed at Iverson

Sherman, the great-nephew of Joe's second wife, Iva Iverson, had been hanging around the movie ranch off and on since he was a kid. Years after taking over the ranch, he tried his hand at directing with the rarely seen "Motorcycle Cheerleading Mammas."

"Xtro 3: Watch the Skies" (1995) — sci-fi movie filmed on the Iverson Ranch

Meanwhile, the Iverson Ranch, which barely saw any filming in the 1970s, made a bit of a comeback on Sherman's watch in the 1980s and 1990s. However, filming activity during this period has gone largely undocumented.

"Blade Boxer" (1997) — filmed on the Iverson Ranch

The low-budget sci-fi and horror productions, martial arts movies and straight-to-video exploitation flicks filmed on the ranch in the Bob Sherman era continued a tradition of shoestring production at Iverson established decades earlier, when Poverty Row studios flocked to the location ranch to film B-Westerns in the '30s and '40s.

Research into the movie ranch's intriguing and still largely undocumented later years is ongoing. Please comment below or email me ( if you know of any productions filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch from the 1970s on that may have slipped under the radar.

I wouldn't call "Death by Dialogue" Oscar-caliber entertainment by any stretch, but it's a fascinating movie from a location standpoint. The DVD is sold on Amazon, and you can order it by clicking on the image below ...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mulholland and Cahuenga, 1945: Old L.A. roads and bridge surface in the Universal cliffhanger "The Master Key" (Off the Beaten Path)

"The Master Key" (Universal, 1945)

This location looked familiar to me when the shot came up in Chapter 2 of the old serial "The Master Key." The site is just off Cahuenga Boulevard between the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood.

Same location in recent years (Google street view)

The road goes up the hill in both directions: Mulholland Drive in the foregound and Woodrow Wilson Drive in the background. Both roads work their way west through the Hollywood Hills. 

The intersection marks the eastern terminus of Mulholland Drive, and a number of major thoroughfares run through the area. You may want to click on the photo to enlarge it to read the road signs.

Mulholland Drive approaching Cahuenga

Pulling back from the previous shot for another Google street view of the area, this shot includes more of Mulholland Drive in the foreground.

A lamppost can be seen in the background, along with the shadow of a similar fixture in the foreground.

A lamppost is also visible in the same position in the 1945 screen shot.

Here's a better look at the lamppost as it appears today. While it is located in the same spot as the lamppost seen in 1945, this post is a newer design.

"The Master Key"

A closer look at the lamppost in the serial confirms that not only the light fixture, but also the post itself, has been updated since 1945.

Only in Hollywood? A production happened to be filming somewhere up Woodrow Wilson Drive at the same time that Google photographed these images for the street view feature on Google Maps.

The Google page indicates that these photos were taken in January of this year. The defective alignment of the sign is due to the process Google uses to piece together its street view images.

In the serial the action moves south on Mulholland and uphill — toward the camera in this shot — arriving at another intersection about a block south of the first one.

This is the same intersection as it appears today.

The intersection includes a bridge heading east over Cahuenga and the 101, connecting Mulholland Drive with Lakeridge Place on the east side of the freeway.

Here's another view of the west end of the bridge in modern times, this time looking south up Mulholland. You may have noticed that the bridge still features the old-fashioned light fixtures.

"The Master Key" (1945)

A similar shot of the bridge entrance looking south up Mulholland appears in the Universal serial. In the serial this bridge is referred to as the "Garvey Overpass."

"Garvey Overpass" — the Mulholland-Lakeridge Bridge in 1945

Here's a view of the bridge in "The Master Key," taken from Lakeridge Place looking west toward Mulholland. Notice the old lampposts lining both sides of the bridge.

The Mulholland-Lakeridge Bridge as it appears today

A recent Google street view, taken from approximately the same spot, again shows the bridge looking west toward Mulholland Drive. The shot reveals that the old lampposts remain in place today.

In the background of the screen shot from "The Master Key" we can see a wall of rock along Mulholland Drive.

The same steep rock wall is easy to identify today, even though it's partially concealed behind foliage. This shot also provides a good look at one of the old lampposts, at the right.

This shot from "The Master Key" shows the rock wall from another angle. I also want to call your attention to the curves along Mulholland Drive seen in the background.

The same steep rock wall and same curves can be seen in this recent Google shot.

A number of utility poles also turn up both in 1945 and in recent shots.

The utility poles have evolved in the 70-plus years since "The Master Key" was filmed, as one would expect, but I found it surprising that they've changed as little as they have.

"The Master Key"

The cliffhanger ending to Chapter 2 has a car going over the side of the bridge — and the same bridge over Cahuenga and the 101 is used in the shot.

The bridge today (Google street view)

It's not possible to duplicate the angle using a Google street view, but we can get a decent look at the same part of the bridge as it appears today.

Mulholland-Lakeridge Bridge (Bing bird's-eye view)

A bird's-eye view of the bridge in modern times shows that it spans the busy Cahuenga Pass, which connects the San Fernando Valley with downtown L.A.

The bridge and roads are identified here.

A wider bird's-eye view shows the Hollywood Freeway through the Cahuenga Pass, with the Mulholland-Lakeridge bridge noted near the center of the frame.
Mulholland Drive winds its way west through the Hollywood Hills from the area where the serial was filmed.

The neighborhood contains a number of well-known attractions, including the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Reservoir and Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

L-R: Milburn Stone, Jan Wiley, Alfred "Lash" LaRue and Sarah Padden in "The Master Key"

"The Master Key" has an interesting cast, including Lash LaRue in his first movie, before he was billed as Lash, and Milburn Stone before he became "Gunsmoke's" Doc Adams.
Milburn Stone as Doc ("Gunsmoke")

Stone, who played the lead role in "The Master Key," already had a 20-year career in the movies by the time "Gunsmoke" came calling in 1955. Then he wound up playing Doc for the next 20 years.

Off the Beaten Path is a series of posts that are not specifically focused on the usual subject matter of this blog, the Iverson Movie Ranch. You can go directly to the Off the Beaten Path posts by looking up the term in the long index of labels at the right of the page, or by clicking here.