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"Riders of the Badlands" (1941): Old pro cinematographer Benjamin Kline showcases the Upper Iverson
"Riders of the Badlands," a 1941 Columbia B-Western starring Charles Starrett and Russell Hayden, contains some fine cinematic images of the Iverson Movie Ranch. The movie was shot by Benjamin Kline, who was a regular at Iverson in the B-movie era — both as a cinematographer and as a director. Kline was DP on this one, with Howard Bretherton directing. Here are a few sample shots, all filmed on the Upper Iverson.
Nothing flashy here — just a nicely composed shot of a stagecoach at speed, filmed looking west. The riders have broken off part of the team and are making a getaway. In the background, the flat area on the other side of the trees is the neighboring Brandeis Ranch, which was also a filming location for a few years in the 1930s and 1940s. Visible in the foreground and beyond the stage are a number of the chase roads and insert roads that ran parallel to each other to enable the camera car to track the movement of the horses, wagons and stagecoaches being filmed.
Another stagecoach shot, this one shows a couple of the Upper Iverson's native oak trees along with another corner of Brandeis Ranch in the background. Parallel chase roads can again be seen, along with the line of trees separating Brandeis and Iverson, directly in the center of the shot. The line of white dots visible against the line of trees is made up of the white tips of dark fenceposts supporting a nearly invisible fence between the two properties.
A portion of the line of trees separating Iverson Ranch and Brandeis Ranch included the double row of trees seen above, in the top left corner of the shot. This is a relatively rare view of that double line of trees, revealing a dirt road running between the tree rows. This little stretch of road ran north and south, culminating in a cluster of rocks, visible at the top left. Early in my Iverson research I began calling this formation Rocks Across the Way, as the rocks are usually seen in the distance, across the expanse of the Upper Iverson. These rocks have also been referred to as the Festival Rocks by some film historians, but in my own research the name Rocks Across the Way has stuck. By my designation, the cluster of rocks in the top left corner is Rocks Across the Way-West, and the clump seen at top right is Rocks Across the Way-East. Most of these rocks remain intact today, but now they're surrounded by a gated community of large estates.
Here's a shot that combines an impressive view of about 14 of those fencepost tops — the white dots at the top of the shot, along the left half — along with a peek up the road between the double line of trees, now near the top right corner. These aren't spectacular shots at first glance, but the Iverson features depicted in these scenes generally weren't filmed in a way that made it possible to discern any detail, and these unusual angles are quite revealing. Location researchers live for this stuff.