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.
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• 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.
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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time ... Part III: The Saloon

"Along Came Jones" (1945): First Chance Saloon

Like most of the buildings along the Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, the Saloon adopted a number of identities over the years. When it first appeared in "Along Came Jones" it was the First Chance Saloon.

"Flaming Feather" (1952): Last Chance Saloon

A few years later it would come full circle with a role as the Last Chance Saloon in the Sterling Hayden-Forrest Tucker Western "Flaming Feather" from Paramount.

Note the curved roofline and the painted glass of beer on the front of the building. The giant glass of beer will turn up again in other productions.

"Treasure of Ruby Hills" (1955)

Filmmakers apparently took a liking to the name "Last Chance Saloon," bringing it back — along with a new sign on the front of the building — for the Allied Artists Western "Treasure of Ruby Hills."

The town was "fixed up" to look like a ghost town in the movie, and the Saloon did its part — including the usual tumbleweeds and loose boards, along with a massive crack in the storefront.

"Treasure of Ruby Hills"

As a sidenote, the Iverson Western street appeared in "Treasure of Ruby Hills" as the ghost town of "Silvertown" — the same name that has been widely used for the old Western set at Corriganville in Simi Valley.

"The Millerson Case" (1947)

The Saloon originally had a straight roofline on the front of the building, as seen in this shot from the Crime Doctor movie "The Millerson Case."

"Calamity Jane and Sam Bass" (1949)

The building played a bank in "Calamity Jane and Sam Bass," where the action took viewers around back during a bank heist and gave us a look at the rarely seen back end of the building. Also note the side of the bank building, toward the left of the shot, where a staircase would soon be installed.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950)

The wooden exterior staircase on the north side of the Saloon building first appeared around 1950. The two shots above — from two different Calamity Jane movies — show this side of the building before and after the staircase was installed. This shot, featuring Evelyn Ankers as Calamity, was also part of an earlier post on Casa Grande, which you can read by clicking here.

"The Hills of Utah" (1951)

In a screen shot from the Gene Autry B-Western "The Hills of Utah," a couple of badmen lurk near the Saloon's new wooden staircase.

"The Nevadan" (1950)

The Saloon's original flattop storefront remained in place into the early 1950s, as in this example from Columbia's Cinecolor Western "The Nevadan," starring Randolph Scott.

"Passage West" (1951)

One of the last appearances of the straight roofline is in Paramount's John Payne Western "Passage West," filmed in Technicolor. Oat Mountain looms in the background, at top center.

"Gold Raiders" (1951)

Later that same year, the building's new storefront and curved roofline surface in the Three Stooges movie "Gold Raiders." You may be able to spot the painted beer glass, already in place on the Saloon's new storefront.

Here's the "Gold Raiders" shot again, this time highlighting the Saloon's new curved roofline and the barely visible painted glass of beer. Please click on any of these photos to see a larger version.

"The Hills of Utah": Gene Autry and the new Saloon storefront

The curved roof reappears with Gene Autry in "The Hills of Utah," released just three weeks after "Gold Raiders." With both movies coming out in September 1951, and with a number of early TV Westerns getting up to speed around the same time, the Iverson Western town set would have been in high demand. The set's body of work suggests that it was a busy place in general during its 12-year lifespan (1945-1957).

Once again, the painted beer glass is visible, although we wouldn't tend to notice it if we weren't looking for it.

"Wagon Team" (1952) 

In another Gene Autry movie, "Wagon Team," released the following year, the Saloon is again seen. This shot looks toward the north end of the street, with the Saloon at far left — again with its curved roof and painted beer.

"Night Raiders" (1952)

The Whip Wilson movie "Night Raiders," from Monogram, provided a good look at the window design in the new storefront. The stem of the beer glass is visible midway between the two windows.

"Cripple Creek" (1952) — More special effects than reality

An unusual treatment of the Saloon and other buildings along the Western street is found in the Columbia Western "Cripple Creek," starring George Montgomery. A painted background and other special effects are used to create a rundown version of the town and place it in a make-believe setting.

Here's my attempt to break down elements of the shot. It appears to me that only the buildings on the right side of the shot are real. It seems that much of the artwork on the left was inspired by the look of the Saloon.

"Son of Paleface" (1952)

A more conventional way to make the town appear to be falling apart was to bring in the perennial tumbleweeds and pry loose a few boards, as was done yet again for the Bob Hope Western comedy "Son of Paleface," from Paramount. The Saloon can be seen at the far left of the frame.

"Sky King" TV show (shot in 1957, aired in 1958)

Both the Saloon, on the left, and the Hotel, on the right, show signs of real-world wear-and-tear in this shot from late 1957 for the TV series "Sky King." The end was at hand, as the dismantling of the town set had already begun at the time of this shoot for the episode "Dead Man's Will." The episode premiered Feb. 22, 1958.

In another shot from the "Sky King" episode we can see that much of the roofing on both the Saloon and the Livery Stable across the street has been removed. Casa Grande, which previously spanned the north end of the street, has already been torn down, and the rest of the town set would soon follow.

"The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time" is a series of posts on the movie and TV history of each of the major structures making up Iverson's town set, which stood from 1945 to 1957 and appeared in hundreds of productions.

To see all of the posts in the series on the Iverson Western street, please click on the following links:

Part I: Casa Grande
Part II: The Livery Stable
Part III: The Saloon
Part IV: The Hotel
Part V: The General Store 
Part VI: The Barn
Part VII: The Sheriff's Office
Part VIII: The North and South Adobes
Part IX: The Lost Dutchman
Part X: The original north end of town
Part XI: The North and South Towers
Part XII: The Harness Maker
Part XIII: Rainbow Mine Co. 
Part XIV: The Church/Schoolhouse  
Part XV: The Corral Rocks Shack
Part XVI: The decline and fall of the Western street

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