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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• 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).
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time ... Part V: The General Store

"Along Came Jones" (1945): The General Store

The General Store was one of the town's fanciest buildings when the Iverson Western street was new, and the structure received a lot of screen time in its movie debut, in Gary Cooper's "Along Came Jones."

"Along Came Jones" — Gary Cooper at the General Store

Cooper produced and starred in the RKO Western — the lone producer credit on his resume. He had the town set built specially for the movie, and in keeping with the policy of the Iverson Ranch, the set remained in place after the production shut down. The Iverson family could then make it available for other productions.

"Along Came Jones"

The Western street stood for the next 12 years, undergoing a number of major renovations and becoming one of the location ranch's most widely filmed sets. The General Store, seen at top center in this screen shot, was filmed from a variety of angles for "Along Came Jones."

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950)

Located at the northeast corner of town, the General Store often served as a stage stop over the years, as it did in the Columbia Western "Calamity Jane and the Texan."

"Calamity Jane and the Texan"

The nearby Sheriff's Office can be seen at the right and a little bit of the Barn is visible near the center of the frame in another shot of the General Store in "Calamity Jane and the Texan."

"Montana Incident" (1952): The General Store, with Pond Rock at left

In what appears to be a "day-for-night" shot from the Whip Wilson movie "Montana Incident," we get a bird's-eye view of the General Store — possibly shot from the second story of the Hotel. The sunlight areas are the giveaway in day-for-night shots, and here the shot appears to unintentionally shine light on Pond Rock.

Pond Rock, also known as Stacked Rocks, was a fixture of the town set, but usually kept a low profile. Not here.

"Along Came Jones"

You may be able to pick out Pond Rock again in this shot from the town's movie debut. The photo features the front of the General Store and part of the neighborhood to the north. Two rarely seen buildings appear in the shot, along with a portion of the oft-filmed Center Rock in the background. In the distance is Cactus Hill.

Center Rock, Pond Rock, a small adobe on the far left and an odd-shaped building just north of the General Store are noted in this version of the shot. We'll revisit these buildings later in the series.

"El Paso" (1949)

Even caught in a dust storm in the Paramount Western "El Paso," the General Store is distinguished by its pale blue paint job. This is another movie where the building plays a stage depot.

Much of the walkway where Gary Cooper was seen walking in an earlier shot, along the south face of the General Store, was later enclosed, as illustrated by these shots comparing "Along Came Jones" in 1945 and "El Paso" four years later. This section of the previously open walkway remained closed in subsequent productions.

"Check Your Guns" (1948)

After a splashy debut in "Along Came Jones," the look of the storefront was toned down. A shot from the Eddie Dean Western "Check Your Guns" offers a view of the General Store's new "no frills" front deck area.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" — The General Store, right, and Casa Grande

Once Casa Grande surfaced in 1949, redefining the north end of the Iverson town set, the General Store, at the right, often shared the screen with the new building, seen here in 1950.

"Gold Raiders" (1951)

Long shots of the town looking toward the north typically included a view of the front end of the General Store, which jutted out into the street. This example comes from the Three Stooges movie "Gold Raiders."

Even at this distance, Pond Rock is visible in its familiar post next to the General Store's front walkway.

"Ghost Town Renegades" (1947)

Like the rest of the town, the General Store had to endure a series of "reverse makeovers" to appear in dilapidated condition as part of a ghost town. For "Ghost Town Renegades," a section of the roof was ripped out.

"Ghost Town Renegades" was a Lash LaRue B-Western from Poverty Row studio Producers Releasing Corp., or PRC, which used the Iverson town set extensively in the 1940s.

Another version of the "Ghost Town Renegades" shot notes the fates of two blacksmith shops at the north end of town. The original Blacksmith Shop, now lying in ruins, was in place when the town was built in 1945, and was one of the first buildings to be demolished. The temporary Blacksmith Shed would soon follow.

"El Paso" (1949)

The town set cleaned up nicely when it served the purpose of the production. As the vibrant title city in "El Paso," the Western street was a hub of activity.

The General Store all but disappears amid a sea of signs and storefronts, but it's back there at the north end of town doing its part as the Stage Depot.

"Son of Paleface" (1952) — Another role as a ghost town

In another example of "reverse engineering," from the Bob Hope comedy "Son of Paleface," the General Store was again dressed down to appear in rundown condition. Cue the tumbleweeds.

"Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" (1955)

The General Store was again in a ramshackle state when Rin Tin Tin came to town a few years later. In this shot the famous German shepherd sniffs out danger on the walkway in front of the boarded-up store. The shot comes from the episode "The Ghost Town," which premiered April 29, 1955.

An unusual element of this shot is the enormous presence of Pond Rock looming at the left of the frame.

Rinty and Rusty, played by Lee Aaker, keep a vigil along the south face of the General Store. This is the portion of the building that was originally an open walkway but by this point had been walled off.

Later in the episode, Rin Tin Tin — reportedly played in the TV series mainly by Rin Tin Tin IV — enjoys a treat on the front deck of the General Store.

"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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