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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Friday, February 20, 2015

The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time ... Part VIII: The North and South Adobes

"Ghost Town Renegades" (1947) — The South Adobe

The South Adobe was one of the original buildings on the Iverson Western street when the town set was built in 1945 for "Along Came Jones." While it wasn't much to look at — it's the plain white building in the center of this group of three buildings — it proved to be among the town's most durable structures.

In the PRC Western "Ghost Town Renegades, filmed two years after the town was built, the South Adobe is part of a sparse northwest corner of town, tucked in between the Hotel, on the left, and a temporary shed on the right that served mainly as a blacksmith shop. Dominating the background are Smooth Hill and Oat Mountain.

"The Millerson Case" (1947)

The building's simple but functional cube design with two distinguishing raised horizontal bars near the top remained consistent throughout the lifespan of the town set, even as adjacent buildings on both sides of the South Adobe underwent a series of renovations.

"El Paso" (1949) — west side of El Paso Street

By 1949 the South Adobe had a new partner, the North Adobe — seen directly above the gent in the top hat in this shot from the Paramount Western "El Paso." The Iverson Ranch town set is sometimes called El Paso Street because of its prominent role in this movie.

The North Adobe and South Adobe typically appear to be right next to each other, as they do in the "El Paso" shot. But in reality they had quite a bit of space between them, as I'll point out below.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950): closeup of the North Adobe

The North Adobe was even more plain-looking than the South Adobe, often appearing to be little more than a blank cube. But first impressions can be deceiving, and the North Adobe was more complex than it appeared.

"The Hills of Utah" (1951) — The North Adobe

Shots like this one, from the Gene Autry Western "The Hills of Utah," reinforced the impression that the North Adobe was a simple cube. That's longtime Autry sidekick Pat Buttram at the reins.

Pat Buttram, right, with Eddie Albert in "Green Acres"

Many readers will recall that Buttram, who was a regular in B-Westerns in the late 1940s and early 1950s, went on to play quirky country rube Mr. Haney on "Green Acres," appearing in 142 episodes of the popular CBS sitcom from 1965-1971.

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950) — The North Adobe

The North Adobe had a staggered front profile, as you may be able to tell from this shot. Notice the notch in the building's top right corner, formed by its two staggered faces.

"Montana Incident" (1952): North and South Adobes

This view of the adobes from the Whip Wilson movie "Montana Incident" gives a better idea of the wide gap between the two buildings — the South Adobe on the left and North Adobe on the right.

"Calamity Jand and the Texan" — The South Adobe as the "Mine Office"

Here's a fun shot of the South Adobe from "Calamity Jane and the Texan." That's Evelyn Ankers, as Calamity, walking past the South Adobe, which plays the Mine Office in the movie.

Notice the owner's name on the sign: "J. Iverson." Joe Iverson, the son of Iverson Movie Ranch founders Karl and Augusta, was overseeing the Lower Iverson at the time, including the site of the Western town. His brother Aaron ran the Upper Iverson. This is the only time I know of that a reference to the family made it into the movies.

"Man From Sonora" (1951): Adobe village at the north end of town

With the addition of the North Adobe in 1949 — along with the construction of Casa Grande around the same time — a new look was taking shape for the north end of town, which now had the appearance of a small adobe village.

"Night Raiders" (1952) — The North Adobe, with a missile base in the background

I suppose it's appropriate that this shot of the North Adobe is dark, given the movie's title. But this photo taken from the Monogram B-Western "Night Raiders" is interesting for its context. Oat Mountain, located north of the Iverson Ranch, can be seen in the top right corner. Notice the small white dot at the very top of Oat Mountain.

That small white dot was in reality a huge radar dish, part of the Nike missile installation that was located atop Oat Mountain during the Cold War. The missile base, known as LA-88, was one of 16 Nike Ajax sites positioned strategically around the L.A. area. Please click here to read about its appearance in "Panic in Year Zero" — a movie about the bomb scare, filmed on the Iverson Ranch.

"Montana Incident" (1952) — The North Adobe

The North Adobe's strategic position at the north end of the street made it a part of some unusual shots. From this angle, with the camera shooting toward the west, the North Adobe has the appearance of a false front. But make a note of the awning around the right side of the building, which was featured in its own movie moments.

One of the most interesting elements of the "Montana Incident" shot is the presence of a building to the west of the town set, noted in yellow above. This structure was part of the India Fort set that was left over from the filming of "Wee Willie Winkie" in 1937.

"Oklahoma Justice" (1951)

The North Adobe does double duty in the Johnny Mack Brown Western "Oklahoma Justice," from Monogram. In the above shot we see the usual east face of the building as the Lynwood Bank, which has just been held up.

Just around the corner, the rarely seen north face of the North Adobe appears as a cafe. As we did in "Montana Incident," we again get a peek at the remaining structures from "Wee Willie Winkie," near the center of the frame.

"Oklahoma Justice" — cross street, lined with adobes

With the camera pulling back for a wider view of the area, we see something extremely rare: A cross street runs east and west at the north end of the main town set. This second street is lined mainly with adobe structures.

Helping to create the effect of the second street are the North Adobe, the storefront to Casa Grande — as the Lynwood Stage Line — the familiar adobe wall adjacent to Casa Grande, and even, to some extent, the "Wee Willie Winkie" buildings in the background.

"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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