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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Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Iverson Movie Ranch Western street, one building at a time ... Part XII: The Harness Maker

"Along Came Jones" (1945) — The Harness Maker, at far left

One of the first buildings that came into view upon arriving at the Iverson Movie Ranch Western street from the south was the Harness Maker, part of the original town set built for "Along Came Jones."

While the much larger Livery Stable dominated the south end of town from its position on the southeast corner of the street, the Harness Maker, distinguished by vertical columns along its south and east faces, held down the southwest corner in the town's original configuration.

Loretta Young drives her horse cart out of town in a hurry in "Along Came Jones," with the Harness Maker and the First Chance Saloon in the background as she heads east.

The name "Harness Maker" comes from the building's role in "Along Came Jones."

"The Millerson Case" (1947) — new buildings at the south end of town

By mid-1947 the Harness Maker no longer occupied the southwest corner of town, as a new building, the Rainbow Mine Co., had been built directly to its south, while the town's new church filled the south end of the street.

The Church — or Schoolhouse, as it appeared in "The Millerson Case" — would remain in place for just a couple of years, but the Rainbow Mine Co. would become a permanent part of the town set. I'll go into detail about these new buildings later in the Western street series.

"Passage West" (1951)

A horse-drawn hearse sits in front of the Harness Maker building in the Paramount movie "Passage West." The building plays a general store in the John Payne Western.

The Harness Maker is closely associated with the Saloon, as the two buildings were immediately adjacent to each other and tend to be thought of as a single structure.

The Harness Maker even bears a sign for the Saloon on its roof in "Passage West," as noted in red here. Also note the blank storefront sign on the left, which was presumably used in a previous movie or TV appearance.

"The Millerson Case"

However, the Harness Maker and Saloon were two separate buildings. In fact, the Harness Maker was not positioned perfectly in line with the Saloon, but was angled just slightly back from the straight line of the street.

"Check Your Guns" (1948)

The offset in alignment between the Harness Maker and the Saloon is evident again in this shot of Eddie Dean on the street in front of the Saloon in the PRC movie "Check Your Guns."

In this shot the offsets between the two buildings are highlighted. Also note the presence of the Church and the Rainbow Mine Co. in the background — both buildings were still relatively new at the time.

The "Check Your Guns" shot also reveals that the Harness Maker and Saloon had different types of posts on their front walkways, with the Harness Maker's posts being slightly "fancier." This distinction can be helpful for telling the buildings apart from certain angles.

"Night Raiders" (1952)

Fuzzy Knight stands in front of the Saloon in the Monogram B-Western "Night Raiders." This shot offers what may be the best look at the offset alignment between the Saloon and the Harness Maker.

This version of the "Night Raiders" shot points out the front of the deck area, where the variation in the alignment of the two buildings is most apparent.

"Ghost Town Renegades (1947)

Here's an unusual shot that illustrates not only the proximity of the Saloon and the Harness Maker, but also the misalignment of the two buildings' front decks.

I don't usually point out irony, as it speaks for itself. But I'll make an exception here, because I love the irony that this illustration of the misalignment also catches a guy in the act of doing surveying. "Hey, buddy! Look to your left!"

"Calamity Jane and the Texan" (1950)

The Harness Maker building included a barber shop — identified by its red-striped poles, at the right — in "Calamity Jane and the Texan."

"Gold Raiders" (1951)

The striped barber poles remained on the Harness Maker building in the Three Stooges movie "Gold Raiders," released the following year. The poles may be a little hard to spot here.

The barber poles out in front of the Harness Maker are highlighted in this version of the "Gold Raiders" photo.

This shot of the front of the Saloon in "Gold Raiders" captures a closeup of one of the barber poles on the Harness Maker building next door.

"Along Came Jones" (1945) — the original Barber Shop

The Harness Maker was not the first building in town to feature a barber shop. The town's original Barber Shop, seen in "Along Came Jones," was located near the north end of the street, south of the original Blacksmith Shop. It's easy to confuse this one with the later barber shop at the Harness Maker.

Unlike the Harness Maker, which survived virtually unscathed for the full 12-year lifespan of the Western street, the original Barber Shop was torn down within a year of its construction. You can click here to see a previous entry in this series focused on the Barber Shop and the original north end of town.

"Sky King" TV show (shot in 1955, aired in early 1956)

One of the best things about the Harness Maker from a movie history standpoint is that on occasion shots of the building also catch the old "Wee Willie Winkie" set in the background. In this example from the TV show "Sky King," the camera is looking toward the west and the old set can be seen at the left of the frame.

The shot comes from the "Sky King" episode "The Plastic Ghost," which premiered Jan. 9, 1956, and would have been shot during 1955. The India Fort set was rarely seen in productions after the early 1940s.

"Along Came Jones" (1945)

A tiny corner of the "Wee Willie Winkie" set did sneak into this shot from "Along Came Jones," which also appears near the top of this post. The set is barely noticeable here, unless you know to look for it.

"Silver Raiders" (1950) — The Harness Maker

A shot of the Harness Maker building in the Whip Wilson B-Western "Silver Raiders," from Monogram, offers what may be an unintentionally close look at part of the "Wee Willie Winkie" set.

As this photo points out, a portion of one of the buildings from the 1937 India Fort in "Wee Willie Winkie" can be seen just behind the Harness Maker. 

The shot may also provide a clue to efforts on the set to minimize the impact of other old buildings to the west. I get the impression that it's no accident that a covered wagon was parked in this exact spot, as the wagon blocks the view of a large portion of the old India Fort set.

"Wee Willie Winkie" (1937) — The India Fort

This overview of the "Wee Willie Winkie" filming area gives an idea of what the sprawling India Fort set looked like in 1937. Eight years later, the Iverson Western street would be built in the area seen in the foreground. The India Fort would remain standing — even outlasting the Western street — but would rarely be filmed after 1941.

"Montana Incident" (1952) — the north end of town

A portion of the "Wee Willie Winkie" set also on occasion snuck into shots of the north end of the Western street, as I mentioned in an earlier entry on the North and South Adobes. Please click here to read that entry.

Aerial photo (1952)

An aerial photo of a portion of Sheep Flats on the Lower Iverson from 1952 shows the juxtaposition of the Western street, to the east, and the old "Wee Willie Winkie" set, to the west. I've blogged previously about the endlessly fascinating India Fort set, and you can learn more about it by clicking here.

If you would like to dive even deeper into the 1937 "Wee Willie Winkie" sets and the early history of movie construction on Sheep Flats, I recommend clicking on "Wee Willie Winkie" in the long index of LABELS at the right of the page — or just click here for the same link.

"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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