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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• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
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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 15, 2016

"Border Feud," starring Lash LaRue: The day in 1947 when the Iverson family left the barn door open

The "Old Barn," as seen in "Border Feud" (1947)

The Iverson family's residential and farm buildings were generally kept out of movies filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch, but there were a few exceptions. One big exception was the day in 1947 when the so-called "Old Barn" on Aaron Iverson's ranch became a key set for the Lash LaRue Western "Border Feud."

"Border Feud" was part of a string of ultra-cheapo B-Westerns from Producers Releasing Corp. filmed on the ranch. PRC was a consistent presence at Iverson from 1940-1947, and LaRue, one of the Poverty Row studio's biggest stars, filmed virtually all of his PRC movies at the Chatsworth shooting location.

Al "Fuzzy" St. John at the Old Barn in "Border Feud"

Like many of PRC's productions, "Border Feud" also featured perennial Western sidekick Al "Fuzzy" St. John, a screen veteran with a resume going back to about 1914. Like LaRue, Fuzzy was a fixture at Iverson, providing comic relief opposite LaRue, Buster Crabbe, George Houston, Bob Steele and other cowboy heroes.

Just a few of PRC's Lash LaRue movies filmed at Iverson in 1947

PRC filmed at least a dozen B-Westerns at Iverson in 1947 alone. It may be that by the time "Border Feud" was filming, the Iversons had become friendly enough with LaRue, Fuzzy and the PRC crew to relax the rules. "Border Feud" is one of the rare occasions when they allowed the barn to be used as a movie set.

"Border Feud" — the Old Barn

Western movie historian Tinsley E. Yarbrough first identified the "Border Feud" building as an Iverson family barn in an article published in 1998. In the years since then, the barn has been mildly controversial, with some researchers — including yours truly — remaining skeptical that the barn seen in the movie was located at Iverson.

Aaron Iverson in front of his barn (Edwin Iverson collection)

But any controversy was put to rest in a recent exchange I had with Tinsley, who pointed me to the "smoking gun" that proves the identity of the building. The undated photo above, circulated by Aaron Iverson's son Edwin, shows Aaron in front of his barn — which can be readily identified as the same barn seen in "Border Feud."

A number of the same markers seen in the "cow photo" can also be identified in screen shots from "Border Feud," as noted above. These markers leave no doubt that it's the same building in both shots.

Closeup of the Old Barn in "Border Feud"

Other screen shots from the movie provide detailed views of various sections of the barn. The dilapidated building was a holdover from an earlier period when farming was still an important part of life on the Iverson Ranch — before the movie location operation evolved into the ranch's predominant business activity.

Here's a shot of the movie's star, Lash LaRue, in front of the Old Barn.

This shot of Fuzzy near the corner of the barn includes a rare glimpse of a second structure, apparently another farm building, at the right of the frame. "Border Feud" stands alone as a film document of these buildings.

In addition to detailing farm features such as fences and windmills, the movie shots reveal the view looking out from the barn area. This shot looks southwest toward the rugged hills south of Santa Susana Pass Road.

"The Virginian" (1963)

Although the Old Barn figured prominently in the action in "Border Feud," it was essentially never seen up close in a movie again. However, it does pop up from time to time in backgrounds, with the above shot from the TV Western "The Virginian" being one of the best examples.

The shot comes from the episode "Strangers at Sundown," which premiered April 3, 1963.

"Tell It to the Marines" (1926)

A screen shot from the silent movie "Tell It to the Marines" reveals that the barn was already in place as early as 1926. The building, identifiable by its angled white roof, can be seen near the center of the frame.

The barn is highlighted here. The shot is taken from Garden of the Gods, and includes a Chinese bridge, to the left of the barn, that was the subject of a detailed post in September 2015.


Mark Sherman said...

Very Good as always!

Anonymous said...

I find that this post has inspired me to try to find the location of the barn. Your shot from the "Virginian" shows a rock across the road, and it is also seen in the "Tell It To the Marines" shots. Going back to your blog about the "Tell It To The Marines" bridge location, and your mark up of the current aerial photo, it seems that the barn location, and the rock across the road may still be there, or would it be buried across Red Mesa Rd? Has that particular rock not appeared in other things?
Thanks from a not-so-great location detective,

Swami Nano said...

Thanks for your comments, guys.

Rick, I think you may be right that the rock is still there. I'm pretty sure I have it narrowed down to the private residence that still stands behind the condos. The barn location appears to be back there too.

Let's talk more about it. Email me if you'd like to put our heads together on this.

Thanks again.

-Swami Nano