John Wayne courts Louise Brooks on the Upper Iverson in "Overland Stage Raiders" (1938)
It's a little surprising that John Wayne, probably the biggest Western movie star of them all, only rarely worked on the Iverson Movie Ranch, the most heavily filmed Western movie shooting location by a long stretch. I know of only two Westerns in which the Duke put in time at Iverson: his breakthrough role in John Ford's 1939 masterpiece "Stagecoach," and a much lower-profile appearance the previous year in "Overland Stage Raiders." He also made a high-profile war movie, "The Fighting Seabees," at Iverson in 1944.
"Santa Fe Stampede" (1938) — Upper Iverson in the background, via rear projection
John Wayne does appear in a couple of other Three Mesquiteers movies that contain some Iverson footage, but as far as I can tell neither of these would have required the Duke to show up at Iverson. The "Santa Fe Stampede" shot above features the Upper Iverson in the background, but the lighting makes it pretty obvious the shot is done in the studio using rear projection. That's silent movie great William Farnum on the left, in one of his later roles, with child actress Genee Hall at center, jammed between the once and future legends.
"Santa Fe Stampede" — The Duke, center, on Brandeis Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., interacting with young Genee Hall. The other Mesquiteers are again Max Terhune, left, and Ray "Crash" Corrigan.
The Duke did make his way to Chatsworth during filming for "Santa Fe Stampede" — and in fact, probably had to drive across the Iverson Ranch to get to work. That's because some of the location filming on the movie was done at Brandeis Ranch, Iverson's immediate neighbor to the west — and the entrance road to Brandeis ran through Iverson.
"Santa Fe Stampede": Brandeis Movie Ranch, with portions of the Upper Iverson in the background
With Brandeis and Iverson adjacent to each other, the two filming locations frequently appeared in the backgrounds of each other's movies, as in the example above. This scene prominently features a rock I call the Brandeis Toad, nearest the center of the frame. A little bit of the Upper Iverson is visible in the background, along with some familiar features to the east of Iverson.
Corriganville, in a scene from "Santa Fe Stampede"
Additional location work for "Santa Fe Stampede" took place a few miles to the west at Corriganville in Simi Valley, where Ray Corrigan's location ranch was now up and running. The large rock face in the background at right later became known as Fort Apache Rock, as it appeared regularly in scenes with Corriganville's widely used Fort Apache set.