Old TV Westerns

Films, TV shows, and books of the 'modern' era

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Post by MissGoddess »

Thanks so much you guys---I just put Wanted, Dead or Alive, Branded, Have Gun Will Travel (and Peter Gunn) on my Netflix list!!

Post by jdb1 »

"What do you do when you're Branded, and you know you're a man?"

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Post by mrsl »

Recently having seen The Virginian (the movie) on the Western Channel, I had forgotten how they changed the TV program characters. In the movie, Trampas is the bad guy, and meets his end by the Virginian (Joel McCrae), whereas on TV Doug McClure is the Virginians' buddy, and a good guy, although young and daring.

As for good writing, the Rifleman had superior writing talent. Although ideas were often repeated, such as Mark being kidnapped, or Lucas getting hurt, etc. it was always handled in a different way, and although you knew the outcome, the hows and whys always made for an interesting half hour.

Cimmaron Strip, another 90 minute show is run every Saturday morning. I never watched it much when it was on originally, but now I'm hooked. The wide range of different main characters makes for a very unusual show. they're not the usual "I'll cover your back", type of friendships. It's about 4 very unique personalities who come together and form a 4 way friendship, but barely know each other.

As for The Quest - the two brothers are looking for their sister who has been kidnapped, but not sure if by Indians or white men. Thereby comes the name of the show, and all the events they encounter in their quest for her.

I love the Western channel, and although they re-run a lot, albeit irritating, you always know you can catch something later in the week. I'm looking very much forward to the John Wayne tribute during the last weekend of this month. I find myself checking TCM, the TWC to decide what to watch. I get a real kick out of how dumb Pat Buttram is, and how aggravated Gene Autry gets with him. Lash LaRue and Smiley Burnette are more laughable than anything else, even tho that is not the intent, but watching them from a 2007 point of view makes them very entertaining.

I've also seen the spaghetti Westerns with Clint Eastwood for he first time since having the channel. I can't say I like Leone's directing methods, but I do like the movies - a little harsh, but expected.

And I still think Randolph Scotts horse is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Does anyone know what kind of horse it is? By that I mean, the blond horses are palominos, the spotted ones are pintos, and reddish-brown ones are roans. What is his reddish brown with the blond mane and tail?

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Post by moira finnie »

As for good writing, The Rifleman had superior writing talent. Although ideas were often repeated, such as Mark being kidnapped, or Lucas getting hurt, etc. it was always handled in a different way, and although you knew the outcome, the hows and whys always made for an interesting half hour.
Boy, Anne, you're not kidding! There was more incidental repetition on The Rifleman than just those bullets flyin' from McCain's rifle!

Odd that Mark never really seems to manifest any psychic scars from all the trauma that he's been exposed to in his brief life, what with the kidnappings, murders, near-lynchings & numerous beatings of his old man in his presence, not to mention that pesky bout of the plague that the lad endured and the accidental death of his friend Charlie with his father's rifle in front of him! The kid should've been in therapy for a few decades, but I guess fresh air, hard work rounding up stray calves, mending fences, and cookin' vittles (always stew, nothin' but stew), he just sublimated all that potential angst into those healthier activities...

It also seems kind of bizarre how Lucas McCain never seemed to have any lasting physical or psychological injuries due to the number of times that he was whipped, caged, wrongfully arrested, one stint of slavery, at least one stabbing, a couple of times when he was strung up and left for dead, and, of course all those beatings when his trusty rifle was out of reach. And not a scar anywhere on his purty face or form.

Still, I've noticed that as the series progressed the writers and Connors imbued his portrayal of his character with a subtext of regret and an acknowledgment of Lucas' past behavior and his lingering worry about his impulse toward violence, especially as it might affect his son's developing self-image. I guess you could say that the series wanted it both ways: giving a nod to show the corrosive effects and the often irresistible and perhaps necessary inevitability of violence, while fully exploiting McCain's ability to unleash a load of whupa** on the bad guys in the numerous and well-staged action sequences.

With all of that, I'm still enjoying catching up on some finely acted, tersely written and beautifully cast episodes now getting their second go-round in rotation on the Western channel. Just this week I relished two Sam Peckinpah episodes.

The first was called "The Shivaree", featuring memorable guest actors Luana Anders, (who looked as though she was trying out for the Mariette Hartley part in Ride the High Country), Morris Ankrum, John Anderson and Olive Carey in a story about a shotgun wedding and the near assault of the bride.

In another interesting Peckinpah episode, called "The Boarding House", Katy Jurado appeared as a former conwoman & card sharp trying to turn over a new leaf in North Fork. It was intriguing to see that Lucas was initially very judgmental of Jurado, wanting to drive her from town asap, until he got to know her better. I especially liked the moment when Micah (Paul Fix) came up to Lucas after his change of heart and, holding a small rock, said to him, "I guess you won't be needing this", in a nicely played reference to the biblical line about casting the first stone.

I had the impression that the producers might've been thinking of introducing Jurado as a recurring female character, which would have been interesting. Given the talented Ms. Jurado's reputation for fireworks in her working relationships and her then pretty hot American career, maybe it was inevitable that she never appeared again.

Surprisingly Lucas wasn't physically assaulted in the first episode mentioned, though in the second one he was stabbed in his shootin' arm, but got his revenge by scaring his attacker with a meat cleaver! Guess my Mom was right about this show being way too violent for me in those '60s repeats that she forbade my watching.

I also have to chuckle whenever someone in North Fork repeatedly characterizes their hero Chuck Connors as a peace-lovin' man who'd never cause any trouble. Yeah, right. Still, there's a great vibe to this series, which really holds up remarkably well due to the rapport of the actors, and the satisfaction to be derived from the power of storytelling using a few well chosen elements with skill, (though my sister, who "endures" my interest in this program with grace, says that she's real sick of the music now, *lol*).

Post by jdb1 »

SHolmes wrote:
jdb1 wrote:"What do you do when you're Branded, and you know you're a man?"

You drop back five yards and punt. :lol:

Ok. seriously, I never cared for this show. Although I have to admit it was not like the Rifleman where you had to hear that same old "da da da da dum dum" over and over and over until it bored you silly. But I just couldn't get into this one. I thought he ought to have told all and escaped the "branding" he got. I would!
I did like this one, and I think it could have been better with better production values and less obvious scripting. Could have been a western "Fugitive."

And I'm sorry that the photo is so dark -- Chuckie is not wearing a shirt under the blouse (military talk for the jacket).
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Post by mrsl »


the other day you asked if there were any shows on now that we felt would be fondly remembered as we remember all the westerns of our childhood. A few come to mind for me. Young people (20's & 30's) who are political minded, will probably refer to the West Wing eventually as a timely political show that kept you entranced as to what would be covered each week. It was amazing how a show would come on referring to an event that happened only one or two weeks prior, such as 911. Forty years from now, if you didn't live through it, you may not know the cause of such a show, but all the elements of fear, ethnic suspicion, and attempts at explanation were beautifully exhibited.

I'm sure younger kids (8 - 13) will recall getting the heebee-geebees from shows like Ghost Whisperer, and Medium. Since I'm not a fan of half hour sitcoms, I can't discuss any of the ones presently on, but I'm sure there must be a few that will be remembered. I'm afraid shows like Law & Order, and CSI (et al), are too 'out of the headlines' to be remembered as TV shows. They're too tied in with the nightly news hour.


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Post by cmvgor »

I spent some time scrolling through this topic and jotting down notes; it's
been fun. My object was to see what I could add that hasn't been mentioned priviously. First of all, where I'm coming from:
1. Childhood through beginning junior high in western central Georgia. No
TV in the home. I first learned about Sky King, Wild Bill and Jingles, and
the Range Rider in the homes of friends. In those antenna days, there were three stations in Atlanta that you could get when the weather was right.
2. In 1956, a family move to eastern central Alabama, and we purchased
our first TV. We could reach two stations from Montgomary, ABC and NBC, and an independent station in Columbus, Ga. that carried programs
from both CBS and ABC. We got acquainted with 'Cheyanne' in summer
reruns, with the star being billed as "Clinton" Walker. That billing changed
with the new season. This was where I watched that "Golden Age" of TV
Westerns begin.
3. In 1959, my application for boarding school was accepted and I moved into a dorm. TV was strictly a holiday experience. 1961-1964, I
defended the Berlin Wall from sites in Munich, Augsburg and Schlesheim.
4. Then, a return home to find 'Gunsmoke' now an hour long, 'Wagon
Train' running 90-minute episodes and all sorts of other changes. A summer at home, and then to a college dorm with a TV in the Common
Room that had to be shared. In 1968 I finally had an apartment and a TV
to which I had full-time access.

---All this is by way of saying that there were long gaps in my first-viewing exposure to much of this material. Some of it I picked up in reruns, sometimes years afterward. In addition to memory, I also rely
in 2002. So here goes.

--- I don't remember seeing mention of the anthology 'Dick Powell's Zane
Grey Theater', which ran on CBS 1858-1962. I remember seeing a few
episodes, but, considering that time frame, it must have been in years-
later runs.
--- I also don't think 'Yancy Derringer' was mentioned here either, although I and other users have mentioned it in the Westerns forum, both
under "Sidekicks" and "SWWAT" threads. I mention it now only to repeat
the cautionary tale: 'Yancy did not get cancelled due to ratings; ratings
were great. The network, CBS, simply intended to own a property that
was doing that well. When the owners (star Jock Mahoney and the scriptwriters) would not sell, the network cancelled it. HOW MANY TIMES
--- In Robert Culp's first series, 'Trackdown', he was a Texas Ranger, and
the series had some good stories, well told. The COMPLETE DIRECTORY,
mentioned above, points out that this show took some plots from official
records, and that the series had the support of both the Rangers and the
state of Texas.-- That's a destinction held by no other Western. The
COMPLETE DIRECTORY does NOT mention that the show had a cigarette
sponser (Lucky Strike, I think), and that Ranger Hoby Gilman was very
adept at rolling himself a cigarette about twice an episode. Even at that
age, I could occasionally spot a product tie-in when I saw one.
--- One title threw me for a few moments -- 'The Restless Gun'. Why would I ignore a Western series starring John Payne that was on the air
before I left home? A look at the schedule explained it. 'Restless Gun'
was on opposite 'The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show', which my
family was not going to miss. Occasionally, on that show, George Burns
would step out of the action concerning Gracie, their son Ronnie, their
neighbors and whoever else showed up, and would address the camera
(audience) directly. Sometimes these monologues advanced the plot a
little; sometimes they were just Vaudville routines. Occasionally, also,
he would walk over to a television set and turn it on to "see what's happening on the other network." The TV screen would show some standard chase-scene shots involving lone riders, stagecoaches, Indians
and whatever. The soundtrack would laugh appropriately. It's the only
glance I ever got at 'The Restless Gun'.

I've used up all the time I have right now, but I want to return to this topic
when I can. While I'm doing more research, it there any user among us
who witnessed Audie Murphy's one attempt at series TV? Not just found
a writeup about it, as I did, but saw it?

"Faint heart never filled inside straight"
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Post by cmvgor »

I don't remember seeing Tales Of Wells Fargo mentioned in the preceeding pages. It ran from 1957-1962. My dad liked it. Dale Robertson starred as a trouble shooter for the huge banking and security
firm which had won its reputation by safely (mostly) transporting gold out
of the gold fields for the mining companies. I was on another continent
when it expanded to one-hour episodes for its last couple of seasons, and
then was cancelled.

Another Dale Robertson series, The Iron Horse, ran from 1966-1968. I'm not sure I ever saw it in first run, but years later I saw the
first two episodes combined into a TV movie. Robertson won a railroad
in a poker game, the Buffalo Pass, Scalplock & Defiance Line. The TVM
I saw got him past his first crisis with someone trying to undermine the
new owner and take the railroad away from him. More con man than
railroader, he still seemed to be just who was needed to get the enterprise

Does anyone even remember Buckskin? I remembered it, but couldn't recall the name. Had some trouble looking it up. The series
took it's title from the Montana town where it took place. I thought of it
as having a hotel for a setting, but the literature calles it a boarding house.
Young Tommy Nolan played the central character, the son of the woman
who ran the establishment. The stories were mostly perceived from the
lad's point of view. Looking back, it may have been aimed at a younger
audience. Say the Flika and Fury viewers. Kidcentric.
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"
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Post by cmvgor »

Hec Ramsey is another of those shows that I saw only once or twice. It was on during that period when a lot of shows were experimenting with 90-minute episodes, and also with title rotation.
Ramsey rotated with Columbo, McCloud, and McMillian and Wife. The others survived for years; Hec Ramsey
was cancelled when the two years of rotation ended.

Hector Ramsey (Richard Boone) was an aging gunfighter, working as a deputy sheriff, who looked to the future in terms of criminology and forensics -- a forerunner of Gil Grisham and the CSI franchise. He was
aware of the use of fingerprinting and other innovations that put him ahead of the times for turn-of-the (20th) century Oklahoma. I can not recall a single episode or plot, but Richard Boone was always worth one's
time. Another good thing. -- This series is one of those that helped to
sustain Harry Morgan until M*A*S*H came along.
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"
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Post by movieman1957 »

Finally got to see the first several shows of "Have Gun - Will Travel." Boone's pretty good. Well spoken, well educated and for his line of work, dedicated to the job at hand. He even gets to smile at times. Also, he loves sticking it to not-very-nice people if they have it coming.

Some interesting guest stars show up. Mike Conners (Mannix) shows up, Leo Gordon and a very young Angie Dickinson. Pretty well written. Only drawback to watching three or four in a row Bernard Hermann's very tuneless theme becomes a little boring. Much nicer inner show music.

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Post by Lzcutter »


I adore Hec Ramsey. Of course, I haven't seen it since it was originally run over thirty years ago but, of all the NBC Mystery Theaters rotation, it was my favorite.

I have no idea if it has stood the test of time but I don't want to know. I grew up with Richard Boone from Paladin to Hec Ramsey and all his movies in between.

In my family, we were often driven by the voice, versus looks. Thus explains my love of Lee Marvin, Richard Boone, John Huston (love him as a director too, but would listen to him read the phone book), James Earl Jones, Gregory Peck and others.
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Post by cmvgor »

I enjoyed what I got to see of Laramie (1959-63). Considering that
time frame I must have seen it mostly in reruns. Partners John Smith and
Robert Fuller ran the ranch that Smith had inherited from his father, along with his teenage brother (Bobby Crawford, Jr). It was a hard go, and they got extra income by running a way station for a stagecoach line.
Some of the plots centered around stage passengers who stopped over for meals while horses were swapped out. They were not above a little
name dropping. ("My name's Sam Clemens. I work for the newspaper.")

IMO, this series scored a couple of real coups in support-role casting. One
was the family friend and ranch hand played by musician/composer Hoagy
Carmichael, composer of Stardust, for Pete's sake.* The other was
the matronly cook/housekeeper played by Spring Byington, who had starred in December Bride as the world's most amiable live-in

This show was standard, but also well done, about characters that you cared for.

* In the years before James Bond ever saw Celluloid, when he inhabited
only novels, 007 looked a lot like Hoagy Charmichael. Ian Fleming said so himself in Casino Royale.
"Faint heart never filled inside straight"
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