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classic TV westerns

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Oct. 26th, 2016 | 06:46 pm
posted by: dfordoom in cult_tv_lounge

I was never much of a fan of TV westerns years ago. Like most people I watched the odd episode of Bonanza and Gunsmoke and I have very dim memories of Maverick and Have Gun - Will Travel and The Rifleman (OK, l all I remember about The Rifleman was the opening sequence).

In the past few years I’ve started to appreciate the western genre more. So maybe I should start checking out some of the classic television westerns of the 50s, 60s and 70s? Anyone want to offer any recommendations?

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Comments {8}

jack_ryder

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from: jack_ryder
date: Oct. 26th, 2016 09:42 am (UTC)
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I saw some great episodes of Have Gun Will Travel recently. They're very much like plays.

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dfordoom

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from: dfordoom
date: Oct. 26th, 2016 01:03 pm (UTC)
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In that case I might have to add this series to my shopping list!

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fitzjameshorse

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from: fitzjameshorse
date: Oct. 26th, 2016 02:20 pm (UTC)
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The problem was that in 1950s 1960s ...there was no way that we could record episodes. If our family was committed to a sit-com or soap, then we never got to see the western shown opposite.
I always liked Maverick, Cheyenne, Bronco and Sugarfoot/Tenderfoot which were all produced by Warners, which re-cyled a lot ....footage and scripts ...from their earlier movies.
There were various staples....Bonanza, VIrginian, High Chapparel, and Lancer were ranch based.
Wells Fargo, Laramie, Overlanders were stage coached based.
Wagon Train, Oregon Trail, The Travels of Jamie McPheeters were wagon-train based.
Some seem poor carbon-copies of Classics.
Maverick, Wagon Train, Rawhide (early episodes) are both classic and enjoyable.
Others are enjoyable without being classic.
Some are classic, without being enjoyable.....I find rich ranchers like Ben Cartwright, John Cannon and Judge Garth to be too good to be true. RIch men are normally greedy and that much interested in Justice.
There are references to the American Civil War (and indeed 1960s problems) which serve as kinda morality plays. Most westerns re-invent the period 1865-1880 and a lot of value re-examining them as adults. There is too much emphasis on former enemies working together to forge a new United States but its a very precise picture that excludes entire groups who dont fit the narrative.
There are a lot of westerns (eg Johnny Yuma-The Rebel) which, so far as Iknow were never shown in Britain or Ireland. I have to say it looks good on YouTube.
My favourite western series is the first one I ever saw. It was called "Boots and Saddles" (about the 5th Cavalry in an Arizona outpost).. Only one episode on YOu Tube.....I really wish Icould see that series again.

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dfordoom

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from: dfordoom
date: Oct. 27th, 2016 07:22 am (UTC)
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There are references to the American Civil War (and indeed 1960s problems) which serve as kinda morality plays.

I think that any TV series or movies (or novels for that matter) dealing with the past usually end up reflecting their own age rather than the past age in which they're ostensibly set.

You can see this in spectacular fashion with the Italian spaghetti westerns of the 60s that have nothing to do with the West in the 19th century but everything to do with Europe in the 60s.

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dfordoom

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from: dfordoom
date: Oct. 28th, 2016 07:37 am (UTC)
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I also loved Cimarron Strip which was a late 60's western in a 90 minute format. It's on dvd too and holds up well. Great character driven stories. Have also seen the other 90 min. western, the Virginian

I hadn't heard of Cimarron Strip. Sounds interesting. And while I've heard of The Virginian I don't think I've ever seen an episode.

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in_frequency

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from: in_frequency
date: Oct. 27th, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)
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I'm almost afraid to follow that up because it's so comprehensive.

i like maverick because of James garner. and I'm not sure if it's considered a western, but i certainly do consider it to be, kung fu. before carradine became a cliche of himself...

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swordznsorcery

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from: swordznsorcery
date: Oct. 27th, 2016 07:32 am (UTC)
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I love "Bonanza". It ran for fourteen years, often with thirty episode seasons, so if you don't like one episode, it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll find another that you do! For me the later seasons are best, probably because that's what I grew up watching, although I've since become very fond of the earlier stuff as well. It was a bit weird watching them to begin with though. Joe Cartwright was my #1 childhood hero, but he's only seventeen in season one!

A highly recommended one is "The High Chaparral". Although most of the TV Westerns attempted to tackle 'Indians' in a far better light than the movies, THC was the one that did it best. It was the Apache Nation's favourite TV show, because right from episode one they were portrayed as real people, with real concerns and motivations. Not angels, but not the devils of previous depictions either. Also, Native American actors were always used. The show also portrayed Mexicans as good people. Previously, they'd pretty much only been bandidos. At the time it was the only show with Mexican heroes in it, which catapulted star Henry Darrow headlong into political territory. His autobiography has some interesting stuff on that.

Personally I love "Laramie", which ran for four seasons from 1959. Two seasons in black and white (the best, really. Some seriously good episodes there), and then two colour seasons. Season one's 'Dark Verdict' is superb, and season four's "The Fugitives" is a seriously impressive psychological drama. They benefitted from some excellent directors along the way.

For something more light-hearted, I recommend "Alias Smith And Jones" from the 1970s, which was heavily influenced by Newman and Redford's take on Butch and Sundance. And for something more modern, "The Young Riders" from 1992 is excellent, at least in season one. I'm watching season two at the moment, and sadly it's not a patch on its predecessor.

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