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Classic TV Series and New TV Show on DVD

 

The Rifleman

Sunday, October 28, 2007


The Rifleman

In 1958 ABC network launch the western television The Rifleman it was produced by Four Star Television. The western tv series cast Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son Mark lived on a ranch of North Fork, New Mexico Territory.

Paul Fix as Marshal Micah Torrance , Sweeney the bartender, and a half-dozen other denizens of North Fork. Fifty-one episodes of the series were directed by Joseph H. Lewis, the director of the classic film noir Gun Crazy (1950), which accounts for some of the show's virtuoso noir lighting and dark, brooding quality.

The series was set in the late 1880s according to the network publicists. McCain appears too young to be on the Army 25 years earlier, for historical accuracy, as did guest stars who also portrayed veterans of the Civil War. It seems that the time period was pretty much whatever a writer wanted to make it.

The 1st Season episode 39th, aired May 23rd, 1959 has a scene where a new grave stone has the year 1871 the year of death. The 45th episode "Tension" Second season, aired October 27th, 1959 makes reference to a robbery that occurred in 1871 which, according to one of the characters, was seven years earlier.

The western TV show series were extremely famous when The Rifleman premiered television producers find gimmicks to distinguish one show from another. The gimmick was a modified Winchester gun with a trigger mechanism allowing for rapid-fire shots. Connors displayed its rapid-fire action throughout the opening credits as McCain carried an unseen bad guy on North fork's main drag. furthermore the rifle may have showed in every episode, it was not constantly fired, as several plots did not allow themselves to violent solutions, A cruel teacher at mark's one-room school.

The several episodes of TV show series promote fair play toward one's opponents, neighborliness, same rights, along with the need to use violence in a highly controlled behavior. In other words, the program's bad guys tend to be those who cheat, who decline to help people down on their luck, who hold bigoted attitudes, also who see violence as a first resort rather than the last option. Indeed, a curious aspect of the program is that when they meet African-Americans, the people of North forks are actually color-blind.

Nevertheless , the TV show was created and developed by a young Sam Peckinpah, who would go on to become the last legendary director of classic Western movies Peckinpah, who wrote and directed many of the best episodes from the first season, based many of the characters and situations on real-life scenarios from his childhood growing up on a ranch. His insistence on violent realism and complex characterizations, as well as his refusal to sugarcoat the lessons he thought that the Rifleman's son needed to learn about life, soon put him at odds with the TV shows producers at Four Star Television. He left the show and created another classic TV series, "The Westerner," starring Brian Keith, which unfortunately was short-lived. The rifleman aired till 1963.


Wanted Dead or Alive

Friday, October 19, 2007






The television show Wanted: Dead or Alive was an American Western that ran for three seasons from 1958 till 1961, The leading man Steve McQueen, and was a spin-off of Trackdown in 1957-59, a western TV series featuring Robert Culp as a Texas Ranger. McQueen played bounty hunter Josh Randall. He carried a shortened Winchester 1892 Model carbine, called the "Mare's Leg," in a holster patterned after "gunslinger" holsters then popular in movies and television. Randall wore his holster on a belt with cartridges larger than what the real weapon carried to look more impressive. The original opening titles featured a black screen with ominous music with the flash and sound of the weapon as McQueen's character advanced to the front of the screen between the shots.

Randall was a bounty hunter with a relatively soft heart at times. He often donated his earnings to the needy, and would help his prisoners if they had bee

n wrongly accused.

Many viewers have panned this series. It was hockey and implausible at times. However, I recently watched the series again on the Westerns Channel and offer these observations:

When "Wanted" first came out the network TV was flooded with formulaic Warner Brothers westerns. With few exceptions they were all mostly repetitive and forgettable. My picks for exceptions are, obviously, Gunsmoke, which stood above the others, Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick and Josh Randall's Wanted Dead or Alive.

For the mid 1950s McQueen's character was ground breaking. He was the first anti-hero in a horse opera. Even when grouped with the line up of special gimmicks westerns (the rapid fire Winchester of The Rifleman; the weird Colt of The Rebel; Wyatt Earp's Buntline Special), Randall and his hog leg stood ou

t. Never mind that he didn't reload and the mechanics of the weapon were implausible, the series worked. It was unique. McQueen was unique.

I was 11 years old when the series started and it hooked me. Sure, it is difficult to watch it today without a laugh o

r question about its relation to reality. But back then it was cool and so was McQueen. And as someone else commented, only McQueen could have played the character of Josh Randall. For that matter, look at all his motion pictures. I don't believe any other actor could have made those films what they were.

Even 25 years after his death, McQueen is as popular as he ever was. As far as I can see, only John Wayne still has that kind of appeal.












 
   





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