This show aired Oct. 16-22.
This show aired Oct. 16-22.
This show aired Oct. 16-22.
A special thanks to Mary McTear for sharing her photos from the June 2012 Memphis “Gathering of the Guns 3” Film Festival celebrating 50 years of The Virginian. Click on photos for larger images.
TCM have recently released The Virginian (1946) starring Joel McCrea as part of a DVD set. The Paramount film, based on the Owen Wister novel, is a simple tale of romance, friendship, duty and justice. There are few shades of grey. Brian Donlevy, suitably dressed in black, plays the evil Trampas who serves as a bad and ultimately tragic influence on The Virginian’s friend Steve Andrews (Sonny Tufts) who turns to cattle rustling.
Joel McCrea is effective as The Virginian but the film belongs to a very effective Sonny Tufts as Steve and the beautiful Barbara Britton as Molly Wood. She provides the centrepiece of the film and the contrast between East and West. Her disgust at the brutality of the Old West is tempered by her love for The Virginian. The film benefits from excellent technicolor cinematography by Harry Hallenberger and an uplifting, optimistic atmosphere from director Stuart Gilmore. Although it lacks depth in places it is still preferable to the bleak, dismal 2000 TNT production.
Text copyright Paul Green 2012
Late last year I was very pleased to learn that cable station INSP were broadcasting all four seasons of The Big Valley (1965-69). As a long time fan of the show and its wonderful theme music I began watching episodes and became a fan all over again. Wonderful location photography, fine acting and thoughtful scripts plus some fine work from The Virginian’s L. Q. Jones who appeared in five episodes.
Of course the Barkley family was the backbone of the show. Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Long, Lee Majors (The Men From Shiloh), Linda Evans and Peter Breck as Nick Barkley. The hot tempered member of the family always ready for a fight but also willing to listen to reason. He was a sucker for a pretty girl and more often than not they led him into trouble. The romantic life of a TV Western character was never easy. Breck’s strong personality and personal integrity shone through the character of Nick Barkley. You symapthized with him. He stood up for himself and his family and wouldn’t tolerate fools gladly.
Peter Breck guest starred with James Drury in an episode of Black Saddle (1959) and also appeared in The Virginian episode “Rope of Lies” (2:25) and The Men From Shiloh episode “Hannah” (9:13). James Drury has recorded a wonderful tribute to Peter Breck which you can view on Peter Breck’s official website.
After watching The Big Valley re-reuns it was my intention to begin work on a book on the series. I contacted Peter Breck’s wife before his sad passing. She told me the company who owns the rights are very protective of their property and charge high fees for permission to publish photographs from the show. So I placed my project on hold. I would love to write a book on the series but for now fans can watch the TV show on DVD and INSP weekdays (three episodes per day).
Although Peter Breck is no longer here with us in the flesh his spirit lives on in his fine screen performances. Rest in Peace.
The year before she starred in The Virginian Sara Lane co-starred with Joan Crawford in William Castle’s menacing thriller I Saw What You Did (1965). The trailer and synopsis for the film is featured elsewhere on this site. Meanwhile here is the first of a number of publicity photographs from the film featuring Sara Lane (credited as Sarah Lane).
I’ve received quite a few requests regarding the incidental music from The Virginian – specifically two favorite tunes used regularly throughout the series. ‘Golden West’ and ‘Tomorrow’ were originally composed for Wagon Train by the Academy Award winning composer John Williams. Frederick Herbert added the lyrics. The song ‘Golden West’ was originally sung by Ann Blyth on the Wagon Train episode “The Jenny Tannen Story” (2:38). You can view the footage on You Tube.
The Virginian adopted ‘Golden West’ primarily as piano music in saloon scenes and ‘Tomorrow’ as background dance music. Recently I was informed by Elisabeth from my comments board that these themes are available on a new MP3 album of Wagon Train music. The arrangements are different to those used on The Virginian but this is the only album I’m aware of that features them. You can listen to short excerpts from ‘Golden West’ and ‘Tomorrow’ on the Amazon site.
Maxine Hansen has informed me that a chuckwagon dinner with the cast of The Virginian has been added to the Autry National Center events next year on September 22 at 5 PM. Cost is $50.00 per person. Reservations and payment must be made in advance before August 1, 2012. Please contact Maxine Hansen with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Virginian Television Series 50th Anniversary
Celebration at the Autry National Center
The Autry National Center in Los Angeles, California and Gene Autry Entertainment will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the ground-breaking western television program The Virginian on Saturday, September 22, 2012. The day’s events include a panel discussion with cast members, episode screenings, autograph session, and more.
The Virginian cast members scheduled to appear are James Drury, Randy Boone, Gary Clarke, Sara Lane, Diane Roter, Roberta Shore and Don Quine.
Owen Wister’s 1902 western novel The Virginian was one of the first great novels of the American West. Set in the semi-mythical town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming in the 1890’s, it chronicled the lives and relationships of the people who came west and settled the wild land. Starring James Drury in the title role, The Virginian was the first 90 minute television western, airing in prime time on NBC from 1962-1971.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
10:00AM to 4:00PM
The Autry National Center
4700 Western Heritage Way
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Autry Museum Members: FREE
Students with current ID & Seniors (60+): $6
Children (3-12): $4
Children under 3: Free
Free with current ID for active military personnel and veterans, peace officers, and park rangers
Contact: Maxine Hansen
I’ve just watched the TNT production of The Virginian (2000) on the GMC cable network. This is the first time I’ve watched it for many years. I still find it a melancholy, gloomy and slightly depressing film totally lacking in humor or any sense of camaraderie. For those about to watch this film for the first time place everything you love about The Virginian TV series to one side. As we all know the TV show took liberties with Owen Wister’s original novel. Trampas was transformed from being the villain and the Virginian’s love interest Molly sidelined midway through the first season.
The TNT TV Movie is more faithful to Wister’s novel but is deficient in many areas. Bill Pullman is a pleasing Virginian but lacks any sense of being a Southerner. He comes across as an educated northerner despite telling us he’s from Virginia and had little education. James Drury makes a brief token appearance late into the film as “Rider” but is wasted. John Savage has little to do but is effective as the tragic figure of Steve. Trampas isn’t explored in depth and Colm Feore never comes to grips with the character. Diane Lane as Molly Stark gives the standout performance and is one of the few characters who displays warmth and kindness in the hostile environment she reluctantly finds herself a part of.
Filmed in Canada, the overcast leaden skies and Pacific Northwest landscape doubling for Wyoming fails to convince as an authentic Western setting. I know this film has many fans but I’m not one of them. Mainly because of the inauthentic location work, choppy editing and slow-paced direction by Pullman. Medicine Bow is not the kind of place you’d ever want to visit in Pullman’s vision.