Tag Archives: Virginian

“TV Confidential” – Interview with author Paul Green on “The Virginian”

From host Ed Robertson:  “The Virginian, a show that still has a very strong following today, particularly among female viewers. The third-longest running Western on television (nine seasons, second only to Gunsmoke and Bonanza), The Virginian was also the first 90-minute Western series produced for network television. My book A History of Television’s The Virginian: 1962-1971 not only features interviews with many of the actors and behind-the-scenes personnel of The Virginian, but shows how the series helped paved the way for the made-for-TV movie, while also playing an important role in the career of Roy Huggins.”

This show aired Oct. 16-22.

Advertisements

The Virginian 50th Anniversary at Memphis 2012 : Part One

James Drury

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.

Mary McTear, L.Q. Jones and Mary’s husband Bill
L Q Jones

The Virginian (1946)

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

Peter Breck (1929-2012)

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.

Sara Lane : I Saw What You Did (1965)

Sarah Lane and Sharyl Locke

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).

‘Golden West’ and ‘Tomorrow’ Themes

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.

Chuckwagon Dinner with “The Virginian” cast : Autry National Center

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 mhansen@autry.com