Arriving at Medicine Bow, eastern schoolteacher Molly Woods meets two cowboys, irresponsible Steve and the "Virginian," who gets off on the wrong foot with her. To add to his troubles, the Virginian finds that his old pal Steve is mixed up with black-hatted Trampas and his rustlers...then finds himself at the head of a posse after said rustlers; and Molly hates the violent side of frontier life. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. It received its first telecast in Philadelphia Monday 2 March 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10), followed by Asheville 29 March 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), by Milwaukee 11 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), by St. Louis 25 April 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), by Chicago and Seattle 6 May 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2) and KIRO (Channel 7) by Minneapolis 3 June 1959 on WSTCN (Channel 11), by Toledo 27 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), by Detroit 9 November 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), by Los Angeles 20 February 1960 on KNXT (Channel 2), by New York City 30 July 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2), and by San Francisco 9 May 1961 on KPIX (Channel 5). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so most vintage film showings were still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later. It was released on DVD 31 March 2011 as part of the Universal Vault Series, and again on 12 March 2013 as part of Universal's Classic Westerns: 10-Movie Collection; since that time, it's also been aired occasionally on cable TV on both Turner Classic Movies and Encore's Western Channel. See more »
When Molly first arrives at her cabin, she hears an animal howling. Mr Taylor says it is a coyote. But what we hear is actually the howl of a wolf. A coyote's cry is a barking, whining sound. See more »
This story, originally written by novelist Owen Wister is the
granddaddy of the western genre. Western novels before that were
usually about real life characters, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp for
example: that put them in these two dimensional heroic settings. Those
things were nicknamed "Penny dreadfuls" and that they were.
Wister, who spent some time in the west, and was a good friend of
cowboy president Theodore Roosevelt, developed his characters out of
the people he met in the west. The strong silent hero, the demure
schoolmarm, the cold hearted villain, all these appear in The Virginian
and they're stock characters in westerns. But these are the original
prototypes for thousands to follow. Owen Wister set the standard for
folks like Zane Grey, Luke Short, Louis L'Amour,etc. to follow.
Joel McCrea was a fine actor, a combination of the best features of
Gary Cooper(who did the role in an earlier version), Jimmy Stewart and
a younger John Wayne. Nobody has done a better job in playing this
character including Cooper. Brian Donlevy is the villainous Trampas and
he never disappoints. Sonny Tufts probably has the best role in his
career as Steve, The Virginian's friend who turns to rustling with
Trampas. Barbara Britton is properly demure as the schoolmarm.
This novel, the play that Wister wrote based on it and all the versions
to follow had the Presidential imprimatur. Teddy Roosevelt loved this
book and recommended it to the youth of America. I remember a similar
White House imprimatur for a western coming in my teen years. Back
around 1965 the folks had CBS decided Gunsmoke had run its course and
they were ready to pull the plug on the show. Well, up stepped Lady
Bird Johnson to the plate and she declared that Gunsmoke was her
favorite television show. That did it, the show ran almost another
The crux of the story centers around the relationship with The
Virginian and Steve. After warning him once, The Virginian catches
Steve with stolen cattle and since there's no organized law in the
territory, proceeds to hang him forthwith. The story then revolves on
how The Virginian and others around him view the distasteful, but
necessary duty he had to do.
I've often wondered how Theodore Roosevelt felt about that part of the
plot and what he might have said to his good friend Wister. There is a
famous story from his days in the Dakota Territory about how Roosevelt
set out to trail some rustlers and caught up with them. There was no
law within miles of where they were. But Roosevelt took them back to
where there was a federal marshal and turned them over to the surprise
of many including the marshal.
No doubt The Virginian was a great example of the manly virtues of the
strenuous life that Roosevelt passionately advocated. But I often
wonder what he and Wister might have talked about concerning this
aspect of the story.
Remember folks if you see this and complain about clichés, remember the
clichés started here.
39 of 46 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?