Dave and Brown find a dead man on the trail. They take him to a cattle camp, where he meets an old friend of his. But when Dave's friend gets drunk and picks a fight with Dave, Dave has no choice but...
An unexperienced Eastener busts himself into a group of horse catchers. Despite all advice he continues to look at his gun as a fancy accessoire, ignores the rules of the men and consequently finds ...
Dave has been searching for quite a while for his old flame, a girl named "Jeff", who he finds working in a saloon as a prostitute and singer under the thumb of ex-prizefighter Denny Lipp. Yet, when ...
In 1868, after the Civil War, Custer takes charge of a mix of ex-Confederates and criminals, the 7th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hays, Kansas. His boss General Terry doesn't like his methods ... See full summary »
Robert F. Simon
Western stories and legends based, and filmed, in and around Death Valley, CA. One of the longest-running Western series, originating on radio in the 1930s. The continuing sponsor was "20 Mule Team" Borax, a product mined in Death Valley.
The series was developed from a 1959 episode of "Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre" written and directed by Sam Peckinpah titled "Trouble at Tres Cruces". See more »
[a Mexican bandito bars Dave way out of town]
[the gunslinger nods]
Sure you do, you miserable hind end of a coyote. Just tryin' to be agreeable. Now look here what I got for you
[Dave unsheathes his rifle]
See? Ain't it purdy? How'd you like to have that, you bushwhackin' hamstringer?
[as the gunslinger reaches for the rifle Dave smacks him with the rifle butt]
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There were so many westerns on TV in 1960 that you could almost smell the phony gunsmoke. Most were forgettably simple-minded tales of good vs.evil, with cardboard characters, predictable outcomes, and no hint of real world complexity. Then along came an anonymous entry on Friday night without the big name stars or glamour of a Wagon Train, Bonanza, or Big Valley and long before the movie-going public had heard of Sam Peckinpah. You had to stumble across the show to even know it was there-- (what little publicity it got dwelled on a gimmick, Keith's 'scoped rifle', which Peckinpah ditched as soon as possible.). Nonetheless, The Westerner, as other reviewers point out, was ground-breaking in its willingness to explore nuance, and bring some realism to that most heavily fictionalized of American genres-- The Cowboy Movie. Instead of the usual cowboy hero as an unbeatable force for good, Bryan Keith's Dave Blassingame is a recognizable human being. He's a cowpoke drifter-- dusty from the trail, who befriends dogs, hookers, and lowlifes, can't read or write, likes to drink and brawl win or lose, and is obviously going nowhere in life. But he has an innate sense of honor that occasionally lifts him above the ordinary. In short, he's one of those rare characters who stands for the rest of us, not as a god, but as a real recognizable human being. It would be a mistake to read too much into the show-- it only lasted 13 weeks. But Peckinpah's willingness to challenge conventions is clearly evident, while the episode titled The Line Camp is as good as any show from that era. In this post-Vietnam period, it may be harder to see what was so special about the series. Still, the episodes wear well and the best are dramas as good now as they were then. I never thought I'd have a chance to share a public salute to what Peckinpah was trying to do, and was never even sure anyone else was watching. The series was simply there one week and gone the next as though it had never existed-- and I never knew why. I think now that the plots and characters were simply too offbeat for the time, and the sponsors and network lost their nerve. But I've never forgotten Dave Blassingame and his big scruffy dog. Thank you, Sam Peckinpah for trying to do something special, and thanks to The Western Channel for reviving this obscure but outstanding series.
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