|Index||5 reviews in total|
I remember being enthralled by this series as a kid and was disappointed when it ended. I endeavoured later to find out about the real Custer and am now enjoying the series again on DVD. Maunder plays Custer as an efficient and rather aloof officer which indeed he was. Custer was idolised during the Civil War but was reduced to fighting a tawdry war against the Indians during the 1870s. This series portrays that part of his life. It is highly fictionalised but elements of the truth keep bursting through from time to time...the relationship with Reno, the unlikely use of 'Gary Owen' as a marching tune, reluctance to follow orders and his love/hate banter between Terry and Custer. Production values are good and the guest stars excellent. Most episodes have a real air of excitement about them and the fact that Custer's sad fate is well known adds a poignancy to the proceedings. Wayne maunder's portrayal of Custer is excellent, far from being the glory seeking buffoon of many other 'epics', he plays Custer as he probably was,an efficient cavalry officer. Give this show a look, especially if you are a western fan, and you wont be disappointed. ps - The character of 'California Joe' was a real person.
Fully disagree with the bad reviews. This show was ahead of its time and was canceled (for the at the time) violence shown. The casting was good and with the great guest stars was not second rate. The show lacked historical accuracy (but not authenticity). The show was canceled not because of ratings but the studio concerns over the so called violent combat shown. I have all 16 episodes and the pilot and this show was underrated as was the other "Monroes" western at the time. Highly recommend for Western fans and for those who can appreciate the production values of the time (60's). Check out the episode featuring "Kirby" from Combat. Intense acting and well scripted drama. Maunder actually plays a smart and responsible Custer and not the foolhardy Custer of real life.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I picked up a DVD copy of "The Legend of Custer", not realizing it was
actually the premiere episode of the short lived 1967 TV Series titled
simply "Custer". Wayne Maunder does the honors as the twenty eight year
old arrogant and conceited "Boy General", shortly after his demotion in
rank from Brevet General to a Lieutenant Colonel, which came as a
result of dereliction of duty for leaving his post.
The first episode of the series is titled "Sabres in the Sun", and when I say it takes a great deal of historical license in telling it's story, that would be a gross understatement. Central to this episode is a forced alliance between Custer and Lakota Nation War Chief Crazy Horse (Michael Dante), who Custer rescues following his capture by a rival Blackfoot tribe. The story see saws it's way between both men contesting their superiority over each other, before Crazy Horse makes his way free to war on the cavalry troops of Fort Hays. Since the Custer-Crazy Horse team up seems so preposterous, I find it difficult to accept other parts of the story as fact, such as the 7th Cavalry adoption of an Irish tune from Limerick as their theme song; it's the one you hear in many cavalry Westerns. Combine that with the handgun shooting prowess of Colonel Custer portrayed in the film; thanks to a recently viewed episode of "Wild West Tech", be advised that handguns of the era were accurate up to a range of about twenty feet!
All of sixteen episodes of this series aired between September and December 1967 before the show met it's own Little Big Horn. In that time, a fair amount of reputable guest stars made their appearance in the show, including Robert Loggia, Ray Walston, Darren McGavin, Rory Calhoun, Agnes Moorehead, and James Whitmore. Series regulars included Robert F. Simon as General Alfred Terry and Slim Pickens as California Joe Milner. Judging by this episode, it's no surprise the series ended abruptly, though in a counter to Western tradition, the final episode had the Kiowas ride to the Cavalry's rescue after being blamed for raids on wagon trains. Had the series gone for comedy instead, it might have been better remembered - as in "F Troop"!
This review is based on the "theatrical" version of the series pilot.
"Awful" is about the kindest thing I can say. "Custer" shows the general disrespect (I'll avoid the obvious pun) of the TV networks for their audience. The idea that a TV drama aimed at a mass audience //might// be historically accurate and subtle was beyond their conception. The truth of Custer's life is a far-more interesting story than the fictions concocted here for the purpose of simple-minded story telling and the need to strip episodes in syndication.
In terms of historical accuracy, even if the viewers didn't know that Custer and Crazy Horse didn't have the convenient meeting portrayed here, they should be able to figure out that it's all too glib to be believable. Of course, Custer is portrayed as rash and self-centered, under constant criticism -- though one has to believe there must have been some palpable arrogance we don't see here.
Myles Keogh was an Irish soldier greatly respected during his life, and is still well-remembered in his homeland. He had the good sense to buy a $10,000 insurance policy not long before he was killed at the Little Big Horn. Other than Major Terry, everyone else is likely fictional.
Wayne Maunder is wiry and well-built, and his snug trousers show off his body to good effect (especially in fight scenes). But his looks are more "Hollywood handsome" than the rough manliness of the historic Custer.
The acting and directing are loud 'n noisy, as befits a cheaply made * TV series that would be viewed on small-screen TVs. The music is equally bad, a compilation of mindless action-movie clichés.
It's unfortunate Republic hasn't transferred "Son of the Morning Star" to DVD. (There are at least two pirated versions, one of them copied from the LaserDisc set.)
* I mean cheap in the sense of "turning out a product", rather than trying to create something of lasting value.
"Custer" lasted 16 episodes, and that's 16 episodes too many. I can't
any reason why a network would have picked poorly-written junk like this
to broadcast. The western story lines the writers used were tired and
in the 50's, and by the late 60's were just plain ludicrous. "Star Trek"
had debuted the year before, and this left-over relic from the early days
TV had no chance. To write a series around a character that everyone in
audience knows will be massacred a year or two later is startling and
morbid, to say the least. It gives the series an air of doom that I don't
think the network intended.
Wayne Maunder plays the title role, and while he was good 4 years later in "The Seven Minutes," he must still have been learning his craft because he's just plain bad as Custer. He resembles a young Errol Flynn more than Custer as he minces and leaps about, and does not have the air of command necessary for someone playing Custer. Tinkerbelle maybe, but not Custer.
Slim Pickens co-stars as the requisite wild west trail boss/guide, named "California Joe" (good grief!), and was obviously cast to add verbal witticisms and old west humor to the show. It doesn't help one bit.
This series had a stellar guest cast in those 16 episodes: James Whitmore, Agnes Moorehead, William Windom, James Daly, Robert Loggia, Kathleen Nolan, Ray Walston, Darren McGavin, Lloyd Bochner and many more. Even great talent like that couldn't save this series, which should have been battle-axed before it ever hit the air.
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