Conagher (TV Movie 1991) Poster

(1991 TV Movie)

User Reviews

Add a Review
15 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
A Definite "Keeper' For Western Fans
ccthemovieman-118 June 2006
This was a solid lower-key Louis L'Amour-written western, meaning a little bit less action than the normal film of its genre. The action scenes they did have in here were short, too.

This is mainly a movie with several stories weaved in it: 1 - Cowhands slowly being sifted out as the times change and they are no longer needed; 2 - traitors among the main group, men who go to a competing gang of rustlers; 3 - a story of a lonely widow who has to take care of two kids after he husband disappears (killed).

Katharine Ross is the mother ("Evie Teale") who turns cook at a lonely stagecoach stop that also is being eliminated. She is a good woman, and it's nice to see the female star of "Butch Cassidy And the Sundance Kid" still looking good out there is the prairie over 20 years later. Also refreshing to see was her young boy "Laban," one of the nicest, most respectful kids I've ever seen on film: the exact opposite of the many brats I've seen on film in the last quarter of the 20th century. Cody Braun was excellent as the son, and, that's the only movie role he ever played.

The man "Evie" eventually falls for is the hero of the film, "Conagher," played by Sam Elliott. If anyone in the modern era of films ever looked like he was born to play a cowboy, it has to be Elliott. He has the weathered looks and the voice that go perfectly with westerns.

Overall, this is another beautifully-photographed, nice story and a real "keeper" for those who love a good fim of this genre.
20 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
PrairieCal21 March 2004
What can you say when something's perfect?

This movie is a love song to the west and to the man who made us love it too, Louis L'Amour. They got it all RIGHT in this one ... the script, the breathtaking cinematography, the casting, the acting, the costumes, the sets, the scenery, the direction, and the overall feel of the piece. And the frosting on the cake is that the book comes alive here, respectfully and faithfully transfered to film.

We see the tough and solitary life of a cowpuncher as it was, the dirt, the sweat, the never ending dust, the loneliness, no punches pulled. It exudes values and ethics while never preaching, and it shows the courage of one woman alone with children in the west. It's a tribute, a slice of history, a love story, and a lesson in standing up for what's right. Mostly it's just plain beautiful.

I think the thing that impresses me most about this movie is the casting ... not only the leads and supporting players, but the casting right down to the smallest bit part. And none of the roles are more perfectly cast than those of the children who manage to transcend time from now to then. The rest of the supporting cast reads like a Who's Who of American Westerns ... Barry Corbin, Ken Curtis, Buck Taylor, Dub Taylor ... and the newcomers here hold their own well in this distinguished bunch.

I try not to watch this movie more than once a year. That's difficult for me because I miss it between viewings like I miss an old friend. And every time I rewatch it my heart yearns to return to the west. This film is easily in a class with "Will Penny," and can stand proudly with any western ever made. Watch it.

PS: Yeah, it's got plenty of action too.
30 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The great Sam Elliott in a great Louis L'Amour
DHWay7514 January 2006
As far as books that become movies go, this is arguably the most faithful adaptation I've ever seen. This film follows L'Amour's novel of the same name so close that most of the dialog is word for word with the book. Like HONDO, also a L'Amour, the only parts left out of this film are minor pieces that had to be omitted because the film would be 4-5 hours long if every single scene was included. Even HONDO though, which is a wonderfully faithful adaptation doesn't follow as close as CONAGHER. The parts from the book that are left out are explained rather than shown.

That being said, the film is in my opinion one of the great westerns of all time. Not THE best, but definitely worthy of mention among the best. Sam Elliott & real life wife Katherine Ross are excellent, as is the supporting cast, comprised of a who's who of western actors, including Barry Corbin, Buck Taylor, James Gammon, & Ken Curtis (who was actually one of John Ford's "boys"). I can't think of anything but praise for this film. If you're a fan of great westerns it's definitely for you, but also anyone who likes a good film of any kind where we have a hero not trying to be a hero, but rather just doing what he has to, you'll like it too.
13 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Very true to original story.
lpdemm9 October 2000
Excellent. Very true to the original story. Sam Elliott is the quintessential "cowboy" actor. Louis L'Amour took a great deal of time researching his characters: from central characters to "extras" - this piece rings authentic with the way the Old West sounded,looked,and the way the people dressed and behaved. Its also quite romantic - a fact enhanced by the scenes between Elliott and his real-life wife and costar, Katherine Ross.
12 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great Western Movie
The_Old_Man3 June 2005
Sam Elliot is the quintessential cowboy, and this film allows him to portray the Louis L'Amour character perfectly. He is dangerous, gruff, decisive, courteous, as well as gentle and loving. He can stay in the fight after sustaining injuries that would lay-up a normal man, and prosecute the fight to the fullest extent. He can spend days on the trail, enduring the hardships, but will wash his hands before eating dinner. He is the perfect gentleman to a lady, as well as a hard-boiled barroom brawler. He always plays fair - one reason the cowboy in film history has become such an admirable personality. Sam also is able to portray "the same character" in The Quick & The Dead, with Kate Capshaw and Tom Conti, also a Louis L'Amour adaptation. The only reason not to absolutely love this picture is that is "made for network TV" picture, and there is limited to the fullscreen format and only has mono sound.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
My wife loves this movie
dishboy4430 September 2005
First, let me say, for you "Conagher" fans out there, it has finally been released on DVD, in May 2005, by Warner Home Video.

Second, on behalf of my wife, this is her favorite western of all time.

And she has seen a bunch of them!

In addition to being a cowboy movie, it's a romance. A realistic one, too. Katherine Ross' strong female character provides an excellent counterpoint to Elliot's rough cowboy ways.

Sam Elliot gives his finest performance, I think. He certainly seems to be having fun while doing it, too.

In many ways, this movie reminds me of "Will Penny", another fine western, starring Charlton Heston. If you liked "Will Penny", you will like "Conagher".
16 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of my very favorite Westerns.
coltt15 April 2003
An exemplary Western in the tradition of "Shane". Conn Conagher is my kind of man... tough, courageous and most of all honorable... and Sam Elliott who is the epitome of "cool", plays him to the bone!

This movie has the feel of how it really was in the West back then with authentic dialog, scenery, dress and props of the time. It has a well written script with action, drama and warmth. For true Western fans, I recommend it highly.
15 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
It takes me there
cody812816 July 2004
I can hardly put into words ,my love for this movie.I have seen it at least 50 times.I wore out the first video and have started on my second one.

I am a great fan of Louis L'amour and the making of this book into a film was one of the best things that could have happened,for me.

The cast and crew could not have been better picked. The roles of Evie and Conagher could not have been better done than with the husband and wife team of Sam Elliott and Katherine Ross.

I am transported to the old west every time I watch this movie.I suppose I like it so much because the book does the same thing when I read it.It is a movie to enjoy time and time again.
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Conager hits the mark
Cowgirlie12 June 2005
With Sam Elliot and Katherine Ross's smoking chemistry, this delightful adaptation of the L'Amour classic is a winner all the way.The horses, horsemanship (most of it anyway) and tack and equipment are correct for the time period, a rarity in TV movies. The range of emotion is beautifully captured in the sweeping cinematography, rich with sunsets and broad expanses of prairie. The story, one of LAmour's finest, tells of a woman facing the harsh reality that sometimes husbands never do come home...and the kindness of strangers may be the saving grace. Several songs have sprung from the imagery of this film,one of the best being Juni Fisher's "He'd Be Home By Now" on her "Sideshow Romance" album, (Red Geetar Records, 2004) Enjoy this one with a bowl of popcorn and keep a hankie ready.
9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A classic winner
ed-75526 September 2010
This is one of the best "true Westerns" ever, a tribute to the faithfulness of the makers to the book, and the labor of love done by the makers (Sam Elliott and Catherine Ross themselves). Sam and Catherine stuck to the text for the script, despite PC pressures to change some scenes.

The depth of love and respect for the original is also conveyed by the gracious touch of having Louis L'Amour's daughter portraying the starting-over former saloon girl stuck in the Indian battle at the stage station. The casting is near-perfect, even if most of them were the Elliott's good friends (and several were in Sam's other films).

The realistic look at ranch hand life strikes chords of memory with Monty Walsh. The action scenes were more reality-based than the 50's through 70's Westerns, such as the primitive look of the final saloon fight scene. And the costumes look straight out of a Matthew Brady photo book of a Western settlement, with the characters showing the dirt and grit which true pioneers experienced.

The developing love story between Con and Evie is beautifully captured by the camera, often without a word, as "the eyes tell the story". Ross plays the part perfectly of the dutiful, faithful frontier wife. And you "feel her pain" as she struggles with loneliness, and his as he struggles with an identity crisis and feelings of inadequacy to be the husband of a woman so noble. Sam deserved the Golden Globe for Best Actor he won, with a quietly powerful portrayal of the honest cowpoke.

All in all, a delightful and classically beautiful story of the Old West. I grew up in one of the last Western towns to "go modern", a real cow town which experienced some of the last (and biggest) gun battles in US history. This movie made me proud to be from my home area.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Authentic Western
hmcusn29411 December 2008
This is one of my two favorite westerns, the other being Zane Grey's "Riders Of The Purple Sage." They both starred real life husbands and wives, Sam Elliot and Katherine Ross in "Conagher," and Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in "Riders Of The Purple Sage," and they each tell of an honorable man coming to the rescue of a woman in distress while fighting evil. I am a hopeless romantic, and these two movies feed that romanticism perfectly.

The producers of Conagher used natural light to portray most, if not all, of the scenes, lending an aura of authenticity to the story. The harshness of frontier life is pictured in a way that makes one wonder how the people of that time managed to survive. Conagher is a footloose cowboy who never settles in one place for more than a season or two and has a reputation for being honest and tough. Evie, played by Katherine Ross, is a woman who came west with her husband and two children to establish a cattle ranch. After they settle into their dirt floor home her husband goes off to buy cattle and never returns, leaving her and the children to fend for themselves.

The story has a little bit of everything that makes for a good western; conflict between rustlers and honest ranchers, an Indian attack, a barroom brawl and good triumphing over evil. It is told with an excellent cast of actors, including a bit part by the granddaughter of Louis L'Amour himself. I was impressed with the acting of the two children and the entire cast. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys westerns. I have the DVD and I watch it at least once a month, and I never tire of it.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Cowboy's Cowboy Movie
Lonesome Dave9 May 2001
The book and movie is every bit a classic as Owen Wister's The Virginian.

On one level the movie may seem a bit slow, but that is the beauty of it.

Like Lonesome Dove, Conagher follows the book very closely and could not have a better cast chosen.

The only negative is that it is not available on DVD, WAKE UP TED!!
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
You came asking for it, I didn't send no invites!
Spikeopath27 March 2013
Conagher is directed by Reynaldo Villalobos and adapted to teleplay by Jeffrey M. Meyer from the novel written by Louis L'Amour. It stars Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross, Barry Corbin, Ken Curtis, Buck Taylor, Dub Taylor and James Gammon. Music is by J.A.C. Redford and cinematography by James R. Bagdonas.

After her husband fails to return from a trip to purchase cattle, Mrs. Evie Teale (Ross) fights hard to raise her two children whilst also keeping the family homestead afloat. Conn Conagher (Elliott) is a honest and hardworking cowboy who also has his own life struggles to contend with. Both Evie and Conn find their lives intertwined by their struggles against the perils of the West...

You don't know what music is until you hear the wind in the cedars.

Beautiful and subtle in every respect, Conagher is a treat for the grown up Western fan. The story is literate off the page from the beginning, it's the sort of character study that often gets taken for granted due to its simplicity. Yet the emotional depth is mightily strong here, the lead characters not bogged down by clichés or badly constructed scenes. Both Evie and Conn are deftly etched people, both easy to get on side with, their strengths are many, their loneliness perfectly understandable and never once schmaltzy. Helps that it's the real life husband and wife team of Ross and Elliott in the roles, the chemistry set in stone, when they look into each other's eyes you see it's real. A fine couple they do make.

Even though Villalobos takes his time, rightly pacing it in steady and reflective beats, it's a film that doesn't lack for action. There's still gun play (Indian attack/rustler root outs) and a good round of knuckles (Elliott one of the best punch throwers in his acting era), the director, no doubt helped by the wily Elliott, proving more than adept at construction of the energetic scenes. Bagdonas and Villalobos provide some gorgeous photographic compositions that belie the TV movie budget, with the Colorado (Buckskin Joe Frontier Town & Railway/Canon City) vistas an extra character; and the misty interiors nicely capturing the tonal mood of the narrative. A fine gathering of support character actors come up trumps, while Redford's musical score is led by the guitar and lands softly in the ears.

This is 100% recommended to Elliott and Western fans who appreciate characters superbly written and performed. It may end up as you expect, but that's OK, because if it didn't then you may well have wanted to throw your TV out the window. Just like I would have done had it not ended the way it does! Conagher, a subtle and beautiful treat. 8.5/10
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sam Elliot IS Conagher!!
uscg29264 April 2004
Sam Elliot IS Conagher! Strong, self reliant, honest and stands up for what he believes in in the tradition of John Wayne,American. Yet today there are real ranches with real cowboys that Sam Elliot would feel right at home with. The movie and its cast should have been given double Emmys and an Oscar for their portrayals along with a special award for following the book so closely. I hope this movie is hardy and will stand up for all of the play it's going to get!!
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Wonderful Western
Warning: Spoilers
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*Plot and ending analyzed*

Conagher (1991) is a wonderful Western. The only critique I have is one, when the Apaches attack the cabin, they get killed rather easily. If you overlook that bad bit of writing, then this is a great late-era Western for any fans of the genre.

This is the reason why Westerns are so good, because they put forth a flawed man or some man in an a ambivalent place. Sam Elliott is the main reason that I enjoyed this film. He exemplifies the Cowboy ethic, a tough, stern, but fair man, he'll pick the correct side, even if he is outnumbered or doomed.

Barry Corbin as a Stage Driver, Paul Koslo as Kiowa Staples, a killer, Pepe Serna (Silverado (1985)) as a Cowboy, Ken Curtis (Gunsmoke (1955)) in his last Western, and James Gammon (Silverado (1985)) are just a few of the fabulous cast.

One scene has Sam Elliott attacking his rival's Cowboy camp and he has a chance to kill them all but he doesn't. He's not a killer. He's wounded, and then falls unconscious. The rival Cowboys also have a chance to kill him, but the head Cowboy says, "He's worth more to this land than anyone else." That is just great. It exemplifies the Cowboy way and the land they lived on.

A very good film.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews