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"Cimarron Strip" The Battleground (1967)

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A fine reminder of '60s TV westerns at their best............

Author: wildbillharding from United Kingdom
20 January 2007

I hadn't seen this segment of Cimarron Strip since its first airing in early '68. There was always a buzz when the credits came up, with Stuart Whitman, the young John Wayne, riding past those moonlike rocks near Lone Pine, California, to the strains of Maurice Jarre's soaring theme music.

The Battleground has a superb cast alongside the four series regulars. There's a brilliant performance from the late, definitely great Warren Oates, with a hint of his part in the groundbreaking The Wild Bunch less than two years later. RG Armstrong plays a part reminiscent of his turn in Peckinpah's masterly Ride The High Country, and Robert Wilke, who took on James Coburn's knifeman in The Magnificent Seven and lost hands down, is a snarling, disgruntled cattleman. Like the rest of the case-hardened cast he makes acting look so damned easy. It ain't. Not at all.

There was action aplenty in those days, long before the PC brigade nibbled away at the raw edges of TV entertainment. Stuart Whitman and his gang went for the action like nobody else on TV except for The Dakotas, and in The Battleground, like the other series segments, it fits perfectly with the story. You couldn't do the Cimarron land-grab and its simple politics any other way. If only TV westerns hadn't died out in the '70s. That's a goldarned shame, pardner.

Bill Harding - January 2007

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