Good adventure series despite it's somewhat juvenile orientation.
I loved this show as a kid but did NOT want to be Cuffy! Not that I didn't fantasize about being Captain Gallant's little sidekick. But, in my daydreams I was a child prodigy, rifle toting, kickass legionnaire, not a putzy little "mascot". Cullen Crabbe was in fact Buster Crabbe's real life son, but in the series he is actually the son of a dead comrade and calls Captain Gallant "Uncle Mike". In one particularly poignant episode, Cuffy's imperious, snobby aunt arrives at the fort with a court order granting her custody of the boy fathered by her "black sheep" nephew and born to "some kind of an entertainer". Gallant immediately and angrily cuts her off with "A good woman and a fine mother". While the circumstances of his parents' deaths are never specified, it is implied that they were killed in a massacre of some type. I won't say what ultimately happens, but in 50's TV Land, things usually work out for the best.
The first year of the series was great. It was filmed on location in Morocco and many of the extras were real legionnaires or other French colonial troops. While many episodes were a bit too sappy for adults, some of them had good action sequences and more adult themes. The opening scenes feature a powerfully orchestrated version of "Le Boudin", the signature march of the Foreign Legion, and are about as stirring as anything ever televised. Unfortunately, the series morphed into more of a true kiddie show the second season, when political turmoil culminating in the independence of Morocco forced the series onto the back lots of California. In some of the later shows they even cut out the impressive opening.
I once got to meet Buster Crabbe when I was a teenager. A former Olympic swimming champion, he was giving a swimming exhibition at a resort where I was staying with my family. When I tried to speak to him privately after the show, he rather gruffly asked me what I wanted. Needless to say, I was very hurt and said that I just wanted to talk to Captain Gallant and was sorry to have bothered him. As I quickly and angrily turned away, he told me to wait and apologized for being so rude. When I told him how much I liked the show and admired his character, he became quite maudlin and even misty eyed. He spent some time telling me about how much he loved doing the show and what a great time he and Cuffy had traveling around North Africa. Although he didn't come out and say so, it seemed that he considered the show to have been the peak of his career. This made me forgive his initial shortness with me, since I realized that he was now reduced to giving poolside swimming demonstrations. A dream come true that made me happy and sad at the same time. Crabbe's fortunes did subsequently improve and he became a big wheel with the U.S. Olympic Committee. He died in 1983.
In it's first season, a fine show, but not one that would appeal to today's kids and probably even less so to politically correct parents.
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