Saturday, September 5, 2009

"If you want to call me that, smile!" has a teaser announcement up that the classic television western The Virginian, a huge hit for NBC from 1962-71, is rumored to headed to DVD soon. The background details are still sketchy at press time, but if I were to have a dog in this fight I’d say it sounds like Timeless Media Video will release this one, having put many of NBC-Universal’s oaters on disc (the upcoming Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo and Laramie, to name a few recent examples). (Note: someone over at the IMDb reports that Timeless is going to do this one, I found this out after writing the previous sentence.)

The TV series was inspired by the three movie adaptations (1914, 1929—the version that cemented Gary Cooper’s stardom—and 1946, with TDOY icon Joel McCrea in the titular role) of the famous 1902 novel by Owen Wister. The television version premiered over NBC on September 19, 1962 and starred actor James Drury as the title character, with Lee J. Cobb (as Judge Henry Garth, the owner of the Shiloh Ranch), Doug McClure (as Trampas—McClure was the only actor in addition to Drury who lasted the entire run), Pippa Scott, Gary Clarke and Roberta Shore in support. Cobb left the show at the beginning of the 1966-67 season and was replaced by Charles Bickford as John Grainger—who in turn left the Shiloh in the hands of brother Clay (TDOY fave John McIntire, whose wife Jeanette Nolan was also on the show). The last season—when the show was renamed The Men From Shiloh—made Stewart Granger boss as Colonel Alan McKenzie. Other prominent cast members on the series during its run include Clu Galager, Randy Boone, L.Q. Jones, David Hartman (yes, the guy from Good Morning America), Tim Matheson and Lee Majors.

Laura at Laura’s Miscelleanous Musings offers up a few recollections of the series; I’d tell you mine only I have to confess that much of the ninety-minute adult western (of which radio Gunsmoke producer Norm Macdonnell served as executive producer from 1965-71) appears to have been filed away in a file cabinet located in the dim recesses of my memory. The only thing I do remember about the show was its unforgettable opening theme, composed by Percy Faith (Ennio Morricone was responsible for the program’s 1970-71 opening music). I can say with absolute certainty that the last Virginian episode I watched was “It Tolls for Three” (11/21/62); a friend of mine was kind enough to send me a copy many moons back because this outing not only stars TDOY icon Lee Marvin but was written and directed by another TDOY icon, Sam Fuller. RTV does proffer the series reruns for broadcast but as I mentioned previously, WSB-TV DT in Atlanta hasn’t taken RTV up on their offer as of this writing.

I don’t know precisely how Timeless is going to do the box set; the IMDb commenter says the company has acquired all nine seasons of the show so I would hope this would mean season sets. If this is made so, Scott C. of World O’Crap fame will want to get a copy of season three, which contains “We’ve Lost a Train” (04/21/65), the pilot for TV’s Laredo.

1 comment:

Scott C. said...

Thanks for the heads-up! (It shouldn't be a total loss; I remember my mother loved The Virginian -- maybe she just loved James Drury -- while she hated Bonanza, and was quite vocal about her theory that Ben Cartwright was the most successful Bluebeard-style serial killer of the Old West.)