22 December 2006 | aimless-46
"The Lonely Gunfighter: The Legacy of Cheyenne"
Running 107 episodes, from 1955 through 1963, "Cheyenne" was one of the first "television" productions from the Warner Brothers film studio. Clint Walker plays the title character, an ex-frontier scout who was raised by Cheyenne Indians after his parents were killed.
Cheyenne Bodie roams the West in the days after the Civil War, having adventures and helping folks out. The tall laconic hero would eventually become television's quintessential loner but actually started out with a sidekick named Smitty (L.Q. Jones) who was a mapmaker. Cheyenne and Smitty do mapping work for the Army and in this occupation stumble across the people who make up each episode's story.
The current DVD set covers the 15 episodes from Season One and includes a recent interview with Clint Walker called "The Lonely Gunfighter: The Legacy of Cheyenne". The reason there are only 15 episodes is because "Cheyenne" was only broadcast every third week, being part of an anthology series called "Warner Brothers Presents" which also included "Casablanca" (with Marcel Dalio) and "King's Row" (with Robert Horton and Jack Kelly). In subsequent seasons the anthology would feature shows like "Conflict", "Sugarfoot", and "Bronco Lane".
Contrary to popular belief, the episodes on the 1st season DVD have not been abbreviated. Although they run less that the normal 50 minutes (60 minutes minus commercials) it is because the original broadcasts took some additional minutes for Warner Brothers to use in promoting their coming attractions; with a behind the scenes look at one of their soon to be released features.
Also unique to the first season was an attempt to add scale to the stories by inserting a lot of stock footage of cattle drives, Indian attacks, and huge wagon trains. In general they did a better job than most "B" westerns of matching this footage to the back lot and sound stage stuff featuring the actual cast of each episode. But this technique and the busy schedule was a nightmare for the editors. The first episode "Mountain Fortress" includes a particularly amusing continuity issue. Watch how the sergeant and the trooper are killed early in an Indian attack, then magically reappear in a subsequent group shot. Most likely the editors noticed the problem but there was not time to re-shoot the scene with the correct cast.
At least two episodes take actual movie plots and retell them in a Western setting. "Fury at Rio Hondo" is a retelling of "To Have and to Have Not" with Peggy Castle outstanding in the Lauren Bacall role. "The Argonaunts" is a retelling of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and features Rod Taylor.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.