20 December 2013 | rusher-3
A Long-Lost Friend
This show has been a favorite of mine from the time it first aired in the late fifties. As another reviewer astutely pointed out, TV westerns of the day were rife with 'gimmick' weapons such as "The Rifleman"'s "rifle", or maybe "Yancy Derringer's", umm, "Derringer". In "Wanted Dead Or Alive", the gimmick weapon-du-jour was Josh Randall's sawed-off Winchester. These "weapons" were never meant to portray reality (well, "Yancy Derringer's" Derringer may be an exception). Rather, they were meant to catch the attention of those rabid "baby boomer" kids whose parents were fortunate enough to own a television. Realistic or not, these weapons were "cool" to every "boomer" kid, and the networks were keenly aware of that fact. As such, the networks may have felt compelled to "out-weapon" one another from time to time. Few who were born after, including most all of the reviewers here who have focused on the technical inaccuracies, ambiguities, and anachronisms of Josh Randall's weapon, have meaningful first-hand insight into what any of this was about.
"MeTV" has been airing re-runs of "Wanted Dead Or Alive" for several months now. I watch it every day. To me, it has been like renewing the acquaintance of a long-lost friend. Steve McQueen's portrayal of the "benevolent bounty hunter" is so convincing, and the story lines so compelling, that you come away believing that bounty hunters were the ultimate "good guys". And as those of us "boomer kids" fondly remember, the "good guys" always won.
Steve McQueen's first big exposure in either film or television was, of course, "The Blob", the filming of which was completed long before WDOA went into production. According to IMDb, it was McQueen's performance in "The Blob" that caught the attention of Four-Star executive Dick Powell. This, in turn, resulted in McQueen's casting as Josh Randall. As I recall, it was some time after "Wanted Dead Or Alive" first aired on television that "The Blob" finally went into theatrical release. By that time, McQueen was already a "star" (at least to us "boomer" kids), and we went to the theater, not just to see "The Blob", but also to see "Josh Randall" as a "teenager". Talk about an anachronism!!