9 November 2003 | lellison
An excellent teleplay from a fine book of an actual event.
This TV movie was born of James Corcoran's first published book. James, young journalist for a local newspaper, was working the weekend shift alone at the city desk. Watching unfold this horrific night, he became obsessed. As an investigative reporter, he subsequently followed up on every detail involving Gordon Kahl and his Posse Commitatis organization, as also he did with the many law enforcement agencies. A few years later, at the urging of a mentor, he wrote the book.
Living in Corcoran's home town at the time, I followed the episode with great interest. His achievement was one of becoming an expert on every aspect and reporting it with absolute accuracy. The depth of his study and research touched on the rationale, mindset, and motive of each character. There are many sub-plots, which interwoven, result in a work that would be impossible to write as a fictional story.
This true story begins with a background of interconnected events that precede the actual murders. Scenes early in the movie describe actions by various law enforcement agencies and Kohl's band of followers, which quickly converge into the literally explosive showdown. Following this tragic night are many emotional confrontations and controversial actions. Because emotions reached so high, and pain so deep, it is most difficult to hold blameless any person involved in this tragic happening.
Rod Steiger's fine performance closely emulated the appearance and demeanor of Gordon Kahl. Other characters were equally well portrayed. The scenes of the small town central to the plot were also accurately presented. Few dramatic events receive the factual and quality treatment as did this TV movie adaption of Corcoran's book. Very little creative license was taken in this production. To view this movie is to actually live the history of the event.
May it never happen again.