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  • stew9913 January 2000
    A pleasant surprise! I wasn't sure what to make of the idea of Bill Pullman filling the role made famous by Gary Cooper and Joel McCrea, so I approached this movie with some trepidation. But it was very enjoyable, and Pullman did a great job in the part. The dialogue was well-written and much more authentic to the time period than most western movies. The scenery was spectacular. And I was glad to see much of the original book's plot was intact, although there were a few changes made which were somewhat disappointing. But, altogether an engrossing and realistic movie. Pullman, as both actor and director, has managed to truly capture the essence and personality that, I believe, author Wister intended for his all-too-human hero.
  • Emphasis has been placed on realism is this exceptionally scripted and well directed/enacted version of previously screened material. The characters' interrelationships have been portrayed in much greater depth than is usual in many action westerns. It's refreshing to have the issue of guilt and ambivalence resulting from an act of moral conviction and responsibility revealed, elevating the value of what could have been simply a stale reissue of antique western genre. This fresh film provides the opportunity of fulfilling viewing--worth the investment of time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was ready to give this latest version of "The Virginian", one of my favorite novels of all time, a whirl when it aired.

    I could not believe my ears, though, when in the first meeting by the black-haired man with his nemesis Trampas while playing "cyards" in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, the critical line that sets up the whole protagonist situation of the story was altered!

    Owen Wister's novel reads as follows:

    It was now the Virginian's turn to bet, or leave the game, and he did not speak at once.

    Therefore Trampas spoke. "Your bet, you son-of-a ----,"

    The Virginian's pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: --

    "When you call me that, SMILE!" And he looked at Trampas across the table.

    Yes, the voice was gentle. But in my ears it seemed as if somewhere the bell of death was ringing; and silence, like a stroke, fell on the large room. All men present, as if by some magnetic current, had become aware of this crisis. In my ignorance, and total stoppage of my thoughts, I stood stock-still, and noticed various people crouching, or shifting their positions.

    "Sit quiet," said the dealer, scornfully, to the man near me. "Can't you see he don't want to push trouble? He has handed Trampas the choice to back down or draw his steel."

    Then, with equal suddenness and ease, the room came out of its strangeness. Voices and cards, the click of chips, the puff of tobacco, glasses lifted to drink, - this level of smooth relaxation hinted no more plainly of what lay beneath than does the surface tell the depth of the sea.

    For Trampas had made his choice. And that choice was not to "draw his steel."

    In the Pullman production, the critical line becomes, "When you call me that - smile, so I'll know we're still friends.

    EGAD!! This is both fiction - the two men had never before crossed paths, and it completely undercuts the whole tone of the exchange!

    At this, I gave up on the project and turned it off. Hollywood probably thinks it can improve on the balcony scene in "Romeo and Juliet", as well!
  • Just about the time I think Bill Pullman couldn't do any better.......along comes another diamond.....this one not the least bit in the rough. Beautiful authentic adaptation of Owen Wister's book...marveously cast, and the scenery a feast for the eyes. Even though the Canadian scenery was extraordinarily beautiful, I would have liked to have had the movie filmed in the U.S.A.

    The female lead was a bit wooden, but she can be credited with giving a passable performance. I venture to ask.....why would a Vermont straight laced, proper lady venture out into the wilds of the untamed West and still demand an eastern gentleman's manners? A cowboy's manners are every bit as appropriate as any other gentleman's for a lady....and Bill Pullman's Virginian was every bit a gentleman. He needed no educating from Molly 'in that regard'.

    I do take pleasure viewing Bill's father-in-law as an extra in Bill's films. A nice gesture.....typically Pullman. His children must have had fun being in Dad's film also. What a guy!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I've been a fan of the western genre since I was a little girl, and "The Virginian" has been one of my favorite novels for 30 years. I've seen the Gary Cooper and the Joel McCrea movies and both of them were a disappointment. They made too many changes to an already perfect story. Ah, Bill Pulman's is so different. It's very faithful to the spirit of the original story, even when it changes details. The characters are beautifully realized. I think it's a gem of a film. Thanks, Bill for your sensitivity to an icon of American literature.
  • Not only is this a physically beautiful movie, but it has an authentic feel on a number of levels. Seeing this movie, I can believe that time was experienced differently by people living in a rural, pre-technological world. And I found the more formal style of speaking, while a little awkward in my modern ears, totally believable. I don't know if this really is how things were, but this movie is persuasive. For the rest of it - the romance is romantic, the mans-gotta-do-what-a-mans-gotta-do thing is well done (understandable, not chest-beating silly) and the bad guy (Dennis Weaver) is an interesting blend of bully and weasel. All the performances were terrific, in fact. In an odd way, this movie makes many other recent Westerns (which I actually also enjoyed) seem a little less realistic. There's something really lovely here, if you give it time to unfold.
  • If you like an honest and touching western-like movie, you really got too see this one! Be warned however,this is not your usual all-shooting all-dancing big budget western movie ! Nothing has been exaggerated or romanticized like 98% of all other Western movies do,if you know what I mean... My English writing is not good enough to explain what I really mean, I can only urge you to read the user comment of Elizabeth (Feb-17-2003) ,that explains my thoughts about this little gem the best... If you're not blinded by hollywood standards and want to see an off-beat western, give this one a try,you won't be disappointed ! Go see it now,...hurry !! :)
  • I've always liked Bill Pullman as an actor, so I was anxious to rent this movie when it came out on video (it was originally a TNT production). I wasn't expecting it to be quite this good, however, and I was very impressed by Pullman's superb directing (he directed, produced, and acted). The cinematography (it has that late-90s western hue and tone to it) was excellent, and the music was also very good.

    There were several aspects of the film that were very much like "Lonesome Dove" (it even co-starred the lovely Diane Lane), which can only be taken as a compliment. Anyway, this was an extremely enjoyable modern western.
  • ...but quite different from the book. I saw this film first, then read Wister's novel, which was reminiscent of the better Zane Gray tales, in their portrayal of the real West and what westerners were like.

    Bill Pullman did a fine job, as star and director, but I have to wonder why they made a number of pulp western-y changes. The shootout in the book was simple and powerful, compared to the film's version. The book had examples of rude horseplay and one-upmanship that was the basis of Trampas' hatred for the Virginian, and went deeply into what kind of a man you had to be to survive out in the West of that time.

    In some way this gives you the best of both media: see the film first, for the enjoyment it provides, and then dig up a copy of the novel for an interesting, considerably different version of the story.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was surprised to learn of the many screen treatments the original work of literature had spawned, at least a half dozen going all the way back to the silent era. 'The Virginian' TV series was one that got by me during my youth, but having James Drury, that show's Virginian show up here in a brief role was kind of fitting. I liked this one, even though some of the casting was kind of suspect. I don't care for Bill Pullman so much and John Savage had more of a villain's look suitable for the Trampas character, but be that as it may, the players did a pretty good job in their portrayals. Steve's (Savage) day of reckoning with a noose caught me a little by surprise not knowing anything about the story, and further conveyed the idea of the main character as a principled individual who remained committed to a rigid moral code. I also enjoyed the dialog between the characters; I don't know if it was historically accurate or not but it certainly kept your attention. With exceptional Canadian Rocky Mountain locations and an engaging personal story between the principals, the movie offers a different kind of Western leading up to that final showdown in which The Virginian makes his stand for integrity and honor.
  • Released in 2000, "The Virginian" was the fifth movie version of the 1902 novel by Owen Wister. Bill Pullman directs and plays the titular character, a cowboy promoted to foreman on a remote Wyoming ranch. He falls for a schoolmarm newly-arrived from back East (Diane Lane) who's shocked by the "uncivilized" violence and justice she observes. John Savage plays the best friend while Colm Feore plays the main villain. Harris Yulin and Dennis Weaver are on hand as the big ranch owners.

    This is the only film version of the story I've seen and, I'll be honest, it's a hard movie to catch a grip with. To appreciate it you have to bear with the first half, paying close attention to the mumbling dialogue, which paves the way for a worthwhile second half. Also keep in mind that this isn't a rollicking shoot-'em-up Western; it's more of a realistic drama in the Old West with flashes of Western staples, like hanging rustlers and saloon confrontations. It has the look and tone of 2003' "Open Range," but lacks the budget, since it was made-for-cable (TNT). While I love rousing Westerns when they're done right, like 2002's "American Outlaws," I prefer the more realistic approach, like 1990's "Dances With Wolves" or 1992's "Unforgiven." "The Virginian" is similar in tone and locale to these movies, but is hampered by its TV-budget.

    The good news is that the locations, cast, cinematography, score and plot are all top caliber; unfortunately, the low-budget is glaring at times. For instance, there's a scene where the cowboys are forced to bring some horses down a steep hill and the entire sequence comes off awkward. I'm sure director Pullman felt the same way and tried his best to make it make sense in the editing room. With a higher budget he could've taken more time shooting that particular scene or done reshoots, but with the limited funds he had to make do with what he had. There are other scenes where I had to stop and think, "Okay, what's really going on here" and was eventually able to figure it out. This occasional lack of clarity was probably the result of cramming a 300-page book into a 95-minute movie.

    The above explains my relatively low rating (6/10), but I'm still giving it a marginal thumbs-up because the movie's very worthwhile if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Somewhere during the second half I stopped TRYING to like it and was involved with the story and appreciated the filmmaking (photography, music, actors, etc.); I was just focusing on understanding the dialogue.

    The schoolmarm and the government agents represent the encroachment of civilization to tame the West and men like the Virginian. The former succeeds while the latter can't handle the sometimes savage environment and suffer accordingly. While the protagonist understandably falls to the charms of the former the failure of the latter leaves him no recourse but to carry out justice, Western style.

    The film was shot in Alberta, Canada.

    GRADE: B-
  • This smoky dark western is filled with wonderful music designed to carry the mood from the beginning with the cello theme repeated in various forms throughout the movie as well as some very interesting pieces that were indicative of the times. The scenery and vistas are a delight. Some of the "Virginians" witticisms are quite noteworthy and I'm tempted to make use of some of them in my every day speech. It was fun to see a short appearance from James Drury (the actor as the Virginian in the TV series).

    As many movies have set a tempo to our image of westerns, so has this wonderful movie in its own unique way. This is not the old shoot-um up western but a great drama lead by Bill Pullman and Diane Lane and their interaction with the other characters in the movie.

    I'm still hoping that my only copy of this movie as a VHS will be replaced by a DVD someday.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *** I read this book twice over the years and found this production to be an honest interpretation in revisionist style of a great work of western fiction. The music and scenery are by turns haunting and breathtaking. The story, however, is more than a bit rushed and needed more time to unfold. Also, some scenes worked better than others and at times budget restrictions seemed evident. The romance between the two main characters, which is the heart of this story is nonetheless spot-on and is handled with grace and charm. Bill Pullman wears three hats as producer, director, and star and his scenes with Diane Lane as a tough lovestruck cowboy romancing a pretty but reluctant schoolmarm have a poignancy that is absolutely endearing! The chemistry between the two is undeniable. Great support from the rest of the cast (especially Dennis Weaver and John Savage). This is the best treatment to date for this granddaddy of all Westerns and I, for one, am glad of it. I'm still waiting for the DVD to add it to my western collection.
  • I bought this film on video. I had viewed this film before and was a little disappointed but decided I wanted to view it again to make sure, as I do like the western genre and some films grow on you upon repeat viewings.

    Unfortunately for me with this film it was not the case. I have grown to respect the lead actors in this film. Diane Lane whom I thought was outstanding in film such as A Walk on the Moon, The Big Town, Must Love Dogs & Unfaithful. Bill Pullman impressed me in The Guilty & Mistrial. I was however sorely disappointed with this routine effort. This is most definitely a family western and you can clearly see it is made for TV. The acting is okay, however the leads are somewhat weighed down by a poor script. On the positive side a lot of the cinematography is stunning, but the film never really rises above its TV roots unlike earlier predecessors such as Lonesome Dove also Coincidently starring Diane Lane. As far as modern westerns go this is not in the league of Open Range, Unforgiven, Tombstone, The Missing etc.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    From the first panoramic scene of galloping horses over the verdant steppes of Wyoming (well its filmed in Canada), I knew this film held promise and it did not disappoints. Deliberately paced, patient personal studies and sufficient screen times between the lead characters builds a believable, human story out of the wild west. Thanks to another insightful poster, this film neither glamorizes nor caricaturizes the western experience and in so doing made many of the other westerns less real now. Pullman does nice job of directing and acting too. Diane Lane delivered the staid school teacher from the North character perfectly. Strong supporting cast especially the Judge. Agree with another poster, the ending ***SPOILER*** would have been more poignant had it ended with Pullman accepting the loss of his love and living with the adjudication that he had defended his personal honour in a way a man was supposed to in those days.
  • I had never been a big fan of Western genre, but this movie captures a lot things not restricted to only Western genre. Bill Pullman is definitely one of the better actors you can rarely see nowadays with his coolness, determination, and gentleness shinning through each scene. His deep emotions along with Diane Lane's gentile yet determined performance made me glue to the screen to see the movie from start to finish which is a rarity when it comes to Western genre for me.
  • I've seen many of the VIRGINIAN movies over the years from 1924 to the present and this one is more descriptive and the acting is great by Bill Pullman. Naturally with newer settings and color it is better, but the older ones, 1929 with Gary Cooper and 1946 with Joel McCrea had their merits.
  • ...as said, the film was shot in Alberta, Canada... and it's simply beautiful. I've only seen 2 other remakes of The Virginian and this film is up there with the best of them. The acting is well done by just about everyone. It's a good TNT Original and a great start for Bill Pullman's directing and screenplay debut.

    Also for those of you who don't know, his children & father-in-law cameo in this film as well.
  • Much of the film is unbelievable, even if it is believably acted. But the ending is simply trite. The film would have achieved a higher status, had Pullman ended the film after he learned of Lane's departure, and accepted it. Instead, by following her back east and winning her after all he has done, he trivializes her principles. This is another example of how a few minutes can change the total impact of a film, making a farce out of the human condition.
  • Pitifully slow start. Also slow character identification and development.

    It was 45 minutes into the movie before any action took place. After watching the TV series this rendition was boring. The TV series was much more entertaining.

    Obviously I didn't care for this version of the title.

    It seemed to have been directed by an amateur.

    I couldn't think of 10 lines to write about.

    One more filler line. One more line of filler. I couldn't stay awake to comment any more on this version. I didn't see enough worth trying to add any more critical c comments.