I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.
I was punting around the television channels over the weekend. And something occurred to me. It’s always dangerous when I get to thinking. People should stop me before I do anybody any harm, and that includes me.
You don’t get Westerns any more, really. The only recent one I can think of was Deadwood, and it certainly was true to genre. Back in the 60s, every second show featured cowboys and Injuns. They were a staple of primetime viewing, and the weekend schedules were awash with them when they weren’t awash with horse racing and pretend wrestlers. There were loads of them.
Cheyenne. You got Clint Walker brooding about looking huge, and he was a big lad, old Cheyenne Bodie. Looked as if he could crack walnuts with his eyelids. But there were other aberrations too.
Sugarfoot. Anybody recall that? The main character was a law student heading west to make his fortune by trail riding to cover his college fees. Nobody will remember that, I’m fairly sure. He was a bit of a softie used to drink only ‘sarsaparilla with a dash of cherry.’ Fortunately he had some very big friends watching his back, including a hulking great Canadian lumberjack who, unable to get to grips with the main character’s name of Brewster, rather nicely referred to him as Little Rooster, because there really was nothing of him, and the lumberjack looked as if he was an outtake off Mt Rushmore
Rawhide? Where would Clint Eastwood be now without Rowdy Yates? Lorne Green cut his teeth in Westerns. Barbara Stanwyck could usually be seen locking the shutters and loading a Winchester repeater while the soup cooked. They were all at it. Anybody who was anybody was getting involved in a shootout somewhere in Nowheresville Wyoming, or Horsecollar Nebraska
But the list seemed endless. Wagon Train did what it said on the tin. Bonanza with the admirably chubby Dan Blocker as Hoss Cartwright. Back then a female friend of substantial build was referred to unkindly as Dan Blocker. I’m not very proud of that.
Branded, where the hero was drummed out of the cavalry for alleged cowardice, spent his days trying to prove his innocence and get his reputation back.
At any given moment you’d likely see Keenan Wynn shooting his way out of trouble.
The Rifleman. Guess what that was about. I’ll give you a minute.
I once spent some time in St George in Utah, and it was as if I’d been born there. Why? Because just about every Western television show had some guy getting shot and falling off the bluffs around the town. That place was Western Location Central in the 50 and 60s. It felt uncannily like home. But they don’t make Westerns like in the old days. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it is noticeable.
Sort of related, in the film North by Northwest, when Cary Grant gets cropdusted, the plane took off from the airfield that is now St George airport. You live and learn, eh?