Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Might've Been: The Westerner (1960)

Before becoming a legendary movie director, Sam Peckinpah plied his trade writing and directing in television. After directing some episodes of The Rifleman, Peckinpah was able to sell Four Star on his own creation, The Westerner. That was the good news. The bad? It was cancelled after 3 months due to low ratings, airing as it did opposite Route 66 and The Flintstones.

Brian Keith top-lined as Dave Blassingame, a uneducated drifter who, as you'd expect, was proficient with a gun. Four Star would later repackage the series as part of a wheel and amended the title to The Westerners for syndication, with Keenan Wynn hosting the framing sequences. Wynn and Lee Marvin would co-star in a pilot for a revival a couple of years later. Keith reprised as Blassingame in 1991 in one of Kenny Rogers' Gambler TV-movies.

The last time The Westerner aired on broadcast cable, that I know of, was a few years ago, when TV Land ran it as part of its weekend TV Land Goes West anthology package, and that's how I became acquainted with the series. Let's take you back to September 1960, and the series opener, written and directed by Peckinpah, about a woman named "Jeff".

Rating: B.

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