As a follow-up to this post, let’s look at the viewing from the first quarter of this esteemed, classic year we’re currently honoured to be
The Loner season 1 (DVD)
The Rebel (Johnny Yuma) season 1 (DVD)
Stoney Burke season 1 (DVD)
Alfred Hitchcock Hour seasons 1-2 (DVD)
Naked City season 1 (DVD)
A bit of commentary…
Stoney Burke (1962-53) is notable as being the other series headlined by the great Jack Lord (just after playing Felix Leiter in the first Bond movie, Dr No). Lord plays the titular rodeo star, and there are some interesting pre-echoes of his performance as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O (especially his largely abstemious stance on alcohol)—but the show is often more-or-less stolen by the always-entertaining Warren Oates, playing Stoney’s sleazy-but-kinda-okay childhood friend, Ves Painter. Overall a strong series, but marred by an apparent string of backdoor pilots towards the end, and a couple of closing episodes which appear to be alternate/variant season endings (the finale itself, “The Journey”, is actually quite surreal). Very pleased to have finally seen it, anyhow.
Trivia #1: Producer Leslie Stevens would go straight from Stoney Burke to the classic SF show The Outer Limits, which was a part of the 2020 viewing schedule!
Trivia #2: In the possible backdoor pilot episode “Point of Entry”, you get William Smith playing a cop and sharing scenes with Lord some 16 years before he joined McGarrett’s final season Five-O team as James “Kimo” Carew.
On a similar note, The Loner (1965-66) is notable as being the series legendary genius Rod Serling created directly following the cancellation of The Twilight Zone, filling the gap between that and his TV movies and work on the original Planet of the Apes film (1968). It stars Lloyd Bridges, who is excellent as William Colton, a former Union captain trying to find himself after the end of the Civil War. There is an interesting link between this show and the earlier The Rebel (more below). Interestingly—though not surprisingly, because at this time he was in damn near everything—the aforementioned Mr Lord appears in episode 2, “The Vespers”.
Onto The Rebel (1959-61). This stars Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma, a Confederate soldier… trying to find himself after the end of the Civil War. Although he’s a young man and on the other side of the fence, as opposed to Bridges’ grizzled veteran on The Loner, the similarities are striking in a number of ways. Not least, their conciliatory approach in the aftermath of the bitter struggle, not always shared by various characters they encounter. Yuma is an aspiring writer and keeps a constant journal of his travels and adventures, which is an interesting (perhaps intentional) parallel to Adams himself, who apparently was an avid journal-keeper. One of his (few) surviving manuscripts, dealing with his friendship with Elvis Presley, was published in 2012 as The Rebel and the King. This series is really good; it’s a pity Adams’s career didn’t pan out so well. His life ended tragically in 1968, aged only 36, from a prescription drug overdose which may or may not have been accidental.
Trivia 1: Country God Johnny Cash, who sings the show’s theme song, “The Rebel – Johnny Yuma”, also appears in the season 1 episode “The Death of Gray”, as Pratt, a somewhat dimwitted criminal.
Trivia 2: The season 1 episode “Fair Game” sees Yuma encounter a group of people at a stage depot, including Patricia Medina as an alleged murderer being taken to justice by a bounty hunter. Said bounty hunter is poisoned—but by who? The basic plot for this inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight (2015).
Meanwhile… currently working through Alfred Hitchcock Presents season 5, The Rebel season 2, Have Gun, Will Travel season 1, Orson Welles Great Mysteries series 1, Naked City season 2 and Department S series 1, amongst other stuff. Look for the Q2 update whenever.
Film-wise, not so much, but amongst them some great films noir such as The Killers (1946) and Brute Force (1947)—Burt Lancaster’s debut movies, incidentally, and a terrific way to start a memorable screen career—and The Glass Key (1942) and The Blue Dahlia (1946), featuring the famous pairing of Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake.
There isn’t much “new” stuff amidst all this, but let’s be honest—new stuff is almost always completely rubbish.
More blogs forthcoming.