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 Posted:   Jul 18, 2020 - 4:12 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

For the U.S. market (and probably for foreign markets as well), Universal combined excerpts from the television series "Laredo" and "The Virginian," (including We've Lost a Train, an episode from "The Virginian" telecast on NBC on 21 April 1965) into the theatrical feature BACKTRACK which opened in New York in May 1969.

While Doug McClure’s character from “The Virginian” was still called “Trampas” in this compilation film, James Drury’s character was renamed “Ramrod.” Earl Bellamy directed the feature, which was scored by Jack Marshall.

 Posted:   Jul 18, 2020 - 11:15 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In 1972, as Charles Bronson was enjoying considerable international popularity, Universal Pictures took an episode of the television show “The Virginian” in which he had appeared (with Lois Nettleton and George Kennedy) and padded it out with an episode that had starred Brian Keith and Geraldine Brooks to create the theatrical film THE BULL OF THE WEST, which was released to overseas markets. The Bronson episode was "Nobility of Kings" (10 November 1965) and the Keith episode was "Duel at Shiloh" (2 January 1963).

Charles Bronson, James Drury, and John Mitchum in THE BULL OF THE WEST

Jerry Hopper and Paul Stanley were the directors of the episodes. Hal Mooney provided the score.

 Posted:   Jul 19, 2020 - 10:28 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

On 2 January 1973, ABC aired a made-for-television film called FIREHOUSE. In the film, conflict erupts within a close-knit engine company of a big city fire department when a black recruit (Richard Roundtree) and a bigoted white veteran (Vince Edwards) clash during a wave of suspected arson.

When the film was turned into the series “Firehouse”, all of the cast (except for a character played by Richard Jaeckel) was dropped, and the series was produced as a show similar to “Emergency!,” which was currently a hit on NBC. The series was set in Los Angeles at a small inner-city fire station. The five-man crew of Engine Company 23 was led by “Captain Spike Ryerson,” played by James Drury. Drury attended the Los Angeles City fire academy prior to filming the series, and finished 4th out of a class of 127.

The cast of “Firehouse”: (from left) Bill Overton, James Drury, Brad David (in back), Richard Jaeckel (in front), and Michael DeLano

ABC premiered “Firehouse” on Thursday, 17 January 1974 at 8:30 PM. It was a midseason replacement for the second half of the police series “Toma,” which was moved to Friday nights. The lead-in show for “Firehouse” was another new half-hour series, “Chopper One.” “Firehouse” faced the same withering competition that had driven off “Toma,” CBS’s family drama “The Waltons,” which was the #2 show on television that season. “Firehouse” could not make any headway in the ratings and was cancelled after the airing of its 13-episode order.

 Posted:   Jul 19, 2020 - 12:12 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Kenny Rogers’ character from “The Gambler” films, “Brady Hawkes,” was back in THE GAMBLER RETURNS: THE LUCK OF THE DRAW. He's about to lose his primary means of livelihood, when a law banning gambling is about to be passed. But before that, there's going to be one last great poker game and all one needs to join is $100,000. A madame named “Burgundy Jones” (Reba McEntire), along with four other madams, is willing to put up the money for Brady, but first he has to compete against four other gamblers. In the end it comes down to Brady and a man named “Luke Cantrell” (Christopher Rich). Brady barely beats him.

Brady, Burgundy, and an old friend of his, “Ethan Cassidy” (Rick Rossovich) set off for the big game, which is in San Francisco. But Cantrell's a sore loser and is following them. Also following them is a band of outlaws who are planning to steal the money. Along the way, the trio encounter and/or are aided by some famous individuals, in what was one the greatest cast of television western heroes ever assembled. They included:
  • Gene Barry as Bat Masterson
  • Hugh O’Brian as Wyatt Earp
  • Brian Keith as “The Westerner”
  • Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, The Rifleman
  • Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick
  • Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie
  • David Carradine as Caine
  • Doug McClure and James Drury from “The Virginian”

    Apparently, the character names of “Trampas” and “the Virginian” could not be used, so McClure and Drury are simply called “Doug” and “Jim” in this film. Although Bruce Boxleitner left the series, Linda Evans returned as “Kate Muldoon,” from the first GAMBLER sequel. Dick Lowry directed the film, which for whatever reason shifted from CBS to NBC. It aired on 3 November 1991. Mark Snow provided the score (and I'm wondering if each hero was introduced with a snippet of the theme from his series).

     Posted:   Jul 19, 2020 - 4:50 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Actor Bill Pullman directed himself in a made-for-television movie of THE VIRGINIAN. James Drury made a cameo appearance in the film as a character named “Rider.” One of the main plot points from the novel is the Virginian's ongoing romance with the newly appointed "schoolmarm" of Bear Creek School, “Miss Molly Stark Wood.” In this film, she is played by Diane Lane.

    The film aired on Turner Network Television on 9 January 2000. Nathan Barr provided the unreleased score.

     Posted:   Jul 19, 2020 - 9:36 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Several legendary Western actors appeared in HELL TO PAY, an action-packed tale of brothers at odds, one a decorated soldier and reluctant hero (Kevin Kazakoff), the other a gambler who keeps company with card sharks and corrupt women (William Gregory Lee), in a small mining town torn apart by civil war. When they fall for the same woman, the brothers become divided; and one man is left to face a band of ruthless killers on his own.

    Among the former western stars appearing in the film were Peter Brown (“Lawman”), Lee Majors (“The Big Valley”), and James Drury. Chris McIntyre wrote and directed the 2005 film. It’s unclear as to whether the film had any theatrical showings before appearing on video. Nate and Noah Cryns scored the film.

     Posted:   Jul 20, 2020 - 10:14 AM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    In speaking of his days on “The Virginian,” James Drury said: “The majority of...episodes were shot in eight days. When we started out, they took about ten days. They decided they couldn't afford that much time because we aired the episodes every five days (excluding weekends). To keep up with the airing schedule, we had to run multiple units--as many as four or five different episodes filming at the same time. I would ride my horse or take the studio limousine back and forth between the sets to do my two-line piece in one episode, ten pages of dialogue in another episode, do a cattle drive in another episode, a wild horse drive in another, and then a gunfight and a robbery in yet another episode. I had to keep everything straight, and it was absolutely no problem and a joy to do. I would do it all over again tomorrow.”

    Fortunately, it’s all available to us to see and enjoy, something that would never have occurred to Drury while he was making those episodes. Farewell, Jim, and thanks.

    with James Arness (left) in “Gunsmoke”

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