Lawman (TV series)

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Lawman (TV series)

Postby moira finnie » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:43 pm

Lawman (1958-1962) on the Encore Western Channel starring John Russell and Peter Brown is one series I don't think we have specifically discussed much.
Image

Maybe that's because the show almost has the ingredients for a good series, but it seems to lack the strong writing and acting that still make shows like Have Gun Will Travel and The Rifleman watchable. I keep trying to give it a chance, but have given up on the story about half way through each time. The show's best moments seem to come in moments, such as the time that Johnny McKay (Brown) asked Marshal Troop (Russell) if he'd ever been in love.

Being the strong, silent type, Russell gripped the rifle he was cleaning a little tighter, and said "...Yes" in the same way that you'd say "yes" through clenched teeth if your dentist asked you if you were comfortable after he'd done a root canal. That seemed to be it, though the Marshal later mentioned that if McKay loved a gal (the girl in question had once been as pure as the driven snow, until she drifted), he should not let her go. The best shows seem to feature some feisty gals who get involved with Russell in some manner. One featured an half-Indian young lovely who was trying to make a go of her ranch despite being saddled with a Mom who wanted her daughter to get hitched and a townful of bigots who wouldn't allow the woman to work her land or hire help....one of those land grab things, you know.

Another featured a very young, almost unrecognizable Louise Fletcher as a member of a gang holding Russell captive...until Louise fell for--guess who? And what happened to her? Well, if you saw the fate of most gals who batted an eyelash at any of the Cartwright boys during Bonanza's salad days, you know she was pushing up daisies by the time that the credits rolled. Other guest stars have included a very subdued Richard Arlen who showed up on two epis I've seen and it's enjoyable seeing Emory Parnell as a semi-regular bartender, and the great Whit Bissell as a citizen--not to mention a pair of actors who prove that "there are no small parts, only small actors"--Ted de Corsia and Robert Wilke, both of whom are, as usual, blackguards and rapscallions who force Marshal Troop to open that can of whoop-a** he keeps in his desk drawer.

Btw, I like Peter Brown, though I must admit, I find his character as dumb as a box of rocks. Without the show's need to maintain the sensei-grasshopper vibe between John Russell and Brown, his character would have been killed in the first episode if there were any dramatic logic or justice. He does get smarter, doesn't he?

One other thing: Russell is very easy to look at (you could cut yourself on his chiseled high cheekbones), I am fascinated by his hair, which seems strangely lifeless. Hat head? Too much Final Net? Or, could it be...?

I recently caught a few minutes of the Clint Eastwood doc on TCM. Unfortunately, I tuned in just in time to see John Russell's corrupt lawman get his just desserts from Clint in Pale Rider (1985). Oh, jeez, I wish I hadn't seen that. How things changed.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby movieman1957 » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:43 pm

"Pale Rider" was my first exposure to John Russell. A short lesson from my father gave me some sense of Russell's history. I only managed to catch one episode so far. (I certainly could record some but I am backlogged as it is.)

First impressions (on this episode) seems he goes to extremes to be fair regardless of how he is being effected. Most things seem to be done as an education for Peter Brown. I'll have to see more to tell whether it is just another series or not.

I don't think I have ever seen tighter shirts on two men ever.

P.S. The promo with him jumping through the window and yelling "Lawman" seems somewhat forced and odd. That didn't exactly make me want to watch it. Being an old western TV show is. Running through "Gunsmoke," "HGWT," and "Wanted: Dead or Alive" this is one more to check out. (Also I've been running through "Cheyenne.")
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby moira finnie » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:43 pm

movieman1957 wrote:I don't think I have ever seen tighter shirts on two men ever.

*lol*I keep wondering how they tailored them to fit them like that. Their jeans aren't exactly loose either. I think they must have been made from some kind of 1950s spandex.
First impressions (on this episode) seems he goes to extremes to be fair regardless of how he is being effected.

The effort that the Marshal expends trying to be fair does seem to take up almost an entire episode sometimes. And then, near the end of the episode after exhausting all other alternatives, and you think, okay--now we'll finally see some action--something happens but usually someone is revealed as not so bad after all or a troublesome character rides out of town, frustrated that he couldn't get a rise out of Troop. It's actually pretty funny.

I was vaguely aware of Russell prior to seeing this series from a few '40s movies such as the noirish Slattery's Hurricane and The Story of Molly X. In the first movie Russell is a cuckold, who seems to be about to be tossed aside like a used kleenex by femme fatale Linda Darnell. The fact that she is throwing away her marriage to Russell's good looking, straight arrow pilot in favor of that good actor Richard Widmark, who played an irresponsible, larcenous and grouchy bag of bones was pretty puzzling. As I watched that one, I kept wondering what the heck she saw in Widmark's character but, *sigh* you know how those "bad boys" are always supposed to be catnip to the babes in these movies. I seem to remember seeing Russell on '70s shows like Police Story too. As a Western figure, I was pretty unaware of him until the last few years when I started to enjoy movies like Randolph Scott's Man in the Saddle (1951) and seeing this program. I guess I should give it another try...
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby mrsl » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:43 pm

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Movieman1957 and moira:

You and I are about neck and neck on catching up on the Encore westerns except for Wanted: Dead or Alive, I missed that one. As for Lawman, I love the show. I never mentioned it because nobody else ever did, so I thought I would get no return remarks about it. I, personally love their tight shirts, yum, yum. That silver streak in Russells hair is intriguing though, and I hope it was real hair, not an 'addition'. One thing I specially like about Lawman, (BTW, I don't think he is yelling "Lawman" when he comes through the window, I'll watch tomorrow, I think it just happens to be the first word of the song), but what I like is the unhidden 'friendship' between the Marshall and Lily (Peggie Castle). On Gunsmoke, they often gave wide hints that there was something going on, e.g. Miss Kitty often mentioned leaving the door unlocked, but they never exhibited any outward signs of 'possession' of each other. In the Lawman, he often takes her arm as they are walking, or she takes his elbow, and when she is rescued from any possible harm, he will hug her, which is something Matt never does for Miss Kitty . . . he leaves that for Doc.

One nice thing about the similarity to Gunsmoke is Dan Troop and Matt both have a strong sense of self worth. They know when they say something, it will be believed. Nor are they afraid to walk away from a gunfight if possible. You're right about the writing, with a little more talent from the writing staff the shows could have been deeper and said a lot more, but back then, people weren't all that into 'meanings'. I've seen John Russell in loads of movies, and I'll never understand why he didn't get bigger. I think he's loads better looking than a lot of the men of his time, and he could act when given a decent part, but most of his parts were the loser, who never gets the girl. And I'm with you on a choice between him and Widmark. Much as I'm a fan, and like Widmark a lot, I would find it extremely difficult to turn John Russell down for Richard Widmark!!! Personally I love a strong jaw line, but then look at Chuck Connors and Clint Walker, two of my other favorites, (any questions ??).

I guess I shouldn't have gotten started on this particular topic, should I?

.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby movieman1957 » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:43 pm

It's fine to get on this topic.

One clarification. I don't remember that "Wanted: Dead or Alive" has been on the Westerns Channel. I have watching it with discs from Netflix. I am most of the way through the first season.

Just for fun, and having never seen them, episodes from the first season of "Gunsmoke" are on the way. Those were only 30 minutes so they should be interesting.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby mrsl » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:43 am

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I've only seen the hour and 90 minute episodes of Gunsmoke, I didn't even know they had made 30 minute ones at one time. I had assumed you had seen Wanted: Dead or Alive on Encore before I got the channel. I watch that equally as much as I watch TCM, and usually if I'm watching one, I'm DVR'ing the other.

BTW, John Russell is yelling "Hold It", as he jumps through the window. I watched this morning to be sure. With the new month, there will be new movies, or ones that haven't been on since I got the channel.

Actually, Peter Brown doesn't get much more to do or say as time goes by, to my memory, but he was not expecting to be a lawman at all, it just happened that Dan Troop chose him to be his deputy, so the whole show is a learning trip for him.

Cimarron Strip


I thought I would add this one to my choices of material to watch. On Saturday morning, this is on for 90 minutes each week. Stu Whitman is the star, with quite a range of helpers. There is a large Scot, named Mac Gregor,(Percy Herbert), Randy Boone, from The Virginian, is the deputy, and finally a little delicate doll named Dulcie (Jill Townsend). Dulcie inherited her fathers' hotel/saloon which is called Wayfarers Inn (I love that name), and Marshall Crown (Whitman) has his office and jail attached in back. I can't figure the relationship between Jim Crown and Dulcie. Sometimes it seems like they could be a couple, but at other times he acts like she is like his little niece or something. They are a very diverse set of characters. Randy Boone is quiet but always ready to back up the Marshall.
Percy Herbert is not only large in stature, but in voice as well. Dulcie keeps the place spotless, runs the hotel and saloon, cooks all the meals, always has coffee ready no matter what time Jim comes in, and never sleeps, so it seems. And the marshall keeps them all in order. Crown is a good marshall and he, too, tries to settle things with words before letting the bullets fly, the only thing is, he can't ride a horse for anything. He looks like he's still learning. One thing about him, like the Lawman, is his choice of 'uniform'. He wears black jeans, black holster and belt, a black, leather vest, and a crisp white shirt, and one of those little black ties that is a strip of black and ties in a bow with the ends hanging. What gets me is he rarely gets those shirts dirty, but if he does, Dulcie has a pile of clean, ironed ones for him.

I'm joshing a lot but I really like the show. It surprises me that there are not a lot of big named stars on it, and in fact, not that many future names either. e.g. this morning on The Lawman, Jim Coburn was the villain, long before his movie career took hold, but I haven't seen anyone like him on Cimarron Strip.
.
Anne


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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby klondike » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:43 pm

Some interesting bits of trivia about Brit character actor Percy Herbert, who played MacGregor on "Cimarron Strip", which I culled from IMDb:

> A British soldier in World War II, he was captured by the Japanese army and interned in a POW camp. He once spent six months in the cooler for stealing a tin of corned beef.

> It was his idea that the marching POWs whistle "The Colonel Bogey March" in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).

> Because he had first-hand experience of Japanese POW camps, he was paid an extra £5.00 per week by David Lean to act as a consultant on The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).

{I remember PH best as a brutal, pugnacious Royal Navy press-gang thug in the Disney adventure Alias Dr. Syn (aka: Scarecrow of Romney Marsh)}.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby mrsl » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:43 pm


Klondike:

Thanks for those bits and pieces. I didn't know anything at all about him. I'm always happy to hear further proof that real heroes do exist.
.
Anne


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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby moira finnie » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:43 pm

Lawman had a good epi today called "Cootie Hutter," featuring Virginia Gregg as a prickly woman farmer who arrived in town to buy some supplies with her horse and wagon in the midst of a rainy spell. Soaked to the skin and trying to warm up, she puts her horse and wagon under some shelter and goes to The Bird Cage for a drink. Wearing a gun like a man, and looking as though she hasn't bathed or brushed her hair in years, Peggy Castle tries to be nice to her by buying her a drink but she insists on paying for her own. Despite her appearance, a querulous pair of brothers, played by Jack Hogan as the dimmer, more argumentative one and his goofier, more likable brother, Jack Elam take note of her presence. Seeing Elam ogling the less than alluring woman was actually quite amusing, as was his brother's mocking disbelief when he realized she was his brother's object of desire. Jack, who has had just enough to drink to be frisky, tries to introduce himself to the bone-tired, solitary Gregg, who has probably forgotten any notion of her own femininity, though she does refer to a dead no-good husband. At first disbelief and then hostility erupts from Virginia Gregg, who tries to leave, but she gets into a hassle with the brothers when Elam puts his hand on her arm to keep her there, causing her to drop kick him to the floor. The boys land in jail to sober up, even after Jack Elam expresses the sentiment that he is "now feeling all kinds of sorrys" for his actions.

Eventually, Jack Hogan walks out of jail after allegedly sobering up, (Peter Brown's deputy really is not too swift sometimes) while his brother Jack Elam tries to catch some zzzs on the cot in their cell. Long story short, Hogan the bad bro picks a fight with Gregg when no one is around. Virginia Gregg winds up whipping out her gun faster than you can say "testosterone-laced" and leaves him in the mud. The good townspeople pour out of the saloon to see the action, when one guy speaks up, (I didn't catch this actor's name, but he was the only pantywaist in town to carry an umbrella and a grudge against assertive women, apparently). He tries to say that it was murder since Hogan never had time to get his gun out of his holster. Gregg takes off, wandering around town, pausing long enough to share a philosophical discussion with Peggy, who tries to get her to turn herself in to Marshal Troop. Gregg, who was always being cast as a super-annoying character who played a kajillion battleaxes vexing Joe Friday on every other episode of Dragnet for years, really gets her teeth into this character's soul in 20 minutes+ she had to create this gritty little portrait.

I won't spoil this ending for you but if you like Jack Elam, you may find yourself smiling at the end. Btw, the fact that this was photographed by the great cinematographer Bert Glennon (who had been photographing films since 1916) really enhanced the exteriors in this little tv show. Glennon found a way to use the rain, the light and shadow to add immeasurably to a small scale, brief drama.

Did anyone else see this?
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby mrsl » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:43 pm

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I saw it and yes, it's hard to believe Elam in this part, but you have to see it to believe it. It's very entertaining. I wasn't sure if anyone knew Virginia Gregg. I know her from some commercials she made.

Did you see my point about the relationship of Dan Troop and Lily? At the end, as they are walking away, in the rain, he puts his arm around her waist. Another personal little touch which he does quite often. It's things like this I miss with Marshall Dillon and Kitty. The understanding is there, both from the characters, and the audience to know what the relationship is, but it's not shoved in your face. I just like the warmth that is evidenced.
.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby moira finnie » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:43 pm

mrsl wrote:.
I saw it and yes, it's hard to believe Elam in this part, but you have to see it to believe it. It's very entertaining. I wasn't sure if anyone knew Virginia Gregg. I know her from some commercials she made.

Oh, I think if people like old movies or tv shows, they must know Virginia Gregg. Here's a pretty good picture of her, though she usually looked more peeved and beat up than this. Her characters were never sentimental or saccharine as tv women often could be, so she made an interesting contrast to the standard of the period for "acceptable female behavior":
Image
mrsl wrote:.Did you see my point about the relationship of Dan Troop and Lily? At the end, as they are walking away, in the rain, he puts his arm around her waist. Another personal little touch which he does quite often. It's things like this I miss with Marshall Dillon and Kitty. The understanding is there, both from the characters, and the audience to know what the relationship is, but it's not shoved in your face. I just like the warmth that is evidenced.

Sure, I saw it. Did you hear the part of the epi when Peggy Castle offered to sell a half interest in the saloon to John Russell? He looked interested, especially since the rain had kept everyone from getting into trouble for a whole two weeks. I notice that Castle does the pitching, but he avoids catching the woo most of the time though there are some significant looks that pass between the pair.

Too bad most of the shows don't come up to this standard for creating characters and mood. Sometimes they seemed terribly rushed to me.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby ken123 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:43 am

back when Lawman was first broadcast I watched it fairly regularly but when it returned to Encore Westerns recently I had no memory of leading lady.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby mrsl » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:43 am

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She was quite popular during the 50's in several 'B' movies and guesting on a lot of TV shows. I thought she was lovely and did a good job of being tough enough for a frontier woman, but maintaining her feminine attitude.

Her disappearance from the entertainment field was about equal to my beginning life as a mom so I didn't notice when she left acting, but when someone mentioned she had a sad life, I looked her up on imdB and found this: "After four seasons playing sexy femme lead Lily Merrill, the dance-hall hostess and romantic interest for steely-eyed Marshal Dan Troop in the TV western series "Lawman" (1958), she left show business in 1962. She later developed an alcohol problem and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1973 at age 45." How sad.
.
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby MissGoddess » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:43 am

This thread has been more entertaining to me than most of the epis of "Lawman" I've seen so far. I missed the one with Virginia Gregg...it sounds like an exception.

Moira, you have me rolling with your references to Peter Brown's astuteness. Are you saying Chester and Festus could have sold him a swamp? I guess it is a perogative that deputies have to be a smidge less sharp than their boss, though "Gunsmoke" gave the boys opportunities to break that stereotype from time to time.

I also agree about Russell's arresting features, ha. That hair is rather mesmerizing. I can't figure it out. But with a stetson on he is mighty fine. My one feature film recollection for him is from a disturbingly sadistic scene in John Ford's The Sun Shines Bright, which vividly illustrated how much more screwed up the white folks were in that idyllic little community.

I like what you all bring out about the lawman's code of fairness. I ahve't seen enough of "Lawman" to say much, but I like the early episodes of "Gunsmoke" because I often see Matt struggling with the confines of the letter of the law. Yesterday, for instance, he was just busting to get Denver Pyle and his boys (who made the Clantons in My Darling Clementine seem like graduates of M.I.T.). AT one point he even yells "If I could, I'd hang you and your ape-sons from the highest tree in Kansas!" Boy, was I ever in agreement. I have noticed watching these western shows is making me more blood thirsty. During the entire show I was fervently wishing for the death of Pyle and his goon-boys. Not an acceptable development in my character. :D

Back to "Lawman, so far I've only caught about a dozen episodes as I get ready for work in the mornings (and there's nothing better on TCM). It hasn't gripped me yet I must say, I much prefer "Gunsmoke".
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Re: Lawman (TV series)

Postby mrsl » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:43 am

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Hey Miss G:

I agree with you about preferring Gunsmoke over Lawman, except for the romance thing. I think if you see a few more epis, you'll agree with me about that part. It's a warm, cozy affair that takes nothing away from the show. But you also have to agree both John Russell and Peter Brown outshine all the others (except maybe Cheyenne), in their white jeans and off white tailored shirts. It's kind of hard to relax looking at that picture!!!
.
Anne


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