This classic television series holds up quite well, all things considering and especially in comparison with later products like The Wild Wild West, which were very obviously shot on back-lots or locations in the near vicinity of Griffith Park. No expense seems to have been spared for â€œRawhideâ€ as regards to locations, props and the essential livestock. It became a bit of a joke later on, for TV westerns to be ostensibly set on a cattle ranch with never a cow actually to be seen, but this series managed to escape that â€œstockâ€ situation. Just as well, considering that it was supposed to take place during a cattle drive from Texas to railheads in Kansas just after the Civil War, and the movement of a large group of cattle is absolutely central to much of the various episode plots. Quite a lot of action takes place out of doors, on horseback and in conjunction with the aforementioned herd of cattle, and such location shoots are integrated fairly seamlessly with the sound-staged moments. Oddly enough, the fact that it is in black and white lends something of an air of realism to the show; everyone generally appears authentically grubby, sweaty and hard-working.
The episodes contained in this four-disc collection were originally broadcast in 1960. In many ways the show is in peak form; the characters of tough and gritty trail boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) and his drovers are well-enough developed, but not yet worn out. There are all kinds of fresh angles to find out about the characters â€“ Wishbone the cook (Paul Brinegar), Pete Nolan (Sheb Woolley) and cowhand Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood â€“ yes, that Clint Eastwood). Eastwood is not actually the top bill in the series credits â€“ the appearance of the box cover art to the contrary. Eric Fleming was very much the series star; “Rawhide” was cancelled very shortly after he departed the show in the mid 1960s. While watching this series, my daughter and I wondered why we had never seen him in anything else; he played an immensely likeable and complicated character, and the show was popular all during itsâ€™ eight season run. It turns out that he was drowned in an accident on location for another adventure show within a year or so after leaving the cast of â€œRawhideâ€.
“Rawhide” Season 2 Volume Two is available after December 18th from Amazon.com and other retail outlets.
Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book â€œTo Truckeeâ€™s Trailâ€ is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com