Rwhide - Season 2 Cover

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 “Rawhide” 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 “stock” 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 – Wishbone the cook (Paul Brinegar), Pete Nolan (Sheb Woolley) and cowhand Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood – yes, that Clint Eastwood). Eastwood is not actually the top bill in the series credits – 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 its’ 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 “Rawhide”.

“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 “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

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