Paramount // 1964 // 761 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // July 15th, 2013
"I'm the boss. I have to give the orders." -- Gil Favor
Gil Favor's latest drive to bring cattle to market includes more than just giving orders. In Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Volume 2, he's also getting involved in the case of a Buffalo soldier facing a firing squad, becoming a banker, and avenging a vigilante hanging. His ramrod Rowdy Yates finds himself tangling with a Scottish woman and a fugitive from his past. Horse wrangler Hey Soos goes on an unwilling vision quest via a peyote drink.
Two of the most interesting episodes, though, put cook Wishbone (Paul Brinegar, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.) in the spotlight, as he faces a possible lifetime of blindness and recalls the past that brought him to the trail drive.
Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Volume 2 features fifteen episodes on four discs.
* "Incident of Midnight Cave" -- After literally hanging from a cliff, Wishbone -- who's afraid of heights -- loses his sight. The doc says a shock might help. Since this is the Gil Favor drive, it's also likely by episode's end.
* "Incident of the Dowery Dundee" -- Rowdy and Quince find themselves running from a bull -- and meet a Scottish woman (Hazel Court, Devil Girl from Mars) who invites herself along.
* "Incident at Gila Flats" -- The Army commandeers 200 beeves, and Gil, Wishbone, and Quince must deliver them to a Native American tribe.
* "Incident of the Pied Piper" -- The trail of some strays leads to an orphanage -- and to a banker who got a very good price from its naive caretaker (Eddie Bracken, National Lampoon's Vacation).
* "Incident of the Swindler" -- An old acquaintance of Wishbone's from New Orleans is on the run -- and forces the cook to join him.
* "Incident of the Wanderer" -- A wanderer (Nehemiah Persoff, Some Like it Hot) must clear the notorious John Slade of murder. Wishbone thinks the man is an ancient cursed figure.
* "Incident at Zebulon" -- Masked "regulators" hang one of the drovers and horsewhip Gil. The trail boss goes back to town seeking their leader, with Wishbone trailing along to cool him down.
* "Incident at Hourglass" -- After meeting an old friend who's married to a commander, Gil is accused of murder.
* "Incident of the Odyssey" -- A vagabond (Mickey Rooney, Pete's Dragon) who stole Rowdy's boots is looking for a woman he carved a sculpture of years ago.
* "Incident of the Banker" -- Gil wants to give up the open air and "beef and beans," just as he is reunited with a banker friend who dreams of nothing else. The banker engineers a switch.
* "Incident at Deadhorse -- Part 1" -- Hey Soos thinks the man (Burgess Meredith, Batman: The Movie) that Rowdy and Quince found buried alive has an appointment with death. As a matter of fact, he does have an appointment in Deadhorse...
* "Incident at Deadhorse -- Part 2" -- The drovers' latest friend turns out to be a hangman tasked with the execution of one of Deadhorse's leading citizens (Broderick Crawford, Highway Patrol), a job no one wants him to complete.
* "Incident of the Gilded Goddess" -- The drovers take in an Army wife (Dina Merrill, Operation Petticoat) who has to reach her husband in New Mexico, but Rowdy spots her as a fugitive who ran a gambling parlor.
* "Incident at Seven Fingers" -- After stealing Rowdy's boots, a fugitive Buffalo soldier (William Marshall, Blacula) joins the drive -- until his unit comes to claim him for a firing squad.
* "Incident of the Peyote Cup" -- A strange tribe sends Hey Soos (Robert Cabal, Around the World in 80 Days) into a peyote nightmare, but he returns to rescue a woman who helped him -- with the help of a former missionary (James Gregory, The Manchurian Candidate).
After nearly six seasons, we get to find out Wishbone's backstory in "Incident of the Strangler." It turns out he was headed West to start his own ranch, but saw his beloved die before his eyes in New Orleans and fled, believing himself wanted for the murder. He's finally let off the hook, thanks to a surprise revelation, but before he's free, Paul Brinegar does a turn as the less grizzled, optimistic man that Wishbone once was in a flashback sequence that'll be a treat for fans of Rawhide. Brinegar also gets to shine as the cook adjusts to a blindness he thinks will be permanent in "Incident at Midnight Cave." There's also a telling moment for Gil in "Incident of the Odyssey" as he winds up telling his men about a doomed drive he once led.
Burgess Meredith's tour-de-force as a hangman with a mysterious broken neck in the two-part "Incident at Deadhorse" is one of several strong guest turns in this set; he's persistent and methodical, even as the town lines up to make sure he misses his appointment, thereby setting the condemned man free. William Marshall creates an enigma for Gil Favor, who tries to figure out why a stoic soldier stands accused of cowardice in "Incident at Seven Fingers." Mickey Rooney is full of romantic optimism as he searches for his lost love in "Incident of the Odyssey." Nehemiah Persoff creates a mystery with understatement as strange things happen around him in "Incident of the Wanderer."
There are only a couple of psychedelic moments in "Incident of the Peyote Cup," but it presents a strange tale of a legendary Native American tribe that could be amusing -- or just disappointing, if '60s flashbacks aren't your thing. Just about every viewer has noticed the painted backdrops and repetitive scenery of Western towns (possibly all the same town shot from different angles) in Rawhide, but I think I heard a squeak of foam in that sculpture in "Incident of the Odyssey."
Presented in standard def 1.33:1 full frame, the black-and-white picture is grainy at times, with flecks and spots, but easily watchable. The Dolby 2.0 Mono track serves the episodes well without any major flaws. Several episode previews round out the package.
The back half of Season Six seems a little more varied than the first, with less emphasis on future movie star Clint Eastwood (The Outlaw Josey Wales). That, along with Wishbone's backstory, makes Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Volume 2 one of Paramount's better series' releases for the diehards, and curious Western fans won't be disappointed.
Review content copyright © 2013 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 761 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Promos