Judge P.S. Colbert don't try to understand 'em—he just ropes 'n throws 'n brands 'em.
Our reviews of Rawhide: The Complete First Season (published February 14th, 2007), Rawhide: The Fifth Season (published September 30th, 2012), Rawhide: The Eighth and Final Season (published July 15th, 2014), Rawhide: The Fourth Season, Volume 1 (published June 23rd, 2011), Rawhide: The Fourth Season, Volume Two (published November 9th, 2011), Rawhide: The Second Season, Volume 1 (published August 29th, 2007), Rawhide: The Second Season, Volume 2 (published January 4th, 2008), Rawhide: The Seventh Season, Volume 1 (published March 13th, 2014), Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Volume 1 (published July 15th, 2013), and Rawhide: The Sixth Season, Volume 2 (published July 15th, 2013) are also available.
Uh oh—looks like somebody's going into that lime pit…
The fifteen episodes collected in Rawhide: The Seventh Season, Volume
2 make up a rather schizophrenic lot.
Apparently dissatisfied with the wayward, (guest) character-driven direction Rawhide stories took during the season's first half—often reducing the drovers to background figures and leaving those doggies grazing in the grass, if not in the dust—CBS president William S. Paley demanded the immediate replacement of producers Bruce Geller and Bernard L. Kowalski, while simultaneously issuing an edict to "Put the cows back in!"
Endre Bohem to the rescue! Hungarian-born, Sorbonne-educated Bohem was integral to the establishment of this archetypal TV western, wearing a variety of hats (screenwriter, story editor, associate producer) during seasons one through four. Immediately upon his return, the reinstated helmsman set about getting back to the business of cattle drivers and their moo-ving cargo, starting with the excellent "Texas Fever" episode.
Also back in the saddle are a few old friends: Pete Nolan (Sheb Wooley), Hey Soos (Robert Cabal), and Joe Scarlet (Rocky Shahan), along with stampedes, disease, hostile weather, highwaymen, unfriendly Injuns, poachers—you know, the stuff that keeps herd hauling from seeming like just another office job. Interesting co-workers on temp assignments include guest stars Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (The F.B.I.), playing (very well) against type as a militant zealot in "The Last Order," Billy Gray (Father Knows Best), calling shots during his "Moment In The Sun," and Robert Blake (In Cold Blood), radiating charm and menace as "The Winter Soldier."
But hang on there, Buckaroos! This good ol' boys club gets a healthy infusion of she-power from a pair of Oscar-nominated actresses: Julie Harris (The Member Of The Wedding) provides love interest for Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood, The Unforgiven) in "The Calf Women," while Barbara Barrie (Breaking Away) rouses a strong maternal instinct in Wishbone the cook (Paul Brinegar, How To Make A Monster) as "Mrs. Harmon," a severely battered wife and mother.
Six of these episodes are left-overs from the old guard, and they're scattered among the Bohem productions. Though the Geller/Kowalski regime format changes seemed a bit overwhelming to me when they dominated season seven's first volume set, I found they provided a nice contrast when mixed with the more standard along-the-trail adventures. Truth be told, though: while Rawhide remains prime entertainment. After seven years and over two-hundred weekly installments, this veteran beef opera is clearly skirting its sell-by date.
Speaking of "the Old West," these transfers, while still perfectly serviceable, nevertheless occasionally betray the half century of prairie dust and spur burns that have accumulated since their original airings. The mono sound has held up surprisingly well, but for those whose hearing hasn't, English subtitles are available. Otherwise, the set is bonus feature free.
Rawhide's penultimate season would be the last for trail boss Gil Favor, as actor Eric Fleming opted not to renew his contract. Tragically, he drowned in the Huallaga River on Sept. 28, 1966, while shooting a film on location in Peru. Mr. Fleming was forty-one years old.
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