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Cheyenne: The Complete Sixth Season [4 Discs] [DVD]

Release Date:07/30/2013
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    When it first aired on ABC in the fall of 1955, the western series Cheyenne was not seen on a weekly basis, but instead in rotation with two other series based on prior Warner Bros. theatrical features: Casablanca, starring Charles McGraw in the Humphrey Bogart role; and King's Row, with Jack Kelly and Robert Horton in the parts originated by Robert Cummings and Ronald Reagan. All three series were part of a quasi-anthology titled Warner Bros. Presents, represented the studio's first foray into TV production. As seen on TV, Cheyenne bears little resemblance to the 1947 film on which it was purportedly bases. The title character, played by Clint Walker, is Cheyenne Bodie, a taciturn frontier jack-of-all-trades who spent much of his childhood living with a Native American tribe. With this background, Cheyenne has little trouble finding work as an Indian interpreter, trail guide, ranch hand and trapper in the years following the Civil War. Also, thanks to his impressive physique and towering height (between 6'5" and 6'8", according to various studio press releases), Cheyenne is a handy man to have around whenever a bad guy has to be beaten up or a pretty gal has to be rescued. This is a far cry from the protagonist played by Dennis Morgan in the 1947 Cheyenne movie, who was a professional gambler who tended to cagily play both sides down the middle until ultimately choosing to champion the "right" side. The first season's worth of Cheyenne episodes run 45 minutes each, rather than 60; this was done to accommodate the weekly 10-minute "plug" for upcoming Warners feature films that originally concluded each telecast of Warner Bros. Presents (the most famous of these plugs was of course the one in which James Dean appeared to promote his upcoming feature Giant--and, ironically, to advise his fellow hot-rod enthusiasts to drive safely!) Beginning with "Mountain Fortress", the initial 15 Cheyennes find the leading character going on a map-making expedition with his pal Smitty (L.Q. Jones, who appeared this season on a semi-regular basis), protecting stagecoach and train passengers from outlaws and Indians, rescuing a family of Mexican aristocrats from marauding bandidos, and sinking up to his neck in quicksand in a test of courage with a Comanche chief. The most fascinating of the early Cheyenne installments is "West of the River", which is nothing more nor less than a remake (with ample doses of stock footage) of the classic 3-D western movie Charge at Feather River (1953). Guest stars appearing in the "first 15" include Rod Taylor, Dennis Hopper, Barton MacLane, and in the final episode of the season, "The Last Train West", a young James Garner, cast as a deceptive mild-mannered minister. Warner Bros. had assumed that the most popular attractions of Warner Bros. Presents would be Casablanca and King's Row; westerns had not yet become all the rage on network TV, so Cheyenne was tossed in as almost an afterthought. But by the time the anthology came to the end of the 1955-1956 season, only Cheyenne had "clicked" with viewers--and, accordingly, only Cheyenne was renewed for a second season. ~ Hal Erickson

    Cast & Crew

    • Clint Walker - Cheyenne Bodie
    • L.Q. Jones - Smitty
    • Ty Hardin - Bronco Layne

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