Stop! You’ve ordered your Annie Oakley set, haven’t you? Today’s the day.
Man, I can’t wait to get ahold of this thing.
I believe this is the RKO Ranch in Encino, as it appears in the 1954 Dragnet episode “The Big Producer.” It’s a good one, one of the best in my opinion, about a washed-up silent movie producer reduced to peddling pornography. There’s a strong Sunset Boulevard (1950) vibe to it, with Jack Webb and Ben Alexander joined by Ralph Moody, Martin Milner and Carolyn Jones.
This seems like a good way to plug The Jack Webb Blogathon happening over at my other place, The Hannibal 8. It’s running through the weekend (beginning on Friday, naturally), and some great folks are contributing (including our friend Laura and my daughter Presley). Stop by if you get a chance.
Gail Davis is just wonderful as Annie Oakley, a part she was probably born to play. This upcoming set from VCI (due October 21) gives you all 81 Annie Oakley episodes, restored, with all sorts of extras: a documentary, the pilot, commercials, photo galleries and more.
Some terrific character actors rode through this series: Slim Pickins, Helene Marshall, James Best, John Doucette, James H. Griffith, Lee Van Cleef, Alan Hale Jr., Dickie Jones, Fess Parker, Clayton Moore, Denver Pile, LQ Jones, Glenn Strange and more. (Even Shelly Fabares!) And in the director’s chair from week to week, you might find the likes of George Archainbaud, Ray Nazarro, Earl Bellamy or John English. Produced by Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions, many of these folks were veterans of Gene’s movies and series. Then there’s Lone Pine locations and those beautiful double-action Colts.
We’re gonna get a lotta mileage out of this thing at my house. My daughter Presley really loves this show.
1928 – 2014
Some celebrities, you’d swear you actually knew them. Maybe you invite them into your home every week (through your TV). Perhaps you can’t remember a time when you weren’t aware of them. Or it could be that they just come off so real. All of those apply to James Garner.
Garner didn’t make much of a mark on the 50s Western, at least not in theaters. (1957’s Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend is the only one he did.) But his Maverick is still a milestone in Westerns on TV. And John Sturges’ Hour Of The Gun (1967, above) is one of the best post-50s Westerns out there, largely due to Garner’s performance — and one of the most sadly overlooked.
I was 10 years old when The Rockford Files (below) debuted, and after binge-watching it countless times over the years, I’m convinced it’s the greatest TV show ever. If I ever fall into a lot of money, you can bet that a gold mid-70s Pontiac Firebird Esprit will find its way to my driveway.
But there’s so much more. The Great Escape (1963). Grand Prix (1966). Marlowe (1968). Those great Doris Day pictures. Support Your Local Sheriff (1969). I’m just getting started.
I’m not making a lot of sense here. Thinking of James Garner and his body of work is a bit mind-boggling right now, and I’m struggling to find a coherent thread through it all. So I’ll just say I miss him already and thank God we can continue to benefit from his talent.
(February 25, 1927 – July 7, 2014)
Dick Jones passed away this week. He’ll be remembered by most as the voice of Pinocchio (1940). But Westerns fans, we’ll remember Buffalo Bill, Jr. and The Range Rider on TV. And, of course, a string of appearances in Gene Autry movies and his TV show. He’s seen above with Gene in The Strawberry Roan (1948).
He had a great role in the underrated Errol Flynn Western Rocky Mountain (1950).
All of us in the 50s Westerns From The 50s bunkhouse are really excited about this latest project from VCI: The Annie Oakley TV Collection. My daughter Presley really really digs this show.
Working with Gail Davis’ daughter Terrie, VCI promises plenty of photos and other memorabilia, and there’s a documentary is in the works.
The show ran from 1954-57 in syndication, produced by Gene Autry’s Flying ‘A’ Productions. If Gail Davis isn’t cool enough for ya, episodes featured folks like Slim Pickens, Lee Van Cleef, L.Q. Jones, Denver Pyle and James H. Griffith. And one of our favorites, Ray Nazarro, directed about a dozen of the 81 episodes.
Release-wise, Annie and Target should come riding into your living room this fall.
Desi Arnaz, John Wayne, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance (L-R) working on the “Lucy And John Wayne” episode of I Love Lucy.
Posted for Jennifer and Presley, a couple of real Lucy nuts. And because it makes me happy to look at it. Even in 60-year-old photographs, Wayne’s smile is contagious.