Conagher

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Conagher
Directed by Reynaldo Villalobos
Produced by John A Kuri
Written by Louis L'Amour (novel)
Jeffrey M. Meyer (teleplay)
Starring Sam Elliott
Katharine Ross
Barry Corbin
Ken Curtis
Buck Taylor
Dub Taylor
James Gammon
Distributed by Turner Network Television
Release dates July 1, 1991
Running time 94 min.
Language English

Conagher is a 1991 Turner Network Television western film based on a Louis L’Amour novel of the same name, starring Sam Elliott as Conn Conagher, an honest, hardworking cowboy who learns that his fellow ranch hands plan to steal the boss's cattle. Katharine Ross, Elliott’s wife since 1984, stars as Mrs. Evie Teale, who tries to raise a son (Cody Braun) and a daughter (Anndi McAfee) on an isolated homestead after her husband, Jacob Teale (Billy Green Bush), leaves on a business trip and never returns.[1] Evie adjusts well to the wilderness: "You don't know what music is until you hear the wind in the cedars."[2]

Plot[edit]

The film opens with the Teale family moving west on a wagon into Indian Territory. They reach their home, and plan to go on the cattle business. The father, Jacob, rides out to get the cattle, promising to return in a month. However, he is killed along the way when his horse falls over on him, and he bleeds to death internally.

Meanwhile, a Stagecoach passes by the Teale farm; Evie Teale agrees to work for the Stagecoach by feeding customers who come by. One of the men on the Stagecoach warns Evie of a man named Conn Conagher, who he says is a fierce gunfighter. One day, Conagher does stop by for food, along with his partner Mahler. The Teale farm later comes under attack by Indians. The Stagecoach arrives by again in the middle of the gunfight, and the drivers and the passengers defend the farm. The Indians retreat in the morning.

Conagher, meanwhile, drifts out in the wilderness. He and Mahler meet an old rancher, Seaborn Tay, who hires both of them for work. Conagher proves to be a hardworking cowhand, but the ranch comes under threat by the Ladder Five gang, led by Smoke Parnell. Mahler deserts the ranch after an argument with Conagher and joins the Ladder Five. Conagher saves the ranch and Tay's cattle twice from the Ladder Five, both in a series of quick gun battles. He also visits the Teale farm regularly, and he and Evie grow fond of each other and he becomes a father figure to her children.

One day, when Conagher is out herding Tay's cattle, he is ambushed and shot by the Ladder Five gang. The wounded Conagher hides out during the day, and but at night returns and holds the Ladder Five, including Parnell, at gunpoint. Weak from his wound, Conagher eventually collapses and passes out, but not before he demands the Ladder Five to clear off of the land. Parnell knows now that he can finish Conagher, as his gang has sworn to do, but instead orders his man to take Conagher to Seaborn Tay. The next day, the Ladder Five gang clears off the land.

Conagher wakes up in the morning, and heads into town, where he finds a drunken Mahler in the saloon. The two argue again, and Conagher challenges Mahler to a fist fight. Mahler starts out beating up Conagher; Conagher finally gains the upper hands and beats Mahler into submission. Evie arrives at that moment where she tells Conagher, "it's time for you to come home now." Conagher agrees and rides back with Evie to start a new life with her.

The film features Elliott’s friend Buck Taylor, formerly the gunsmith-turned-deputy on CBS’s long-running Gunsmoke, as Tile Coker, a rider for the Ladder Five Ranch. Pepe Serna, a native of Corpus Christi, played Casuse, another Ladder Five rider. Rugged James Gammon plays Smoke Parnell, the owner of the Ladder Five, who is suspected of rustling. Buck Taylor’s father, character actor Dub Taylor (1907–1994), plays the station agent.[1]

Ken Curtis (1916–1991) plays an elderly but prosperous rancher, Seaborn Tay, fearful of losing his assets to the rustlers. This was Curtis’ last acting part; he died just weeks after Conagher finished production. Curtis had also costarred with Buck Taylor as Deputy Festus Haggen on Gunsmoke. Tay (Curtis) tells Conagher (Elliott), “Well, I'm up into my 70s . . . got a bum ticker to boot. I was kind of hoping to just live out my days and not die out on some sandy slope with lead in my guts. If they get me out on that range, they'll kill me for sure. And then just take my cattle as they please... with nobody to stop 'em.”[2]

Production[edit]

Ellott was the executive producer of Conagher, John A Kuri was the film producer[3] and Reynaldo Villalobos was the director. The teleplay was developed by Jeffrey M. Meyer. Elliott was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his Conagher role but lost out to Beau Bridges. The 94-minute picture was filmed about the Royal Gorge and Buckskin Joe Frontier Town and Railway in Canon City in south central Colorado.[1]

Barry Corbin, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas, won the "Buffalo Bill Cody Award" for quality family entertainment and the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City for his performance in Conagher.[4]

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]