Four Feather Falls

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Four Feather Falls
Alt= series titles over a waterfall
Genre Action
Adventure
Children's
Fantasy
Western
Created by Gerry Anderson
Barry Gray
Directed by Gerry Anderson
David Elliott
Alan Pattillo
Voices of Denise Bryer
Kenneth Connor
David Graham
Nicholas Parsons
Ending theme "Two Gun Tex of Texas" sung by Michael Holliday
Composer(s) Barry Gray
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 39 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Gerry Anderson
Editor(s) Bert Rule
Alan Pattillo
Cinematography Arthur Provis
John Read
Camera setup Single
Running time 12–13 minutes
Production company(s) AP Films
Distributor Granada Television
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Picture format Black and white
Film (35 mm)
Audio format Mono
Original run 25 February 1960 (1960-02-25) – 17 November 1960 (1960-11-17)
Chronology
Followed by Supercar

Four Feather Falls was the third puppet TV show produced by Gerry Anderson for Granada Television. It was based on an idea by Barry Gray, who also wrote the show's music.[1] The series was the first to use an early version of Anderson's Supermarionation puppetry. Thirty-nine 13-minute episodes were produced, broadcast by Granada from February until November 1960. The setting is the late 19th-century fictional Kansas town of Four Feather Falls, where the hero of the series, Tex Tucker, is a sheriff. The four feathers of the title refers to four magical feathers given to Tex by the Indian chief Kalamakooya as a reward for saving his grandson: two allowed Tex's guns to swivel and fire without being touched whenever he was in danger, and two conferred the power of speech on Tex's horse and dog.

Tex's speaking voice was provided by Nicholas Parsons, and his singing voice by Michael Holliday. The series has never been repeated on British television, but it was released on DVD in 2005.

Production[edit]

American Western television shows such as Wagon Train and Gunsmoke were popular with British audiences, therefore Gerry Anderson and his business partner Arthur Provis decided to make a cowboy series, based on an idea offered to them by Barry Gray.[1] Anderson considered the puppets with static heads, made by Christine Glanville for his earlier productions, to be unacceptable because the viewer could not tell which character was talking unless its puppet moved up or down. Anderson's aim was to make the puppets look as realistic as possible, the beginning of the Supermarionation puppetry process, although that term was not coined until his next series, Supercar.

The puppets' papier-mâché heads were replaced by interchangeable hollow fibre glass heads with internal rods that could move the eyes from side to side. The heads also contained sound-activated solenoids, which allowed the puppets' lips to move automatically in synchronisation with the dialogue.[2] The electronics of the day required more space than would be available in a human-scale head, therefore all the puppets in Four Feather Falls had oversized heads.

Except for the pilot episode, which was made in AP Films' studios at Islet Park,[3] the series was produced in a converted warehouse in the Slough Trading Estate.[2] The cast assembled to record each script without seeing the puppets, much like recording a radio series; synchronisation of each character's speech with the movement of its puppet's mouth was performed later.[4] The show was filmed in black and white. [3] Its tight budget precluded the use of sophisticated special effects, and less-costly alternatives were used. For example, to achieve the effect of muzzle flashes, small specks of black paint were carefully applied to the 35 mm negatives so they would appear as white flashes on the finished prints. The wires used to control the puppets were eight feet long and made of tungsten, an improvement on the curtain wire used in the two earlier series, and were only 1/200 of an inch thick. Being shiny, the wires had to be blackened. The puppets were made one-third life size with the puppeteers on a bridge eight feet above the set. The horses moved by being pulled along on a trolley, which meant the viewer never saw their feet when they were moving.

Continuity for the series was provided by Sylvia Thamm who married Gerry Anderson.

Plot[edit]

The series is set in the fictitious late 19th-century Western town of Four Feather Falls, Kansas, and features the adventures of its sheriff, Tex Tucker. In the first episode, Grandpa Twink relates the story of how it all began to grandson, Little Jake. Tex is riding up from the valley and comes across a lost and hungry Indian boy, Makooya and saves him. Tex is given four magic feathers by the boy's grandfather, chief Kalamakooya, as a reward for saving his grandson. Two of the feathers allow his guns to swivel and fire automatically (often while Tex's hands are raised),[a] and the other two allow his horse, Rocky, and his dog, Dusty, to speak. As Tex, his horse, and dog are very thirsty, Kalamakooya also makes a waterfall where there had been no water before, and so when the town was built it was named after Tex's feathers and the waterfall.

The characters of the town are Grandpa Twink, who does little but rest in a chair; his grandson Little Jake, the only child in town; Ma Jones, who runs the town store; Doc Haggerty; Slim Jim, the bartender of the Denison saloon; Marvin Jackson, the bank manager; and Dan Morse, the telegraphist. Other characters appeared from time to time for only one episode, often just visiting town. The villains included Pedro, who was introduced in the first show and Fernando, who first appeared in the second episode as a sidekick and someone Pedro could blame when things went wrong, as they always did. Big Ben was another villain who appeared from time to time, as did Red Scalp, a renegade Indian. Other villains only appeared in single episodes.

Episodes[edit]

Only one series of 39 episodes was produced:[5]

Ep. No. Title Directed by[6] Written by Original air date[7] Production No.
1 "How it began" Gerry Anderson Mary Cathcart Borer 25 February 1960 (1960-02-25) 1
Grandpa Twink tells Little Jake the story of how Tex Tucker got his four magic feathers and founded the town of Four Feather Falls.
2 "Kidnapped" Gerry Anderson Mary Cathcart Borer 3 March 1960 (1960-03-03) 33
Pedro and Fernando kidnap Doc Haggerty and hold him for ransom. It's up to Sheriff Tex Tucker to rescue him from the bandits.
3 "Pedro Has A Plan" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 10 March 1960 (1960-03-10) 4
Fernando enters town and starts firing shots as a distraction to bring Tex Tucker out into the street. While Tex is dealing with Fernando, Pedro is stealing the magic feathers from the sheriff's office. Will Pedro and Fernando finally succeed in yet another plan to rid the town of Tex Tucker?
4 "Pedro's Pardon" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 17 March 1960 (1960-03-17) 8
Pedro rides into town claiming to be a new man and would like to become a town resident. Tex figures he's up to something and gives him just enough rope to hang himself.
5 "A Close Shave" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 24 March 1960 (1960-03-24) 7
Pedro sees Tex ride out of town with Little Jake and decides to have some "fun". He robs and shoots up Ma Jones' store then plots with Red Scalp to draw Sheriff Tex out of town later so he can rob the bank. Unfortunately for Pedro, Dusty had followed him from Ma's store, eavesdropped on his meeting with Red Scalp and reported back to Tex.
6 "Indian Attack" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 31 March 1960 (1960-03-31) 6
While his fellow bandito is up in the hills making smoke signals Fernando is in town convincing Tex the town is about to be attacked by Indians. The townspeople, all six of them, each knowing that Indians don't attack in the dark spend the entire evening behind barricades on the main street. The sheriff, knowing he has some hours to kill before sunrise decides to take a little nap. First though he has to unknowingly lull the lookouts to sleep with a song. While the town sleeps Fernando exchanges Tex's hat with the magic feather for an identical hat. Dusty witnesses this and intervenes to stop the plot.
7 "Sheriff For A Day" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 7 April 1960 (1960-04-07) 5
Tex receives a telegram telling him to ride out until he meets the incoming stage and escort it to town. He leaves two guns and two feathers to activate the magic in them to Little Jake figuring he would be gone only a couple of hours. Little does he know it was Big Ben that sent the telegram and it's an ambush.
8 "Dusty Becomes Deputy" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 14 April 1960 (1960-04-14) 13
Pedro and Fernando start a prairie fire to lure Tex out of Four Feather Falls, giving them an opportunity to rob the bank of its latest gold consignment. Tex deputizes Dusty to keep an eye on the bank, and when the dog sees Pedro and Fernando ride into town, he runs out to warn Tex. But while fighting the fire Tex has lost one of his magic feathers, and Dusty is therefore unable to speak. Eventually they find the missing feather, Dusty is able to deliver his message, and they arrive back in town just in time to prevent the bank robbery.
9 "Gunrunners" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 21 April 1960 (1960-04-21) 10
Chief Kallamakooya tells Tex that Big Ben is going to sell guns to the renegade Indian Red Scalp and his warriors. He asks for Tex to intervene and stop the exchange of weapons for gold.
10 "Trouble in Yellow Gulch" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 28 April 1960 (1960-04-28) 2
A large boulder now hangs precariously above a section of a well established trail and an alternate trail had been created to bypass the danger. Seeing a way to make money Pedro and Fernando throw up signs saying it's their property, some barricades and now demanding a fee for its use. Tex goes to check on it after Grandpa Twink and Martha Jones tells him of their encounter with the banditos. Will Tex be able to put them out of business?
11 "Frame-Up" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 5 May 1960 (1960-05-05) 3
Tex is setup in a clever plan that gets him arrested for robbery and stealing a horse. The local sheriff is part of the gang so Tex must rely on Rocky to help him escape his cell.
12 "Gold Diggers" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 12 May 1960 (1960-05-12) 30
Fernando and Pedro find a treasure map in an old box. After following the instructions they learn the treasure is buried beneath the sheriff's office.
13 "Gold Is Where You Find It" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 19 May 1960 (1960-05-19) 29
Now stuck with Yellow Gulch after the plan to charge a toll was thwarted by Tex removing the boulder, Pedro needs a plan to unload the land and get their investment back. He shoots some gold dust at a rock and shows it off in town claiming he found it on Yellow Gulch. The people swarm trying to buy parcels of the land. Tex sees through the scam and helps see justice is served.
14 "Trapped" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 26 May 1960 (1960-05-26) 12
Little Jake and Makooya head to the creek for some fishing. Finding a cave along the way they decided on a little spelunking. They interrupt Red Scalp at work while he's manufacturing counterfeit money and he quickly seals them in.
15 "The Best Laid Plans" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 2 June 1960 (1960-06-02) 19
Hank Frisbee arrives in town and tells Pedro and Fernando about his plan to rob the bank. Nobody knows him in Four Feather Falls, so he reckons on taking a room over the bank, then they'll be able to cut a way in. Frisbee takes the room, then goes off to the saloon where he buys drinks all round and gets music and singing going; the noise is supposed to cover up the row that Pedro and Fernando make as they cut their way into the bank. The plan works fine until Pedro gets stuck as he tries to clamber through the hole into the bank and makes an almighty row. Tex hears the noise and guesses that it's coming from the bank. Frisbee tries to stop Tex from going to investigate, He draws his firearms, but Tex and the magic guns win the fight. Pedro and Fernando hear the shooting, they grab hold of an iron box, and make a run for it. But there's nothing in the box except a collection of old iron, They decide to go back to Four Feather Falls and join Hank in jail - at least they'll be able to get something to eat there, even if they haven't got the gold.
16 "Escort" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 9 June 1960 (1960-06-09) 17
Tex Tucker releases Pedro and Fernando from custody, but neither is keen to leave the comfort of the jail. On their way out they overhear a message from a Mister Huckenbacker requesting a Sheriff's escort into Four Feather Falls. Huckenbacker is on his way to town with a load of gold, so Pedro and Fernando decide to pose as sheriffs so they can steal all the gold. Big Ben, too, has heard this news and hits the trail to meet with the gold shipment. Can Tex deal with all the robbers?
17 "The Toughest Guy in the West" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 16 June 1960 (1960-06-16) 9
Grandpa Twink is a teller of tales and his buddies tease him about his supposed heroics. Twink redeems himself when he captures Indian Jack, a notorious renegade.
18 "Chance Of A Ghost" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 23 June 1960 (1960-06-23) 23
Marvin Jackson is trying to sell the Eureka Silver Mine, but the main buyer, Harman, pays Pedro and Fernando to pretend to be ghosts to bring the price down.
19 "Gunplay" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 30 June 1960 (1960-06-30) 16
Two cattle rustlers, Johnny Pasto and The Nevado Kid, challenge Tucker to fight without his magic guns.
20 "A Lawman Rides Alone" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 7 July 1960 (1960-07-07) 14
Sheriff Tucker receives a wanted poster for Blackie and Whitey Strutt who, along with a third man robbed a Wells Fargo office. Soon the trio arrive in Four Feather Falls.
21 "Jailbreak" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 14 July 1960 (1960-07-14) 11
Zack Morrill a bandit wanted for murder, cattle rustling, horse stealing and train robbery, has a wanted poster outside the Sheriff's office offering a reward of £500 for the capture of him. Pedro sees the poster and decides to help Tex capture a criminal in return for the reward money.
22 "A Little Bit of Luck" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 21 July 1960 (1960-07-21) 18
Tex is away visiting family and the marshal filling in for him, Ike Burns, is hopelessly ineffective. But the sheriff's a crook and is not a real lawman and is secretly in league with Big Ben and another outlaw called Johnny.
23 "Landgrabbers" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 28 July 1960 (1960-07-28) 25
The Circle Z Ranch is under siege from Morg Fenton and Big Ben, but Tex discovers it is outside his area of juristiction and cannot help defend it.
24 "Once A Lawman" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 4 August 1960 (1960-08-04) 24
With the townspeople unhappy with Tex's dealing of a spate of robberies, Tex turns in his badge.
25 "Election Day" Gerry Anderson Phil Wrestler 11 August 1960 (1960-08-11) 21
Usually Tex is the only one to run for sheriff on election days, but this time Pedro makes a bid for the position.
26 "Gunfight On Main Street" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 18 August 1960 (1960-08-18) 22
Tex's old friend, Cass Morgan, arrives in town looking for two men, Tobin and Billy Pinto, who he says killed his brother during a robbery. He tells Tex to stay out of it which he does until a telegram arrives telling Tex who the real killer is.
27 "A Bad Name" David Elliott Phil Wrestler 25 August 1960 (1960-08-25) 32
Big Ben needs Tex's help after being falsly accused of stealing cattle.
28 "Horse Thieves" Alan Pattillo Phil Wrestler 1 September 1960 (1960-09-01) 38
Big Ben tells Pedro and Fernando that a partner of his is paying good money for horses. He persuades the banditos to steal all of the horses in Four Feather Falls, which they do including Tex's own horse Rocky.
29 "The Ma Jones Story" Alan Pattillo Jill Allgood 8 September 1960 (1960-09-08) 20
Ma Jones falls for a scam by two con men and is almost swindled out of her shop.
30 "Bandits Abroad" David Elliott Jill Allgood 15 September 1960 (1960-09-15) 27
Fernando bears a striking resemblance to another master criminal, called Pancho Gomez, so Pedro comes up with an idea to get the $200 reward money for capturing him.
31 "A Cure For Everything" Alan pattillo Jill Allgood 22 September 1960 (1960-09-22) 26
A medicine man arrives in town claiming to have a cure for everything and almost puts Doc Haggerty out of business before he discovers the true source of the medicines.
32 "Teething Troubles" David Elliott Jill Allgood 29 September 1960 (1960-09-29) 34
Rocky has a toothache, but nothing anyone says can persuade him to have his tooth removed by Doc Haggerty.
33 "Buffalo Rocky" Alan Pattillo Jill Allgood 6 October 1960 (1960-10-06) 15
When several horses are stolen, the only suspects seems to be a buffalo. But it is actually a clever horse thief covering his tracks by wearing false buffalo hooves.
34 "Safe As Houses" David Elliott Martin Woodhouse 13 October 1960 (1960-10-13) 28
Missouri Mike arrives in town claiming to be able to sell things to people they didn't even know they wanted including selling safes $5 each with a free bottle of brandy. But the brandy is drugged and Mike is actually a criminal planning to rob the town blind.
35 "First Train Through" Alan Pattillo Jill Allgood 20 October 1960 (1960-10-20) 31
The railroad finally comes to Four Feather Falls connecting it to Dallas, however someone keeps sabotaging the tracks.
36 "Fancy Shooting" David Elliott Martin Woodhouse 27 October 1960 (1960-10-27) 35
The 'fastest and bestest in the westest' Gunman, Buck Reevers, arrives in town, worrying Tex that he will attract other gunmen to the town.
37 "Happy Birthday" Alan Pattillo Jill Allgood 3 November 1960 (1960-11-03) 39
The townspeople plan a party for Tex's birthday.
38 "Ambush" David Elliott Jill Allgood 10 November 1960 (1960-11-10) 37
Red Scalp leads an Indian war party on a raid to ambush the train from Dallas and steal the $10,000 payroll on board, with the help of bank messenger William J. Haddon, who is apparently kidnapped during the raid to add some authenticity. But Red Scalp decides to double-cross Haddon and keep all the money for himself, until Tex recovers Haddon and the money.
39 "Ride 'Em Cowboy" Alan Pattillo Jill Allgood 17 November 1960 (1960-11-17) 36
Tex takes part in the rodeo against Silver City's best rider, Bart Stevens, who decides to cheat by using Pedro and Fernando to sabotage his opponents.

Syndication[edit]

The series has not been repeated or rerun in Britain since its original broadcast. In December 2004 it was announced that the rights had been acquired by Network Distributing, and it was released on three Region 2 DVDs in May 2005. It is the only Supermarionation series not yet released to DVD in North America as of January 2006. Sylvia Anderson wrote two British children's annuals based on the show, published by Collins in 1960 and 1961. The first book featured a short text story based on the pilot episode of the TV series.

In Pop Culture[edit]

The fictional TV show Woody's Roundup from the 1999 Disney Pixar film Toy Story 2 was inspired by Four Feather Falls.[8]

Music[edit]

The show's music and song lyrics were composed by Barry Gray. Michael Holliday provided Tex's singing voice, and Tommy Reilly performed the harmonica pieces.[1] The best known song to come out of the series was "Four Feather Falls", sung in some episodes by Michael Holliday in the style of Bing Crosby and sometimes incorrectly described as the theme song to the series. The closing theme song was "Two Gun Tex of Texas." Holliday was paid £2000 for his singing work on the pilot episode, equivalent to about £38,000[9][b] as of 2010, a significant part of the show's £6000 budget.[3] In all, Holliday recorded six songs for the series: "Four Feather Falls", "The Phantom Rider", "The Rick-Rick-A-Rackety Train", "Happy Hearts and Friendly Faces", "My Home Town", and "Two Gun Tex of Texas".[3]

Cast[edit]

Denise Bryer had worked with Anderson on The Adventures of Twizzle, and he wanted her to play some of the voices in Four Feather Falls. Anderson visited Bryer at her home with some scripts and asked her husband, Nicholas Parsons, to help by reading some of the other parts, including the sheriff Tex Tucker. Anderson liked Parsons' interpretation and offered him the job of providing Tex's speaking voice.[4]

  • Nicholas Parsons – Sheriff Tex Tucker (speaking voice)[1] / Telegraph Operator Dan Morse[3] / Various
  • Michael Holliday – Sheriff Tex Tucker (singing voice)[1] / Various
  • Kenneth Connor – Dusty the Dog / Rocky the Horse / Pedro the Bandit / Big Chief Kalamakooya / Bank Manager Marvin Jackson,[1] / Doc Haggerty /
    Saloon Owner Slim Jim Denison[3] / Various
  • David Graham – Grandpa Ebenezer Twink / Fernando the Bandit[1] / Big Ben the Horse Rustler Bandit / Red Scalp the Renegade Indian[3] / Various
  • Denise Bryer – Martha 'Ma' Jones / Little Jake[1] / Makooya the Little Indian Boy / Various

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ The swivelling guns solved the problem of how a puppet cowboy could be quick on the draw without looking like he had gone into a spasm when one of his wires was suddenly yanked.[1]
  2. ^ Comparing the retail price index of £2000 in 1959, when the pilot episode was completed,[3] with 2010

Citations

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Clark, Anthony, "Four Feather Falls (1960)", BFI Screenonline, retrieved 8 January 2013  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b Thorn, Emma, "Supermarionation: Gerry Anderson, a life in puppetry", National Media Museum, retrieved 10 January 2013  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Four Feather Falls", Television Heaven, retrieved 21 January 2013  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b Parsons (2011), The Joys of Television
  5. ^ Green (2009), p. 93
  6. ^ Pirani (1989), p. 26
  7. ^ "Four Feather Falls", tv.com, retrieved 15 January 2013  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Four Feather Falls (TV Series 1960) - Connectons - IMDb". 
  9. ^ Officer, Lawrence H. (2009), Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a UK Pound Amount, 1270 to Present, MeasuringWorth, retrieved 21 January 2013 

Bibliography

  • Green, Paul (2009), Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns, McFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-4390-1 
  • Parsons, Nicholas (2011), With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation: My Life in Comedy, Mainstream Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84596-712-3 
  • Pirani, Adam (1989), The Complete Gerry Anderson Episode Guide, Titan Books, ISBN 978-1-85286-216-9 

External links[edit]