The Westerner (TV series)

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The Westerner
Brian Keith The Westerner 1960.JPG
Brian Keith as Dave Blassingame and Spike as Brown, 1960
Genre Western
Created by Sam Peckinpah
Written by Jack Curtis
Bruce Geller
Tom Gries
Robert Heverly
Sam Peckinpah
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
André de Toth
Tom Gries
Starring Brian Keith
John Dehner
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13
Production
Executive producer(s) Hal Hudson
Producer(s) Sam Peckinpah
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25 mins.
Production company(s) Four Star Productions
Distributor Fox Television Studios
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 30, 1960 (1960-09-30) – December 30, 1960 (1960-12-30)

The Westerner is a highbrow American Western series that aired on NBC from September 30 to December 30, 1960. Created and produced by Sam Peckinpah, who also directed some episodes, the series was a Four Star Television production. The Westerner stars Brian Keith as amiable, unexceptional cowhand/drifter Dave Blassingame, and features John Dehner as rakish Burgundy Smith, who appeared in three episodes.

Synopsis[edit]

The pilot for The Westerner appeared on CBS's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater. The musical score was largely the work of Four Star's Herschel Burke Gilbert. For rerun syndication, it was grouped with three other short-lived Western series from the same company, Black Saddle starring Peter Breck, Johnny Ringo starring Don Durant, and Law of the Plainsman starring Michael Ansara, under the umbrella title The Westerners, bracketed with hosting sequences featuring Keenan Wynn.

Blassingame was realistically portrayed as a basically decent, ordinary man who was handy with a gun. Not particularly bright, illiterate and occasionally amoral, he felt no compunction about being seduced by another man's wife or absconding with a long-lost government payroll (abandoning his dog Brown along the way). Brown was played by Spike, who was trained by Frank Weatherwax and is best known for playing the title role in Old Yeller. Brown figured prominently in a number of episodes, appeared in all of them, and was always seen faithfully following Blassingame in the end credits.

Guest stars included Malcolm Atterbury, Ben Cooper, and John M. Pickard.

Episodes[edit]

  1. Jeff - Sep 30, 1960
  2. School Days - Oct 7, 1960
  3. Brown - Oct 21, 1960
  4. Mrs. Kennedy - Oct 28, 1960
  5. Dos Pinos - Nov 4, 1960
  6. The Courting of Libby - Nov 11, 1960
  7. Treasure - Nov 18, 1960
  8. The Old Man - Nov 25, 1960
  9. Ghost of a Chance - Dec 2, 1960
  10. Line Camp - Dec 9, 1960
  11. Going Home - Dec 16, 1960
  12. Hand on the Gun - Dec 23, 1960
  13. The Painting - Dec 30, 1960

Reception[edit]

The critically acclaimed series ran for thirteen episodes, but it was canceled because of low ratings (due to being placed in the same time-slot as The Flintstones and Route 66). One of the episodes, "Line Camp," was the basis for the 1968 Charlton Heston film Will Penny.

An unsuccessful attempt to update and revive the series aired as a January 1963 episode of The Dick Powell Theater, "The Losers", featuring Lee Marvin as Dave Blassingame and Keenan Wynn as Burgundy Smith but set in the modern West.

In other media[edit]

Brian Keith briefly played the same character again in 1991's The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, which featured a number of 1950s and 1960s television western series leads reprising their roles in quick cameo appearances (Gene Barry as Bat Masterson, Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp, Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick, Clint Walker as Cheyenne Bodie, David Carradine as Kung Fu's Caine, Chuck Connors as The Rifleman, and so on).

External links[edit]