The High Chaparral
|The High Chaparral|
|Created by||David Dortort|
|Theme music composer||David Rose|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||98 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Xanadu Productions in association with NBC|
CBS Television Distribution
NBCUniversal Television Distribution
|Original release||September 10, 1967– March 12, 1971|
The High Chaparral is an American Western-themed television series starring Leif Erickson and Cameron Mitchell, which aired on NBC from 1967 to 1971. The series, made by Xanadu Productions in association with NBC Productions, was created by David Dortort, who had previously created Bonanza for the network. The theme song was also written and conducted by Bonanza scorer David Rose, who also scored the two-hour pilot.
Cast and characters
The show revolves around "Big John" Cannon (Erickson), a rancher living in the dry desert of southern Arizona Territory, near the Mexican border in Apache Indian country in the 1870s. He runs the ranch, called "The High Chaparral" (named for a local plant/brush), with his brother Buck (Mitchell) and John's son Billy Blue (known as "Blue Boy") (Mark Slade). Blue Boy's mother, Anna-lee Cannon (Joan Caulfield), is killed in the first episode by an attacking Apache Indian arrow. John then marries a beautiful Mexican woman named Victoria (Linda Cristal), 30 years his junior, the daughter of powerful neighboring Mexican rancher Don Sebastián Montoya (Frank Silvera). In what is initially a marriage of convenience, she soon appreciates his strength and character, falls in love with him and becomes very supportive. John's marriage to Victoria also brings her brother Manolito (Henry Darrow) to live with the American "gringo" family on the extensive ranch.
Among the many frequent guest stars were Rico Alaniz, Richard Bradford, Scott Brady, Rory Calhoun. Anthony Caruso, Chief Dan George, Roberto Contreras, Dennis Cross, Jim Davis, John Dehner, Bruce Dern, Charles Durning, Paul Fix, Steve Forrest, Ron Foster, Frank Gorshin, Ron Hagerthy, Ron Hayes, Myron Healey, Barbara Hershey, Don Keefer, Dan Kemp, Robert Loggia, Jack Lord, Tyler McVey, Ricardo Montalban, Joanna Moore, Nehemiah Persoff, Stuart Randall, Gilbert Roland, Ned Romero, Kurt Russell, Frank Silvera, Barry Sullivan, William Sylvester, William Tannen, Dub Taylor, Denver Pyle, Paul Winfield, and Morgan Woodward.
The two-hour opening episode establishes the background to the action, bringing "Big John" Cannon and his family and brother Buck to the frontier high desert scrubland in the southern Arizona Territory near the border with Mexico, where they buy a run-down hacienda and establish a cattle ranch on it. The Apaches, under the leadership of Cochise, are hostile; John's wife Anna-Lee is killed in an early attack, and to survive, the Cannons are compelled to enter into an alliance with a rich and powerful neighboring rancher, Don Sebastian Montoya, who owns a huge estate on the Mexican side of the border adjoining the "High Chaparral".
Part of the price for the alliance is the sealing of the pact by the marriage of John Cannon to Montoya's beautiful, dark-haired, sophisticated daughter, Victoria, 30 years younger. Montoya's feckless son, Manolito, whose relationship with his father is strained, accompanies his sister to get away from Don Sebastian. John's son, Blue, is also vehemently opposed to the strange "mixed marriage", coming so soon after Anna-Lee's death.
Reinforced by Montoya's men, the Cannons are able to fight off the Indian attacks, and with the services of Manolito as interpreter, manage to negotiate a truce, albeit a fragile one, with the Apache leader. The main reason for its fragility is that the U.S. Cavalry refuses to recognize Cannon's right to negotiate a private peace with the Apaches, and continued Army interference constantly threatens the unofficial treaty. Problems also frequently occur between the Cannons and the arrogant, resentful Don Sebastian, usually concerning the terms of their alliance.
Big John's brother, Buck, notionally the ranch's head cowhand, was a hard-bitten former soldier, who fought in the American Civil War, 10 years previously, on the side of the Confederacy. From time to time, Buck's past comes back to haunt him, usually in the person of other Confederate soldiers drifting through the territory, forever unable to return to their homes in the defeated South. Occasionally, friction occurred because foreman Buck's brother Big John had also fought in the war, but on the other side, as a Captain in the Union Army.
The series gradually evolved to make Manolito and Buck the most prominent characters, as they were the ones who tended to get into trouble; both were somewhat irresponsible, particularly under the influence of drink. For what was generally regarded as a serious Western tv series, their scenes provided what is popularly known as comedy- or "comic relief" to the show. The other characters were gradually marginalized. Cattle ranching almost never featured in the storylines, which, whenever Mexican bandit or Indian troubles were not imminent, were much more likely to revolve around personal issues of drama with Manolito or Buck and some form of hell-raising - gambling, fighting, women, or whiskey (or a combination of them).
Mark Slade (Blue Boy) did not appear in the final season, and Frank Silvera (Don Sebastian Montoya) had died while the series was still in production (but he did appear in a few episodes). Blue Boy was replaced by Wind, a passing, mysterious cowhand who was half-Pawnee and of a similar age to Blue, and who sometimes acted as a go-between for the ranchers and the Indians. This final season had new opening titles and a rearranged version of the popular theme music.
Name of the ranch
The name was explained by the following dialog in episode one:
- Anna-lee Cannon: Isn't it beautiful, John? It should have a name.
- Big John Cannon: You name it.
- Anna-lee: What is that bush called — that green one?
- Big John: Chaparral.
- Anna-lee: That's it — Chaparral. I christen thee "The High Chaparral" — the greatest cattle ranch in the whole territory ... the whole world!
In the true sense of the word, "chaparral" is not a single species of shrub, but a bionomic community of desert flora located near a coast, especially that in coastal southern California. The name comes from the Spanish word for scrub oak, chaparro, which is seldom found further east in Arizona as native flora. Some colloquial use of the term in Arizona describes the low-growing sage, mesquite, and palo verde, which are native to the area, especially in the higher desert, but the high Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona plant community is more properly called a "xeric" shrublands biome.
The High Chaparral was producer Dortort's new brainchild, and he left the day-to-day running of his earlier success Bonanza (1959-1973) in the spring of 1967 so he could focus all of his energies on The High Chaparral. After the show's cancellation in 1971 after only four years, Dortort chose not to return to Bonanza and retired.
All the exterior filming was done at the famous Old Tucson Studios near Tucson, Arizona (site of frequent movie-making for several decades) and in the nearby Saguaro National Park, although in a few later episodes, some filming was done in California and (in season three) in the Coronado National Forest south of Tucson. The interiors were generally filmed at the NBC television studios in Burbank.
In Popular Culture
During the late 1960's/early 1970's the British toy/miniature modelling company Airfix produced a boxed kit of plastic figures (HO-00 / 1/72nd / 20-25mm scale) that contained the main characters of the series.
On May 20, 2010 the first worldwide release of season one on DVD occurred in Germany (Kinowelt, now Studiocanal), with subtitles in English and dubbed into German. Season two was released on December 9, 2010. Season three was released June 9, 2011. The final season was released in February 16, 2012. On disc one, episode one starts with some scenes shown on German TV that were not in the original, thus dubbed German instead of English for a few minutes.
Art-S Home Entertainment (www.art-s.nl) in the Netherlands released the first box with season one (28 episodes) on May 2, 2012. Season two released on January 28, 2013. Season three released on September 3, 2013, and the final season released January 26, 2014. The High Chaparral is also released in Sweden with each season in two boxes. In Australia, they have also released The High Chaparral in four boxes.
|Season||Episodes||Region 1||Region 2
|Season 1||28||August 28, 2018||May 20, 2010||May 2, 2012||October 30, 2012||November, 2012||March 13, 2013|
|Season 2||26||December 11, 2018||December 9, 2010||January 28, 2013||March 19, 2013||December, 2012||May 8, 2013|
|Season 3||26||June 9, 2011||September 3, 2013||July 31, 2013||January, 2013||August 7, 2013|
|Season 4||18||February 16, 2012||January 26, 2014||October 8, 2013||February, 2013||January 15, 2014|
- High Chaparral Theme Park (Sweden)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The High Chaparral.|