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Eric Fleming... the real star of Rawhide.,
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This review is from: Rawhide - The Complete Series One [DVD] (DVD)
Rawhide holds so many memories for me, like other reviewers I am transported back over 45 years with the whole family settling down to watch it. The series has many memorable features, not least the opening theme tune sung by Frankie Laine, without doubt the best ever western theme. Every episode ended with the refrain, 'Head'em up, move'em out!' usually (but not always) uttered by the trail boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming). It was the quintessential western series and in my opinion the best. Seeing a few episodes on TCM enticed me into buying this set and I am so glad I did. There is always a danger when revisiting childhood favourites like this; seen through modern day eyes the production shortcomings become glaringly obvious and cause sadness and disappointment, but in this case I needn't have worried. I loved it from the start and was delighted at how well the series had stood the test of time. The storylines are intelligent tackling the problems familiar to cattles drives on the Sedalia Trail; the constant need for water, fighting amongst the drovers, hostility from towns and farmers, cattle rustlers and dodgy lone characters that crossed their path. I was surprised to find it tackled head on the issue of racial predudice (against Native Americans and Mexicans) at a time when racial segregation was still the norm in many southern US States. There is a substantial amount of violence but unlike so much modern TV it isn't gratuitous or graphic. It is filmed in black and white and for me this only added to my enjoyment as it gave an edge to it all. I found the scenes where the drovers are herding the cattle across vast dusty plains or through deep meandering rivers strangely satisfying; perhaps watching Rawhide as a boy planted a seed in my mind and I wanted to grow up to be a drover all the time but never realised it until now, too late I think. Given his phenomenal career, launched by this series, it was inevitable that today's marketing ploys promote Clint Eastwood as the star of the show. He plays the ramrod (a kind of foreman), Rowdy Yates, but for me the star always was and remains Eric Fleming. He is superb as Gil Favor, the hard as nails but fair-minded trail boss, who's job it is to get the cattle to the railhead at Sedalia, overcoming all kinds of obstacles and dicey situations in the process. Sadly his career was tragically cut short when he died in a drowning accident not long after leaving the series aged 41. Other memorable characters are the cook Wishbone (Paul Brinegar), his sidekick Mushy (James Murdoch) and scout Pete Nolan (Sheb Wooley). I'll definitely be buying more DVD sets of this series.
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Initial post: 29 Jun 2011 09:58:55 BDT
D. J. Williams says:
How right you are. Eric Fleming was the real star of Rawhide. I was thrilled when I wrote to him in 1964, I had several letters back and photos. He was a considerate person to his fans. Incidentally if you can't wait they have released 6 seasons of Rawhide in Australia and the 7th is out in August, fantastic! They play perfectly well on U.K. players and the price is reasonable.
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