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 Posted:   Nov 3, 2010 - 10:43 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Since the holiday season is rapidly approaching, we’d suggest (for those of you who haven’t already – and,
no, we don’t get a drop of royal residuals from this recommendation, wink honest to Vulcan) you pick up the
First Season that’s still widely available.

Even from this vintage vantage point over 40 years advanced, the caliber of the guest-stars still boggles
one’s memory. Just a mouth-watering sample would include Diane Baker,

the year before he beamed aboard as Captain Kirk playing Jarrod’s law school friend,

Charles Bronson (a magnificently missed opportunity, tho, ‘cause he didn’t have any scenes tangling
with Peter Breck’s hot-headed Nick; boyoboy, wotta fight scene THAT woulda been!

and one of the most auspicious, Jill St. John's

"Barbary Red":

In what we feel is her finest, most sensitive and touching assignment (the ep even co-stars George Kennedy).

And her final tragic line is spoken with such heart-wrenching sadness it combines a lifetime of exploitation into
its utterance that we still shed an inner tear at (not surprisingly, written by a woman - Judith Barrows - so the uncommon insight makes human, not gender, sense).

So whaddaya waitin' for? Pronto, Tonto!

 Posted:   Nov 6, 2010 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

When They Had REAL Characters Actors, Not the Reel Iron Pyrite Confectionary Kind Department:

There many titled thespians who made such superlative impressions they were asked back for numerous
equally memorable encores, and at the top of our list was James Whitmore, who appeared four fantastic
tymes – each outing totally different in tone and texture that highlighted not only his versatility but
remarkable range. Our favorite was his first (with the unforgettable name of rattlesnake deadly
Handy Randum -

His third as an unscrupulous politican,

benefits from none other than Strother Martin.

And our second favorite with the Elmer Bee score that’s all aces (along with a
touching performance from Susan Strasberg



 Posted:   Nov 14, 2010 - 1:37 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

Whitmore's first episode also features another great character actor, Royal Dano, always the strange looking villain but cast against type as the rival land owner this time out.

Having plugged the Disney park vocal contributions of Andrew Duggan and John Anderson in this thread, I should in that same spirit also note how Dano was the definitive voice of Abraham Lincoln in Disney's "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" program that debuted at the 1964 World's Fair and then went to Disneyland. His Lincoln voice was also recently returned to Disney World's "Hall of Presidents" attraction for the first time in 16 long years.

 Posted:   Nov 15, 2010 - 9:43 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

We originally hadda a shot of Mr. Dano under the appropriate episode citation but thanks for reminding
us to rectify that oversight, HooRaq. What was particularly notable about his flinty-but-fair portrayal of
Craddock is his own observation he held a grudge against the Barkleys “on a moral rather than a personal

Spoken with that wunnerfully rich distinctive voice of his, we can imagine how much he added to his
vocal interpretation of Lincoln. Mebbe we’ll be fortunate enough to catch that exhibit someday …

By the bye, too bad the latter couldn't charm the former

into guest-starring, no?

 Posted:   Nov 19, 2010 - 6:52 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Considering how ruthlessly reactionary the networks are nowadays, it’s worth remembering there was an era
when a full season considered of no less than 30 eps – a production total practically extinct and unheard
of in these underwhelming contemporary times. Not to mention such guest-stars as Robert Goulet

(tho the above is from “Brigadoon”, he still acquits himself favorably as the bogus preacher whose only higher
revelation is towards increasing his own scam profit) with Strother Martin and Gavin Macleod as his
conniving co-conspirators.

Then there’s Lynn Loring

and her touching rendition of an outwardly hard-as-nails tough gal with a marshmellow heart inside

[ It also bears mentioning in the mid-60s she was then the envy of many women ‘cause she was
married to what his fans considered the Paul Newman of teevee, Roy Thinnes.

Back to Our Favorite Beaming Character Actors Department:

At the top of the list opposite James Whitmore is James Gregory (second from the left next to
Dennis Hopper in “The Sons of Katie Elder”),

And as Dino’s boss Mac in the first three Matt Helm flicks (he understandably declined to appear
in the fourth due to their insulting pay offer).

He appeared a trio of times in the “Valley”, most notably as grizzled buffalo hunter Simon Carter – funny,
nd charmingly ornerly, his chemistry with Miss Stanwyck was incredible, and they gave a master class
in timing and mutually rich professionally/personal charisma (so much so, they brought him back a year
later to cheerfully reprise the role).

Nosireebob (no babs, PJ big grin) – they sure as shootin’ don’t make ‘em like them anymore -

and more’s the profound pity - and perennial audience loss - too. frownfrownfrown

 Posted:   Nov 28, 2010 - 3:02 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

The release of "The Six Million Dollar Man" on DVD is an even not without interest for "Big Valley" fans. In the supplements, SMDM executive producer Harve Bennett (of Star Trek movie production fame) recounts his days working at ABC and being privy to Lee Majors' casting for "Big Valley". This sets up a great anecdote about the shooting of the pilot episode of Big Valley and Lee being in awe of Barbara Stanwyck's professionalism.

Also, Season 4 contains a reunion of Heath and Nick Barkley as Peter Breck guest stars in the episode "To Catch The Eagle."

 Posted:   Nov 29, 2010 - 11:42 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Her third Emmy -

And the B.V. ep – “My Son, My Son” - for which she undoubtedly won her Second,

You can catch some of your favorite “Valley” episodes by beaming aboard

smilewinkbig grin

 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 10:57 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

When you have such a powerhouse presence as Miss Stanwyck, it’s incredibly difficult to
find others who can match her. One of the few memorable occasions on this series came when
Colleen Dewhurst (whom we’d never seen before this original ep and never forgot afterward)
appeared as the equally tough-as-nails matriarch of an outlaw family. Her considerable charisma
wasn’t overshadowed by her legendary leading lady, either, and it remains not only imminently

but also worth sticking around for the climax when these two have their own six-gun showdown -
proving women can be every inch the equal (mebbe even more so) defending emotional turf if their
sons or daughters are imperiled.

Coming Up in Conclusion:

A brilliantly-belated Barkley Bouquet to the only singular co-star to match and EQUAL
Mme. Stanwyck’s stellar artistry:

 Posted:   May 4, 2011 - 2:50 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Looks like casting news not only has Mr. Majors evolving to play his character’s father,

but he’s gonna be joined by these two hombres who also appeared on the original series (Mr. Dern
at least inna trinity of perfs).

Sara Paxton is carrying on Linda Evans’ golden-tressed tradition as Audra

with Aidan Quinn also on Barkley board -

as is the aforementioned Ms. Lange as (Queen) Victoria.

As for the irreplaceable Mme. Stanwyck, we’d imagine she’d echo

one of McCall’s Commandments:

“Next time get it right, Mickey …

Get it right.”

smile wink

 Posted:   May 26, 2011 - 4:32 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Nah, this has nothing to do with The Barkleys, per se, but the never-outta-fashion
professional polish and Stanwyck sheen she lent the flick is still irresistible. With esteemed director John Rich.

Oh, and a later on-screen amigo was friends with Mr. Presley also. As we always say:
T.A.N.A ... (There AIN'T No Accidents).


 Posted:   Jul 15, 2011 - 5:00 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

R.I.P. - July 16, 1907-January 20, 1990

[ ”Egotism: usually just a case of mistaken non-entity.

“My only problem is finding a way to play my 40th fallen female in a different way from my 39th."

Although she was the irreplaceable central spoke around which the series royally
revolved, of all her pivotal first-season performances,

we feel THIS is the segment which copped her wonderfully-deserved second Best Actress Emmy:

Career is too pompous a word. It was a job and I have always felt privileged to be paid for doing what I love doing.”

Happy Birthday … QUEEN VICTORIA of the West Department.

 Posted:   Jul 16, 2011 - 10:58 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

All it takes is once in a performer’s career – totally unanticipated, wholly unexpected and without any foresight
whatsoever – when a cast is assembled with the kinda timeless unmatchable (to say nothing and everything of
unrepeatable) chemistry that will always be the richest and most royally representative of the best they had to offer
in a context virtually without comparison in their later endeavors (Ms. Evans' "Dynasty" and Mr. Majors' "6 Million
Dollar Hombre" endeavors the notable exception - tho neither had the bright buoyant inaugural luster of their original
oater breakthrough).

THIS is That for Them.

Whilst any encompassing appreciation cannot overlook the magnificence of George Duning’s
musical Rosetta Stone – as instantly memorable and dynamic as one could wondrously wish for.

And it DEFINITIVELY belongs on this titled list:

 Posted:   Jul 16, 2011 - 12:59 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

The Linda Evans quote about how Stanwyck was so "in the moment" and looking forward to each day's work is fascinating.

Stanwyck came from an era of filmmaking---a real pioneering era, if you will---where everyone worked hard to accomplish the job, but had fun doing it and, I think, made pictures primarily to please the audience. Then they went home at the end of the day, had dinner, and went to bed, ready to start the excitement of the next day.

With my own career, I think I got in on the very end of that. Even though there were stars and star pampering, everyone seemed to pitch in far more, and the atmosphere was more of everyone working together to get the day's schedule done, than being pushed along and supervised by a fatherlike "Director" figure. There were not many amenities on the set---no food wagons or breakfast burritos or designer waters or fresh fruit melanges---everyone brought their lunches from home or had a 30-45 minute break for the lunch meal.

Today's filmmaking seems like endless days of slogging through lengthy scenes---many of which will, unfortunately, end up on the cutting room floor---because the director will not know in advance or cannot decide what he really wants to do, but will cover his ass with multiple angles for later when he finally wants to make up his mind, or change it, months down-the-road, in post-production. I think that Directors today are more like Hitchcock. Hitchcock loved planning the movie, but wasn't crazy about the work of shooting it. In the same way, today's directors don't really seem to enjoy shooting the movie---what they really enjoy is EDITING the movie.

Today's films are far more complex, both in storylines and in physical production. On the set, shooting is often a technical nightmare of complex and interrelated effects requirements, often at the expense of the live performer standing in front of the camera.

Once-upon-a-time, I loved the spareness of telling a good story well and doing it with quality---but in a simple fashion. I miss the happy experiences of working the old way, and am very happy to be out of the business today.

The other Stanwyck quote, about doing the "bad girl" in 40 different ways was also very telling as regards dedication to craft, rather than ego. How many actresses today, of Stanwyck's stature, would put up with playing essentially the same part 40 different times?

As I was growing up, I enjoyed Stanwyck in films, but was never enamored of her. It was at a time, primarily in the 50s when Stanwyck's career, although she continued to work regularly, was in the doldrums.

But, at my age, now, I have seen most of Stanwyck's career work over the years, and, I have to say that, of all the female stars of the Golden Age, Stanwyck seems to me the most versatile and compelling, the most believable in so many varied roles, and the least gimmicky in performance, than any other actress, before or since. I will ALWAYS watch a Stanwyck film.

Is it really 20+ years already? I find it hard to believe she's been gone that long. She seems to be a ubiquitous presence still.

 Posted:   Jul 17, 2011 - 11:00 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Y'know, Sir M, if you're not the main candidate for Most Eagerly Read Riter in the FSM (Dis)Universe -
and you've got our three votes unanimously in that royal regard - you OUGHTA be.

And, per our favorite philosopher Jacob Needleman's suggestion, we gotta Deeper Your Question with this:

IS there anyone of Miss Stanwyck's stature extant in these nubile-nitwit tymes?

There may be those whose impeccable technique enhance their artistic acumen, others with perhaps
more classical training and a virtuous legion of ladies with their own unique essences that're
enjoyable and enlightening in their own illusrious right.

Still, seems to us she stands in an Olympian class of her own 'cause Miss Stanwyck's titled technique

WAS her titanic talent.

 Posted:   Aug 3, 2011 - 5:42 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Given their mutual love of Westerns, it’s sad Ms. Stanwyck and director John Sturges never
teamed on one, although the single instance they did creatively collaborate –

was apparently a mutual-admiration fest between these two pros (Mr. Sturges speaks most highly
of her consummate commitment both in front and behind the camera)

In fact, the plot of the flick – her husband trapped in an accident while she desperately searches for
someone to assist her in the rescue -

was also a key ep on the series, too, only this tyme it’s Heath who’s trapped under a wagon slowly
sinking into quicksand, and Victoria comes upon an escaped convict (Bruce Dern)

who resists helping her.

Since one of our many merry matrix mantras is T.A.N.A. (There Are No Accidents) we kinda figger
whoever made that story pitch to the producers hadda be aware of Ms. Stanwyck’s previous foray.
As to that, it remains fresh enough on its own and, against all odds, it’s a strong show with very
affecting performances all around.

 Posted:   Aug 11, 2011 - 11:16 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Gee Willikers, The Things U Belatedly Learn Department:

While we knew she later worked opposite another generation’s Icon, we never knew she’d previously
shared a handful of scenes with the previous one’s blonde incarnation (professionally patient and gracious
about the latter’s characteristically chronic inability to get through a scene (dang, did that dame
EVER get through any?!???) without blowing her lines). eek

 Posted:   Aug 12, 2011 - 2:58 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

We first came across his distinctive demeanor as dashing Gentleman Jack Darby on

and it continued throughout his tenure on

By the tyme he inherited his father’s seat at the head of the Barkley table
across from his majestic mother

it was profoundly obvious he was the unmistakable matching mirror of
magnificence to equal Ms. Stanwyck’ pulsating power.

( Turns out the previously-unknown historical tidbit confirms she’d been quite aware of
– and worked together with him 12 years earlier – in

Even in the unusually off-beat comedic episode, these two played off one another with admirable panache
(to say nothing and everything of evident professionally-personal / personally-professional pleasure).

Their scenes together had a heightened intensity of commitment above and beyond what was usually the
always-consistent case where the rest of the cast is concerned (note Victoria’s no-holds-barred confrontation
with her blind son at 5:15 in this vignette:

He had such a degree of commitment allied with his discipline and fine-toned talent that even when he had
to go after one of his brothers in court – his legal grilling of Heath is masterly - one felt Jarrod's conflicted
demeanor yet still admired the character (and the actor’s) innate integrity and refusal to curry favor by
playing his scenes with unvarnished realism:

Once he beamed aboard for his four-season ride on the Barkley ranch, Mr. Long was at the apex
of his artistry as a mature actor whose superlative sensitivity, charm, humor, timing conviction,
emotional range and human vulnerability became a hypnotic showcase each and every episode he
graced with his grandeur.

Lady Barbara and Mr. Long shared many unforgettable sequences, two of our favorites are the Olympian
wisdom and confession secret Victoria reveals to her son 31:25 in this exquisitely written/performed and
directed vignette:

However, in a gallery of esteemed portraits, what we regard as far and away his finest – and Truly Transcendent Thanks
to Eric for his birthday gift of these shots a coupla years ago - is exhibited (those notorious roll eyes Hallmark mad snippets aside) within

Blessed by one of Elmer Bernstein's most evocative love themes, and adorned by an absolutely
RADIANT Sandra Smith as Beth, the Washington school-teacher Jarrod falls for

Unfortunately, tragedy strikes only seconds after this splendid scene,

and we’re then introduced to a grief-stricken Jarrod the likes of which audiences (or his family) have never
seen before: vengeful, bitter, wracked with unequal extremes of ungrounded grief and royal rage
(Emmy-award Best Actor worthy if anything ever was).

When our daughter was killed – and tomorrow’s { Her Divine deAscension Day } - we experienced first haunted-heart the kind of atomic anger that can often be legally-defined as ‘temporary insanity’ – unrighteous white-hot rage that knows no boundaries, entertains no explanations and just wants whatever kind of unequalized justice most immediately at hand (rifle or knife). You don’t give one flamin’ damn about the consequences, you only want to put the person responsible PERMANENTLY out of mortal commission.

It’s not pretty to feel nor anything to be particularly proud admitting. But before anyone ascends their high horse of judgment about how they’d ‘never do anything like that, or even think about it’, we’ve got an Ultimate Flash for you very few are primally prepared to accept about the human condition:

Under the 'Rightfully' Wrong circumstance, we’re all capable of absolutely ANYTHING.

And if you think you’re somehow exempt from this total truism, pally, that river of Denial you’re drowning in overflows its shores in Egypt.

Richard Long set an Everest-high bar for influence as an actor very few have ever come close to eclipsing where our own meager efforts of aspiration (forget about permanent achievement) is concerned. He remains an Inspiration … Always in All Ways.

 Posted:   Aug 12, 2011 - 3:43 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

A great performance indeed, and thanks again Neo for recommending this episode originally! Even though the episode's end was clear from the beginning, it still managed to provide an important twist by giving us the shocking end early in the episode rather than the final act which is the usual cliche for a series regular's doomed romance.

 Posted:   Aug 15, 2011 - 2:11 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

Linda Evans on the Noo "Big Valley" Mo'om Pitcher Department:

“I think it’ll be extraordinary because they’re taking something that existed that the public and their hearts
and minds joined in for.

“It could only improve with time because they’re going to now expand on that and take today all the different
things that Today has to offer – and put it into Yesterday.

“So, I think, it’s gotta be better.

“I mean, you never – I’m not saying you can replace Barbara Stanwyck; you can’t replace people.
But you can take a Concept and an Idea and you can EXPAND on that: with people today.”

Wellllll, tho we haven't had exactly a hungry hankerin' fer another version (even if it does top-line one
of our favorite actresses) ... guess we'll practice some matrix patience and give 'em the benefit of the
Western doubt rather than the reactionary doubt of the unseen oater benefit ...

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2011 - 11:38 AM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

I think Linda is a bit too optimistic there, because there's unfortunately too much of a track record of remakes of vintage TV properties that inevitably serve to remind us that what made the original so appealing was also what the specific *cast* brought to the table and how they clicked with the material. Concept wise, "The Big Valley" was itself being a variant of a general Western idea that was already popular with "Bonanza" but this time giving it a new dimension with a strong matriarch in Barbara Stanwyck, and also a stronger family unit IMO.

I keep hoping that the new movie will at least force Fox to resume release of the original series on DVD which is now five years stuck on just 1.5 of 4 seasons. And while I do have uncut boots of the unreleased episodes, the show deserves its full run out for all to enjoy in a convenient format in the best possible quality.

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