Rawhide: The Second Season: Volume 1 – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Executive Producer:
Charles Marquis Warren

Cast:
Clint Eastwood….Rowdy Yates
Eric Fleming….Gil Favor
Steve Raines…Jim Quince
Paul Brinegar….Wishbone
James Murdock….Mushy
Sheb Wooley….Pete Nolan

Paramount Home Video presents Rawhide: The Second Season, Volume 1. Sixteen episodes on 4 DVDs. Episodes aired from Sept. 18, 1959 to Jan. 29 , 1960. DVD released May 29, 2007.

The Show

Why haven’t they rebranded this show to The Man With No Name: The Early Years? For those wondering what Clint Eastwood’s character did before he traveled to Europe to make his legendary Spaghetti Western trio with Segio Leone, this show offers a potential back story. He drove cattle from Texas to Missouri under the name Rowdy Yates. Eastwood was still acting on Rawhide when he donned the poncho and lit up the black cigars. But at this point in Eastwood’s cinematic cowboy career, he didn’t mind talking more than shooting. Don’t think that this series is all about Eastwood. Rowdy Yates works for Eric Fleming’s Gil Favor on the drive. Eastwood was a supporting actor amongst a cast of thousands.

When was the last time you saw livestock as supporting cast on TV? Here’s a show that had 3,000 heads of cattle being driven cross country. Instead of completely relying on stock footage, rear projection and puppets, the producer brought in real cows. Those doggies really roll. There’s so much location work done on this show. If you know a little about the hassles of shooting in a field with cattle, you’ll appreciate the effort that went into Rawhide. They didn’t try to fake the entire show on studio with backdrops. This is a huge Western production created for the small screen.

There is a purgatory atmosphere to Rawhide. There’s no home for these men. They’re always driving the cattle from Texas to Missouri. Adventures either meet them in the wild or during their rare visits to small frontier towns and ranches. Their path seems like an eternity as if this is somehow a curse instead of a career. Even the episode names sound like supernatural ghost stories told around the campfire with “Incident” starting off the title. “Incident of the Blue Fire” has the men scared that the cattle will stampede from an approaching storm. The cattle even glow from St. Elmo’s Fire. The cowboys get up in arms on this creepy night when a mysterious guy named Lucky arrives without warning. They think he’s a demon come to curse them since only bad luck rides with him.

“Incident of the Druid Curse” has a spooked out woman almost getting mauled by a cowboy played by Claude Akins (Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo). She’s the daughter of an archaeologist roaming the plains trying to prove the ancient druids sought refuge in the Wild West. She keeps lapsing into a trance that makes her sound like a character on Dark Shadows. Akins kidnaps the old man and daughter thinking the artifacts are a treasures. The episode gets intense when Akins tortures the archeologist by pushing his face into the campfire a couple times. There were violent moments on 1960s TV.

There’s plenty of notable guest stars on the show. “Incident at the Buffalo Smokehouse” has a crew of outlaws led by Harry Dean Stanton take Vera Miles and John Agar hostage. Agar and Eastwood had crossed paths a few years earlier when Eastwood had bit parts in Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula. Iron Eyes Cody doesn’t cry when he appears in “Incident of the Thirteenth Man.” That episode also features Patrick Macnee (best known as John Steed on The Avengers).

The second season had 31 episodes which was more than the first season’s 23 adventures. This might explain why Paramount went with the split season box set. This show didn’t have a sophomore slump. Gil Favor and his crew still are full of energy on their never ending quest to drive cattle to Missouri. If you plan on buying the special edition DVDs of Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns, you should pick up this collection to get a sense of what he was like when he still had a name on the range.

The Episodes

The first half of season two included “Incident of the Day of the Dead,” “Incident at Dangerfield Dip,” “Incident of the Shambling Man,” “Incident at Jacob’s Well,” “Incident of the Thirteenth Man,” “Incident at the Buffalo Smokehouse,” “Incident of the Haunted Hills,” “Incident of the Stalking Death,” “Incident of the Valley in Shadow,” “Incident of the Blue Fire,” “Incident at Spanish Rock,” “Incident of the Druid’s Curse,” “Incident at Red River Station,” “Incident of the Devil and His Due,” and “Incident of the Wanted Painter.”

The DVD

VIDEO:
The picture is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are amazingly clean, The black and white image of these episodes look better than theatrical Westerns from this era.

AUDIO:
The soundtrack is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are good so you don’t have to crank it up to hear the cowboys over the cattle. When Frankie Lane busts out the classic theme song, you’ll feel it in your gut. Don’t get too close to the speaker when the whip crack. It has closed captioning.

EXTRAS:
None.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Rawhide: The Second Season: Volume 1
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

8
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

0
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
If you’re a fan of Eastwood, these Rawhide episodes will be highly entertaining. This was a show that went the extra distance to give an authentic view of the Wild West. Those are real cows mingling with the cowboys.