DVD Review: Rawhide (Season Four, Volume 2)

Over fifty years since he first road into America’s living rooms, Clint Eastwood is not merely active. He’s at his creative prime as a director in both a sense of awards and box office. His J. Edgar is gathering Oscar buzz. But let’s go back to the wide open range that introduced him as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide. He was merely a trail foreman leading a massive herd of cattle. Who could know that greatness would trail from him? Rawhide: Season Four, Volume 2 explores the youthful Clint before he called the shots.

“Woman Trap” fills a wagon with women eager to be married in Ft. Worth, Texas. Little do they know the wagonmaster has other plans for them. Alan Hale (The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island) is part of another messed up tour. Marion Ross (Happy Days is one of the ladies. Did Mr. C order her from a magazine, too? “The Greedy Town” turns nasty when Merecedes McCambridge throws her money around to get neighbors to turn on the local sheriff. “Grandma’s Money” gets sticky for Clint. He’s looking for a rancher that ordered up a few hundred head of cattle, but encounters a nice old lady. She turns out to be not so nice. “The Pitchwagon” involves a dead rover and Buddy Ebsen. He wants to raise money for the rover’s widow. “Hostage Child” becomes a nasty family reunion. An Indian goes looking for his sister (Debra Paget). Turns out she’s married James Coburn (In Like Flint). He’s not happy at the new brother-in-law.

“The Child-Woman” makes Cesar Romero (The Joker on Batman) the bad guy. Mushy (James Murdock) wants to free his cousin from her gig at Romero’s nightclub. But he’s not ready to lose talent. This is one of those interesting episodes since they kinda hint she’s working as a prostitute, but they can’t say that on TV. It wouldn’t be till Deadwood could this subject be broadcasted. “The Reunion” unites Darryl Hickman with Walter Pidgeon (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). “The House of the Hunter” kidnaps Rowdy and five others. Will he take care of the punks? The drovers get “Gold Fever” when they meet a miner and his three daughters. Marion Ross once more plays an object of affection. “Abilene” is listed as a bonus feature, but it was the final episode of the 1962 season. This is a good stopping point since Abilene is the end of the drive for the cattle. Trail Boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) wants to take his drover money and buy a ranch. He wants out of the game. But can he quit? Rawhide: Season Four, Volume 2 marks the first half of the series 8 years on the air. But it doesn’t come close to being a minor fraction of Clint’s career.

The Episodes
“Woman Trap,” “The Bosses’ Daughter,” “The Deserters’ Patrol,” “The Greedy Town,” “Grandma’s Money,” “The Pitchwagon,” “Hostage Child,” “The Immigrants,” “The Child – Woman,” “A Woman’s Place,” “The Reunion,” “The House of the Hunter,” “Gold Fever,” “The Devil and the Deep Blue” and “Abilene.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers appear to be taken from broadcast tapes instead of HD remasters like previous sets. The details are soft. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You can hear the crack of the whip on the theme song. The episodes have English subtitles.

Episode previews (1:04) are provided for “The Pitchwagon” and “The Devil and the Deep Blue.”

Sponsor Spots (2:46) are for Coca-Cola, Lustre Cream Shampoo, Phillip Morris cigarettes, Drain-o, Vanish, Parliament cigarettes, Marlboro cigarettes and Ban. These are just announcer identification instead of real commercials.

Rawhide: Season Four, Volume 2 brings more exciting tales of a young Clint Eastwood running cattle across the plains. The series maintains its charms and excitement as it nears the halfway point of the eight season run.

CBS DVD presents Rawhide: Season Four, Volume 2. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sheb Wooley, Eric Fleming and James Murdock. Boxset Contents: 14 Episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: November 1, 2011. Available at Amazon.com

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