DVD Review: The Capture of Grizzly Adams

Grizzly Adams mania swept America in the ’70s. The movie starring Dan Haggerty as the legendary mountain man was a massive hit. NBC made it a major TV series with Haggerty back in the title role. After years in show business, Haggerty became an overnight sensation. He anchored NBC’s team on Battle of the Network Stars. He was given his own celebrity roast by Dean Martin. But after a mere 38 episodes, the TV series was canceled. Fans were eager to know what really happened to the man who headed into the wilderness to avoid being railroaded on a murder charge. Four years after its cancellation, they got their answer. The Capture of Grizzly Adams delivered a fitting ending to the family series.

Grizzly’s sister has died leaving his daughter considered an orphan since he’s a fugitive from justice. She’s going to be hauled off to an orphanage if he stays in the woods. A bounty hunter (The Rifleman‘s Chuck Connors) feels the time is right to flush out Grizzly. But he has no desire to merely catch Grizzly. He wants him dead for killing his partner. The sheriff (The Rockford Files‘ Noah Beery Jr.) wants justice to be served and not a lynching. But can he really stand up to the bounty hunter? Grizzly must save an old prospector (Dr. Strangelove‘s Keenan Wynn) from a massive forest fire. Making it more risky is his pack mule is loaded with explosives. Adams does his best to crank his buddy across the river on a rope pulled barge. This is a massive action scene for the series. After the rescue, Grizzly gets the news of his daughter’s fate. He can’t let her fall into the hands of the state. The bounty hunter counts on Grizzly coming to town to find her. Not to spoil the movie, but the title gives it away that Grizzly finds himself busted. But can he get a fair trial?

The daughter wasn’t mentioned in the series, but she is part of the original movie. The Capture of Grizzly Adams is well cast even if it lacks a key cast member. Denver Pyle had played the narrator Mad Jack in the series. By the time the film went into production, he was busy playing Uncle Jesse on Dukes of Hazzard. Luckily they were able to cast Wynn as a similar character. Connors is menacing as the bounty hunter looking for Grizzly to hang. June Lockhart (Lassie) is her sweet self. Kim Darby (True Grit) is Grizzly’s best chance at a fair trial.

This has been a good year for fans of Grizzly Adams with the release of all the TV episodes, the finale movie and Haggerty’s roast on the recent Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts boxset. Oddly enough, the only thing that has been released in the past year is the original The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams movie. But since the highlights of that film are covered in the TV series, viewers shouldn’t feel like they’ve skipped the start of Grizzly’s life. For fans eager for a bit of closure, The Capture of Grizzly Adams does a fine job at revealing the fate of his murder charge. He gets a major chance to prove his innocence.

Video is 1.33:1 full frame. There’s quite a bit of grain in the transfer. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are fine for hearing the soft spoken words of Grizzly Adams. The movie is subtitled.

No bonus features.

The Capture of Grizzly Adams is a fitting finale to the beloved series. This is an exciting conclusion to the mountain man’s legend.

CBS DVD presents The Capture of Grizzly Adams. Directed by: Don Keeslar. Screenplay by: Arthur Heinemann. Starring: Dan Haggerty, Kim Darby, Noah Beery Jr., Keenan Wynn, June Lockhart and Chuck Connors. Running Time: 96 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Released: November 12, 2013.

Tags: ,