DVD Review: Rawhide (The Seventh Season, Volume 1 & 2)

While there would be another season to go, these two boxsets represent the last cattle drive for one drover. Trail boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) had spent enough time calling the shots. Rawhide: The Seventh Season, Volume 1 & Volume 2 became his final season. Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood) was still the ramrod. Few people in America knew that Clint had become an Italian superstar with A Fistful of Dollars. He was still just the second banana pushing doggies to their destination. It’d be a few years before America would catch up to the rest of the world on how cool Clint was. The thirty episodes of Rawhide spread over the two volumes don’t give much of hint that Favor was hanging up his spurs on the last drive.

“The Race” pits Rowdy against Gil. The ramrod is sick of playing second fiddle. He quits and gets his own herd to drive. This sets of a competition between the two. Future The Wild Bunch stars LQ Jones and Warren Oates get in on the action. “The Iron Fist” puts Favor in hot water when he kills a man. The town wants him hung. The widow knows it was a justified killing. Lee Van Cleef gets a chance to share the screen before heading off to Spain with Clint to make The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Lee sticks around for “Piney” where a new drover joins up. Little does Gil know that Piney is using the herd as cover for a major bank job.

“Canliss” is major star power on the frontier. Dean Martin arrives as a legendary gunfighter about to settle down with a cute wife. But people haven’t gotten the word that he retired. He gets an offer that’s too good to refuse. His wife doesn’t want him to go back to his old way of life. Dean gives a great performance as the killer for hire. The Rawhide regulars don’t have major roles. But this doesn’t seem like a backdoor pilot. Dean was a year away from his popular variety show and still making movies. He must have taken the role because the beloved Rat Packer loved dressing up as a cowboy. “Damon’s Road” is a two-parter that has Gil accused of kidnapping Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie). “The Backshooter” brings Slim Pickens (Blazing Saddles) to the trail. “The Photographer” has Edward Albert (Green Acres) take the drovers for a few beauty shots. But trouble happens when the ideal location turns out to be an outlaw gang’s hideout. Gil gets kidnapped in “The Meeting.” He’s taken to a roundtable of the worst men in the west that includes Harry Dean Stanton (Big Love) and Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat). “Corporal Dasovik” has Nick Adams (Die Monster Die) unable to take control of his unit. Can he learn leadership from Gil?

“The Winter Soldier” puts Robert Blake (Barreta) on the loose as an AWOL soldier who gets Gil in trouble for taking government property. “Retreat” also puts Gil in the middle of a military matter. He gets in trouble for being an unwitting associate in a cash heist. “The Last Order” has Gil protecting a stage coach strong box from highwaymen who aren’t giving up so easily. “Mrs. Harmon” makes Wishbone (Paul Brinegar) quite the cattle business to settle with a woman with kids. Trouble is her husband isn’t quite dead. This leads to a major issue for the chef. “The Gray Rock Hotel” ends Gil’s time with the drovers by getting them sick in a ghost town. Will they all die with his departure? Strother Martin (also on The Wild Bunch) is part of his last drive along with Vic Tayback (Alice).

Eric Fleming left the show to further his film career. He also went international to seek stardom like Clint. Unfortunately, Fleming drowned during a stunt scene in Peru. The show would only last a half a season with Clint Eastwood rolling those doggies. The Eighth Season DVD set is due out on June 3, 2014.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers bring out the location work used on the show. Dean Martin looks good in the realistic settings. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll hear the cattle mooing across the screen. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Rawhide: The Seventh Season, Volume 1 & Volume 2 wraps up Gil Favor’s time on the endless cattle drive. The episodes are rather good. The guest visit from Dean Martin is a major highlight. He’s just so smooth beneath a cowboy hat.

CBS DVD presents Rawhide: The Seventh Season, Volume 1 & Volume 2. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eric Fleming and Paul Brinegar. Each Volume: 15 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: March 4, 2014.

Tags: , ,