As Gary Cooper quotes at the end of this epic television broadcast from someone who lived through that era : "Well we brought law and order to the territory; built railroads, homes, towns ... See full synopsis »

Director:

Donald B. Hyatt

Star:

Gary Cooper
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Cast

Episode cast overview:
Gary Cooper ... Himself - Narrator
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Storyline

As Gary Cooper quotes at the end of this epic television broadcast from someone who lived through that era : "Well we brought law and order to the territory; built railroads, homes, towns and I quess you might call it civilization...but by damn, wouldn't it be fun to tear it down and start all over again!"

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Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 1961 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Narrator: He received
[showing a man who was hanged]
Narrator: a suspended sentence.
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Connections

Featured in Deep in the Heart (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

History, Viewer Friendly.
1 January 2015 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

A dying Gary Cooper sits on the dilapidated porch of a wooden frame house on some "town" where Westerns used to be shot. In fact, what's left of the town looks like the setting for the climactic shoot out in Cooper's own "Man of the West." Cooper is obviously reading from cue cards held next to the camera but his drifting gaze only adds to the feeling of nostalgia.

You won't find the narration very challenging, although sometimes it's amusing. The original settlers "came for three reasons -- to get something, to get away from something, or just to get there." No nonsense about socioeconomic issues. The narration is plain spoken, like its presenter. Sometimes it trips on the overblown, "the greatest migration since the diaspora," or something like that.

The program focuses on the less glamorous part of the West. Just getting there was a risky business. We see many unfamiliar still photos of the period, an abundance of poor, hard, corrugated faces -- and not one of them as handsome as John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. You ought to see Belle Starr and Calamity Jane. They were pictured as beautiful by the myth-making writer, Ned Buntline, but in fact both of them looked less like Gene Tierney or Doris Day than like some murderous nanny out of a horror movies.

Several passages are read from diaries or letters. And one, accompanied by portraits of Indians, reveals the contempt the travelers had for "the people" and what the diarists saw as "sullenness" on the part of the Indians. (The musical score repeats the theme of the Atlanta Braves, portending menace.) Unlike some series, the usual outlaws are dealt with briefly, and harshly. (Doc Holliday: "Psychopathic dentist.") Also, as the wildest of the West began to quiet down, the low-hanging fruit having been gathered, nice ladies from back East began to arrive -- by means of the new railroads. Lawyers replaced the gunmen.

The travelers, the soldiers, and the government might not have treated the Indian fairly but this program does. The buffalo was, as one Blackfeet informant told me, "a supermarket for the Indian." When they killed a buffalo they used everything in it and out of it, from rawhide to buffalo chips for fire. I don't know how we would feel if sportsmen came out and eliminated the buffalo because it was fun to kill them. It would be rather like intruders burning down our supermarkets.

Cooper doesn't look ill on this film, although he must have been in considerable pain. He died of prostate cancer. One winces in the first minutes when he plops himself down on a bleached wooden step. He was visited in the hospital by his friend Ernest Hemingway, to whom he joked, "I bet I'll beat you to the barn." A nice, modest guy.


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