Written by Fantasma el Rey
“Head ‘em up! Move ‘em out! RAWHIDE!” That’s right, Season Three Volume Two is out and ready for market. Fans will certainly enjoy roping in this four-disc set, packed with fifteen of the thirty episodes from season three which aired from February to June of 1961. Begun in 1959, Rawhide would run until 1966 and span eight seasons before being pulled from the airwaves. Along the way many sagebrush tales were told, many “beeves” were driven through town to sell, and one of the shows stars would make a name as the man with no name.
Besides “trouble always saddlin’ up a fresh horse, preparing to ride with you,” Rawhide had a couple of things you could count on through the years: one was that it would open and close with its moving theme song of the same title belted out by Frankie Lane (yes, the same tune made popular again by The Blues Brothers stirring rendition) and the other was the episode titles would begin with the word “incident.” Aside from being dropped for a bit in later seasons, it was always there. Examples include “Incident Of The Running Iron,” “…Near Gloomy River,” “…In The Middle Of Nowhere” and “…Before Black Pass.” It seems a bit redundant, but it works for the stories being told and gives a feeling of adventures that happened along the last trail.
Stories range far and wide, covering many classic topics and some with a bit of a twist, disabled cattlemen and a ballet troupe performing in the desert. There are yarns about Indian chiefs, cattle rustling (of course), army outposts, bank thieves, and bounty hunters mixed in with the average cowboy romance. Y’know, ladies and “domestic triangles.” And there are always some good shots to open and close the show of wide-open spaces that fire up the imagination. The camera captures the herd and cowpokes from different angels as they drive cattle through streams, dry landscapes, and mountain passes.
These campfire entertainments involve many of the supporting cast in the lead role for the episode, which is good as we get to see more stories and how the different characters would handle such situations. Although most do focus around the young, tough ramrod Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood) and the strong, straight-arrow man of justice, trail boss Gil Favor (Eric Fleming), a few do involve top hand Pete Nolan (Sheb Wooley) and the cook “Wishbone” (Paul Brinegar). Also along the trail many guest stars would appear and some would go on to star in other varied television shows. Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-0) stops by for an episode as does Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek) and lets not forget the numerous beautiful women who look lovely in period dress.
All in all, my little look at a television classic was a good romp through the mind of some well-versed and imaginative western writers. The stories are played well as the entire cast does a fine job in keeping the show interesting. Strong leading men surrounded by solid supporting characters with a good western yarn to tell will always wrangle my attention. I had seen an episode here and there along the way but never really paid much thought to Rawhide, thinking it was simply the vehicle that almost launched Eastwood’s career. Now I can appreciate what fans would wide have known for years, and I liked Rawhide – Season Three Volume Two well enough that I will search out the first two seasons along with the first half of season three. There’s only one thing left to say and it’s that “My hearts calculating/ my true love will be waitin’/ waitin’ at the end of my ride. Head ‘em up! Move ‘em out! RAWHIDE! YA!”