Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.
How does someone reasonably review a program they saw once almost 40 years ago? I will attempt the impossible here. Back in the bitter cold Fall of 1977, a stroke of incredible good fortune occurred for me, a kid from Upstate New York, to steal me away from shoveling snow drifts in our driveway: ABC-TV hosted a two-hour tribute to (of all things) WWII movies--my favorites--with John Wayne, perhaps the greatest of all war film actors, as its host. There were so many stars that had to align on this one, not the least of which was having "The Duke" himself there to MC the event. As we now know, he was nearing the end of his life, but on that day he was as imposing as ever, still strong-looking and full of pride (something America is in sort supply of these days). In fact, the beauty of this special was that it could never be produced in today's "p.c" environment, certainly not on a network. But it was a beautiful thing at the time, because it introduced a 16-year-old to actors/actresses and stories I had never even seen on the late show, or anyplace else for that matter: Movies like "The Fighting Sullivans," "Wake Island," "Operation Pacific," and "Destination Tokyo." In one dose, I got to see Robert Taylor, Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster, and Donna Reed in the darkest days of World War II, fighting for the soul of America against Fascism and Imperialism. My father, a D-Day veteran, was always my encyclopedic source on movies, actors, and directors. Having him there to enjoy the show was a gift. I have never forgotten the experience. In fact, I am certain that the feelings of patriotism and love of Country that were stirred in me that night contributed to my joining the Navy four years later. I went on to serve 25 years as a Naval Officer. That's how powerful movies can be to a young man--for better or for worse. I was lucky that these were still the days when it was not out of fashion to be patriotic, to express affinity for The Flag, the Military, and the Republic, in general. I thank god for that show at that time in my life. It was broadcast only once. To my knowledge it has NEVER been re-run anywhere. You would think that a network like TCM--which prides itself on bringing special vintage TV programming to life--would jump at the chance to air this special. But not so, at least not so far. I guess only time will tell.
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