Lonesome Dove is where we were first introduced to the one time Texas Rangers Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrea (Call and Gus) played respectively by Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. The two men are firmly in their twilight years and where Gus is content to laze away his days, Cal hungers for the adventures the two men once shared. When Jake Spoon rides back into Lonesome Dove with stories of the riches to be made in Montana, Call decides to start off on an epic cattle drive to Montana - "Oh about twenty five hundred miles that way!"
|Er Kenny Rogers(?) and Gus|
Tommy Lee Jones offers the prefect opposite as Call, but even although the character seems emotionless the actor does a great job in conveying the inner man beneath the necessarily hard surface with by playing the subtext in his eyes. It's another stunning performance and together Gus and Call may just be the best buddy/buddy combination we've ever seen on screen anywhere.
It had originally started off as a project for James Stewart, John Wayne and Henry Fonda before being adapted into the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by author Larry McMurtry, and in the mini-series Robert Ulrich plays the third lead, Jake Spoon who would have been played by Henry Fonda had the movie been made. And although it is an enticing thought to imagine the film with Wayne, Stewart and Fonda it is perhaps the best thing that it never got made. No two hour movie could have truly done such a large story justice and the mini-series format was much more suitable. Ulrich though is perfect as Jake Spoon, a character who seems to be just as lazy as Gus, but far more spiteful and cowardly, nevertheless when he comes to his end, friendships are sorely tested. Danny Glover is another important case member as the one time slave, Deets and Rick Schroeder plays Newt Dobbs, a 17-year-old whose mother was a prostitute named Maggie and whose father may be Call.
We lost several characters during the epic story which is as much about death as it is life, but no matter how solemn things become there is a genuinely moving feeling of hope running through what is basically a very dark story. Author Larry McMurtry has told interviewers that he is puzzled by the way so many people identified with what is anything but a feel good story. None of the characters truly get what they want out of life and theirs is a cruel and hard existence.
Funny at times, brutal at others but never less than compelling. Lonesome Dove is a close on perfect adaptation of a perfect western novel. And needs to be seen by everyone and not just western fans.