Wednesday, 3 October 2012
Franchise Fallout - The Lonesome Dove saga part 4
Jon Voight does a good job in the role originally played by Tommy Lee Jones, but there's no escaping the fact that the script isn't as colourful as the original mini-series. It was nice to see the relationship of Clara and July developed which was in the original novel, but ignored in the Lonesome Dove mini series.
Captain Woodrow F. Call (Jon Voight), having just buried his friend Augustus McCrae near Lonesome Dove in Texas, plans to return to his ranch in Montana. In order to make the trip profitable he decides to take a herd of wild Mustangs and drive them north with the help of Gideon Walker (William Petersen) and Isom Pickett (Louis Gossett Jr.). Call sends word to Newt Dobbs (Rick Schroder) that he intends to meet him at the home of Clara Allen (Barbara Hershey) but Newt becomes involved in a bar fight that concludes with the death of two local men. Newt is to be hanged for the incident before he is rescued by a neighbour, Gregor Dunnigan (Oliver Reed). Newt is paroled into his custody and develops a close relationship with Gregor's young wife, Ferris Dunnigan (Reese Witherspoon).
The weak points are that this movie doesn't share the realism of Lonesome Dove, and many of the new characters are drawn from the oft-visited well of western stereotypes. It's also overly sentimental and too many of the newcomers merely seem like replacements from much loved characters we lost in the original mini-series. Lou Gossett plays Deets replacement, and William Paterson's character is a younger,smoother version of Gus - suffice to say neither of these actors are given the script to develop their characters in the way Deets and Gus were drawn in the original.
Author Larry McMurtry wasn't at all happy with what the producers did to his vision, and it was this mini-series that prompted him to write The Streets of Laredo which was his novel and screenplay that more faithfully told the final story in the Lonesome Dove saga.
Jon Voight is exceptional even if the Call he plays here is a far more likable character that he has been in the McMurtry universe. Oliver Reed is another standout as the devious, Dunnigan.
Think of it as an alternative Lonesome Dove and you'll have a fine enough time with this one. It's a quality western mini-series, just not a patch on any of the proper instalments of McMurtry's masterpiece.