Filmed in 1988 and released in 4 parts February of 1989, Lonesome Dove is the greatest mini-series, and best program ever brought to the small screen.
Originally created as a screen scenario in the early 70s by Larry McMurtry (with John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda in the main roles) this project was placed on the shelf for a decade before being turned down by all the TV networks. LM then converted the screen scenario into a best selling novel and won the Pulitzer Prize for his efforts. This piqued Hollywood’s interest.
Eventually Aussie director Simon Wincer, using a screenplay designed by LM and producer Bill Wittliff, got things rolling and the result was dynamite.
After lots of rejections the main roles ended up with Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Ulrich. Also in the cast were Danny Glover, Ricky Schroder and two scene-stealing pigs. The ladies were represented by Diane Lane and Anjelica Huston. Their scene with Duvall when he departs from them is so real and heartfelt it is one of the most incredible moments in all dramatic film history. The show ended up being nominated for Emmys in all 18 categories available. Robert Duvall turned in a performance that was the highlight of his career.
I saw this show in its original TV run, then on VHS tape and eventually on DVD. Now on BluRay, it can be seen in a wide screen format that is up to the big screen release it never had. The entire experience is complemented by Basil Poledouris’ extraordinary score. I get emotional just thinking about his heartbreaking main title music. His end title theme was pure Americana, both inspiring and exciting.
The story concerned a couple of old time Texas Rangers who decide to go on one last epic cattle drive to open a ranch in Montana. The film was shot entirely in Texas and New Mexico but it all looks like the real places along the trail to me. Along the way they encounter good guys and gals and bad guys. All the old west clichés are on hand but expanded to new horizons. This is due to the above mentioned screenplay, which is the best writing ever done for the small screen.
The 2009 20th anniversary release now on BluRay also includes a documentary on the production of this classic as well as interviews with all of the major actors and director Wincer. For those who have never seen this show, be prepared for Shakespeare brought to the old west. Author McMurtry is tough on his characters, a lot like William S. Characters in McMurtry’s books had about the same chance of making it to the end of the story as passengers on the Titanic had making it to NYC. This film is inspiring and incredibly heartbreaking at the same time.
The novel and series inspired many sequels by LM as well as other TV movies and series. None hold a candle to the original. It is truly the Casablanca and Ben-Hur of TV.
Rated 4.0 Plus out of 4.0 meaning I really, really like it.