West (Episode 1.10)

Executive Producer Charles Marquis Warren
Produced and Directed by Douglas Heyes
Teleplay by Douglas Heyes
Story by Irwin R. Blacker

This is Wyoming in 1897 ...

Episode scene:

The Virginian is looking out over the Wyoming landscape and musing about “... the land of great, open spaces, a land that gives a man plenty of elbow room. Somebody once said that in Wyoming you could look farther and see less than anyplace in the world. Whoever said that couldn’t have seen Wyoming as I have. To look at the mountains, the valleys and the plains you’d think nothing ever changes out here. Maybe that’s true about the land, but it’s not true about the people, at least most of them - they’ve settled down. Twenty years ago it was a different breed of men who came out west. They were looking for adventure and excitement. There was plenty of adventure to go around, and lots of excitement....It was a time when life was cheap and a man lived for today. The odds were against his being around tomorrow and he knew it. What’s more he liked it that way! This breed of man loved his way of life, it was everything he wanted. It was adventure and excitement -- and fun. Maybe he worked hard, but he fought hard, and he sure played hard. Then suddenly one day his world was gone. The prairies and the mountains were the same, the cattle and the horses were the same. The west had grown up. It had changed. This breed of man was still there, still looking for the fun and headlong adventure.”

Quotations from the book:

(To The Reader):
Had you left New York or San Francisco at ten o’clock this morning, by noon the day after to-morrow you could step out at Cheyenne. There you would stand at the heart of the world that is the subject of my picture, yet you would look around you in vain for the reality. It is a vanished world. No journeys, save those which memory can take, will bring you to it now. The mountains are there, far and shining, and the sunlight, and the infinite earth, and the air that seems forever the true fountain of youth, -- but where is the buffalo, and the wild antelope, and where the horseman with his pasturing thousands? So like its old self does the sage-brush seem when revisited, that you wait for the horseman to appear.
But he will never come again. He rides in his historic yesterday. You will no more see him gallop out of the unchanging silence than you will see Columbus on the unchanging sea come sailing from Palos with his caravels.
What is become of the horseman, the cowpuncher, the last romantic figure upon our soil? For he was romantic. Whatever he did, he did with his might. The bread that he earned was earned hard, the wages that he squandered were squandered hard, -- half a year’s pay sometimes gone in a night, -- “blown in,” as he expressed it, or “blowed in,” to be perfectly accurate. Well, he will be here among us always, invisible, waiting his chance to live and play as he would like...

Additional comments:

  1. In Chapter 27 of the book, after Molly brings the seriously wounded Virginian to her cabin and helps him into bed, she recalls something he told her lightly one day. “Cow-punchers do not live long enough to get old.” again very similar to the Virginian’s statement at the beginning of this show that “The odds were against his being around tomorrow and he knew it.”

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(Compilation © 2002 by Alice Munzo. All rights reserved.)