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Barbara Stanwyck in The Big Valley

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I'm a huge fan of this series and have seen every episode several times.  It's good to see so much discussion of the episode where Jarrod married.  This has to be Richard Long's supreme acting job.  He is so believable and the last scene where he sees her face in the blaze in the fireplace is so touching.

 

Also, someone recently commented on what looked like Stanwyck doing her own stunts.  She actually did a lot of her own so that the camera could get more realistic shots.   She loved doing this series  and she made sure that all the actors treated each other as real families do.  Another actor that was used in several different episodes is James Gregory.  And he was always great.

Interesting bit of trivia - Richard Long was Marshall Thompson's brother-in-law.

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Interesting bit of trivia - Richard Long was Marshall Thompson's brother-in-law.

 

I didn't know that. I did know he was married to Lucille Ball's cousin Suzann. They met when they were both under contract at Universal in the early 50s. She already had enjoyed good roles in a few films and was on her way to stardom when she was stricken with cancer.

 

Richard Long and Suzann Ball had only recently been married when she became sick-- they were practically still newlyweds when she died. So maybe he was tapping into the grief from that ordeal when he played the episode of The Big Valley where Jarrod loses his bride.

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Interesting bit of trivia - Richard Long was Marshall Thompson's brother-in-law.

 

Who else besides me thought of Cult of the Cobra when they read this?  The two played roommates in love with the same woman who chooses Long's character.  Thompson's then falls for the "Cobra Woman" of the tale but can't get a break-all I'll say without spoiling the ending.

 

I always liked Thompson's work.  Anybody "Clarence" thought was okay was in my book too.  

 

How could I have forgotten the "James Boys", Whitmore and Gregory?  The roles both played were so varied and showed what talents they were.  Heroes or villains they were a treat to watch. 

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Very intriguing episode of "The Big Valley" today on MeTV in which Barbara Stanwyck and Lew Ayres were teamed.

 

Victoria Barkley was suffering from amnesia from falling out of a stagecoach.

 

Lew Ayres' character found her and brought her back home.

 

Amazingly, because she looked so much like his dead wife, he tried to "resurrect" that dead wife in Victoria Barkley.

 

Of course, it turned out badly for Lew Ayres' character, because Victoria Barkley began to re-gain her memory.

 

But both stars played very well together.

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Who else besides me thought of Cult of the Cobra when they read this?  The two played roommates in love with the same woman who chooses Long's character.  Thompson's then falls for the "Cobra Woman" of the tale but can't get a break-all I'll say without spoiling the ending.

 

I always liked Thompson's work.  Anybody "Clarence" thought was okay was in my book too.  

 

How could I have forgotten the "James Boys", Whitmore and Gregory?  The roles both played were so varied and showed what talents they were.  Heroes or villains they were a treat to watch. 

You got it, "Cult Of The Cobra" was a low-budget production, but, still and all, a very effective horror film.

 

Richard Long, Marshall Thompson, Jack Kelly and William Reynolds were a really good team.

 

Of interest to me, anyway, was the performance of Faith Domerque (sp?), whom Howard Hughes tried to establish as a big, big star.

 

He was going out with her at the same time that he was dating Jack Buetel.

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Very intriguing episode of "The Big Valley" today on MeTV in which Barbara Stanwyck and Lew Ayres were teamed.

 

Victoria Barkley was suffering from amnesia from falling out of a stagecoach.

 

Lew Ayres' character found her and brought her back home.

 

Amazingly, because she looked so much like his dead wife, he tried to "resurrect" that dead wife in Victoria Barkley.

 

Of course, it turned out badly for Lew Ayres' character, because Victoria Barkley began to re-gain her memory.

 

But both stars played very well together.

 

Lew Ayres also appeared in a season 3 episode of The Big Valley. The one where Victoria and Audra are staying the night in a small town and Audra goes missing. Ayres was the sheriff that time, and yes-- he worked very well with Stanwyck.

Screen%2Bshot%2B2016-09-23%2Bat%2B2.45.2

I just looked up his IMDb credits to see if they had ever done a film together, but no. However, he did work with her back in 1961 on an episode of her anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show.

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I watched the season 3 episode that Ray mentioned previously called Rimfire. It's the one with Van Williams as the sheriff of a mining town where the Barkleys have business interests. I didn't know much about this actor before seeing the episode. He seemed very effective, and it's a shame a regular series wasn't developed. (I'm assuming the episode was a backdoor pilot the network didn't option.)

 

Incidentally, the town of Rimfire is seen in the episode where Jarrod's wife is murdered. He tracks to the killer to Rimfire, though the sheriff is played by Kevin Hagen and there's no mention of his having a young son.

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I watched the season 3 episode that Ray mentioned previously called Rimfire. It's the one with Van Williams as the sheriff of a mining town where the Barkleys have business interests. I didn't know much about this actor before seeing the episode. He seemed very effective, and it's a shame a regular series wasn't developed. (I'm assuming the episode was a backdoor pilot the network didn't option.)

 

Incidentally, the town of Rimfire is seen in the episode where Jarrod's wife is murdered. He tracks to the killer to Rimfire, though the sheriff is played by Kevin Hagen and there's no mention of his having a young son.

Jarrod -

 

I am so glad that you mentioned this episode, "Rimfire".

 

Van Williams and John Daniels who played his son were both very effective.

 

Richard Long and Van Williams had worked together before on a previous TV series.

 

I really felt Williams' concerns about getting his young son out of "Rimfire".

 

He was truly a fine actor and had a great deal of charisma.

 

He and Daniels should have had a series of their own.

 

And why not "Rimfire", right?

 

I'm not sure what Williams' claim to fame is.

 

Is it "Surfside Six"?

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I am in Heaven!   Where else could we find such stimulating conversation about this wonderful series.  I did want to mention one other episode.  It's called "Showdown in Limbo"  (I think).  This is as close as possible to having a gay character on the show.  I realize that at that time there were many restrictions on what type of character could be depicted, but they did an excellent job of telling a story of a son who was not "manly" enough for his father.   And Heath Barkley has a great opportunity to try to talk to the father about there being many types of people in the  world.

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I am in Heaven!   Where else could we find such stimulating conversation about this wonderful series.  I did want to mention one other episode.  It's called "Showdown in Limbo"  (I think).  This is as close as possible to having a gay character on the show.  I realize that at that time there were many restrictions on what type of character could be depicted, but they did an excellent job of telling a story of a son who was not "manly" enough for his father.   And Heath Barkley has a great opportunity to try to talk to the father about there being many types of people in the  world.

 

Interesting comment, Terrence. I suppose it could have been regarded as a story about a homosexual young man. I saw it more as eastern civilization versus the untamed west. Since the young guy had been brought up away from his father in a refined society, he had great difficulty adjusting to life on the frontier. He didn't know how to approach it the way Heath and the others did. The conflict wasn't so much about the guy trying to fit into a "straight" world. Nor was it about the father trying to make the son more like himself. Instead, the drama came from a father who was trying to overcompensate for missing all those years when the son was growing up; and the son wanting to forge a relationship with his father but not really understanding how.

 

Also, if you check the ending, you will see the writers left it ambiguous-- there is no guarantee after Heath's speech that the young man will return east and go back to the way he lived before. There is a hint he may stay and prove himself as someone who can adjust and survive in the west.

 

It's too bad the writers didn't bring these characters back on the show for another episode, so we could see how they had evolved.

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TopBilled,  thanks for your interpretation of the episode.  Looking back, I think perhaps I was putting too much into the story.  What you said certainly made sense, and has caused me to do more thinking on it.  Thanks again.

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TopBilled,  thanks for your interpretation of the episode.  Looking back, I think perhaps I was putting too much into the story.  What you said certainly made sense, and has caused me to do more thinking on it.  Thanks again.

 

You know what, Terrence-- I think you raise an interesting point. If the writers were limited by what they could show or imply about a homosexual character, then you may be right. Because I didn't happen to read it that way doesn't mean it's not there. It might have been what the writers intended. The speech about there being different types of people in the world could have more than one interpretation.

 

The reason I didn't think it was meant to be a gay character is because of the casting. The actor they hired to play the son didn't seem to be gay. He just seemed out of his element, and not cut out to be a lawman-- like a banker or a school teacher wouldn't be cut out to drive a stagecoach.

 

I would dislike it if all artistic characters on westerns are supposed to be homosexual...because it seems like a stereotype. A brutal killer could be gay. A bounty hunter could be gay. Right?

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Interesting comments, and I saw an episode of "The Big Valley" today, which seemed to explore the issue of TOXIC MASCULINITY.

 

Peter Breck had been attacked by a lion and was recuperating at home.

 

But he was in bad shape and had three broken ribs.

 

The Barkleys hired a professional animal killer to destroy the lion.

 

Despite his extremely weakened condition, Peter Breck insisted on going on the lion hunt with the professional animal killer.

 

There was little doubt that he was putting his life in danger.

 

But a man must be a man, right?

 

The pro killer was played very "actorishly" by Pernell Roberts.

 

He was the kind of man who seemed hell-bent on the MANLY VIRTUES.

 

He was involved in a sub-plot in which he deliberately destroyed a far weaker man via a game of cards in which he even managed to win the man's woman.

 

This episode had a very nasty look into the type of masculine behavior that is hell-bent on destruction.

 

It left a very nasty aftertaste. 

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Interesting comments, and I saw an episode of "The Big Valley" today, which seemed to explore the issue of TOXIC MASCULINITY.

 

Peter Breck had been attacked by a lion and was recuperating at home.

 

But he was in bad shape and had three broken ribs.

 

The Barkleys hired a professional animal killer to destroy the lion.

 

Despite his extremely weakened condition, Peter Breck insisted on going on the lion hunt with the professional animal killer.

 

There was little doubt that he was putting his life in danger.

 

But a man must be a man, right?

 

The pro killer was played very "actorishly" by Pernell Roberts.

 

He was the kind of man who seemed hell-bent on the MANLY VIRTUES.

 

He was involved in a sub-plot in which he deliberately destroyed a far weaker man via a game of cards in which he even managed to win the man's woman.

 

This episode had a very nasty look into the type of masculine behavior that is hell-bent on destruction.

 

It left a very nasty aftertaste. 

 

I haven't seen that episode yet, Ray. It's called Run of the Cat, from season 4. Sounds like it's inspired by Ernest Hemingway and his hunting stories.

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Here's a review I wrote about another episode that focuses on Jarrod:

 

Season 3's Guilty

Screen%2Bshot%2B2016-09-24%2Bat%2B10.21.

A story like this seems almost too ambitious for a 48 minute western TV show. A lot more could have been explored with the townsfolk and how they might be divided about a man being sent to jail for a crime someone else may have committed. And definitely, a lot more could have been done when he escapes and comes back to town to even the score.

 

As it is, some of the scenes with the sheriff and his deputized men seem a little lackluster. It's like they are just aimlessly wandering around waiting for the fugitive to show himself or for someone to come forward with a tip on his whereabouts. Of course, that does happen when a druggist's son races down main street to tell everyone the wanted man has taken refuge inside the local school. A place where Audra just so happens to be working as a substitute teacher.

 

I thought the scenes inside the schoolhouse were interesting, but the action crawled to a snail's pace. During the third act, the viewer is made to wait for something to finally happen. After considerable delay, the sheriff and his posse do arrive at the school. Jarrod is with them, sworn in as one of the deputies, because he hopes to appeal to his former client's sense of decency.

 

While certain tensions are not explored in depth, and the action builds rather slowly, there are still some worthwhile moments in the episode. One of these moments comes midway into the story when Victoria is shopping for a present for the fugitive's newborn child. She has a very sharp conversation with the store owner about their valley being big enough for all kinds of people, and that a convicted man's wife and baby do not deserve to be called trash.

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Here's a review I wrote about another episode that focuses on Jarrod:

 

Season 3's Guilty

Screen%2Bshot%2B2016-09-24%2Bat%2B10.21.

A story like this seems almost too ambitious for a 48 minute western TV show. A lot more could have been explored with the townsfolk and how they might be divided about a man being sent to jail for a crime someone else may have committed. And definitely, a lot more could have been done when he escapes and comes back to town to even the score.

 

As it is, some of the scenes with the sheriff and his deputized men seem a little lackluster. It's like they are just aimlessly wandering around waiting for the fugitive to show himself or for someone to come forward with a tip on his whereabouts. Of course, that does happen when a druggist's son races down main street to tell everyone the wanted man has taken refuge inside the local school. A place where Audra just so happens to be working as a substitute teacher.

 

I thought the scenes inside the schoolhouse were interesting, but the action crawled to a snail's pace. During the third act, the viewer is made to wait for something to finally happen. After considerable delay, the sheriff and his posse do arrive at the school. Jarrod is with them, sworn in as one of the deputies, because he hopes to appeal to his former client's sense of decency.

 

While certain tensions are not explored in depth, and the action builds rather slowly, there are still some worthwhile moments in the episode. One of these moments comes midway into the story when Victoria is shopping for a present for the fugitive's newborn child. She has a very sharp conversation with the store owner about their valley being big enough for all kinds of people, and that a convicted man's wife and baby do not deserve to be called trash.

I think that Jarrod Barkley and Richard Long are very important to the success of "The Big Valley".

 

Both the character and the actor add a great deal of weight to the series.

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I think that Jarrod Barkley and Richard Long are very important to the success of "The Big Valley".

 

Both the character and the actor add a great deal of weight to the series.

 

I agree. A comment I read somewhere said Jarrod is the family's father figure, since Tom Barkley died. Though he is still young, he's the voice of wisdom they turn to for guidance. When he's missing from an episode, his absence is very noticeable.

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I agree. A comment I read somewhere said Jarrod is the family's father figure, since Tom Barkley died. Though he is still young, he's the voice of wisdom they turn to for guidance. When he's missing from an episode, his absence is very noticeable.

Jarrod Barkley (in the person of Richard Long) is the guiding light of the series.

 

But, I am sure, it's wasn't an accident that he became - more or less - "the star".

 

How much input did he have?

 

I would guess - a great deal.

 

Barbara Stanwyck is technically "the star" - and you certainly feel it when she is around at any time.

 

But, in truth, Richard Long is THE STAR of "The Big Valley".

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I haven't seen that episode yet, Ray. It's called Run of the Cat, from season 4. Sounds like it's inspired by Ernest Hemingway and his hunting stories.

 

I agree. A comment I read somewhere said Jarrod is the family's father figure, since Tom Barkley died. Though he is still young, he's the voice of wisdom they turn to for guidance. When he's missing from an episode, his absence is very noticeable.

Yes, that episode that I was talking about - "Run of the Cat", which featured Peter Breck and Pernell Roberts - I don't think that it would ever have happened if Jarrod Barkley were around and could have stopped it.

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Jarrod Barkley (in the person of Richard Long) is the guiding light of the series.

 

But, I am sure, it's wasn't an accident that he became - more or less - "the star".

 

How much input did he have?

 

I would guess - a great deal.

 

Barbara Stanwyck is technically "the star" - and you certainly feel it when she is around at any time.

 

But, in truth, Richard Long is THE STAR of "The Big Valley".

 

Well Richard Long certainly gets top billing, but Stanwyck receives a special credit at the end of the opening sequence. I haven't confirmed it yet, but I think Peter Breck appeared in the most episodes (Linda Evans who is off screen for much of the later seasons is in the least amount of episodes). Of course there are many episodes where Breck's character Nick is only in a few scenes because the story is focusing on someone else.

 

The first 15 episodes of the series have all the leads in them, plus Eugene who disappeared after season 1. But Richard Long is the first one to miss an episode. And then, after this, they all have episodes where they only receive a credit but do not appear.

 

I've noticed that if there's an episode where Richard Long isn't featured, they make a point to say where he is (either in court, at his office, or in San Francisco on business). Most of the stories are told in relation to where Jarrod is, or what he's doing. So yes, he's kind of the central character. But in a way, this is an ensemble program and I think you can say they all take turns in the spotlight. The only ones that stay off to the side are the recurring characters like the town sheriff and Silas the servant. But they turn up fairly often and in their own way are included in the proceedings.

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Well Richard Long certainly gets top billing, but Stanwyck receives a special credit at the end of the opening sequence. I haven't confirmed it yet, but I think Peter Breck appeared in the most episodes (Linda Evans who is off screen for much of the later seasons is in the least amount of episodes). Of course there are many episodes where Breck's character Nick is only in a few scenes because the story is focusing on someone else.

 

The first 15 episodes of the series have all the leads in them, plus Eugene who disappeared after season 1. But Richard Long is the first one to miss an episode. And then, after this, they all have episodes where they only receive a credit but do not appear.

 

I've noticed that if there's an episode where Richard Long isn't featured, they make a point to say where he is (either in court, at his office, or in San Francisco on business). Most of the stories are told in relation to where Jarrod is, or what he's doing. So yes, he's kind of the central character. But in a way, this is an ensemble program and I think you can say they all take turns in the spotlight. The only ones that stay off to the side are the recurring characters like the town sheriff and Silas the servant. But they turn up fairly often and in their own way are included in the proceedings.

Jarrod, thank God, you've brought this TV series back into the limelight.

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Jarrod, thank God, you've brought this TV series back into the limelight.

 

It's fun to find so many other fans of The Big Valley.

 

I finished watching season 3 yesterday, and I have another review to post later. It's my favorite episode of the third season. I was simply blown away watching it.

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