Back in the day, I think I must have devoured every Louis L’Amour book I could find at the public library. I’m pretty sure I read almost everything the man has ever written, but especially all of his Westerns, so it’s no surprise I was anxious to relive all those great reading days with the 3-DVD Louis L’Amour Western Collection, which comes packaged with two TV adaptations, “The Sacketts” and “Conagher”, as well as “Catlow”, starring Yul Brynner. Fans of Louis L’Amour can now own the collection from Warner Home Video on May 18, 2010. Click to Own it Now on DVD.
Three hard-riding movie adaptations of the legendary author’s novels.
CATLOW – A renegade outlaw wants to pull off a gold heist but finds it hard because he’s such a wanted man – by the Mexican Army, his hellcat girlfriend, an Indian war party, a vengeful killer and several hotheaded cowpokes from his former gang. Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna and Leonard Nimoy star.
THE SACKETTS – Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott and Jeff Osterhage play brothers who migrate west to make their fortunes in cattle-herding and gold prospecting. Each aims to make it on his own – but each also stands up for the other when the going gets tough. And their guns blaze a name for themselves in untamed New Mexico territory.
CONAGHER – He conquered the range. She conquered his heart. Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross star as a cowhand and a widowed ranch owner who are drawn to each other when ruthless rustlers threaten his livelihood and her homestead.
Those looking for special features should look elsewhere, because the collection is pretty barebones. And by “pretty” I mean it’s completely barebones.
There are four disks total, with the first two consisting of “The Sacketts”. Originally aired in 1979 as a two-part TV mini-series event, “The Sacketts” is actually an adaptation of two L’Amour novels, “The Daybreakers” and “Sackett”. Both novels follow the adventures of three tightly knit brothers called the Sacketts — oldest brother Tell (Sam Elliot), who braves Indians, card sharks, and killers in the mountains; and his younger brothers, the well-spoken charmer Orrin (Tom Selleck) and gunslinger Tyrell (Jeff Osterhage), who must flee their Tennessee home after a shoot-out with a rival clan. The fact that the movie is based on two completely different novels probably explains why Tell’s storyline feels wholly disjointed from Orrin and Tyrell’s. All three brothers paths do cross throughout the film, including a final showdown at the end, but you’re essentially watching two completely different movies that happen to intercut back and forth.
The star of “The Sacketts” for me has always been Osterhage’s Tyrell Sackett, but then again, I’ve always been biased towards the gunslingers in Louis L’Amour’s novels. The character would go on to show up in a number of other Sackett Clan novels, which probably justifies my favoritism. Curiously, while Osterhage would go on to have a somewhat successful TV and movie career, he never achieved the success of his co-stars Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot. The three would eventually re-team in another Louis L’Amour Western called “The Shadow Riders”, though playing completely different characters.
“The Sacketts” also feature some stellar co-starring roles from the legendary Glenn Ford, here playing the very complicated Tom Sunday, a mysterious man with too much education to be rounding up cattle in the Wild West. Ben Johnson is also dead-on as the gruff Capt. Roundtree. Fans of the L’Amour novels will love this faithful adaptation of the two books.
Sam Elliott loved his first dip in the Louis L’Amour pool so much, he took every opportunity to play another L’Amour hero on the range whenever the chance presented itself. One of his other protrayals is the titular Conagher, a rough and tumble but, as is the case with most L’Amour heroes, an honorable cowboy who comes to the aid of the fiery and independent Evie (Elliott’s real-life wife Katharine Ross), a single lass determined to make it on her own in the Wild West. The film is pure Louis L’Amour, and Elliott looks completely at home on the range as a L’Amour hero.
1971’s “Catlow” is a Louis L’Amour movie I haven’t seen before. It stars Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna, and Leonard Nimoy, and has Brynner playing an outlaw looking to rob himself some Confederate gold, but first he has to elude Crenna’s lawman and Nimoy’s bountyhunter. “Catlow” is also the only movie in the collection that is presented in widescreen. The gorgeous and in her prime Daliah Lavi plays Catlow’s hellcat girlfriend.