The Virginian

Overview

Actor Bill Pullman made his directorial debut with this third screen adaptation of the classic Western novel by Owen Wister. The Virginian Pullman leaves the state of his birth to make a new life for himself on the frontier of the American West. He falls in love with Molly Stark Diane Lane, a schoolteacher also new to Wyoming, and becomes the foreman of a successful cattle ranch, hoping to make good in her eyes. But he is forced to resort to violence when he must protect the ranch against the treacheries of a ...
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Overview

Actor Bill Pullman made his directorial debut with this third screen adaptation of the classic Western novel by Owen Wister. The Virginian Pullman leaves the state of his birth to make a new life for himself on the frontier of the American West. He falls in love with Molly Stark Diane Lane, a schoolteacher also new to Wyoming, and becomes the foreman of a successful cattle ranch, hoping to make good in her eyes. But he is forced to resort to violence when he must protect the ranch against the treacheries of a rival rancher and the betrayal of a former friend; Molly's stern opposition to eye-for-an-eye justice demands that he choose between his conscience and the woman he loves. The Virginian, which received its world premiere on the TNT cable network, co-stars John Savage, Dennis Weaver, and Colm Feore; James Drury, who played the title role in the 1960s TV series based on The Virginian, appears as Rider.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
The Virginian, Owen Wister's classic Western novel, arguably the first nuanced treatment of the cowboy in American fiction, has had a long history as a source for adaptation. It was twice filmed as a silent film, then in 1929 as an early talkie with Gary Cooper, and then again in 1946 with Joel McCrea. In the 1960s, it became the basis for the first 90-minute TV series, with its hero (James Drury) employed by a series of bosses and its villain, Trampas (Doug McClure) a continuing character, his rough edges sanded down. This version, filmed for the TNT cable channel, returns to the book's set of characters, though with one omission, the "dude" narrator, a literary device that seems extraneous for dramatic presentation. Bill Pullman, who also directed and produced, is a stolid choice for the lead, and, although he is at least ten years older than the character was in the book, so is Diane Lane, who plays Molly, the schoolmarm he courts. For its first half, this version gets the windswept, treeless geography of southern Wyoming right, and then inevitably slips in towering mountains during the story's pursuit section. The film is strongest in reflecting Wister's view that frontier society was making things up as it went along (the story was set in 1885, five years before Wyoming gained statehood), showing shifting loyalties among the cowboys, the difficulties of enforcing the law in a literally wide open territory, and the consequences of vigilantism. The dialogue respects Wister's Victorian locutions without proving distracting. It's weaker in portraying Molly's character; here, she seems too quickly disillusioned with the difficulties of life on the frontier and then all too easily converted simply by the affectionate attentions of the Virginian. The fact is, neither the Cooper nor the McCrea film versions are among those actors's best performances nor their strongest Westerns, so Pullman and company should be given credit for largely respecting the material and giving it a handsome mounting.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/13/2012
  • UPC: 883316677902
  • Original Release: 2000
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Region Code: 0
  • Time: 1:35:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 30,460

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bill Pullman The Virginian
Diane Lane
John Savage
Harris Yulin
Colm Feore
Dennis Weaver
Technical Credits
Bill Pullman Director, Producer
Nathan Barr Score Composer
Daniel H. Blatt Executive Producer
Larry Gross Screenwriter
Richard Roberts Production Designer
Jane Robinson Costumes/Costume Designer
Paul Trejo Editor
Peter Wunstorf Cinematographer
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2000

    Justice finally done to the classic Western novel

    Finally, this classic Western novel has been faithfully put on film. The serious themes of the book, the central love story in which the man and woman represent opposing viewpoints, and the breathtaking scenery make for an enjoyable movie. (I have been anticipating the release of the video since the commercial interruptions on TV were distracting. The moving and symbolic final scene on horseback involving the hats with the beautiful music was destroyed by voice over and coming attraction blurbs on all but the very first TV showing.) The film changed the sequence of the book's story line involving Molly's return to Vermont so that it made more sense in the film than in the novel while retaining all of the essential dynamics of her interesting relationship with The Virginian. Bill Pullman, Diane Lane, and all of the supporting actors were excellent and demonstrated their versatile acting talent. For picky viewers who notice bloopers, look for the scene on the hill where Molly and the Virginian have their first kiss and observe what happens to her shawl in the editing process. On the whole though, the details of the period costumes and scenery are very well done. This is a fine film that Western fans will love for its stunning landscapes and timeless Western themes and it is the first film adaptation of the novel to adequately focus on the relationship between The Virginian and Molly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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