He found the ultimate fame in Cheyenne, but the late actor had more westerns worth watching.
During and after the run of the classic Cheyenne TV series, Clint Walker — who passed away May 21 at age 90 — made memorable impressions in a variety of theatrical and made-for-TV movies, ranging from wartime dramas (The Dirty Dozen, None But the Brave) to scary thrillers (Killdozer, Scream of the Wolf ). Fittingly enough, however, he remains best known for his westerns. Here are seven of the finest, all widely available on various streaming platforms.
Fort Dobbs (1958)
Hoping to capitalize on their Cheyenne star’s popularity, Warner Bros. showcased Walker in his first star vehicle, a well-crafted sagebrush saga. Walker plays Gar Davis, a fugitive on the run through Indian Territory who interrupts his flight from justice to escort Celia (Virginia Mayo), a lovely homesteader, and Chad (Richard Eyer), her young son, out of harm’s way.
Yellowstone Kelly (1959)
Originally conceived as a project for John Wayne and director John Ford, this Burt Kennedy-scripted western reteamed Walker and director Gordon Douglas for a fanciful drama based loosely on the real-life exploits of hunter-adventurer Luther “Yellowstone” Kelly.
Gold Of The Seven Saints (1961)
Long before he was James Bond — and not so long before he filled in for James Garner on the Warner Bros. series Maverick — Roger Moore rode tall, shot straight, and cracked wise (with an Irish brogue) alongside Walker in an entertaining tale about two fur trappers turned prospectors who attract trouble after they strike gold.
The Night Of The Grizzly (1966)
It was one of Walker’s personal favorites — he kept a framed poster for it hanging in a place of honor near his home office. Director Joseph Pevney’s period drama skillfully and effectively mixes elements of settler-versus-land-grabber westerns and nature-gone-wild horror flicks.
As big-screen westerns began their slow fade from the multiplexes during the 1970s, Walker returned to television in a series of sturdily made and well-received TV movies. Directed by Ted Post (Hang ’Em High), Yuma actually was intended as a pilot for a western series, with Walker perfectly cast as Dave Harmon, a former U.S. Army officer turned U.S. marshal who pursues a personal agenda while working as a lawman in towns near army forts.
When Jack Rutherford (Walker) is declared missing in action during the Spanish-American War, his presumptive widow Rozaline (Stephanie Powers) sells their Texas ranch and runs off with a Mexican revolutionary. But Rutherford turns out to be very much alive, and seriously upset about what transpired during his absence.
The Bounty Man (1972)
Walker sports a dark mustache and a surly attitude as Kincaid, a notorious bounty hunter who doesn’t really care whether he takes ’em dead or alive. “OK,” he tells two fugitives in the opening scene, “what’s it going to be? In the saddle, or across it?”
From the August/September 2018 issue. Photography: Warner Bros./Photofest.