The Big Valley is the most beloved television series from the 1960's based on a close-knit wealthy, and powerful family dominating the heartland of Stockton, California in the 1870's.
There were 112 hour-long episodes of
this western filmed and The Big Valley
remains my very favourite show of all-time. As Victoria Barkley, Barbara Stanwyck is nothing less than sensational in her acting technique; as the widow Barkley, she is a curious combination of being both tough and gracious - but above all, Barbara Stanwyck
was an incredibly NATURAL actress; she won an Emmy for her portrayal in 1966 (she was nominated the remaining three years of the show's run, plus she won other awards such as the Photoplay Medal) and her playing of the proud matriarch has practically made her Victoria Barkley a cult figure.
Richard Long is fine as Jarrod, the level-headed eldest lawyer son - while never a great actor by any means, Long had an intensely likeable personna about him. Nick, the tough, egotistical son is played with neccesary verve by Peter Breck and Audra as played by astonishingly beautiful Linda Evans made many a male baby-boomer swoon (I was one of them!).
Barbara Stanwyck was such a striking presence in this show (which was envied by many of her peers and was a huge personal triumph) that entire episodes are literally showcases for her acting talent.
The youngest son, Eugene (played by the now-forgotton Charles Briles) was mysteriously written out of the show after the first season.
The public's very favourite character, however was Heath (the half-breed
bastard from Strawberry) as played by Lee Majors!
The rest of the cast was actually peeved and annoyed due to the fact that more stories centered around Heath, and Majors received more fan mail than any other cast member!
The guest stars in this terrific western included Julie Harris, Susan Oliver, Colleen Dewhurst (she was terrific), Milton
Berle, Robert Goulet, Pernell Roberts, Cloris Leachman, Buddy Hackett, Adam West, Virginia Christine, among many others. James Gregory worked well with Barbara Stanwyck
and he was a frequent co-star.
The stories were excellently written, the characters were colourful and genuine. The beautifully colourful scenery, the musical score by George Duning (which included the pretty little theme heard at the beginning of many an episode entitled A FUTURE LEFT BEHIND) are all first-rate.
If someone doesn't do a book on THE BIG VALLEY..... maybe I WILL!!
Reviewer from Edinburgh, Scotland
The Illustrated History of Movies Through Posters Series
Bruce Hershenson - Paperback
Western TV Classics Posters available:
Western Actors | Big Valley
Gunsmoke | Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
Lone Ranger | Wild, Wild West
Western Movie Posters