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The Big Valley is big screen bound. No, really, it is

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 14th 2009 11:01AM
The_Big_Valley_ABCDo you remember The Big Valley? Chances are you don't. The 1965 western was ABC's answer to the blockbuster success of Bonanza ... over four decades ago! Apparently someone -- the original producer's daughter -- believes that it's time for a western again (based on what?) and, that said, The Big Valley is planning on a big screen version of the TV series.

The Big Valley never reached Bonanza status, but it did run over 100 episodes and launched a couple of television stars. Both Lee Majors and Linda Evans were virtual unknowns before the series, and The Big Valley is listed as their debuts. Thanks to The Big Valley, Majors eventually landed The Six Million Dollar Man and Linda Evans achieved big-time stardom on Dynasty in the '80s.

On the other end of the spectrum, Miss Barbara Stanwyck -- that was how she was billed -- was a big time movie star before The Big Valley, a four-time Oscar nominee, although it was not her first TV series. Still, as Victoria Barkley, matriarch of the most important family in Stockton, California in the 1870s, Stanwyck carried the show. Also getting a lot of buzz back then were Richard Long (pre-The Nanny and the Professor) and Peter Breck as Victoria's two eldest sons, Jarrod and Nick.

All this could add up to an interesting remake, but again you have to wonder about the viability of a western. The producers have a screenwriter/director lined up, Daniel Adams, and the movie starts shooting next April in Michigan and New Mexico. I guess California doesn't cut it any more as a location for California.

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Interestingly, producers Gardner (age 99!) and Laven are still alive as well.

Good idea to cast Majors as Tom. I'm guessing we'll see Tom at the end of his life which happens 6 years before Heath arrives. Wonder if Tom will have that Kentucky accent too. ;

August 07 2009 at 7:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wasn't born when the show first aired, either. However, I'm a HUGE fan; being in a Big Valley Fan Club and all. I think Edelman-Johnson, being the daughter of the original writer, will do the movie justice and Daniel Adams has written me that he will do his best to cast the right actors for the other characters as Lee Majors is indeed playing Tom Barkley in the beginning of the movie. So, I will wait with my fingers crossed.

August 04 2009 at 11:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As much as I love Peter Breck, I don't think I want to see an 80 year old Nick Barkley. No. Not ever. Lee Majors has announced that he has been cast to play the old stud himself, Tom Barkley. That alone might make it worth the price of admission. Or at least a Netflix pick.

July 29 2009 at 1:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jo Anne

Please, NOOOOO!!!

July 15 2009 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wasn't alive when the series originally aired- just want to point out that some of the younger generation is familiar w/ the show...... However, the actress picked to play Victoria will have some big boots to fill- no one took a punch like Stanwyck. Also, I cannot imagine anyone else in the roll of Nick Barkley other than the rugged Peter Breck- he's still around and still a cowboy. The producers should give him a call.

July 14 2009 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think someone like Kathy Bates could play the role Stanwyck created. Loved this show and it could be good and successful with a good story and right casting. Of course, they should always remember the good story and right casting rule when doing ANYTHING.

July 14 2009 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

Right cast and a good script and they might have something. But the original cast was very good so I don't have hopes this will be nearly as good.

July 14 2009 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For continuity, they should cast Linda Evans as the matriarch ...

July 14 2009 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike McNamara

Yeah, please insert my standard "aren't there any original ideas out there?" complaint here.

That said, a Western about a family with strong female characters would certainly be a different kind of Hollywood movie, even though it's based on a pre-existing product. I can't imagine anybody filling Miss Barbara Stanwyck's boots but if they go through with this, casting will be EVERYTHING.

July 14 2009 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fig\'s Friend

Isn't it sad that Hollywood just can't come up with an original idea any more? And of course I DO remember "The Big Valley" - very fondly. Can't imagine who they will cast - but I'm sure it will be dreadful.

July 14 2009 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Fig\'s Friend's comment

Let me second that on the original ideas.

Of course, it comes down to money. Hollywood isn't about taking risks. Remaking shows into big budget movies is, more often than not, a safe bet. For every Land of the Lost, there's a Star Trek, Addams Family, or The Fugitive.

July 14 2009 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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