Proving that the Hollywood remake machine is either hitting on all cylinders or going on fumes, depending on how one would look at it, the 1960s TV cowboy family drama The Big Valley is headed to the big screen. The series, which ran from 1964-69, starred silver screen icon Barbara Stanwyck as the matriarch of Stockton, CA ranching family, The Barkleys, and is famous for essentially starting the careers of both Linda Evans and Lee Majors. Writer / director Daniel Adams (The Golden Boys) will be helming from his own script and he’ll be producing with Kate Edelman Johnson, daughter of the show’s creator, Louis Edelman.
When it comes to Western sudsers, they typically don’t get more wholesome than Valley, as the Barkleys were a fine upstanding frontier family who took in illegitimate sibling Heath Barkley, played by a fresh-faced, pre-bionic Majors. The Barkleys typically found themselves in the middle of crusades to uphold family values and justice, while occasionally dispensing it at the end of a six-shooter. It also featured a plethora of guest stars including Joe Don Baker, Milton Berle, Lou Rawls, Stephanie Powers, Bruce Dern, Leslie Nielsen, Ron Howard, George Kennedy, Martin Landau, William Shatner and Adam West.
As a lad, I enjoyed the show quite a bit, and wondering why, in one episode when Heath was trapped under a wagon, he didn’t just na-na-na his way out of it. But considering how much grittier Westerns have gotten in the last thirty years or so, I wonder if it can be adapted in the spirit in which it was shot. Filming is due to start next spring.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey