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Lonesome Dove

Drawing from the epic cattle drives across the American midwest in the latter half of the 19th century, the 1989 miniseries Lonesome Dove is one of greatest, most lyrical westerns ever made (rivaling perhaps even John Ford's epic The Searchers), despite the fact that it was shot for television, on a TV-sized budget, and never played on the big screen. Thanks to Artisan, the entire six hours of Lonesome Dove is now on DVD (on a single DVD-18 disc), for fans of westerns — or just great performances — to enjoy revisiting again and again. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones star as former Texas Rangers Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, who, in the twilight of their active years, decide to abandon their Texas border town of Lonesome Dove, rustle some Mexican horses over the border, and embark on a 2,500-mile journey to Montana, where they will be the first men ever to graze cattle in the new territory, reportedly a paradise on earth. Hiring on a team of cowboys, the two Civil War veterans encounter a variety of pitfalls — expected and unexpected — that force them to come to terms with love, loss, rivalry, and ultimately the sense of honor that binds them as lifelong friends. Joining the journey, in part or in full, are fellow Texas Ranger Jake Spoon (Robert Urich), a man with a dangerous taste for gambling and women; illiterate prostitute Lorena Wood (Diane Lane), who is caught up in a love triangle with McCrae and Spoon; Ranger vet and trail scout Joshua Deets (Danny Glover); and trail hands Newt (Rick Schroder) and Dish (D.B. Sweeney). Many critics have hailed this as Duvall's best performance (it certainly rivals his Oscar-winning turn in Tender Mercies), and much of the delight in Lonesome Dove comes from Duvall's interplay with the equally excellent Jones, who, as the laconic, no-nonsense Call, is almost constantly at odds with the quixotic McCrae and his dreams of taking on one last adventure before the eventualities of life catch up with him. Urich, Glover, Schroder, and Sweeney give thoughtful supporting performances, but most appealing about Lonesome Dove is its uncompromising attempt to recreate this era in American history, eschewing the mythical, Hollywood versions of the Old West, with its cowboys, outlaws, and Indians alike, and instead focusing upon the hardship that working cattlemen endured on the dusty, uncivilized frontier. Also starring Anjelica Huston, Frederic Forrest, Chris Cooper, and Steve Buscemi. Directed by Simon Wincer, glorious score by Basil Pouledouris. Good transfer in the original full-frame (1.33:1), Dolby 2.0 (mono). Features include interviews with Lonesome Dove novelist Larry McMurtry and producer Suzanne de Passe; extensive textual notes on the history of cattle drives; cast and crew bios and filmographies; a trivia game; and a promo spot for the DVD.
—JJB



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