I don't believe I eaver missed an episode. I lived and breathed this program, I just knew that he would get the belt next week. But, alas,, next week never came! I sat on top of our fence (now mind you, I was all of ten years old!) and would pretend I was sitting on a corral fence, wondering which bronc I was going to be riding today. This is one of my favorite childhood memories. I just wish there were some episodes on tv,com. I really would make my day, well it would make my week!!! Stoney Burke rules. By the way, I never even learned to ride a horse!!
Leslie Stevens could have been a TV Orson Wells. He was an ambitious writer/director who formed his own production company called Daystar. "Stoney Burke" was Daystar's first TV effort (followed by the even greater "The Outer Limits" the next year.) "Stoney Burke" was a superb effort. The casting was flawless: Jack Lord as Stoney, Warren Oates as Ves Painter, and Bruce Dern as E.J. You couldn't have found three better actors. The black and white photography by the great Conrad Hall was dazzling. The theme music by Dominic Frontiere made the blood race. And Leslie Stevens occasional writing and directing were impressive.
"Stoney Burke" wasn't a success and the great "Outer Limits" only lasted a season and a half.
ABC assigned the Roy Huggins created "The Fugitive" to Quinn Martin to produce. Martin did a fine job but I bet Leslie Stevens would have done even better. Stevens had a great flair for film noir and Conrad Hall's brillant night photography and Dominc Frontiere's music would have been awesome. Directors Gerd Oswald and Byron Haskin, who did such amazing noir work on "The Outer Limits", would have been perfectly suited to "The Fugitive." Stevens writing might have gotten deeper into Kimble's character and the characters of the people he met. "The Fugitive" might have been a little less melodramatic and less formula driven and more deeply noirish with Leslie Stevens at the helm.
Leslie Stevens wound up working as a house producer at Universal when his own company failed. He developed "Name of the Game", which was a brilliant premise for a series. But he wasn't given control of the show and the execution of the show was only average.
Still, Leslie Stevens did leave us two superb shows as his legacy. Even Orson Wells had a stormy, uneven creative life.
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