Mark Mohr, whose “Memories of the Camps” was so effective, has loosely pulled together aspects of the Old West as viewed today — a rodeo in Tucson, the curator at L.A.’s Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, a look at the Old Tucson Studio, a glance at Universal’s Western seg, and so on.
It’d be sketchy even if it didn’t cover such unengrossing ground; without host James Gammon’s easygoing hosting, the program would bite the dust.
Eyeballing the Single Action Shooting Society taking potshots at metal dummies, flashing over tomb markers on Boothill, and catching mannequins dolled up as OK Corral celebs spouting dialogue are less than absorbing. Profile of a 72-year-old “real cowboy” tells little about him except that he owns cattle and works his spread from before dawn till after sundown.
A more thorough exam of the Autry museum might have spiced up the proceedings , and further exploration of the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper might pep up the program. Mohr spotlights Bruce Boxleitner, Martin Kove, Lee deBroux, Lee Purcell and Gammon at L.A.’s Met Theater reading poetry about cowpokes, but they don’t get much time.
There’s too much gold in contemporary Western lore left unmined; knowing that the foremost cowgirl makes $ 2,000 a night in a rodeo doesn’t cause much of a tingle.