Saturday, August 18, 2012


The Fall of 1966 was a time of inspired innovation in network television and while CBS was then, as now,Amercica's most watched television network and ABC cultivated unaffilated,youthful viewers, NBC lead the league in creative programming concepts and technological advancement.

The Peacock's decision to take it's full broadcast day to LIVING COLOR in 1965, propmted the competition to do the same, in September of 1966, taking their silvery black and white schedules to vibrant ,vivid color.

NBC also crafted a new genre of story telling in partnership with future COMCAST corporate sibling, UNIVERSAL TELEVISION , in a groundbreaking inititaive called PROJECT 120. The landmark strategy was to produce original, feature length films, specifically for television distribution. Some productions would be sold to foreign broadcasters, some would be released theatrically around the globe, and many, if not most, were designed to serve as pilot episodes for proposed series.

While CBS looked on with curiosity about the prospect of partnering with a film studio to make movies, ABC-TV and COLUMBIA PICTURES' television subsidiary, SCREEN GEMS, best known for producing sitcoms like HAZEL, THE MONKEES AND I DREAM OF JEANNIE, moved into high gear.

On Easter Sunday, April 10, 1966, a sprawling, adult, western adventure with comic overtones called SCALPLOCK premiered on the ABC SUNDAY NIGHT MOVIE. It was the pilot for a proposed series called THE IRON HORSE which starred Dale Robertson, who was one of NBC's most bankable cathode ray cowboys of the 1950's, having been the lead in TALES OF WELLS FARGO.

SCALPLOCK told the two-fisted tale of gambler Ben Calhoun who won the Buffalo Pass, Scalplock, & Defiance Railroad in a poker game.The problem was that the actual railroad has yet to be completed.Along the way there are the requiste romantic encounters,double-dealing villans and ubiquitous dynamite blasts,all unfolding with an easy grin and a good-natured giggle.

The fast-paced,engaging script was written by Stephen Kandel and James Goldstone ( who also directed ) and produced by Herbert Hirschman.The film had rich production values on a limited budget and a television shooting schedule. It was picked-up by ABC-TV and THE IRON HORSE series ran from September 12, 1966 to January 6, 1968.

Here from the CLASIC TV GUY YOU TUBE site,is the full pilot film, SCALPLOCK.


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