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Dead Man's Walk (miniseries)

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Dead Man's Walk
Theatrical poster for Dead Man's Walk.jpg
1998 VHS Cover
Written by Larry McMurtry (novel)
Diana Ossana (teleplay)
Directed by Yves Simoneau
Starring F. Murray Abraham
Keith Carradine
Composer(s) David Bell
Country of originUSA
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes2
Producer(s) Suzanne De Passe
Cinematography Edward J. Pei
Editor(s) Michael Ornstein
Running time283 min.
Original networkABC
Original releaseMay 12 (1996-05-12) 
May 13, 1996 (1996-05-13)
Related shows Lonesome Dove
Return to Lonesome Dove
Streets of Laredo
Comanche Moon

Dead Man's Walk is an American epic Western adventure television miniseries starring David Arquette as Augustus McCrae and Jonny Lee Miller as Woodrow F. Call. It was directed by Yves Simoneau. It is a two-part adaptation of the 1995 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry and is chronologically the third book of the ''Lonesome Dove'' series, but regarded as the first events in the Lonesome Dove franchise. In this prequel to Lonesome Dove , it is 1840s Texas, and two young men join the Texas Rangers unit that's on a mission to annex Santa Fe. [1] The series was originally broadcast by ABC over two nights in May 1996, and was later nominated for several awards.

David Arquette American actor, director and professional wrestler

David Arquette is an American actor, professional wrestler, film director, producer, screenwriter and fashion designer. A member of the Arquette acting family, he first became known during the mid-1990s after starring in several Hollywood films, such as the Scream series, Wild Bill, Never Been Kissed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, See Spot Run and Eight Legged Freaks. He has since had several television roles, such as Jason Ventress on ABC's In Case of Emergency. As a professional wrestler, he is remembered negatively for an infamous stint in World Championship Wrestling where he was a one time WCW World Heavyweight Champion but has received praise in recent times, for his work on the independent circuit.

Jonny Lee Miller English actor

Jonathan Lee Miller is an English film, television and theatre actor. He achieved early success for his portrayal of Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson in the dark comedy drama film Trainspotting (1996) and as Dade Murphy in Hackers (1995), before earning further critical recognition for his performances in Afterglow (1997), Mansfield Park (1999), The Flying Scotsman (2006), Endgame (2009) and T2 Trainspotting (2017); for The Flying Scotsman he received a London Film Critics' Circle nomination for Actor of the Year. He was also part of the principal cast in the films Melinda and Melinda (2004), Dark Shadows (2012) and Byzantium (2013). He has appeared in several theatrical productions on Broadway, most notably After Miss Julie and Frankenstein, the latter of which earned him an Olivier Award for Best Actor.

Yves Simoneau is a Canadian film and television director.



Part 1

The series begins in the Republic of Texas in 1842, as Comanche warriors led by Buffalo Hump use the full moon to conduct slave-raids on settlements in northern Mexico. Woodrow Call and Augustus "Gus" McCrae are junior Texas Rangers of a larger party heading west to scout a road from San Antonio to El Paso. Tasked with night watching the camp, a drunk McCrae wanders off exploring and is chased and wounded by Buffalo Hump. The next morning, the group is ambushed and two of the party are killed and one wounded.

Republic of Texas independent sovereign nation in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846

The Republic of Texas was a sovereign state in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846. It was bordered by Mexico to the west and southwest, the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the two U.S. states of Louisiana and Arkansas to the east and northeast, and United States territories encompassing parts of the current U.S. states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico to the north and west. The citizens of the republic were known as Texians.

Comanche Plains native North American tribe

The Comanche are a Native American nation from the Great Plains whose historic territory consisted of most of present-day northwestern Texas and adjacent areas in eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northern Chihuahua. The Comanche people are federally recognized as the Comanche Nation, headquartered in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Buffalo Hump was a War Chief of the Penateka band of the Comanche Indians. He came to prominence after the Council House Fight when he led the Comanches on the Great Raid of 1840.

Three months later in Austin, another larger group is being assembled in order to seize Santa Fe from the Mexicans as the Texan Santa Fe Expedition. McCrae encounters Clara Forsythe at the local store and Call meets Maggie at the local whorehouse. News of a Comanche raid takes the Rangers group west over the Brazos River, where they are ambushed while resting. Call manages the only kill of the punishment squad's raid, whereas McCrae proposes to Clara. Rejoining the expedition, they encounter Buffalo Hump again and learn (after inviting him to parley at their camp) that it was his son who died at the hands of Call.

Texan Santa Fe Expedition

The Texan Santa Fe Expedition was a commercial and military expedition to secure the Republic of Texas's claims to parts of Northern New Mexico for Texas in 1841. The expedition was unofficially initiated by the then President of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, in an attempt to gain control over the lucrative Santa Fe Trail and further develop the trade links between Texas and New Mexico. The initiative was a major component of Lamar's ambitious plan to turn the fledgling republic into a continental power, which the President believed had to be achieved as quickly as possible to stave off the growing movement demanding the annexation of Texas to the United States. Lamar's administration had already started courting the New Mexicans, sending out a commissioner in 1840, and many Texans thought that they might be favorable to the idea of joining the Republic of Texas.

Brazos River river in Texas

The Brazos River, called the Río de los Brazos de Dios by early Spanish explorers, is the 11th-longest river in the United States at 1,280 miles (2,060 km) from its headwater source at the head of Blackwater Draw, Curry County, New Mexico to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico with a 45,000-square-mile (116,000 km2) drainage basin. Being one of Texas' largest rivers, it is sometimes used to mark the boundary between East Texas and West Texas.

The expedition begins to break up as it is slowed by heavy rains and many of the civilians opt to return to Austin. The increasingly rocky terrain of Comancheria also proves troublesome for the wagons. They again encounter the natives who harry them by stealing their horses and setting fire to the grasslands. Now on foot, with no horses and limited supplies, the party splits again over gathering food and which way to travel to find water. McCrae, weakened by hunger and thirst, is haunted by a dream of Buffalo Hump riding a buffalo.

Comancheria Former region of New Mexico

The Comancheria is the region of New Mexico, west Texas and nearby areas occupied by the Comanche before the 1860s.

Part 2

Wallace, Call, and McCrae are arrested by Mexican militia after stumbling into a remote Mexican village. En route to San Lazaro, the camp is attacked at night by a grizzly, allowing them to escape with rifles. In the darkness they re-find their companions, and the morning reveals a large Mexican army camp nearby. Now numbering about 30, weakened by hunger, and with limited ammunition, Colonel Cobb enters the camp and surrenders to the Mexicans - but not without resistance from Call who attacks Cobb and receives 100 lashes as punishment.

The army breaks camp and moves with their prisoners through Apache lands, where they soon find the corpses of their general and his retinue - including Cobb who survived blinded and crippled. Many of the group are unfit for the "dead man's walk" through the wastelands and across "the big dry", more so after Cobb decides to die in a blaze of glory, injuring some of his own soldiers in the process. As they travel, the nights become increasingly cold, increasing the suffering of the travellers. Finally they begin the desert crossing, but their horses are soon stolen by this region's rogue natives, led by an Apache named Gomez. Their numbers dwindle as they are picked off one by one, until they finally reach the Rio Grande having survived the Jornada del Muerto.

The Apache are a group of culturally related Native American tribes in the Southwestern United States, which include the Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Salinero, Plains and Western Apache. Distant cousins of the Apache are the Navajo, with which they share the Southern Athabaskan languages. There are Apache communities in Oklahoma, Texas, and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers. The Apache Nations are politically autonomous, speak several different languages and have distinct cultures.

Rio Grande River forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth - or fifth-longest river system in North America.

Jornada del Muerto

The name Jornada del Muerto is translated loosely from Spanish, historically referring to it as the "Journey of the Dead Man", though the modern literal translation is closer to "The Working Day of the Dead". As a geographic name, "Jornada del Muerto" is the desert region the Conquistadors had to cross to make it from Las Cruces to Socorro, New Mexico. As a name-place, "Jornada del Muerto" is a loose translations of "single day's journey of the dead man" hence "route of the dead man". In the U.S. state of New Mexico it was the name given by the Spanish conquistadors to the Jornada del Muerto Desert basin, and the particularly dry 100-mile (160 km) stretch of a route through it.

Here the prisoners are transferred to a French Major in charge of a troop of lancers, and the disgraced Mexican Captain is told to return across the desert to his post despite the dangers. They soon arrive at San Lazaro, a leper colony, and the seven surviving men are forced to select lots to decide who among them will be executed for treason. Also in the colony is an English prisoner, who asks to travel back to Austin with them and offers to provision the journey. One the way back they again travel back through Comancheria but are able to spook the Comanche with an aria, a snake, and a sword. Back in Austin, McCrae calls again on Clara, and the two kiss while Call looks on awkwardly.


Main cast

Also starring


The series teleplay was co-written by author Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, who had also worked on other parts of the Lonesome Dove series, and later went on to write the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain.


A review by Don Heckman in the May 11, 1996 edition of the L.A. Times [2] stated that "Director Yves Simoneau did the best he could with a script--by McMurtry and producer Diana Ossana--that provided little in the way of workable character development."


The series and its actors was nominated for several awards:

Home media

Videos of the series were first released in August 1998 (see cover art). It was released in Region 1 on DVD on October 23, 2001.

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  1. Abraham, F. Murray; Carradine, Keith; Childress, Patricia; Olmos, Edward James (1996-05-12), Dead Man's Walk , retrieved 2017-04-26
  2. HECKMAN, DON (1996-05-11). "'Dead Man's Walk' Is a Grisly Journey". Los Angeles Times. ISSN   0458-3035 . Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  3. "TV Movie: Dead Man's Walk". Retrieved 2017-04-26.