"Trail of Vengeance"

It was 1963 when Frank Q. Dobbs was News Director at KBTX, channel 3 in Bryan. Our entire staff numbered less than 20 folks. I was a part-timer, working from 5pm until 11 pm nightly, unless I had choral responsibilities elsewhere. As I recall, our night shift included Frank, Wallace Taylor, Alan Wood, George Shearer, Earl Greathouse and myself. Our staff artist was John Scoggins and Jim Mitchell was Operations Manager. Frank had long wanted to write a script for “Gunsmoke”, the top television show at that time. He had submitted a script considered a winner, but with the ‘turn-down’, he determined to make the film himself. We all read the script and agreed to contribute $16.00 each for the 16 millimeter color film. We scrounged around for gear and finally found horses that were loaned to us. There was no sound capability, so we planned to record every one of the sound effects on a tape cart and prcctice numerous times to make it happen. Alan wrote a fine theme song and he played guitar accompaniment and I recorded it. The story was about a “Pilgrim” and his wife who were homesteading a small tract of land that had been used by a cattle baron for his herd. The rancher (Jim Mitchell) hired a gunfighter(Wallace Taylor) and had two of his crew(Alan Wood and George Shearer) accompany him to visit the sodbuster and convince him to leave. I played the sodbuster and Frank’s wife, Carol, played my wife. John Scoggins was the local sheriff and I cannot recall the folks who played as his posse. The film opens with the Pilgrim plowing his field when the hoodlums attack him. His wife bursts from the house with a shotgun and fires it into the air. The gunslinger draws and shoots her. The Pilgrim is left beaten badly, but when he comes to and realizes his wife has been killed, he begins his “Trail of Vengeance”. We shot the film, over several weekends, at locations around Bryan and at Six Flags in Dallas. Frank developed and edited the whole thing in our film lab at channel three. Upon completion, we ran the film while siting around monitors (off air, of course) recording sound sequence on a tape cart. We placed red grease pencil marks where each ‘cue’ was and then rehearsed’ a number of run-throughs. We ‘aired’ the twenty-six minute ‘Epic’ twice following subsequent Saturday nightly newscasts on KBTX. It is hard to imagine how well the whole thing went. Rustic, by the seat of our pants, but that pretty well describes what early television was like. A six man crew did what scores are required to do today and if I might say so myself, “Did it Better”! And, that’s what I get from MY box of Chocolates. AMEN

One thought on “"Trail of Vengeance"

  1. I remember your “shoot ’em up” well…it was a fun thing to watch. And you’re right, it was just as good as the expensive ones today. And a lot more fun!

    Like

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