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Encyclopedia > The Rifleman
Chuck Connors as The Rifleman
Chuck Connors as The Rifleman

The Rifleman was a television program that ran from 1958 to 1963. The black-and-white western starred Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a widower and Union veteran of the Civil War. McCain and his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) lived on a ranch just outside the fictitious town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. Regulars on the program included Marshal Micah Torrance (Paul Fix), Sweeney the bartender, and a half-dozen other denizens of North Fork. Image File history File links www. ... Image File history File links www. ... Black-and-white or black and white) can refer to a general term used in photography, film, and other media (see black-and-white). ... i like western films The Western is an American genre in literature and film. ... Chuck Connors Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors, better known by his professional name of Chuck Connors (April 10, 1921 – November 10, 1992), was an American actor and professional basketball and baseball player. ... Johnny E. Crawford (born March 26, 1946 in Los Angeles, California) is an American actor. ... Paul Fix (March 13, 1901 – October 14, 1983) was an American film and television character actor,best known for his work in westerns. ...


According to network publicists, the series was set in the late 1880s. Unfortunately for historical accuracy, McCain seemed too young to have served in the Army 25 years earlier, as did guest stars who also portrayed veterans of the Civil War. Further complicating the issue, the famous rifle carried by McCain was made in the 1890s, yet had obviously seen years of use, and been the source of the nickname by which he was known far and wide.


Westerns were extremely popular when The Rifleman premiered, forcing television producers to find gimmicks to distinguish one show from another. The Rifleman's gimmick was a modified Winchester rifle with a trigger mechanism allowing for rapid-fire shots. Connors demonstrated its rapid-fire action during the opening credits as McCain dispatched an unseen bad guy on North Fork's main drag. Although the rifle may have appeared in every episode, it was not always fired, as some plots did not lend themselves to violent solutions, e.g., a cruel teacher at Mark's one-room school. Winchester rifle refers to an early family of repeating rifles manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company that was used widely in the United States during the latter half of the 19th century. ...


The various episodes of The Rifleman promote fair play toward one's opponents, neighborliness, equal rights, and the need to use violence in a highly controlled manner ("A man doesn't run from a fight, Mark," McCain tells his son, "But that doesn't mean you go looking to run TO one!"). In other words, the program's villains tend to be those who cheat, who refuse to help people down on their luck, who hold bigoted attitudes, and who see violence as a first resort rather than the final option. Indeed, a curious aspect of the program is that when they meet African-Americans, the people of North Fork are truly color-blind. In "The Most Amazing Man", a black man (played by Sammy Davis, Jr.) checks into the only hotel in town; for the entire show, no one notices his race. Not only is this noteworthy for the 1880s setting, it was radical for Hollywood of the early 1960s. While the message was clear, it was neither heavy-handed nor universal. A certain amount of xenophobia drifts around North Fork, however, forcing McCain to defend the right of a Chinese immigrant to open a laundry ("The Queue") and the right of an Argentine family to buy a ranch ("The Gaucho"). This racial liberalism does not extend to villains, however. The Mexicans in "The Vaqueros" are indolent, dangerous, and speak in the way of most Mexican outlaws in Westerns of the time. This article is about the entertainer. ...


Another fundamental value of the series is that people deserve a second chance. Marshal Micah Torrance is a recovering alcoholic and McCain once gave an ex-con a job on his ranch ("The Jailbird"). Royal Dano appeared as a former Confederate soldier, given a job on the McCain ranch, who encounters the Union soldier who had cost him his arm in battle. The soldier, now a general, arranges for medical care for the wounded former foe, quoting Abraham Lincoln's orders to "Bind up the Nation's wounds." Royal Dano (born November 16, 1922; died May 15, 1994) was an American film and television character actor. ...


In retrospect, The Rifleman holds up better than most Westerns of its era, partly because Connors fit so well into the role (his gravestone reads "The Rifleman") and partly because the father-son interactions between Connors and Crawford seem genuine. And the Lucas McCain character has an angry, vindictive streak that makes him more human. The lighting and camera angles give the program a mildly artistic look. The excellent musical score, one of the most remembered aspects of the program, was composed by Herschel Burke Gilbert.


Most importantly, however, the show was created and initially developed by a young Sam Peckinpah, who would go on to become the last legendary director of classic Western movies (The Wild Bunch, Ride the High Country, etc.). Peckinpah, who wrote and directed many of the best episodes from the first season, based many of the characters and situations on real-life scenarios from his childhood growing up on a ranch. He also used many character actors such as Warren Oates and R.G. Armstrong who would later feature prominently in his films. His insistence on violent realism and complex characterizations, as well as his refusal to sugarcoat the lessons he felt that the Rifleman's son needed to learn about life, soon put him at odds with the show's producers at Four Star Television. He left the show and created another classic TV series, "The Westerner," starring Brian Keith, which unfortunately was short-lived. David Samuel Sam Peckinpah (February 21, 1925 – December 28, 1984) was an American film director. ... The Wild Bunch is a 1969 English language western film directed by Sam Peckinpah, in which an aging group of outlaws hope to have one more score while the West is turning into a modern society. ... Ride the High Country is a noted 1962 western film. ... Warren Oates (July 5, 1928 - April 3, 1982) was an American character actor. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... The Westerner is a 1960 Western television series created by Sam Peckinpah, starring Brian Keith as Dave Blassingame, and featuring John Dehner as semi-regular Burgundy Smith. ... Brian Keith (November 14, 1921 – June 24, 1997) was an American stage, film and television actor. ...


The former NBA player Chuck Person, a prolific long-range shooter, was known as "The Rifleman", since he has the same names (first and middle) as Chuck Connors. The National Basketball Association of the United States and Canada, commonly known as the NBA, is the premier professional basketball league in North America. ... Chuck Connors Person (born June 27, 1964 in Brantley, Alabama) is a former professional player in the National Basketball Association. ... Chuck Connors Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors, better known by his professional name of Chuck Connors (April 10, 1921 – November 10, 1992), was an American actor and professional basketball and baseball player. ...


Trivia

  • Michael Landon once guest-starred on the show in "End of a Young Gun."
  • The rifle was a Winchester Model 1892 chambered in .44-40 caliber. There were three rifles used in the series. A primary and backup Winchester Model 1892, and a Model 1892 Spanish copy called, "El Tigre." El Tigre was used for scabbard or shots where a close-up was not required. (Guns & Ammo, Feb 2007, The Rifleman's Rifle).
  • Lucas's rifle mechanism is a small screw in the lever, causing the trigger to be pressed each time the lever is cocked. The screw could be backed out so that the rifle did not have to fire each time the rifle was cocked. This explains how Lucas could cock the rifle in some episodes without the rifle firing. (Guns & Ammo, Feb 2007, The Rifleman's Rifle).
  • Chuck Conners fires 11 shots from this 10 round rifle during the opening credits. The extra shot was dubbed in by the studio to keep tempo with the music. (Guns & Ammo, Feb 2007, The Rifleman's Rifle).
  • The Rifleman has a twin/lookalike relative. A bad guy, of course.

To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

Further Reading

Christopher Sharrett, The Rifleman (TV Milestones Series), Wayne State University Press, 2005


External links

  • TV.com Rifleman page

  Results from FactBites:
 
Rifleman at AllExperts (548 words)
Rifleman is a private soldier in a rifle unit of infantry.
The last pike regiments were dissolved by the 1720s, and the bayonet in some ways replaced the pike, some commanders ordering concentrated close-range bayonet attacks until the early 20th century, often with devastating effects for their own troops.
In the same context, the terms Automatic Rifleman and Assistand Automatic Rifleman are used to describe a soldier who carries a light support weapon (or services and reloads it for the shooter).
rifleman's rule: Information from Answers.com (1454 words)
Rifleman's rule is a "rule of thumb" that allows a rifleman to accurately fire a rifle that has been calibrated for horizontal targets at uphill or downhill targets.
While there are many forms of rifle sight, they all permit the rifleman to set the angle between the bore of the rifle and the line of sight (LOS) to the target.
In fact, rifleman often report their rifle "shoots high" when they engage a target on an incline and they have not applied the rifleman's rule.
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