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Conagher Reviews

A labor of love for married stars Sam Elliott and Katherine Ross, who co-producing and co-wrote, this memorable TV movie is a diverting ride through a prairie Camelot. Missouri-born Jacob Teale (Billy Green Bush) believes he can fulfill his dream of becoming a cattleman by moving his family to the wide-open west. But even veteran drovers like Conn Congaher (Sam Elliott) have a hard time scraping by in this inhospitable frontier. Jacob dies after his horse stumbles and crushes him, leaving his wife, Evie (Katherine Ross), and their two children destitute. Fortunately, for the widowed Evie, the local coach service is in the process of building a stop over in neighboring Red Rock, and in the interim, the Teale home becomes a post house for passengers headed to La Mesa. Even cowpokes like Chris Mahler (Gavan O’Herlihy) and Conagher park their horses in the Teale corral and enjoy the occasional home-cooked meal. When Indians try to steal her livestock, Evie can count on back-up from stagecoach drivers and drovers. For confirmed bachelor Congaher, Evie is a compelling reason to stop by, but he tries to resist his romantic impulses and signs up for a hitch with rancher Seaborn Tay (Ken Curtis). Lawless varmints from the Ladder 5 Ranch have been rustling Tay’s cattle on orders from their boss, Smoke Parnell (James Gammon). Unlike Parnell's thieving "high-binders," Conagher believes in loyalty to your brand, and his ethics set Congaher apart from those hired hands prepared to look the other way as Tay’s property gets rebranded. While pining for Evie, Conagher shoots his arch-rival, Kiowa Staples (Paul Koslo), and rousts desperadoes until, inevitably, he winds up trapped and wounded. Conagher may not survive Parnell’s superior man-power, but if he does it just might be time to hang up his spurs and settle down. Director Reynaldo Villalobos imbues every scene with old fashioned western virtues, like honor and dignity, so fans of the genre will find plenty to like. Writers Ross, Elliott and Jeffrey Meyer do an impeccable job adapting adaptation Louis L’Amour's classic novel, capturing the stoicism of cowpokes and the grit of settlers in a testing ground where temptation is always lurking behind the sagebrush and a good man's gotta do what a good man's gotta do.