The story Lonesome Dove was made into a TV Mini-Series in 1989. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written by Larry McMurtry. The all-star cast includes Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Diane Lane, Robert Urich, Ricky Schroder, and Angelica Huston.
It is the year 1876. Captain Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) and Captain Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) are enjoying their retirement as Texas rangers when a former comrade, Jake Spoon (Robert Urich), returns to Lonesome Dove and persuades the two retirees to join him in a venture to build the very first cattle ranch in the state of Montana. Each man has a different reason to get on board. Jake Spoon is on the run after accidentally killing a dentist. Gus knows that the route will take them past the town in Nebraska where the love of his life, Clara (Angelica Huston), resides now with her husband and daughters. Call, a workaholic always open to new adventures, looks at the project as an opportunity to make some money. They take along several men from Lonesome Dove, including Joshua Deets (Danny Glover) and Newt Dobbs (Ricky Schroder). Newt is actually Captain Call’s illegitimate son, although he has never admitted it to the boy.
One woman joins the men on their trip from Texas to Montana. She is Lorena Wood (Diane Lane), a beautiful young prostitute who is currently the girlfriend of Jake Spoon. Jake has promised Lorena to take her to San Francisco, but leaves the group and leaves Lorena when the situation no longer suits him. Gus, a man of integrity and charm, promises to look after Lorena, who falls for the much older Gus whose first love, Clara, he has never forgotten.
The four-part mini-series takes six viewing hours as we follow the group as they pass through dangerous Indian territory, fighting off horse thieves, and dealing with dust storms and heavy rains in Nebraska and Wyoming as they head for their destination in Montana. For the entire time, they are driving a herd of cattle, some of which they stole from ranches on their way. It is interesting how we learn to understand the personalities of each of the participants as they face the difficulties that arise on their trek up north.
One of the most poignant episodes takes place when Gus locates Clara and her family as they pass through Nebraska. Their love for each other never died, but Clara always knew that Gus was a “rambler” who would never settle down to the domesticity that she favored.
Lonesome Dove won two Golden Globes. Robert Duvall won for his acting performance and the film won for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV. The film also captured seven Primetime Emmy Awards as well as being nominated for another twelve Emmy categories.
The TV Series is available on CD on two discs lasting a total of six hours. It is divided into four parts: (1) Leaving, (2) On the Trail, (3) The Plains, (4) Return.
Lonesome Dove – TV Mini-Series (1989)