Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Adventures of Jim Bowie

The Adventures of Jim Bowie is another old TV series now available on DVD for a buck. The only one at my local Dollar Tree was Volume 2, so that’s the one I bought. The quality of the transfer’s not bad at all. The quality of the episodes is something you’ll have to judge for yourself, but I thought they were worth my dollar.

The first episode is “Monsieur Francois,” and like every one of them it begins with the famous Bowie knife thunking into a wooden door. Then Jim comes to pluck it out while the theme song, by Ken Darby and The King’s Men plays. You remember the theme song if you’re my age: “Jim Bowie! Jim Bowie!/He was a fighter, a fearless and mighty adventurin’ man!/He roamed the wilderness unafraid/From Natchez to Rio Grande/With all the might of his gleaming blade/Flashing from either hand/Jim Bowie! Jim Bowie!/He was a mighty adventurin’ man!” The theme song is repeated at the end, and the soundtrack for the show is provided by The King’s Men, who hum annoyingly throughout.

But enough about that. Clearly I’ve digressed again. In “Monsieur Francois” the Bowie knife plays a big part. When Bowie (Scott Forbes) is in a fight with some wharf rats, all he has to do is pull the knife, and the rats run away. (A scene later borrowed for use in Crocodile Dundee?) And the show concludes with a “sword fight,” between Bowie, who uses the knife, and a guy with a rapier. It might have seemed exciting in the ‘50s, but it’s about the lamest sword fight I’ve ever seen. Pathetic, really. It ends with Bowie literally pulling the rug out from under the guy. The plot concerns a young boy who’s trying to find his relatives, and in one scene he’s in Bowie’s bed while Bowie is on the floor. Bowie complains, and finally the kid says, “You may share my bed.” Bowie hops in. I figure this scene could never occur in a current TV show, what with Michael Jackson and all. This episode might have played in heavy rotation at the Neverland Ranch.

The second episode on the disk is “Select Females,” and it’s better, mainly because it’s played strictly for laughs. It deals with a young woman who’s been kidnapped from a “school for select females,” and of course Bowie has to rescue her, with the help of an attractive teacher and the school’s headmistress. It’s corny and the comedy is very dated. But I still liked it. Or maybe that’s why I liked it. This episode is also notable because it marks the first screen appearance of Edd (billed as Edward) Byrnes, who of course went on to have a brief fling with stardom as Kookie on 77 Sunset Strip.

“Spanish Intrigue” is the final episode. Bowie gets mixed up with South American revolutionaries who are buying supplies for Simon Bolivar. It’s notable for its cast of WASPs trying to look and sound hispanic, and not much else. There’s another concluding Bowie knife vs. the rapier fight that’s not quite as lame as the other one.

I have to admit that I enjoyed all of these at least a little bit. They’re bad, but bad in a way that I can enjoy if I’m in the right mood.


James Reasoner said...

"The Adventures of Jim Bowie" is one of the first TV shows I remember watching as a kid. I've seen a few episodes on DVD in recent years and thoroughly enjoyed them. I seem to remember reading that Scott Forbes was really British, but you couldn't tell it by his Southern accent in this show.

Cap'n Bob said...

I have that DVD on my to-be-viewed pile. I also have #1 and a few other DVDs/videos with Jim Bowie on them. Granted, none of them are Emmy material, but they were fine for kids. They had action, a swell gimmick with the knife, and a leading man with a slick outfit. An Scott Forbes went on to bigger and better things me out here.

Banjo Jones said...

I loved that show, and anything else that had anything to do with The Alamo. The public school system in Texas (at least when I was in it) must have something to do with that.