"Branded" is a Western series which aired on NBC from 1965 through 1966 and starred Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a United States Army Cavalry captain who had been drummed out of the service following an unjust accusation of cowardice. Notable guest stars included Burt Reynolds, Burgess Meredith, John Carradine, Chad Everett, June Lockhart, and Dolores del Rio. Created by Larry Cohen, the show was co-produced for most of its run by Goodson-Todman Productions, who are primarily known not for Westerns or dramatic shows, but for almost exclusively producing game shows such as "The Price is Right". Today, the US rights to "Branded" are owned by King World, one of very few Goodson-Todman properties not owned or distributed by FremantleMedia. Many stations that carry "Branded" today usually schedule the program alongside another King World-distributed program about drifters in the Old West, "The Guns of Will Sonnett" starring Walter Brennan and Dack Rambo.

The opening scene of the series was memorable, depicting McCord's cashiering: his epaulets are ripped off, his uniform has its buttons cut off, and his sabre is broken, while a drum played over the opening theme song ("All but one man died there at Bitter Creek ... and they say he ran away ... "). He was then sent out of the gates of the fort where this occurred, which were then closed behind him. This scene was repeated each week as the theme song by Dominic Frontiere, which told the background story, and the opening credits, were played. New viewers could easily be brought in on what had been going on, a very common device at the time used in many other programs as well.

In the series, McCord traveled throughout the Old West, continually confronted with people who knew of his notorious reputation for cowardice, requiring him to (according to the theme song) repeatedly "prove he was a man."

The series followed Connors's highly popular series "The Rifleman", but did not have that show's longevity. Several episodes were shot in color and edited together for a movie, which was released under the title "Broken Sabre" in 1966.

In the 1998 Coen brothers' film "The Big Lebowski," Branded is mentioned several times in connection with the (fictitious) former writer of the show Arthur Digby Sellers. According to the character Walter Sobchak, Mr. Sellers wrote 156 episodes, "the bulk of the series". Later in the film, the main character "The Dude," as played by Jeff Bridges, sings the theme song to "Branded" while intoxicated in the back of a Malibu, CA police car.

External links

*imdb title|0058792|Branded
*imdb title|60191|Broken Sabre

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