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HATEFUL SIX BEFORE THEY EIGHT 'THE REBEL' WITH NICK ADAMS

Nick Adams heads up THE REBEL television Western 1959-1961
It's usually fair game that homage-driven auteur Quentin Tarantino pays tribute to classics, especially Sergio Leone Westerns, but is TV's post Civil War THE REBEL episode FAIR GAME a complete rip-off, or yet another example of the quirky cinematic preacher preaching the virtues of yesteryear for audiences of today?

Enter Tarantino's post Civil War THE HATEFUL EIGHT about a group of despicable types holed up in a way-station during a formidable snowstorm. Kurt Russell plays a bounty hunter, and his bounty is a grungy-gross female in Jennifer Jason Leigh's Daisy, who winds up doing exactly what a young, classy dame does in THE REBEL. The irony is that Patricia Medina's Cynthia Kenyon is so pretty and highbrow it's a shock she's facing the hangman at all... but not for long. Soon enough what ultimately happens to Kurt Russell (poisoned water then poisoned coffee) occurs rather quickly to James Chandler as the silently-stern bounty hunter Farnum...

James Chandler and Patricia Medina in The Rebel circa 1960
Perhaps the differences are almost as great as the similarities since not only are the handcuffed women polar opposites, but the endings are equally varied: Instead of the HATEFUL gang set up to protect the anti-damsel (including a bunch of dudes we don't yet see), in THE REBEL it's just one handsome future VIRGINIAN charmer James Drury, who turns out being the...

Well this REBEL episode shouldn't be completely spoiled, like we just did its inferior imitator that, coincidentally, almost didn't get made when the script was famously leaked/spoiled during pre-production. But the original's twist is far more clever, effective and fulfilling than Quentin's epic that stretches a literally 24-minute story into a tedious three-hours...

Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight from 2015
What Tarantino deliberately left out was a hero, and THE REBEL was anything but your typical dashing lead or even anti-hero: As one of the Civil War's myriad of grey-clad losers, Nick Adams' Johnny Yuma traipses the Wild West as a logical, lawful yet sturdy-tough would-be author penning an autobiography as he goes — as does Michael Madsen in THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

Overall the two-season REBEL is one of the better low-budget Westerns: with creative camera angles that not only provide an intriguing maze to the story, but for the characters and their placement/motivation within what's usually a contained, strategic setting, it often feels more like a movie... And Irvin Kershner, who'd later lead many rebels in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, directs more than half the episodes, including FAIR GAME, one of the best in a string of some pretty terrific yarns. 
Michael Masters, Patricia Medina, Nick Adams, James Chandler and James Drury in The Rebel
James Drury and Nick Adams in THE REBEL episode Fair Game
Patricia Medina as Cynthia Kenyon in THE REBEL episode FAIR GAME
Cowardly Lion-looking Jennifer Jason Leigh not so luckily unchained in THE HATEFUL EIGHT w/ Kurt Russell
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