Bonanza: Under Attack (TV Movie 1995) Poster

(1995 TV Movie)

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Okay TV Movie
FightingWesterner8 January 2010
The Ponderosa is intruded upon by renegade Pinkertons, led by murderous detective Dennis Farina. They're chasing reformed outlaw Frank James (Leonard Nimoy!), who finds protection among the next generation of the Cartwright clan and his old Civil War pals Ben Johnson and Jack Elam.

Johnson, Elam, Farina, Nimoy, and Richard Roundtree are all fun to watch, though some of the younger actors, including the offspring of a few of Bonanza's original stars, are a bit wooden and the script a few bad lines of dialog.

However, everything's so laid back and the old-timers so good that it's virtually impossible for me to dislike. The story premise is fairly solid too.

Some might call it heresy to try and further the adventures of a TV series without the benefit of any of the original stars. I'm glad they went ahead and at least tried. It took guts.
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Is this really Bonanza ????
revdrcac26 May 2006
In the 1990's, several attempts were made to revive the Bonanza franchise, with little success. This film features the great Ben Johnson, Jack Elam and even Leonard Nimoy as Frank James ! Mike Landon Jr and Dirk Blocker (sons of the original Little Joe & Hoss) also appear.

Despite the interesting cast of veterans & newcomers, the movie ultimately fails to deliver the goods. Lorne Greene, Blocker & Landon are especially missed. Unlike the series of Gunsmoke TV films of the same era, this film series fails to recapture the excitement and collegiality of the original TV show. I did like the performance here by Nimoy....... a nice change of pace.

I rarely fail to recommend westerns with Ben Johnson & Jack Elam ...... but this one may be for avid fans only.
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"The life we lived is no longer possible".
classicsoncall17 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't mind the nod to the 'Bonanza' TV series and the inclusion of the sons of the original Cartwright cast members, but the story is tenuous at best with a script that challenges an attentive viewer's knowledge of history. Probably the best that can be said is that the film approaches the passing of the Old West and the changes that occur with successive generations as an inevitable part of living and growing up. The single element though that defied credibility was the idea that the Ponderosa passed into the hands of a non family member with the death of Ben Cartwright. That just didn't resonate very credibly with me.

Now the inclusion of Leonard Nimoy in the story was a nice touch. I don't think many fans picture him as an actor in a Western, but he did appear in a handful of TV shows prior to 'Star Trek' like 'Wagon Train', 'Rawhide', and 'Tales of Wells Fargo', including an appearance in the original Bonanza series in a Season Two episode titled 'The Ape'. There was also that Star Trek episode 'Spectre of the Gun' in which Spock and other members of the Enterprise crew went up against the Earps and Doc Holliday. The Vulcan mind meld came in handy that day.

It was a pretty novel idea casting Nimoy as Frank James in the story. When he began laying out the story of his Civil War days it was done with a fair amount of historical accuracy, but that in turn put some of the other players in sort of a negative light. When it was revealed that Bronc Evans (Ben Johnson), the proprietor of the Ponderosa, and the family cook Buckshot (Jack Elam) were members of Quantrill's Raiders, for anyone with a knowledge of the James Gang this was an admission that both of them operated as cutthroats and marauders, because that's what the Missouri bushwhackers were known for. So the attempt at portraying Siringo (Dennis Farina) as the villain for hunting down Frank James started out on the wrong foot. But yeah, he was a villain anyway, operating as a lone wolf outside the authority of his Pinkerton employers.

That aside, there was a puzzler in the casting that I'm still thinking about. Why wouldn't have Dirk Blocker and Brian Leckner had their roles reversed, since Dirk was the son of Dan Blocker? He certainly resembled his father a lot more than Leckner, so I guess there's an untold story behind that move. Also in passing there was a quick mention by A.C. (Jeff Phillips) regarding how his father spent his life running away from the Ponderosa, an obvious reference to Pernell Roberts leaving the original series after six seasons. I thought that was an interesting touch.

So overall, any connection to the original Bonanza for this viewer was simply an exercise in reviving the memory of the original series. The biggest plus for me was seeing Ben Johnson at the tail end of his career and Jack Elam in his very last film role. One thing you can do to have some fun if you watch the movie is count up the number of times Josh Cartwright says 'Dad burn it' the way Hoss used to. Just about as many times as Gabby Hayes might have said 'Ya durn tootin' in one of his Westerns.
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Tame "Bonanza" Spin-Off
zardoz-1314 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Only "Bonanza" completists and Leonard Nimoy fans will appreciate this post-"Bonanza," made-for-television oater, director Mark Tinker's "Bonanza Under Attack" with Ben Johnson, Richard Rountree, and Jack Elam. Oddly enough Dan Blocker's son Dirk doesn't play a Cartwright, but Michael Landon, Jr., does play a Cartwright. The body count is absurdly low but in keeping with a television western. Trouble looms like pine trees on the Ponderosa Ranch again as notorious outlaw Frank James (Leonard Nimoy of "Catlow") shows up wounded with renegade Pinkerton Detective Agency stalwart Charley Siringo (Dennis Farina of "Get Shorty")and his posse hot on his trail. Frank is riding back to see his old Civil War partners Bronc Evans (Ben Johnson of "The Train Robbers") and Buckshot (Jack Elam of "Support Your Local Sheriff") who are supervising and cooking for the Ponderosa. Charley vows to kill Frank James, and nothing will thwart him from his goal until he crosses trails with Bronc and the younger generation of the Cartwright clan. Johnson, Nimoy, Roundtree, and Farina give this tame,lame horse opera some substance, but not enough for to make it worth watching more than once. The oddest thing is Richard Roundtree works for Bronc as a cowhand; this diversity was only occasionally exploited in the TV series. Mind you, some profanity is uttered, but it is nothing that will incinerate your ears, depending of course on your ability to tolerate this colorful diction. Purist of the venerable "Bonanza" series should probably see it just for the sake of having said that they have seen everything. The messages that abound concern unity of family, the meaning of genuine love means letting those you love leave, and the error of being an outlaw. The shootout at the line-shack is nothing to memorable like most of this 89-minute yarn.
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