McKeag and Pasquinel were best friends, whose loyalty to each other inspired a nation, and evolved into one of the most exciting and truly unforgettable 29 hour epic adventures of all time. Richard Chamberlain, as Alexander McKeag, gave one of the most amazing, and inspiring performances of his career. The tough, yet gentle Scotsman, found himself a whole new world, and left that world an invaluable legacy, when his life was saved by the fearless Pasquinel, played by the wonderful Robert Conrad. These courageous and daring trappers, befriended Indians, gained the respect of the white man and with insight and determination, eventually formed the fictional town of CENTENNIAL.
The handsome and classy Richard Chamberlain, played against type, transforming himself into the rugged, crusty, frontiersman. What a sensational frontiersman he was! When the gorgeous Alexander McKeag, with glorious golden red/blonde hair, and matching beard, emerges on the screen, he literally takes your breath away. The handsome actor is beyond spectacular, when he slips effortlessly into the character of Alexander McKeag. Richard often speaks warmly of this best-loved role. He loved playing the gentle, but tough Scotsman, who trusted himself and caused the beloved actor, to feel especially whole. As always with Richard Chamberlain, you get a top-notch performance, and an actor who is just fabulous to look at, as an added bonus. He looked and sounded so Scottish (perfecting a flawless Scotch brogue), that this character may well have been his career Magnum Opus! He was absolutely marvelous. One is amazed, the Indians let him get away, without confiscating that glorious head of hair for their trophy poles.
In his memoirs, Richard Chamberlain shared, that just prior to making this movie, he had met and begun a relationship, with his life-long partner of 28 years, Martin Rabbett. The actors had barely established a home in New York, when Richard got the call to come to Colorado for a six month shoot. Richard was in turmoil, as he guessed his young love would probably balk at his leaving, and he was right. After seeing him in this film, if I were Martin, I would have pitched a fit also. With that golden red/blonde hair and beard, looking like an Adonis in leather and suede, I wouldn't have let him out of my sight without a fuss either.
Both Chamberlain and Conrad were absolutely fabulous as the best friends, McKeag and Pasquinel. They were the heart and soul of this entire epic. Both men loved the same woman, Clay Basket; but McKeag contented himself by delivering her children and helping her raise them, during the long absences of Pasquinel. McKeag knew Pasquinel secretly kept another family, and his lengthy absences provided many opportunities to seduce the beautiful "love of his life." But McKeag's integrity ensured that he would never compromise his loyalty and deep friendship with the "free spirited" Pasquinel. Doesn't every man aspire to have a friend like that?
One of my favorite scenes is McKeag and Pasquinel dancing the Highland Fling together. In the film, the friends had a passionate disagreement, and McKeag invites Pasquinel to dance out their bad feelings, which led to a wonderful reconciliation. Dying to bury the hostilities between himself and his half-breed stepson Jacques; McKeag repeated the dance again. He delights his friends, as he kicks up his heels and shows his exceptional dancing ability. Richard Chamberlain fans will agree that this was the charming actor's most loveable role. You will never forget his inspiring Alexander McKeag!
Each night, a new cast of wonderful stars, continued the story, taking the viewer through new generations of progeny, responsible for settling the west. Each of the twelve videos, gives it own account, weaving a tapestry of exalted emotion, based on great drama, history, heartbreak, hope, disappointment, renewal, discouragement, love, hate, life, death, despair, and triumph, in the lives of loveable/fictional characters across a span of 200 years.
No one can teach history like the masterful James Michener. This film has breathtaking scenery of The Rockies, a moving depiction of the decline, and annihilation of our native American Indians, and an emphasis on the Land...the best part of America! He examines a war between CARETAKERS, who respected the land, its power, its majesty, and understood that if the land is to take care of us, we must first learn how to care for it...and TAKERS, who raped and ravaged the land, taking what they wanted, and leaving nothing in return. Michener poignantly points to the LAND...a life force of its own...emphasizing..."ONLY THE ROCKS LIVE FOREVER."
By Judith Crocker