Believe it or not, Lee Marvin’s Oscar-winning turn as Kid Shelleen in the film Cat Ballou (1965) has had more than one incarnation. In spite of the fact that the original film was a headache to make for almost all involved and was not thought to be successful before its release, Hollywood jumped at the chance to remake it once its success was solidified.
Marvin was asked about making a sequel and/or remake but logically passed on the idea as I discovered in my interview with the film’s director (Lee Marvin: Point Blank).
That didn’t stop Hollywood from trying to cash in on the film’s hard-earned success. According to the IMDb, “NBC developed two pilots based on Cat Ballou with completely different casts and crews. They were aired on consecutive evenings in September of 1971. Neither pilot was picked up as a series.”
The first of these 2 was set to air in the 1969-70 season but sat on the shelf for 18 months before finally airing literally just one day before another version with Jo Ann Harris in the title role and Forrest Tucker as Kid Shelleen. That version could at least boast Tom Nardini reprising his role from the film as Jackson Two Bears, seen below in a recent photo…..
The other version of Cat Ballou starred Lesley Ann Warren in the Jane Fonda role and veteran character actor Jack Elam as Kid Shelleen. Apparently, the makers went so far as to attempt a recreation of Marvin’s famous sight gag from the film, but with less than spectacular results. Below is the original image on the left and the TV-movie version with Elam on the right. Ahh, Hollywood, won’t you ever learn?
– Dwayne Epstein