Metro Goldwin Mayer
Glenn Ford (as Jason Sweet) and Shirley MacLaine (as Dell Payton) star in this off-beat Western alongside Virginia & Truckee #11, The Reno.
Mostly filmed on the MGM back lot, “Sheep” (Baaaa!) is the tale of newcomer Jason Sweet (Ford) who shows up in the little town of Powder Valley announcing his intentions of grazing his huge herd of sheep in their pastures. The local townsfolk are not amused.
Of course, we’re here just to see the train scenes graced by V&T #11. Towards that end, The Reno makes a grand entrance as the opening credits roll, with a fine plume of black smoke and all identifying numbers etc. painted over in BLACK.
Let’s see what happens when Sheep-monger Ford comes up against local cattle baron, Colonel Stephen Bedford (Leslie Nielsen). This was YEARS before Nielsen made it big as Frank Drebin, Police Squad (in color). In fact, it’s hard to watch his acting in this picture, as you half expect him to break into deadpan comedy at any moment. He didn’t. He was the heavy in this film.
Look at them hair extensions on Shirley MacLaine! I really enjoyed her work in Oceans Eleven 1960 and particularly Guarding Tess 1994.
Immediately after the opening credits, Virginia and Truckee #11 vigorously smokes it up coming into town (an ominous symbol of impending trouble, perchance? ;p)
Now filming from the fireman’s side, the Reno churns into Powder Valley as Glenn Ford (Sweet!) (Dude!) alights from one of the coaches.
Ford/Sweet starts right off befuddling the stationmaster as Reno simmers in the background, then heads to the local saloon for more skulduggery.
Sweet has hooked up with “difficult” local girl Dell (MacLaine) and hitches a ride – incognito – out to the train where his two stock cars of sheep await. Note the disgruntled townsfolk at the depot.
The unlikely pair pass by the drivers of #11, then Sweet alights next to his herd.
It’s a standoff. Sweet’s sheepherders try to unload the animals, but are turned back at gunpoint. Offstage, Sweet watches from between the cars.
Small goof. Notice the radio towers visible on the hillside above the locomotive’s tender.
Ford/Sweet is one step ahead of the Colonel’s gang, however. Previously, he paid off some local boys, arming them with firecrackers to cause confusion as he stealthily climbs the railroad water tower.
From his vantage point, Sweet (who is a crack shot) disarms the henchmen one by one and forces them to unload the stock cars. Soon the corral is full of ovine multitudes.
Great, low-light shots in this series of the locomotive, water tower and stock cars.
How did Sweet get ALL those sheep out of just two stock cars? Meanwhile, a disgruntled and black-hatted Neilsen/Bedford passes by with his much SMALLER herd of cattle. Feeling a little inadequate there, eh, Colonel?
Mountain grazing scenes were filmed (with the boys blue-screened in front) around Montrose, Colorado.
Not one to give up easily, Neilsen/Bedford bushwhacks Ford/Sweet at a party and throws him onto a stock car (with his smelly sheep) and sent out of town. Having accomplished his nefarious deed, the Colonel then smirks it up with Dell/MacLaine.
Hey, that’s Uncle Joe thrown in with Ford! Yep, Edgar Buchanan (as Milt Masters) from Petticoat Junction is one of Ford’s own henchmen recruited earlier from the townsfolk.
Well, don’t ask how, but Ford/Sweet and Buchanan/Milt escaped confinement, hijacked the Reno and backed the train into town. Look at all those jet trails in the sky!
Nice background shot of #11 smoking it up as Sweet and Milt walk back into town. As his herd trundles by, Sweet/Bedford once more have it out. You KNOW it won’t end well for the Colonel.
Most of the thrilling climax left off here (no trains).
Our picture ends with Sweet/Dell riding off into the sunset alongside Virginia & Truckee #11 providing a classic frame as the credits roll.
The Reno is still with us as a cosmetic display — restored after a 1995 fire at the Old Tucson Studios burned off all her wood fittings.
Here’s what IMDb has to say about The Sheepman:
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Don’t call me Shirley!
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Surely you can’t be serious?
In movie, Colorado Territory 1949, do you know WHERE the old mission is located? I thank you.