Montana PBS will air a special on the artist and sculptor Charlie M. Russell starting next week.
The three-hour special - C.M. Russell and The American West - will be aired one hour at a time over the course of three nights - November 13 through November 15.
“I think Montanans will absolutely enjoy this film and to see our Montana landscape before there were fences and when it was in its developing stages when Helena was really -- as the writer says in the film – ‘it was what it was called, that's the Last Chance Gulch’,” said Aaron Pruitt, the executive director for the program. "And it looks like it -- and it was a rough and difficult place -- and Charlie came here and he experienced that and we see that in his paintings."
“But also in this film, you'll see great photographs and you'll hear from scholars and others about what it's like to live in Montana at those times and those year's as the state was just, not even quite a state yet actually,” Pruitt said. "I think Montanans will have an opportunity to experience Montana through the eyes of Charlie Russell, Nancy Russell and many of the great cowboy friends, who are dear friends to him all of his life."
“I think that's one of the great takeaways that comes through at the end of the film is that Charlie Russell was not so much about being interested in being famous, making a lot of money -- although Nancy was interested in making him successful...Charlie Russell was all about his friends -- his friends from Utica, Montana. And his friends he makes through all those years. Indian friends, cowboy friends, never forgot those friends, and that will come through very clearly in the film, that was key for Charlie,” Pruitt concluded.
The program will also feature the voices of some well-known actors. Kathy Baker will voice lines from Nancy Russell’s memoirs, JK Simmons will narrate, Bill Pullman will voice Charlie Russell’s illustrated letters, assorted writings, and published stories, and Dylan Baker will voice the writings and recollections of C.M. Russell’s protégé Joe De Yong.
The Montana PBS website states: "Charles M. Russell is an unjustly overshadowed American artist. Contemporaries like Remington and Winslow Homer are more celebrated. This film will be a significant effort in finally giving Russell his just due, and placing him, and his very personal and unique version of Western Art, accurately in the canon of great American artists."
Here are the air dates: