I was sorry to hear about Peter Graves’ death yesterday. I was a long time fan of his work, the first time I was consciously aware of him was the western series Fury about a rancher, his son, and a black stallion. It wasn’t until later re-watching some of those crappy science fiction movies from the fifties that I realized I’d seen him even earlier.
So when he came along to replace Stephen Briggs on my current favorite series, Mission: Impossible, I was reassured in my young mind that M:I wasn’t about to disappear from the air. That the show went on to greater popularity only made me happy.
I didn’t even know at the time that his brother was James Arness, star of Gunsmoke of course, another favorite at the time. I don’t even remember when I learned that fact.
Of the few movies of his I’ve seen, the one I liked best was The Five Man Army, a western where he played a character called the Dutchman. I always looked on it as a western Mission: Impossible. From 1969, it was an obvious attempt to latch onto his popularity on said series with a tale of a hand-picked crew to steal a box car with $500,000 in gold from a train guarded by the Mexican army during the revolution in the early twentieth century.
One was a strong man/railroad worker(Bud Spencer), one a dynamite expert(James Daly), an acrobat(Nino Castelnuovo), and a knife throwing master(Tetsuro Tanba).
The Dutchman came up with an elaborate plan to steal the whole box car from the train without the Mexican army(the survivors anyway) knowing about it. One can see the MI corollaries.
When they made the first MI movie, I was bothered to see that Jim Phelps had been turned into a villain and was glad Peter Graves wasn’t playing the part.
My condolences to his family and friends. We join you in grief for the passing of a fine man. I loved his work from an early age.