Classic Video Showplace

Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion

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For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In 1950’s television, program ideas were still very fresh and–except for radio shows that transitioned to TV–there were many “new” origins for programming in the early days of the medium.

One of these original ideas in the 1950s was Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion.

The show was based on using real-life stories of the French Foreign Legion and was filmed on location on often dangerous deserts of Morocco.  The producers would actually work with the members of the French Ministers of National Defense and commanding generals in the French Army.  They would also interview Legionnaires in Zagora, Rabat, Marrakesh, Taroudant and Agadir to come up with realistic story material–a technique later used by producers on shows like M*A*S*H.

The extreme long takes of scenes highlighted by the vastness of the wide open deserts for many of its episodes allowed audiences a chance to experience a realistic view of “traveling along” with the Legionnaires, although several real-life incidents forced the production company to eventually change filming locations to more safe locales in Italy during the show’s run.

To further hype the show, the producers brought in ultra-popular film star Buster Crabbe, who was a hero to many young people in the 1930s and 1940s as the titular character in some of the previous decades’ popular movie serials, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Tarzan.

Crabbe has just finished a successful run hosting his own program, The Buster Crabbe Show, which against the backdrop of a ranch foreman’s bunkhouse featured Crabbe engaging his viewers with games, stories, craft-making, hobbies, informational segments, and interviews with guest performers and personalities.

Crabbe was also an international hero with medal victories in the 1928 and 1932 Olympic games.

Joining Crabbe in the cast was longtime western star John Forrest “Fuzzy” Knight, who was largely responsible for the “lighter” moments on the show.

Knight’s first major picture role was with Hollywood icon Mae West.  He went on to be  a very popular western film star himself from 1928 through the mid-1940s, appearing in over a hundred films.

According to the book, “The Hall of Fame of Western Film Stars,” Knight was named one of the Top 10 Money-Making Western Stars in 1940 and appeared in as many as 10 films in a single year.  His film role offers were beginning to dwindle in the mid-1950s, but his appearance on this show reintroduced him to a brand new audience.  Knight would go on to appear in movies and television shows through 1967, when he retired from show business. 

Rounding out the “Foreign Legion” cast was a newcomer – Buster’s own son – Cullen “Cuffy” Crabbe, who made his acting debut on the program.   

The show produced 65 new episodes and was very popular in syndication for years.  Due to its popularity, three of its episodes were edited together into a full-length motion picture entitled Desert Outpost, which was distributed and released in Europe.

Be sure to watch or set your DVRs for Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, airing for the first time ever on ATVN this spring.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here on our website.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.