Monte Walsh (2003 film)

Monte Walsh is a 2003 Canadian made-for-television Western film directed by Simon Wincer and starring Tom Selleck, Isabella Rossellini, and Keith Carradine. Loosely based on the 1963 Western novel Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer, the film is about two long-time cowboys whose solitary and predictable lives on the range are inexorably changed when a fellow cowhand becomes involved with rustling and killing.[1] The film premiered on TNT on January 17, 2003.

Monte Walsh
DVD cover
Directed bySimon Wincer
Produced bySteven Brandman
Screenplay byteleplay by
Michael Brandman
& Robert B. Parker
& David Z. Goodman
and Lukas Heller
Based onthe novel by Jack Schaefer
StarringTom Selleck
Music byEric Colvin
CinematographyDavid Eggby, A.C.S.
Edited byAlan Baumgarten, A.C.E.
TNT Originals, Inc.
A Michael Brandman Production
TWS Productions II, Inc.
Distributed byTurner Network Television (TNT)
Release date
  • January 17, 2003 (2003-01-17)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States


Set in Wyoming and filmed in Alberta, Canada, Monte Walsh is a remake of the 1970 theatrical film Monte Walsh, starring Lee Marvin. The script is nearly word-for-word identical to the original (original screenwriters David Zelag Goodman and Lukas Heller are credited) and a lot of set-ups and shots are the same as well, but Selleck plays a much more amiable and kind Walsh, to the point that some of the harsher lines attributed to Marvin's Walsh are given to other characters to soften the title character's personality to match Selleck's more affable style. In 2003, Monte Walsh received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special, and in 2004, the film received the Western Heritage Awards Bronze Wrangler for Outstanding Television Feature Film.[2]


"Antelope Junction Wyoming Territory. 1892". Montelius "Monte" Walsh (Tom Selleck) is an aging cowboy facing the final days of the Wild West era. He and his friend Chet Rollins (Keith Carradine), another long-time cowhand, work at whatever ranch work comes their way, but "nothing they can't do from a horse". Their lives are divided between months on the range and the occasional trip into town. Camaraderie and competition with the other cowboys fill their days. They seek work and take a job at the ranch of Cal Brennan (William Devane), where they meet an old friend, Shorty Austin (George Eads), another ranch hand.

Monte has a long-term relationship with an old flame, prostitute and saloon girl "Countess" Martine Bernard (Isabella Rossellini), who suffers from tuberculosis. Chet, meanwhile, has fallen in love with Mary Wilder (Lori Hallier), a widow who owns a hardware store. As barbed wire and railways steadily eliminate the need for the cowboy, Monte and his friends are left with fewer and fewer options. New work opportunities are available to them, but the freedom of the open prairie is what they long for. Shorty loses his job and gets involved in rustling and killing, gunning down a local lawman. Then Monte and Chet find that their lives on the range are inexorably redirected.

Chet marries Mary and goes to work in the store, telling Monte that their old way of life is simply disappearing. Caught up in the spirit of the moment, Monte asks Martine to marry him, and she accepts. Monte goes on a drinking binge and rides a wild bay horse that even Shorty could not tame through town, causing considerable damage.

A rodeo owner, Colonel Wilson (Wallace Shawn), sees him and offers him a job. Monte considers the high salary, but decides the work is too degrading and refuses. Eventually, they all must say goodbye to the lives they knew, and try to make a new start. When Shorty shoots and kills Chet while trying to rob the store, Monte, distraught after the death of his beloved Martine, goes after him.

Shorty arrives, and it is apparent that he knows of the fight to come with his former friend. He tells Monte he is sorry to hear of Martine's death, and walks off. Perhaps trying to give Monte a choice to kill him or walk away. Monte, unable to shoot Shorty in the back as he walks away, pursues. Shorty makes a long shot with a pistol at Monte, but runs off when the shot only wounds Monte in the left side. Monte then manages to slip around Shorty and shoots him. As Shorty is dying, Monte tells him that he rode the wild bay horse.

Seven years pass and Monte returns from working all over the West. His friends have gotten older, prices are rising, and he is seen by the townspeople as a relic of another time. However, one little boy asks for lessons in roping. When the accountant who manages the lands he used to ranch drives his primitive car into a mud puddle and asks for help, Monte jumps his horse over the vehicle and rides away.[3]



Filming locations


Awards and nominations


  1. Meyer, Carla (January 15, 2003). "'Monte Walsh' -- aimless in Old West / Tom Selleck, scenery are high points of TNT cowboy drama that lacks action". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  2. no byline (2003). "Monte Walsh [2003]". The Movie Scene. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  3. Speier, Michael (January 16, 2003). "Monte Walsh". Variety. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
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