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Saturday, June 11, 2022

TV WESTERNS—DARK WINDS

TV WESTERNS
DARK WINDS
In 1991, the first attempt was made to translate the award winning Leaphorn and Chee Native American mystery series written by Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Tony Hillerman to the big screen. 

Based on the book The Dark Wind, the film starred Lou Diamond Phillips in the pivitol role of deputy Jim Chee, with the late Fred Ward as Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. With the tag line the Navajo believe that when a man does something evil, it is because a dark wind has entered his soul, the plot involves the two tribal police officers in a drug smuggling and murder investigation on the Navajo reservation. 

Produced by Robert Redford, the film was one step above a made for TV movie and went straight to video, although it did good business on the big screens in Europe. However, while the film gets points for effort and received generally positive reviews, the failure of the film to find a major audience in the U.S. ruled out the possibility of a sequel.

Eleven years later in 2002, and accompanied by much fanfare, PBS produced three made-for-TV movies adapted from three of Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee novels—Coyote Waits, A Thief of Time, and Skinwalkers. Starring Wes Studi and Adam Beach as tribal police officers Leaphorn and Chee respectively, the trio of films were entertaining, but unremarkable. With no demand for further entries in the series the franchise was left in limbo for the next twenty years. 


Now, starting Sunday June 12th, the streaming service AMC is bringing back Leaphorn and Chee—this time embodied by Zahn McClarnon and Kiowa Gordon respectively—in Dark Winds, a six episode limited series. Robert Redford is again executive producer, and this time it appears as if all involved have gotten it right...

The year is 1971 on a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Tribal Police is besieged by a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. The closer he digs to the truth, the more he exposes the wounds of his past. He is joined on this journey by his new deputy, Jim Chee, who has old scores to settle from his youth on the reservation. Together, the two men battle the forces of evil, each other and their own personal demons on the path to salvation.

Each episode of Dark Winds also will be available on AMC+, with AMC+ subscribers having advance access to an additional episode each week.

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