This is another TV series from my childhood that I haven't seen in fifty years and don't really remember that much about, except that I loved it and watched it every chance I got. (In those days, of course, if you had to be somewhere else when one of your favorite shows was on, you were out of luck, or if there was something else that you just had to see, too bad. You had to choose.) But thanks to the miracle of the Internet, at least I can fill in some of the details of my hazy memory.
John Russell, who often played bad guys in movies but was the heroic Marshal Dan Troop in the fine TV Western LAWMAN (based on the Harry Whittington novel TROUBLE RIDES TALL, by the way), is also a hero in SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE, playing the stalwart adventurer Tim Kelly. His sidekick and occasional comedy relief was Toubo Smith, played by Chick Chandler. Their dangerous assignments took them all over the world, but they were usually in some exotic locale like Africa or South America. It seems like I remember numerous episodes set in the deserts of North Africa. Of course there were plenty of death traps set by loathsome bad guys, a few sultry, beautiful women, gun battles, rope bridges, maybe even some quicksand. And of course I ate it all up with a spoon, permanently warping my brain, as you can probably tell if you've read much of my fiction, the biggest influences on which seem to have been pulps, comic books, and Fifties TV shoot-em-ups. Glorious influences one and all, I might add.
If you read the comments and reviews on IMDB concerning SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE, you'll see that there's a wide range of opinions. A lot of middle-aged guys like me seem to remember it very fondly, with comments about how good the writing and the location photography were. However, others think it was an absolutely terrible series with bad writing and shoddy production values. I don't know. Fifty-year-old memories are tricky things. But unless and until I get a chance to watch some of the episodes again, I prefer to remember it through the eyes of eight-year-old me, sitting there in front of a black-and-white TV wondering how Tim and Toubo are going to get out of that snake-filled pit where the evil sultan has imprisoned them. And then when they do escape . . . watch out for that quicksand, guys!
Dream of the Iron Dragon, by Robert Kroese
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