AMC’s eight-part docudrama The American West premieres Saturday, and transports viewers to the wild and wonderful American frontier with a blend of dramatic reenactments and interviews with historians and Western movie notables. The series is executive produced by the award-winning Stephen David (The World Wars, The Men Who Built America) in association with Robert Redford’s Sundance Productions, and features interviews with actors whose work on Western films helped bring this era of American history to life. Some of the series’ famous faces include Redford, James Caan, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, Kiefer Sutherland, Mark Harmon and Ed Harris.
In the post-Civil War period from 1865 to 1890, westward expansion — and the newly built railroads — brought wide-eyed settlers and legends such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull together under the same wide expanse of sky.And as the Western wilds were tamed, the transcontinental railroad further paved the way for westward expansion, and created new, booming economies.
It also allowed outlaws to boost their own economies. “The railroad was just on one track, and it was kinda stuck,” muses Redford, who starred as a train robber in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. “But [outlaws] had horses, so they could rob a train and … ride away.” It’s this deft interweaving of historical moments and intimate personal details of Western legends with the fascinating insights of the actors who portrayed these men who exemplify the time, the spirit and the history of America’s Western frontier.
Check out a clip from the series that explains how sex ruled the west
The American West > AMC > Saturdays at 10pm ET/9pm CT beginning June 11