Mrs. Sundance, a 1974 TV movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery, is the first time an actor other than Ross played the part. Since I grew up on Ross as Etta Place and Montgomery as Samantha Stephens in Bewitched (1964-1972), I fully expected to be thrown off by the casting, but within the first few scenes, Ms. Montgomery swiftly erases those other associations, firmly establishing herself as this historical enigma.
Etta is a desperate woman on edge. She’s best described by a nosy member of the community where the outlaw is laying low, saying,
I've been watching you since the first day you come. Every time a train stops, every time somebody just passes through - the fear in your eyes. Hiding out; never showing till they've gone. Why? Hiding from what? Who wants you?
Well, it turns out just about everybody, including Charles Siringo, played by veteran actor L.Q. Jones. Mr. Jones—known for Ride the High Country (1962), The Wild Bunch (1969), and a host of other classics—authenticates every scene like he’s hopped out from the real Old West. Siringo is charged with tracking the elusive Etta Place and bringing her to justice. He uses captured thief Jack Maddox (Robert Foxworth) as bait to lure in Place by gaining her confidence. Siringo is betting that she will lead him to the rest of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang so he can reap the bounties on their heads. He spreads word that Sundance is still alive and before long, she goes in search of her true love.
IMDb currently ranks the film at a middling 6.3 though I would elevate it a bit higher. Sure, the television budget and, at times, meandering script hinder it from becoming anything more than an afternoon joy ride. But sometimes that, and Elizabeth Montgomery, is more than enough.
The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, LitReactor, Macmillan’s Criminal Element, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Under the pen name Edward A. Grainger he created the Cash Laramie western series. He's a dedicated Whovian who enjoys jazz and backgammon. He can be found in scenic upstate New York where he lives with his wife and daughter.