I think there should be a discussion here for this. It's all fair game. I'm going to start it off with something way out in left field.
So, has anyone ever seen any of the films that were produced in, what was then, West Germany, based on the works of German author Karl May? You can find several of them here:
I'd suggest beginning with the first film released, "The Treasure of Silver Lake". In some ways, it is ludicrous for a number of inaccuracies. Even worse than most spaghetti westerns. But it looks really good.
Apparently, Karl May was a real character. In and out of trouble with the law to the point of spending time in prison. But his westerns became popular in German speaking countries, and a few others in Europe. Even Adolph Hitler was a fan, and May's works were "justified" during the Nazi period.
However, May himself never traveled further west in the United States than Buffalo, New York, and that was well after the majority of his stories were published. Yet he claimed his works were based on first hand experience, and that he was, in fact, "Old Shatterhand"!
Just watch a movie. You'll get the idea. And look up Lex Barker, who played Old Shatterhand in these films, as well as Tarzan during the 1950s. It's, uh, interesting to see how he ended up in Europe.
So how is this even remotely steampunk? Well, it's definitely Weird West. Old Shatterhand's rifle holds something near 50 rounds, and fires semi-automatically. As fast as he can pull the trigger!
Yep, Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, and Ken Maynard were probably the kings of American Westerns during the 1920s. And they all managed to make the transition to talkies! And right behind them was Tim McCoy, who also moved into talkies, and is probably my favorite early Western star, although I was completely unaware of him until a few years ago.
Before that, it was William S. Hart, and "Broncho" Billy Anderson. Two men who are nearly forgotten today. But there are a few films of theirs floating around on the net.
The Great Train Robbery was made in 1903 so almost Victorian.
I had not thought about Karl May since I lived in Germany. There were still some Karl May Fests around and a spin off Schutzenfest near where I worked is what motivated me to join SASS. Thank you for posting the YouTube video.
Broncho Billy was an actor in "The Great Train Robbery", so he may actually qualify as the original Western movie star.
I'm watching "The Treasure of Silver Lake" right now. The cinematography is excellent, even though the Croatian locations don't look much like the what we expect in a Western film. They really appear to have spared no expense on the production.
"The Phantom Empire" is probably my favorite movie serial. It's such a strong influence on me that I've referenced Murania as a genuine ancient (and current?) civilization in my stories, and I really want to have my characters visit there, someday. It really helps that there's an entrance to the place located in New Mexico. Heh. Since it will be 1908 or 1909, Queen Tika will be a baby, and we'll have to deal with her mother, Queen Jura.
(To the best of my knowledge, The Phantom Empire, and all characters in it, with the exception of Gene Autry, is/are in the public domain, so I have every right to use them, and build upon the concept. I just felt I had to say that.)
Now as for "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr", I finally got to see it about a year ago. And from my perspective, it's definitely Weird West, but not very steampunk. OK, there's advanced weapons, and speculative fiction elements, but, aside from locomotives, nothing is steam powered! And when they do present a self-propelled vehicle, it's electrical. Three cheers for Tesla, and Edison, but still... it's just not there for me, even though I enjoy the work of Bruce Campbell.
Legend starring Richard Dean Anderson as Nicodemus Legend on the U.P.N. channel from 1995.
Yes, Legend was a good show. I don't think the viewing public was ready for it. And UPN wasn't available in all areas, so that didn't help, either. It looks like some episodes are still available on youtube.
There was a Lone Ranger Saturday morning cartoon series on CBS back in 1966. I remembered watching it, but not much else. I looked it up the other day, and it turns out that it was influenced, to a large extent, by The Wild Wild West. There is "super science", super villains, and all sorts of elements we now call steampunk, or weird west. I didn't remember any of that, at all. There has never been a home video release of any kind for this series, but a lot of episodes are available to see on the net. I've spent the last few days watching them. A bunch can be found at:
I'll warn readers in advance, the quality is poor. These are all taken from old, recorded "off the air", video tapes, which were probably recorded at low speed. But if that doesn't bother you, give it a look-see.