MontanaPBS to screen new C.M. Russell documentary

MontanaPBS will screen a new documentary about Montana’s cowboy artist Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) in seven locations across Montana in September and October.
“C.M. Russell and the American West” is the first major film exploration of Russell’s life, art, writings and enduring legacy. The film tells Russell’s story through interviews with scholars, biographers and experts, along with archival photographs, film, actor-voiced writings and recollections of Russell by his wife, Nancy, friends and fellow cowboys.
The documentary will reintroduce Russell to a 21st-century audience and affirm his standing as a major American artist.
The film suggests that Montanans’ lasting affection for Russell comes from his ability to show Montanans what they remembered, or wanted to remember, about the land and the history they shared. In the documentary Russell biographer John Taliaferro said Russell was successful, and revered, because he was genuine.
“Charlie Russell lamented the loss of a West that has passed,” Taliaferro said, “but then went on to convince us and convince himself that that West, that mythic West, had been quite real. And the way he was able to convince us really was because he was so authentic himself.”
The documentary will premiere in Great Falls on Sept. 9. Following the premiere, free film screenings will be held throughout the state. The Billings’ showing will be Saturday, Sept. 30, at 6 p.m. at the Babcock Theater.
The statewide MontanaPBS broadcast of “C.M. Russell and the American West” will be presented in three parts at 8 p.m. tMonday through Wednesday, Nov. 13-15.
Four well-known film and television actors lent their voice talent to the project: Academy Award-winner and University of Montana alumnus J.K. Simmons is the narrator; Montana resident Bill Pullman (“Sinners,” “Independence Day”) voices the writings and reminiscences of Russell; Kathy Baker (“The Right Stuff,” “Picket Fences”) is Nancy Cooper Russell; and popular supporting actor Dylan Baker (“The Good Wife,” “The Americans,” “Spiderman 2” and “Spiderman 3”) is the voice of Russell’s friend and protégé Joe De Yong.
The six film screenings are sponsored by Thrivent Financial. For more information call 406-994-3437 or visit
MontanaPBS is a statewide collaborative public television service of UM and Montana State University.


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