Most under-40s have never heard of Chuck Connors nor The Rifleman. Connors was a nice, well-liked guy who started out as an athlete (basketball, baseball) and then lucked into an acting career. He wasn’t anyone’s idea of a gifted thespian but he did well enough as Lucas McCain and in various supporting roles in the ’60s and ’70s. On the other hand Connors was close to great in one scene in William Wyler‘s The Big Country (’58), playing a cowardly lowlife who gets plugged by his own father (Burl Ives) at the finale. This is a father & son scene for the ages — anger, revulsion and contempt melting into love and ache during the last seconds of life. Connor’s sole moment of acting glory reminds me of a line from Jean Anouilh‘s Becket in which Richard Burton describes a peasant: “At 20 before he lost his teeth and took on that ageless look the common people have he may have been handsome, he may have had one night of love, one moment when he was a king and shed his fears.” This scene is also one of Burl Ives‘ best, and is probably the main reason why he won 1959’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar.