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Wanted: GUNSMOKE (CBS/1955-1975)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by JohnHopper, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. Doug Wallen

    Doug Wallen Lead Actor

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    Since Paramount has stepped up their releases, I have stepped up my viewing of this venerable series. This past week I have watched the first half of Season 9 (18 one-hour episodes). I get the feeling that Chester will soon be leaving Dodge as he appears to be featured in so few episodes. His role seems to be similar to Matt always being away, he has a token scene with Matt, Doc or Kitty and then disappears. Quint doesn't have much to do either and we see Festus twice even though Ken Curtis makes a third appearance as a love 'em and leave 'em cold-blooded manipulator.

    The first half includes the following episodes:
    Kate Heller (9.1) Mabel Albertson, Tom Lowell. A teen tries to impress a saloon girl by committing murder, gets laughed at, shoots Matt as he is going home and then has to nurse him back to health hoping he is not recognized. Great character study of a boy longing to be grown up.

    Lover Boy (9.2) Ken Curtis, Sheree North. Kyle Kelly, a love 'em and leave 'em guy just drifts along until a former scorned lover creates trouble for him. Kyle has a new married girlfriend who suggests setting up her husband. If I had no knowledge of Ken Curtis as Festus, this could have been an exceptional episode. Being very familiar with Festus, the episode just struck me as a bit creepy. His Festus is just so indelibly imprinted over the actor. Still, it did show his range better than Festus ever did. I guess this was interesting for a change of pace.

    Legends Don't Sleep (9.3) William Talman, Scott Marlowe, Hope Summers. A young man searching for a purpose meets one of his childhood heroes (outlaw) and tries to learn from him. World weary performance from Willam Talman just makes this episode. Modern day trope - murder by cop.

    Tobe (9.4) Harry Townes, Mary LaRoche, Philip Abbot. A down on his luck farmer gives up farming and takes a job with Mr. Jonas. Chester introduces Tobe to Hanna (who is on the run from an abusive gambler/former partner). This was the first story focused on Chester this season.

    Easy Come (9.5) Andrew Prine, Carl Reindel. Bespectacled and slight of frame, Elmo Sippy looks like a schoolteacher, but he's a cowboy who likes to gamble. When he arrives in Dodge and loses money to a gambler he knows will kill if he's not paid, Elmo ducks out of the Long Branch and steals the money from the till of the general store. It's his first foray into dishonesty, and he's elated to find it was "easy"--so much easier than being a cowpoke. When a little later he finds it necessary to use violence to get the money he wants, he discovers that killing is easy, too. Soon, the slight man on whom a gun belt looks absurd is a one-man crime wave, killing for the apparent joy of it.

    My Sister's Keeper (9.6) Nancy Wickwire, James Broderick, Jennifer Billingsley. A widower with nothing to live for goes to work for and live on the farm of a widow woman and her sister.

    Quint's Trail (9.7) Everett Sloane, Sharon Farrell, Dan Haggerty, Shirley O'Hara. Starts out as a Chester story and morphs into a Quint story. Quint is hired to escort a family on the first leg of their journey to Oregon. On the way, he learns the reason for their going, a motive that could have repercussions for Quint.

    Carter Caper (9.8) Jeremy Slate, Barney Phillips, Anjanette Comer, William Phipps, Rayford Barnes. A man with a grudge hits upon the perfect revenge when he spreads the word in Dodge that short-tempered Billy is so good with a gun that he shot down the famous gunfighter, Beau Carter.

    Ex-Con (9.9) Jeanne Cooper, John Kellogg, Richard Devon. On his way to Larned, Matt, feverish, spends the night at an abandoned shack. When he wakes up after losing a day, a recently released convict who swore to kill Matt, is himself found against a wall, dead, unarmed, shot twice, and the murder weapon appears to belong to the marshal. A whodunit that Matt has to unravel.

    Extradition Part 1, Part 2 (9.10, 9.11) Gilbert Roland, Gene Evans, Anna Novarro, Alex Montoya, Walter Burke. Matt crosses into Mexico searching for a fugitive felon who killed a friend of his. Was this the first two-parter?

    The Magician (9.12) Brooke Bundy, Lloyd Corrigan, Tom Simcox. A mild old peddler of patent medicines and card tricks arrives in Dodge with his grown daughter, hoping to settle down, but instead they find their worst luck yet, beginning with a card game with a rich man and his spoiled son. Implied rape scene. Nice little tale of what goes around comes around.

    Pa Hack's Brood (9.13) Milton Selzer, George Lindsey, Lynn Loring, James Hampton, Marianna Hill. A repugnant drifter hopes to use his nubile daughter to get his hands on a piece of land.

    The Glory And The Mud (9.14) Kent Smith, Marsha Hunt, James Best, Robert Sorrells. A retired lawman and showman wants only to settle down with the Dodge seamstress he left behind twenty years ago, but a young whippersnapper hopes to make a name for himself by challenging the aging gun to a duel.

    Dry Well (9.15) Ned Glass, Tom Simcox, Karen Sharpe. It's a test of wills when Quint witnesses a murder and the father of one of the prime suspects lowers Quint into a well to try to force him to promise his silence.

    Prarie Wolfer (9.16) Ken Curtis, Noah Beery, Jr., Don Dubbins, Holly McIntire. Ken Curtis appears to be joining the cast as Festus with this one. Festus returns to Dodge from wolfing and is hired by the Cattleman's Association to hunt down the wolves killing everyone's cattle. What he finds is that what's been doing the preying may wind him up in prison if he doesn't get Matt's help.

    Friend (9.17) Tom Reese, Jan Shepard, Ben Wright, Butch Patrick, George Keymas, Ralph Moody. A man carrying a tempting sum of money is attacked from behind by someone who beats him and leaves him for dead. Lucky for the injured man, an old friend of Matt is there to take him in to Doc Adams for mending.

    Once A Haggen (9.18) Slim Pickens, Ken Curtis, Elizabeth MacRae, Kenneth Tobey. Bucko, a close friend of Festus, is accused of murdering a man to whom he lost at poker. When his alibi witness lies out of fear, Bucko is sentenced to hang, and Festus, who'd begun to see the marshal as a friend, vows Bucko won't swing.

    Note: Received Gunsmoke - Season 18 and Gunsmoke - Season 19 in Friday's mail. Come on Season 20.
     
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  2. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    ¶ Next on Gunsmoke season 16, the reviews of the second disc and starting on Monday 10!
    ¶ Load your guns and be ready!


    gun16_menu02.
     
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  3. ClassicTVMan1981X

    ClassicTVMan1981X Screenwriter

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    Me-TV's rerun of "Snow Train (Part 1)" had the unusual sped-up closing credits which faded out before the music could! Thank God the DVD set does not.

    ~Ben
     
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  4. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    Why does the DVD have it right, and the reruns not-- commercials?
     
  5. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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  6. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    GUNSMOKE SEASON 16

    Episode #5
    “Gentry’s Law”
    written by Jack Miller
    directed by Vincent McEveety
    music by Johnny Parker
    guests: John Payne, Louise Latham, Peter Jason, Robert Pine, Shug Fisher, Don Keefer, Darlene Conley, John Flinn, Robert Totten

    An old poor man named Floyd Babcock (actor Don Keefer) accompanied by his dog Fritter wander in the countryside and spots a cow that he guns down when two young riders from the Gentry family notices him doing his illegal act. Colt Gentry (actor Peter Jason) decides to teach him a lesson, ropes him and pretend to hang him by the neck to scare him cold. By accident, Floyd dies of hanging because of the negligence of Ben Gentry (actor Robert Pine). Back at Dodge City, Dillon resumes to his office and informs Doc and Festus he is on his way to investigate the doubtful death of Orly Grimes’ partner in Whiteoak because of his letter. Dillon meets an old friend named Amos Gentry (actor John Payne) and his wife Claire (actress Louise Latham) at their ranch and accepts a coffee. Dillon meets squatter Orly Grimes (actor Shug Fisher) which shows him the burial ground of his partner and figures out that the two sons of Gentry are guilty of the deed. Amos Gentry summons his sons and learns the truth and helps them with an alibi and a hideout. Amos confesses to his wife the predicament of his sons. Dillon resumes to the ranch and asks to talk to the sons but Amos informs him they are out. Dillon continues the search and receives a bullet from scared Colt coming out of the hideout. The sons wait for the stage to Sedalia but …

    It’s an adequate and unremarkable solo Dillon investigation and a family drama based on a hide and seek framework and also centered around a proud father. It make a companion piece to “Stark” because of the same main theme of the family interest first. As in “The Noose”, the film editor executes a fast and flashy intercut montage for the hanging accident during the prologue. Note that director Robert Totten plays a secondary character of a drover that is not part of the main story.

    Actors Shug Fisher (“The Still”), John Flinn (“The Badge”), Peter Jason (“The Judas Goat”), Louise Latham (“Roots of Fear”), Robert Totten (“Hackett”) all return from season 15.

    Actors Robert Pine returns from the season 14 “Lyle’s Kid” and “The Night Riders”, Don Keefer from the season 12 “Champion of the World”.
     
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  7. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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  8. Flashgear

    Flashgear Screenwriter

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    Well, after first being told that my Amazon Canada order for Gunsmoke seasons 18 and 19 would ship late to me, I suddenly received my shipping confirmation that both are on their way and I should have both tomorrow, the street date...we're so close to finishing this epic series on DVD that I can taste the gunsmoke, old leather, Festus' stench, Doc's bad breath and musty old iodine and alcohol rub, the Longbranch Saloon girl's rank old perfume and the Dodge City dust now!
     
  9. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    GUNSMOKE SEASON 16

    Episode #6
    “Snow Train, Part I”
    written by Preston Wood
    directed by Gunnar Hellström
    music by Johnny Parker
    guests: Eddie Applegate, Tim Considine, Pamela Dunlap, Dana Elcar, Roy Engel, Gene Evans, Eddie Firestone, Ron Hayes, Clifton James, Richard Kelton, Doreen Lang, Ken Lynch, John Milford, Anne Seymour, Loretta Swit, Richard Lapp, X Brands


    In the snowy mountains, escaping from the reservation, an army of Sioux prepare the attack of the coming train. Inside the railroad car enroute to Dodge City and returning from a trial in Denver, Festus talks to Doc and Dillon when conductor Lucas (actor Ken Lynch) passes by and stops at the end of the line to fill up the boiler and talks to the various passengers. The Sioux set the ambush on the railroad. The train eventually hits the roadblock and one female passenger named Ada Coleman (actress Pamela Dunlap) is shocked and passes out. Dillon comes out of the train and walks to negociate with the Sioux chiefs. Doc takes care of Ada who waits for a baby. Dillon resumes to the train and explains the meaning of the Sioux’s barricade: they wish to identify the two men who sell them poisoned whiskey that kill three of their people and turns five of their people blind. The train employees execute a clumsy counterattack that fails and leads to the blocking of the other side of the railroad and damages, including a wounded train driver hit by an arrow. Dillon decides to walk to the nearest relay station to telegraph the army but un-armed. Card shark Sam Wickes (actor Clifton James) investigates to identify the two guilty ones amongst the passengers. Festus stages a phoney feud with Floyd Coleman (actor Ron Hayes) while Dillon sneaks into the countryside like a silent fox. Returning from the hunt, three Sioux spot the tracks of running Dillon … To be continued next week …

    It’s a fancy winter train catastrophy entry with Indians and a criminal huit-clos featuring some beautiful train footages running through the snowy mountains and a farewell to producer Joseph Dackow’s train leaning. The ensemble of actors is very good and we can see a collection of picturesque characters: two card sharks and a bride, two dubious young punks, a phoney preacher, a trapper, two old maids, a pregnant woman with her husband and her brother. The train drivers are played by Eddie Firestone and Roy Engel, known as President Grant in The Wild Wild West. In a loose way, the setting foreshadows the Charles Bronson’s 1975 vehicule Breakheart Pass. As in the season 15 DVD edition, there’s a distracting color issue from 30:09 to 32:16 because the color keeps on blinking and turns purple.

    Actress Pamela Dunlap (“Ring of Darkness”) and Loretta Swit (“The Pack Rat”) both return from season 15, Anne Seymour from the season 6 “The Wake”.

    Actors Roy Engel returns from the season 11 “The Raid, Part I”, Gene Evans from the season 13 “The First People”, Eddie Firestone from the season 14 “Lobo”, Clifton James from the season 12 “The Wrong Man”, Ken Lynch from the season 7 “Peerce”.

    Actors X. Brands (“Hawk”), Ron Hayes (“The Judas Gun”), Richard Lapp (“Kiowa”), John Milford (“The Badge”) all return from season 15.

    Breakheart Pass (1975) Trailer

     
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  10. Message #490 of 579 Feb 12, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
    Flashgear

    Flashgear Screenwriter

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    I received my Gunsmoke seasons 18 and 19 yesterday, and watched both season's opening 2 part episodes. These 2 part episodes are real epics with cinematic sweep...with HUNDREDS of extras in their casts!

    Both new releases feature unrestored episodic previews for ALL the episodes. The episodes themselves are, as usual, beautifully remastered. Both seasons have the valuable video bonus feature Ben and Becky talk Gunsmoke, which you can watch first as a primer, if you so desire, as they do not disclose any spoilers. Season 18 includes a 2005 James Arness commentary for Quiet Day in Dodge, ported over from the old 50th anniversary sets. Season 19 also features a newly produced commentary for Women For Sale Part 2, by Gunsmoke historians Jim Byrnes (scriptwriter for this episode) and Ben Costello. Both seasons also have photo galleries.

    Gunsmoke S18,E1 and 2, The River (Sept. 11 and 18, 1972). D: Herb Wallerstein, W: Jack Miller. Guest starring Slim Pickens, Jack Elam, Miriam Colon, Jerry Gatlin...filmed at Grant's Pass and the Rogue River, Oregon...my screen caps from disc one...
    Gunsmoke 13.JPG
    Gunsmoke 16.JPG
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    Gunsmoke 66.JPG
     
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  11. Dan McW

    Dan McW Supporting Actor

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    I'm still in season 17 but skipped ahead to watch "The River" two-parter in all its restored glory. Previously I had only seen it in the TV Land and MeTV versions. Slim Pickens is one of my favorite actors--in "The River," he's constantly shouting re Dillon, "Shoot him! Kill him! Don't let him get away!" Pickens' silhouette is so distinctive that you can easily spot him in the lead during the various shots of his gang riding after Dillon.
     
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  12. Flashgear

    Flashgear Screenwriter

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    Gunsmoke Season 19, Episodes 1 and 2, Women For Sale (Sept. 10 and 17, 1973) D: Vincent McEveety, W: Jim Byrnes. Guest starring James Whitmore, Gregory Sierra, Shanni Wallis, Kathleen Cody, Dawn Lyn, Sally Kemp, Nicholas Hammond...filmed at Coronado and Sonora Arizona...my screen caps from disc one of the new CBS/P DVDs...
    Gunsmoke 67.JPG
    Gunsmoke 87.JPG
    Gunsmoke 69.JPG
    Gunsmoke 90.JPG
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    Gunsmoke 71.JPG
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    Gunsmoke 86.JPG
     
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  13. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    So CBS finally decide to update the DVD menus.​
     
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  14. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    Did the menus really remain the same for almost 20 years' worth of releases?
     
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  15. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    Episode #7
    “Snow Train, Part II”
    written by Preston Wood
    directed by Gunnar Hellström
    music by Johnny Parker
    guests: same cast as Part I


    The episode starts with a trailer from Part I that lasts 7 minutes 47 seconds used a prologue. Dillon continues his crossing while the passengers keep on arguing. Dillon stops by a house and sets a trap to neutralize the three Sioux warriors. Meanwhile at the train, the Sioux removes the chimney of the railroad car, leaving the passengers without heating system when Sam Wickes (actor Clifton James) threatens Festus with his handgun and his partner Clay Foreman (actor John Milford) ties him. Wickes becomes the new leader. Dillon continues his walk and reaches the tiny Oblivion stage depot where the telegrapher gives him a message about the two guilty men selling booze to the Sioux but the lines are dead so Dillon borrows his horse and his winchester. Sam Wickes still investigates amongst the passengers. Dillon unties the three Sioux warriors. The passengers undergo the attack of burning arrows when Dillon resumes and informs the Sioux about the identities of the guilty ones who react …

    It’s a good companion piece to the season 14 “9:12 to Dodge” (also written by Preston Wood). This second part plays like an existential take on the passengers between the examination of conscience and the confession paired with a whodunit in which two groups of people are pointed out but things are not what it appears to be when it comes to the reveal of the guilty ones. Apart from the two booze sellers, two passengers commit a felony by neutralizing an officer of the law (Festus). There’s a distracting color issue because of the day for night process so the snow near the train looks purple. The end credits for the director and writer and the guest actors play while they perform on the train. The standard production end credits features a new music arrangement.
     
  16. Message #496 of 579 Feb 13, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
    Flashgear

    Flashgear Screenwriter

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    These 2 part episodes in these latter Gunsmoke seasons, like Snow Train, are real cinematic epics aren't they John? I marvel at the challenging location filming, and the utilization of hundreds of extras for spectacular effect! From what I've read, the production company arrived at the Black Hills/Custer State Park location and were initially disappointed at the lack of snow onsite, but were saved by a late spring blizzard just in time. And I always look forward to another X Brands sighting!

    Gunnar Hellstrom was a fine director, and Gunsmoke represented his most prolific output as a director, with 33 episodes. He directed another fine 2 parter in the recently released season 19, A Game of Death...An Act of Love...and another pair of 2 parters to come in season 20, The Guns of Cibola Blanca (filmed at Old Tucson) and Island in the Desert (Kanab Utah, Glen Canyon, Lake Powell)...Gunnar Hellstrom also directed 3 episodes of Wild Wild West, season three's Night of the Samurai, Night of the Running Death and S4's Night of the Fugitives, where he apparently was called in to finish director Mike Moder's episode, and was uncredited.

    I also look forward to seeing Gunnar Hellstrom as an actor, although he was only an actor in one Gunsmoke episode, season 13's great episode Dead Man's Law. He was great as one of my favorite Germanic types in shows like Combat!, 12 O'clock High, Jericho, Mission Impossible, Time Tunnel etc., I really like his performance in Combat! season one's I Swear by Apollo as the honorable and principled German Army Doctor, directed by Robert Altman.
     
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  17. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    Agreed all the way!
     
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  18. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    GUNSMOKE SEASON 16

    Episode #8
    “Luke”
    written by Jack Miller
    directed by Bernard McEveety
    music by Leon Klatzkin
    guests: Morgan Woodward, Katherine Justice, Anthony Costello, Rex Holman, Victor Izay


    Two riders named Luke Dangerfield (actor Morgan Woodward) and Austin Keep (actor Anthony Costello) stop by a clearing to unwind while a hidden bounty hunter named Moses Reedy (actor Rex Holman) observes them at a remote distance with his winchester and eventually hits twice old Luke. At night and after a six hours ride, young Austin brings Luke back to the Dodge House. Wounded Luke asks Austin to summon Cathy Allen, his daughter, that is supposed to be a schoolteacher. At the Bull’s Head, Austin learns from saloon girl Doris Prebble (actress Katherine Justice) that Cathy used to be a saloon girl that died years ago. Desperate Austin pays $25 Doris to pretend to be Cathy. Old Luke gives her a present of $300 and Austin is jealous and forces her to take care of the old man. Austin eventually goes fetch Doc and Dillon. Newly watches the room while Austin stays in the cell of the marshal’s office. Luke asks Doris to double-check the farm of his wife that is now a ruin. Bounty hunter Reedy arrives at Dodge City and claims the money to Newly when Austin notices him and provokes him at the Long Branch. Doris confesses her identity to Luke and what happens to Cathy. Austin resumes to Luke’s room, fires Doris and states his plan concerning the killing of the bounty hunter. To prevent the fatal showdown, Luke threatens Festus with a handgun, comes out of his room and intervenes …

    It’s an adequate twisted intimistic entry that includes a sordid family simulacrum paired with a bounty hunter backdrop. The main interest is the conflictual relation between Austin and Doris.

    Actors Morgan Woodward (“Stryker”, “Hackett”), Katherine Justice (“A Matter of Honor”), Rex Holman (“Ring of Darkness”) all return from season 15.

    Actor Victor Izay returns from the season 12 “The Wrong Man”.
     
  19. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    ¶ Next on Gunsmoke season 16, the reviews of the third disc and starting on Monday 17!
    ¶ Load your guns and be ready!


    gun16_menu03.
     
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  20. JohnHopper

    JohnHopper Screenwriter

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    GUNSMOKE SEASON 16

    Episode #9
    “The Gun”
    written by Donald S. Sanford
    directed by Bernard McEveety
    music by Leon Klatzkin
    guests: Kevin Coughlin, L.Q. Jones, Patricia Morrow, Sam Melville, Ken Mayer, Stanley Clements, Robert Phillips, Jack Garner, Eric Chase, Jon Jason Mantley, Marie Mantley


    At night and at the Long Branch, young man Randy Gogan (actor Kevin Coughlin) is reading a magazine called The Outlaw of Hangman’s Gulch when barkeep Sam invites him to leave because it’s closing time. Once outside, Randy notices a mysterious rider in the back alley that reacts so he rushes to a shack next to the freight office where a collection of wanted posters and magazines about outlaws are stored. Randy finally spots the file of the rider: gunfighter Vance Jessop (actor Robert Phillips) who enters his home, scares him off and tries to gun him down silently with a pillow but Randy leaves in a hurry in the next room of the freight office and gets a handgun and waits for his arrival and then pulls the trigger when Dillon and Festus step into. The morning after, Randy is celebrated as a hero and Nathan Burke reads a citation from the president of the freight office. Enter Texan gunman Wade Pasco (actor Sam Melville). Meanwhile, Burke introduces St. Louis journalist Sumner Pendleton (actor L.Q. Jones) to Randy but Pendleton manipulates the young man to rewrite the story of the killing of Vance Jessop. Naive Randy gets bribed against $100. At the counter of the Long Branch, customers deal with Randy’s exploit in front of bitter Wade Pasco. At Newly’s gunsmith shop, Randy buys the handgun of Jessop. Pendleton trains Randy at the craft of the fast draw for the Saturday contest called Turkey Shoot. The big day arrives and Randy wins against Pasco. Pendleton now plans to organize a dubious lethal showdown between Randy and Pasco and brings back an audience of reporters …

    It’s a good boyish variation on the reluctant hero theme from the season 10 “The Pariah” (written by executive story consultant Calvin Clements) combined with the sub theme of the manipulative news media power through the figure of the shady journalist acting as a cheap businessman. The prologue is very good and my favorite scene remains: Dillon slapping sleazy journalist Pendleton. The only weakness of the episode is the contrived relationship between Randy and his girlfriend because she looks like his big sister. It’s turkey shoot time at Dodge City. One funny moment to notice: Festus is so gourmand that he competes against little kids in the pie-eating contest. Jon Jason Mantley and Marie Mantley are the children of Gunsmoke executive producer John Mantley. Actor Robert Phillips appears four times on The Wild Wild West and five times on Mission: Impossible including the two-part episode “The Contender” guest starring Robert Conrad.

    Actors Kevin Coughlin (“Coreyville”), Jack Garner (“Morgan”), L.Q. Jones (“Albert”), Ken Mayer (“The Cage”), Sam Melville (“The War Priest”) all return from season 15.

    Actor Stanley Clements from the season 14 (“The Mark of Cain”).
     

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