3 Stars

INTRODUCTION
Well, Rawhide is over now, farewell Gil, Rowdy, Wish, San Anton, Abilene, Sedalia …
so I’m about to switch horses and head to Dodge City (Kansas), to meet Marshal Matt Dillon,
in short, friends, I’m going to review season 11 of Gunsmoke!

GUNSMOKE • SEASON 11 (1965-1966) (32 episodes • 50 mins • b&w)
This… is the last season in black and white and the first season with the updated style (new opening titles, new end titles, new leaning) that is a departure from the format of the 1950’s originators (i.e., producer Norman MacDonnell and music director Herschel Burke Gilbert) paving the way for the decade to come and with less episodes (32 against the previous 36). The men behind that new Gunsmoke are a tandem of producers and the new head of the music department named Morton Stevens who supervises and conducts the majority of scores at CBS. Morton Stevens is known as the music theme creator of the cop series Hawaii Five-O and will contribute to ‘this’ season 11 (two scores: “Seven Hours to Dawn” and “Malachi”) as well as other CBS household names like Fred Steiner, Richard Shores and Harry Geller—the last two are very active on The Wild Wild West—and the legendary Golden Age artist Franz Waxman.

This season sees some interesting directors: Joseph Sargent, Mark Rydell, B-movies Tay Garnett and even actor Peter Graves aka the brother of James Arness or aka IMF agent Jim Phelps. Furthermore, the best director that dominates the season remains Vincent McEveety, the brother of director Bernard McEveety. Meanwhile, another western series ended: Rawhide, during its eighth season. The 1965-1966 interval was a ‘key’ crossroad for television dramas because three monochromatic western series were produced during that short period: GunsmokeRawhideThe Wild Wild West *.

* The pilot was produced early 1965 under the previous regime at CBS and the series failed to be canceled
and had a chaotic initial season with five unstable producers (Michael Garrison, Collier Young, Fred Freiberger,
John Mantley, Gene L. Coon).

PRODUCTION TEAM
producer: Philip Leacock
associate producer: John Mantley
story consultant: Paul Savage
director of photography: Harry Stradling Jr.

British-born producer Philip Leacock partly started on Gunsmoke from season 10 as a second or replacement producer—but in the line of pioneer Norman MacDonnell—and will manage back-to-back seven season 1 episodes of The Wild Wild West during the 1965-1966 time period and later twenty episodes of Cimarron Strip (1967-1968) but as executive producer.

Canadian-born associate producer John Mantley used to be a story consultant during season 10, replace Philip Leacock as producer at the end of that particular season 11 and from season 14 will become a simple executive producer. But while working on Gunsmoke, he achieves seven season 1 episodes of The Wild Wild West as a full-time producer helped by the same Philip Leacock. Find Mantley’s episodes list: “The Night of the Howling Light”, “The Night of the Steel Assassin”, “The Night the Dragon Screamed”, “The Night of the Grand Emir”, “The Night of the Flaming Ghost”, “The Night of the Whirring Death”, “The Night of the Puppeteer”.

Story consultant Paul Savage takes over from episode 21 of season 11 until season 14 but used to be a writer on Gunsmoke from season 8.

Son of the famous Golden Age cinematographer of the same name with a heavy 50 years output, Harry Stradling Jr. partly started during season 10 under the previous regime on Gunsmoke and will quit early season 13 and work later on another CBS western series entitled Cimarron Strip and participate at some big Seventies films like There Was a Crooked Man…Little Big ManThe Man Who Loved Cat DancingBite the Bullet, to name but a few.

CAST OF CHARACTERS
regular cast: James Arness (US Marshal Matthew “Matt” Dillon), Ken Curtis (Marshal assistant “Festus” Haggen), Milburn Stone (“Doc” Adams), Amanda Blake (Miss “Kitty” Russell), Roger Ewing (Deputy Thaddeus “Thad” Greenwood).

supporting cast: Glenn Strange (Bartender “Sam” Noonan), Charles Seel (Telegrapher “Barney” Danches), Hank Patterson (Livery stable owner “Hank”), Howard Culver (Dodge House hotel clerk “Howie”), Rudy Sooter (Bartender and guitar player “Rudy”), Olan Soule (Barber “Bert”), Roy Roberts (Banker Harry Botkin).

A new semi regular pops-up this season named Thad played by Roger Ewing from episode 3 “Clayton Thaddeus Greenwood”—Thad could easily be the nephew of Matt Dillon, by the way.

The strength of season 11 is the colorful guest actors that add weight to the story: see John Anderson, Joe Don Baker, John Drew Barrymore, Neville Brand, Beau Bridges, Jim Davis, Bruce Dern, Jack Elam, James Gregory, Steve Ihnat, Robert Lansing, Gary Lockwood, Darren McGavin, Leonard Nimoy, Simon Oakland, Warren Oates, Nehemiah Persoff, John Saxon, Tom Skerritt, Lee Van Cleef, James Whitmore.

WHY SEASON 11?
“So with the shift to the hour format, Gunsmoke became a quasi-anthology series, with many more episodes built around other characters living or passing through Dodge City.”
—Stuart Galbraith IV

“The switch to the hour format did make room for richer character development and a greater sense of a larger Dodge City community, a bustling populace of three-dimensional characters.”
—Stuart Galbraith IV

THE DVD SETS
The prints are restored and look wonderful and the picture quality highlights the cinematography of
Harry Stradling Jr. It features English subtitles.

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Kevin Collins

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JohnHopper

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Find the new line of Gunsmoke during season 11.

1. The New Showdown Main Titles

Matt Dillon’s handgun and Matt Dillon faces a gunslinger.
gunsmoke11_01.jpg
gunsmoke11_02.jpg

Matt Dillon’s face and the first use of the series logo.


2. The New Opening Titles


The second use of the series logo.
gunsmoke11_03.jpg

gunsmoke11_04.jpg

The first credits for James Arness.


3. The New End Titles


Matt Dillon’s handgun used a background for the producer credits.
gunsmoke11_05.jpg


Matt Dillon’s hanged hat used a background for the third use of the series logo.
gunsmoke11_06.jpg


Matt Dillon’s hanged hat used a background for the second credits of James Arness.
gunsmoke11_07.jpg


Matt Dillon’s office winchesters used a background for the associate producer credits.
gunsmoke11_08.jpg


Matt Dillon’s office winchesters used a background for the cinematographer credits.

gunsmoke11_09.jpg
 

bmasters9

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Find the new line of Gunsmoke during season 11.

1. The New Showdown Main Titles

Matt Dillon’s handgun and Matt Dillon faces a gunslinger.
View attachment 54821 View attachment 54822
Matt Dillon’s face and the first use of the series logo.


2. The New Opening Titles


The second use of the series logo.
View attachment 54823
View attachment 54824

The first credits for James Arness.


3. The New End Titles


Matt Dillon’s handgun used a background for the producer credits.
View attachment 54825

Matt Dillon’s hanged hat used a background for the third use of the series logo.
View attachment 54826

Matt Dillon’s hanged hat used a background for the second credits of James Arness.
View attachment 54827

Matt Dillon’s office winchesters used a background for the associate producer credits.
View attachment 54828

Matt Dillon’s office winchesters used a background for the cinematographer credits.

View attachment 54829
Another marvelous example of CBS' remastering-- looks splendid on DVD!
 

Neil Brock

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I just remember how in the 1980s, finding episodes of the black and white hours was a big deal. There were 2 syndication packages, the 6 seasons of half hours and the color hours, and the black and white hours were not available. I believe that Encore Westerns was the first time they had aired since their original CBS run.
 

Bert Greene

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I just remember how in the 1980s, finding episodes of the black and white hours was a big deal. There were 2 syndication packages, the 6 seasons of half hours and the color hours, and the black and white hours were not available. I believe that Encore Westerns was the first time they had aired since their original CBS run.
Actually, when CBN had its Saturday afternoon western line-up, they did run the hour-long b&w "Gunsmoke" in 1986-87. But I don't think they got too far along into them, airing one episode per week. It might have just been the 1961-63 seasons that got shown. I'm not sure. I taped a few of them, back then. Prints were decent, but looked a bit 16mm-ish as I recall. Not as good as the Encore Westerns prints.
 
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John Karras

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Actually, when CBN had its Saturday afternoon western line-up, they did run the hour-long b&w "Gunsmoke" in 1986-87. But I don't think they got too far along into them, airing one episode per week. It might have just been the 1961-63 seasons that got shown. I'm not sure. I taped a few of them, back then. Prints were decent, but looked a bit 16mm-ish as I recall. Not as good as the Encore Westerns prints.
The CBN run was selected episodes from each of the b/w one-hour seasons. The did use 16mm prints, but the shows were cut to about 46:30.
 

ClassicTVMan1981X

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The same cards appear in the first and monochrome season of The Wild Wild West.
The last one also appeared on episode 1 of Hogan's Heroes, as well as on...
The Millionaire
The Honeymooners
The Twilight Zone
(1959 TV series)
Seasons 1-5 of The Andy Griffith Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show

Seasons 1-3 of The Beverly Hillbillies
Seasons 1-2 of Petticoat Junction
Season 1 of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

~Ben
 
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JohnHopper

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GUNSMOKE SEASON 11

Episode #1
“Seven Hours to Dawn”
written by Clyde Ware
directed by Vincent McEveety
music by Morton Stevens
guests: John Drew Barrymore, Michael Vandever, Al Lettieri, Allen Jaffe, Morgan Woodward, Jerry Douglas, Johnny Seven

“Don’t touch those guns, Marshal. If you do, I’m gonna have to open up the other world for you”.
—Mace Gore (actor John Drew Barrymore)


During a whole night, Dodge City is taken over by an army of robbers dressed as cow punchers and acting as putschists led by Mace Gore (actor John Drew Barrymore) who isolates and blocks the town and confiscates all guns. They order the population to give them their valuables: silver, money, jewelry, wedding rings. The headquarters of the robbers is at the Long Branch—the saloon of Miss Kitty—where they count the loot and store the weapons. But the robbers let their impulses loose like mad dogs and abuse people and in the course of the actions, they even gun down Marshal Dillon! In order to keep the gang in Dodge for the army to pick them up, Festus creates a phony story of a gold shipment coming from the train.

It’s a strong season opener and a tough military coup-like episode in which murdering outlaws rob the population of Dodge City: a must-watch that is served by the low-key cinematography. The dark music score by Morton Stevens reinforces the martial nature of the criminals’ MO. The cast of bandit characters (Michael Vandever as Raider, Al Lettieri as Smitty, Morgan Woodward as Deeks, Jerry Douglas as Clark, Johnny Sevens as Barens) is really good and especially, John Drew Barrymore as leader Mace Gore. Miss Kitty fails to be raped by bandit Barens and Matt Dillon fails to be beaten up by a bunch of dark alley rapers. After the shooting of Matt Dillon, the townspeople are frozen as statues in the middle of the street. Both writer Clyde Ware and director Vincent McEveety work on Rawhide during its season 7.

Actor John Drew Barrymore returns from the season 10 “One Killer on Ice” and also work on Rawhide during season 1 (“Incident of the Haunted Hills”), season 7 (“Corporal Dasovik”) and season 8 (“Ride a Crooked Mile”) and on the first season (“The Night of the Double-Edged Knife”) of The Wild Wild West. Actor Morgan Woodward returns from the season 3 “Potato Road”, Johnny Seven from the season 7 “Nina’s Revenge”, Allen Jaffe from the season 10 “Winner Take All”. Actor Al Lettieri appears in one season 7 episode (“The Meeting”) of Rawhide dealing with gangsters.

Absolutely recommended! For the friends of Sam Peckinpah’s films!




Mace Gore and his two henchmen threaten Matt Dillon.
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Mace Gore and his two henchmen inside the marshal’s office.
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Mace Gore and his two henchmen fire to warn his men and to corner Matt Dillon.
seven_03.jpg

End credits for CBS composer Morton Stevens.
seven_04.jpg
 
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JohnHopper

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GUNSMOKE SEASON 11

Episode #2
“The Storm”
written by Paul Savage
directed by Joseph Sargent
music by Leon Klatzkin
guests: Forrest Tucker, Willard Sage, Tim McIntire, Richard Evans, Kelly Thordsen, Stuart Margolin

Two youngsters named Ab (actor Richard Evans) and Claude (actor Tim McIntire) from a farmer family kill a drunk buff hides trader named Cantwell (actor Willard Sage) in a back alley and one innocent named Woodley (actor Kelly Thordsen) is sentenced to death instead. One of the two young men feel guilty and sinks his conscience into whiskey and provokes a saloon customer that guns him down cold and makes his final confession. Matt Dillon goes picks up the other brother at the home of his friend (actor Forrest Tucker) during a storm. But things take another turn …

It’s a decent Film Noir and family drama about a murder at night that degenerates that is supported by the tense score of Leon Klatzkin. Matt Dillon is again wounded. Don’t miss Festus performing a song at the saloon The Long Branch, accompanied by the bartender Rudy (actor Rudy Sooter) at the guitar who is a real country music musician, by the way. Composer Leon Klatzkin previously worked on Rawhide (season 5 and 6) and will let one onscreen credits during one third season episode (“The Night of the Falcon”) of The Wild Wild West which will happen to be just stock music.

Actor Forrest Tucker returns from the season 10 “Double Entry”, Willard Sage from the season 10 “Chief Joseph” and Kelly Thordsen from the season 3 “Mavis McCloud”.


End credits for CBS composer Leon Klatzkin.
klatzkin.jpg
 

JohnHopper

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“Seven Hours to Dawn” is the first of the two masterpieces of season 11. It's a must-watch.
To give you an idea about the (wild) leaning of season 11, the first sentence that the guest character say is:
“Don’t touch those guns, Marshal. If you do, I’m gonna have to open up the other world for you”.
—Mace Gore (actor John Drew Barrymore)
 
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GUNSMOKE SEASON 11

Episode #3
“Clayton Thaddeus Greenwood”
written by Calvin Clements, Sr.
directed by Joseph Sargent
music by Richard Shores
guests: Jack Elam, Sherwood Price, Robert Sorrells, Allen Jeffe, Paul Fix, Roger Ewing

Four wild drovers led by Sam Band (actor Jack Elam) terrorize owner of a general store John Greenwood (actor Paul Fix) working as a sheriff and his son Thaddeus (actor Roger Ewing) working as a deputy for a very small town in Oklahoma that Sam Band humiliates and calls “plowboy”. Thad goes after the four drovers and meets Matt Dillon and Festus. His father has a stroke and dies. Thad heads to The Long Branch at Dodge City, Kansas. Unable to pick them up in that state, he keeps on watching them in a silent way as an ironic harbinger of death and wait for … The drovers are crooked and simulate a wolf threat issue thanks to three German shepherds.

It’s a nice revengist drama and a good introduction to the character of Thad who is eventually hired by Matt Dillon but the sherry on top is the performance of actor Jack Elam as the nasty heavy. The four drovers are played by Jack Elam, Sherwood Price, Robert Sorrells, Allen Jeffe. Don’t miss the fight scene between Thad and the drovers at Delmonico’s accompanied by Richard Shores’ vivid music. Two bartenders play music at the Long Branch: Sam at the fiddle and Rudy at the guitar. After Morton Stevens, this is the second composer working on The Wild Wild West but also lets two scores on Rawhide. For the record, Shores will write music during the four seasons of The Wild Wild West.

Actor Jack Elam is a recurring guest on Gunsmoke and returns from the season 10 “Help Me, Kitty” and appears on both Rawhide and The Wild Wild West (see the season 3 “The Night of Montezuma’s Hordes”). Actor Roger Ewing returns from the season 10 “Song for Dying” as a different character, Allen Jeffe from this season “Seven Hours to Dawn”, Paul Fix from the season 9 “The Other Half”, Robert Sorrells from the season 10 “Breckinridge”.


End credits for CBS composer Richard Shores.
shores.jpg
 

JohnHopper

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GUNSMOKE SEASON 11

Episode #4
“Ten Little Indians”
written by George Eckstein
directed by Mark Rydell
music by Fred Steiner
guests: Nehemiah Persoff, Rafael Campos, Zalman King, Bruce Dern, Warren Oates, John Marley, Nina Roman, Stanja Lowe, Don Ross

Out of the blue, Matt Dillon faces individually five gunslingers (Miguel Samando, Billy Coe, Doyle Phleger, Al Tresh, Jack Pinto) who try to kill him for $25,000, including an old friend and a retired sheriff. But things are not what they appear to be … It’s a frame to eliminate five guilty men out of ten conceived by a ruined and revengist rancher named Ben Pringle (actor John Marley).

It’s a good gunfighters episode thanks to director Mark Rydell and a singular twisted rework of Agatha Christie’s novel Ten Little Indians adapted to the series mold—two years later, the plot was redone in the episode “The Superlative Seven” from the British espionage series The Avengers. The ensemble of actors’ performances are very good: the picturesque professional hired guns (Bruce Dern as Doyle Phleger, Warren Oates as Al Tresh), the rancher acting as a sneaky observer (John Marley as Ben Pringle) and the two-faced former sheriff (Nehemiah Persoff as Jack Pinto). The sherry on top is to witness Festus and Al Tresh having fun at the Long Branch! The cue that highlights the final showdown is written like “King Nine Will Not Return” from The Twilight Zone. After Morton Stevens and Richard Shores, find the third composer working on The Wild Wild West (see the season 3 “The Night of the Undead”) but also participated at Rawhide.

This is the first part of both actors Nehemiah Persoff and Bruce Dern on Gunsmoke and Persoff guests in both Rawhide and The Wild Wild West. Actor Warren Oates is a recurring guest on the show and returns from the season 10 “Circus Trick”.


End credits for CBS composer Fred Steiner.
steiner.jpg