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Gunsmoke: A Complete History Hardcover – April 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland; 1st edition (April 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899504183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899504186
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Extraordinary...superb...highly recommended" -- Classic Images

"Valuable...excellent" -- Choice

"definitive" -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"incredible...absolutely fabulous" -- The TV Collector

"outdoes anything I've ever seen" --Big Reel

"Most impressive...a must." --Movie Collector's World

"Ultimate reference...highly recommended." --Westerns and Serials

About the Author

SuzAnne Barabas and Gabor Barabas live in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 93 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you are a serious fan of the TV series or a serious fan of the history of television in particular and pop culture in general, then Gunsmoke: A Complete History is a must addition to your library. Be forewarned, however, this is not a book about celebrity, gossip, speculation, but a work of scholarship whose primary aim is to elucidate the creative processes which went into keeping not only the quality but the popularity of the Gunsmoke fiction alive for over 20 years on radio and TV.
Perhaps the biggest mystery about Gunsmoke begins and ends with the questions: how and why did it last so long. Within these pages are some of the answers. We learn what John Meson and Norman MacDonnell did not want in a western when they sat down to create the characters of Matt, Kitty, Chester and Doc, and from those beginnings we are given entrée into the genesis of thought which was to make the show not only just "different" but truly unique-in a genre which was to become so hyper-prevalent that by the early 60's the average TV viewer could have drowned in horse puckey.
The story of Gunsmoke ultimately became the Tale of Two Genres-Radio and Television. While initially many of the TV episodes were adapted from the radio scripts, there are large differences not only in terms of character interpretation by the two sets of actors but also in terms of what we were allowed to hear on radio but not see on TV. This book not only illustrates those differences and the reasons for them but also grants us entrée into the actors' interpretations of how they saw their characters-and the relationships between and among those same characters.
One of the maxims of biological evolution is "adapt or die.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 1997
Format: Hardcover
There isn't anything left out of this tome for those who love the Gunsmoke series. Be it William Conrad on radio or James Arness on TV, this book gives you everything you'd like to know or relive about these special citizens of Dodge City. With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to find reruns to arrest the cravings arising from Gunsmoke addiction. On those cold, rainy afternoons you can tuck yourself away within these pages and re-experience any of your favorite episodes. For the true lover of the series, it's a high you'll never exceed. One caution: the book is pricey and if you haven't accumulated the series knowledge through TV or radio, it isn't likely that these pages alone will bring you to climax and justify the cost. But if you experienced Gunsmoke firsthand, the cost is minuscule to the pleasure you'll ignite. Better yet, tell your family that you'd love it for a gift. That's what I did!!!
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By HarryChrishop-CPC on September 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I can't tell you how often during a random month I peruse this book, whether it's to check an episode title, a guest star, pit a radio episode against it's television version, or just look at the pages of photographs. I keep it at my desk, well within reach, it's become so handy. This program ran for 20 years on television and 6 on radio, and finally, here is a book that does this 'grandaddy of westerns' justice. An incredible compilation. Not only does it have an extensive radio commentary and review, impeccably researched, it celebrates and pays homage to the longest running television drama series ever. Interviews with the surviving primary cast members, James Arness, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis and Buck Taylor, it also has anecdotes from guest stars (many who's career was jump-started by an role in an episode of Gunsmoke), producers, directors, writers, and anyone else who was involved with this highly successful program. Photographs, anecdotes, behind-the-scenes tidbits, fond remembrances and a synopsis for each and every radio and television episode shown is included, along with an extensive index . Pricey, it's strictly for the die hard fan.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morrisette on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I never thought I'd ever pay $85 for a book, but this book is worth every penny to anyone who is interested in the Gunsmoke radio and TV show characters and stories. The 836 page book is divided into sections about Gunsmoke history, photos of the cast and supporting crew, episode descriptions, and several appendices. The TV series ran from 1955 to 1975. Reruns are still shown on TVland.

The history tells why they didn't use the radio actors for the TV series and how James Arness was selected to play Matt Dillion. I was surprised to learn that Denver Pyle was a strong candidate for the job.

Among the 126 pictures are Milburn Stone (Doc) when was the bad guy in over 100 B Westerns, Sam the bartender when he played in monster and cowboy movies, photos of guest stars like Charles Bronson, Mariette Hartley, Alex Cord, Loretta Swit, Robert Lansing, Michael Learned, Anne Francis, Ed Asner, George Kennedy, Cloris Leachman, Harry Carey Jr., Katharine Ross, Forrest Tucker, Warren Oates, John Saxon, Bruce Durn, Bette Davis, Gilbert Roland, Lee J. Cobb, Andy Devine, Ralph Bellamy, Jack Elam, Pat Hingle, Gary Busey, Rory Calhoun, and many others. Appendix G lists 14 pages of actors who were on Gunsmoke TV. Appendix A lists 8 pages of famous quotes from Gunsmoke characters. The Gunsmoke history includes 41 pages of interesting reflections by Gunsmoke guest stars and crew.

The TV episode descriptions list the title, date, rerun date, production number, synopsis of plot, and cast members.

There is only a brief mention of a few women in Matt's life besides Kitty. I would have liked to see a brief mention of all the episodes when a woman tried to get herself involved with Matt.

The 44 page index is complete and well done.
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