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81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kick-Butt Review and Recap, January 1, 2010
This review is from: Have Gun Will Travel: Season 4, Vol. 1 (DVD)
For anyone not aware, Season Four of HAVE GUN-WILL TRAVEL was the second best season of the series (following the superb Second Season). Frank Pierson was the producer, having recently replaced Sam Rolfe, the creator of the TV western. Rolfe came to blows with Richard Boone and conflict behind the camera led to Rolfe leaving the series and quitting on CBS. Pierson got along VERY well with Boone, allowing the actor to take control of the series (including directing a few episodes). Season Three was mildly weak as a result of Boone's insistence that each episode be filmed in two days instead of three, so he and actor Martin Gabel could play the starring leads in Norman Corwin's THE RIVALRY on Broadway. The season's filming had to conclude early in order for them to appear on schedule. With Season Four, there was no rush-job and each episode was made with care. In fact, at Boone's pleasure, the series became a text book example of how an actor can explore the character he played and you see a number of different sides of Paladin. "Love's Young Dream" is a sequel to a third-season episode, with a pre-Festus Ken Curtis as Monk, applying his real singing voice before the camera. "Out at the Old Ballpark" is perhaps the silliest episode of the series, but the fourth season brings to life some of the best episodes of the series such as "A Head of Hair," "Saturday Night," "The Poker Fiend," "The Marshal's Boy" (which dealt with mental illness, tricky subject matter for the time), the series' only two-part episode "A Quiet Night in Town" which explores a darker side of Paladin and introduces us to Sydney Pollack as an actor before he became a director, "The Princess and the Gunfighter" which was clearly a rip-off of ROMAN HOLIDAY, "El Paso Stage" (with a crooked Buddy Ebsen), and my personal favorite, "Broken Image." (Keep in mind that a couple of these episodes were in the latter half of the fourth season and will appear in volume 2.)

"The Shooting of Jessie May" was the episode that brought William Talman back to Perry Mason. The actor was banned from the courtroom drama as a result of a drug charge, but after his appearance on this episode of HAVE GUN, CBS read the fan mail and reconsidered.

"The Long Way Home," which will probably appear in the second volume of this season, will have my interest. When Columbia House initially released the entire series on 56 VHS videos many years ago, that was the only episode that suffered damage to the original studio archival negative. The damage was during the closing credits but some speculate the closing credits had a mistake and for legal reasons the studio could not include the complete cast. So the closing credits was computerized and not the original closing credits as it aired on TV. My hope is that when this episode appears on DVD, CBS will go back to the original master and not the altered print. No one wants to see an altered version of the closing credits.

This fourth season is a welcome addition to my collection. If anyone wants to know how I know so much about the series, please consult THE HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL COMPANION by Les Rayburn and Martin Grams. The book was not released by a major publishing house, course those companies have no interest in books like these. But it's not only a wealth of information, but gives behind-the-scenes stories and details for each episode. Sydney Pollack recalled how the scene where he smashes Boone's hand was done too real and the actor had to have his hand mended. Betsy-Jones Moreland recalled how she thought she was going to die as a result of the behind-the-scenes parties. Even the musicians recalled working on the series. Lots of stories and memories and recollections. The book is available on (that's where I got my copy) so I recommend you get both and enjoy the fourth season.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 4, 2010 8:33:33 PM PST
I agree. Buy the book and the DVD. Great review R.G. Bright!

Posted on Jan 9, 2010 6:13:40 PM PST
Brian Cole says:
Agreed. The book may not be flawless but I could not live without it. Makes the TV series more fun to watch.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2010 12:30:18 PM PST
smuthdude says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 30, 2010 12:26:28 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 30, 2010 12:33:33 PM PST
I for one am thankful people are appreciative for a book I wrote and if they recommend it to their friends, all the merrier. Whether or not the book went through a major publisher or not has no bearing on the DVD release. The reviewer credited the book as his source for the information in his review. It's up to the customers to decide whether they like the book or not. If it was a "setup pitch aimed at selling copies," I would have posted a review myself. In fact, I will do so.

Posted on Jul 7, 2011 1:01:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 7, 2011 1:02:09 PM PDT
Travis says:
Season four was not the second best season of the series and was not better then Season three.
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