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Gunsmoke: Season 1

4.8 out of 5 stars 269 customer reviews

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(Jul 17, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Marshall Matt Dillon is responsible for keeping the law and respectability in Dodge City in this western action-drama. Gunsmoke captured the courage, character and spirit of the Western Frontier.


A TV series doesn't get a more auspicious launch than did Gunsmoke, the first episode of which, broadcast on Sept. 10, 1955, was introduced by none other than John Wayne ("Some of you may have seen me before"). In this historic prologue (included in this first-season round-up), Wayne hypes Gunsmoke as "honest, adult, and realistic." Of James Arness, starring as United States Marshal Matt Dillon, Wayne predicts, "He'll be a big star, so you might as well get used to him." Viewers did more than get used to him. "Mr. Dillon," as his sidekick Chester (Dennis Weaver) calls him, became a television icon who literally stood tall as a steadfast, incorruptible symbol of justice through two of America's most tumultuous decades. The Bravo network ranked him among TV's 50 greatest characters. Gunsmoke was television's longest running Western, and Arness's 20-year stint as Dillon would be matched only by Kelsey Grammer's Frasier Crane (and, by the way, Milburn Stone, who costarred with Arness as crusty, "vinegar face" Doc Adams).

For those who grew up with Gunsmoke's full-hour color episodes, this first season will be something of a revelation. The show is in black and white, and, at a half-hour, lean and gritty. Not that Dodge City is Deadwood, by any means, but its reputation as "the Gomorrah of the plains," as Dillon notes in the first episode, is well earned. Most episodes begin with Dillon setting the stage, Dragnet-style, like a frontier Joe Friday. "A man will choose his gun quicker to make a point than he'll draw on his logic," he ruminates at one point. "That's where I come in." Gunsmoke has its share of shootouts and traditional Western action, but the best episodes are gripping psychological dramas. In "Reward for Matt," the embittered widow of a racist Dillon was forced to gun down puts a price on his head. In "The Killer," Dillon exposes a gunslinger (guest star Charles Bronson) for the coward he is. Even an otherwise light-hearted holiday episode, "Magnus," in which Chester's backwards, backwoods brother comes to visit, is darkened by a twisted man gunning for "wicked" dance hall woman Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), queen of the Longbranch saloon (and a close friend of the marshal—just how close is only hinted at). John Wayne was right: More than 50 years later, Gunsmoke remains "the best thing of its kind to come along." --Donald Liebenson

Beyond Gunsmoke

More TV Westerns

50th Anniversary Collection

Director’s Collection

Stills from Gunsmoke: The First Season (click for larger image)

Special Features

  • All 39 episodes from the 1955-1956 season on 6 discs

Product Details

  • Actors: James Arness, Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: July 17, 2007
  • Run Time: 1051 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PHX5KU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,588 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gunsmoke: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Hornaday on April 27, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I applaud this release of the entire first season of Gunsmoke on DVD, and hope the remainder of the best TV western ever made will also be released.

Gunsmoke, the longest running western in TV history (or TV drama for that matter at 20 years and 635 episodes), is complex and textured, dealing with mature themes and unforgettable characters that became part of our culture. It was billed as the first `adult western.'

I grew up watching the series, which debuted in 1955 as a half-hour black and white show then progressed to an hour in its seventh season, and began being produced in color in 1966.

The original opening depicted the Marshall in a fast-draw gunfight against a villain he killed, but this was toned down years later after groups complained of violence. As a result, rather than seeing the villain fall dead, the camera instead stayed only on Dillon as he drew his `peacemaker.' In the 70's, the opening eliminated the gunfight altogether and depicted Dillon riding quickly across the range. In the 1960's, early episodes of the series were rebroadcast as `Marshall Dillon.'

The much-honored and beloved show went off the air in 1975. Thirty-nine glorious black and white half-hour shows comprise this incredible set.

Few need to be told what his western depicted: It's the story of Marshall Matt Dillon (played to perfection by James Arness) who tamed the lawless Dodge City, Kansas, in 1873. He did so not only with his six-shooter but with his courage, sense of honor, justice and irreproachable integrity behind the badge.

A radio show predated the TV series and aired from 1952 to 1961. The radio Marshall was voiced by William Conrad (who later portrayed the lead role of the portly private investigator `Cannon' in the 1970's.
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Format: DVD
After waiting so many years and being teased by three compliation releases, Gunsmoke is finally being released on DVD in a complete season package.

By releasing the first season of the show on DVD, Gunsmoke is finally being accorded the honor due it but first given to many other shows who didn't last as long and/or weren't nearly as good. The show didn't last 20 years without capturing the imaginations of a lot of viewers. Back in 1955, CBS thought viewers were ready to see an adult Western - one that was not created and written for kids, but one that intended to tap into the large audiences that were rushing to theaters to see Gary Cooper, James Stewart, John Wayne, and Henry Fonda on the prairie.

Casting Wayne protege James Arness as Dodge City, Kansas US Marshal Matt Dillon, Gunsmoke set the stage for all of the great television Westerns that came after it, like Bonanza, The Rifleman, Cheyenne, and others. First, the hero or heroes were stalwart, salt-of-the earth types that resonated humanity and virtuosity, like Arness' Dillon (and also set the stage for very tall leading men like Chuck Connors of The Rifleman and Clint Walker's Cheyenne Bodie). Next, stock the show with a spectacular supporting cast - Milburn Stone as Doc, Amanda Blake as Kitty, and Dennis Weaver as deputy Chester Goode. Add a weekly blend of terrific guest stars, throw in superb writing and directing, and the Western television series had its blueprint. And television had one of its best shows of any genre.
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Format: DVD
CBS-Paramount has finally released the entire first season of "Gunsmoke" on DVD. Speaking as a long-time fan of the series (particularly the heretofore seldom-seen half hour episodes), I couldn't be more pleased with this set. I unhesitatingly give it five stars and believe that it's a fantastic value for the price. All 39 first-season episodes are here and all 15 that I've viewed so far look exceptionally good, with crystal clear video and audio. The back of the box includes a disclaimer "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." However, I have yet to spot any instances of missing material and I believe that CBS-Paramount made a genuine good faith effort to include all surviving footage. All 15 episodes that I've viewed so far "timed out" between 26:10 and 26:30. In addition, fans who already own the previously released DVDs sold by Columbia House will note that footage missing from several episodes on those discs IS included on this set. They will also notice that the original (and correct) "Matt on Boot Hill" introductions have been restored and included with the episodes on this set. The only very minor flaw I've noticed is that some of the episodes are slightly mislabeled on the individual disc menus. "Night Incident" is labeled as "Night Visitor", "Unmarked Grave" is labeled as "Unknown Grave", and "The Big Broad" is labeled as "Big Broad". I would also note that the only "extras" consist of original sponsor spots. However, I personally found the L & M cigarette ads with James Arness and Milburn Stone to be far more fascinating than the interviews or "The Making of" featurettes that are included with most DVDs. Any fan of "Gunsmoke" will be thrilled with this set, and fans who've never seen the half-hour episodes (or those who haven't seen them in a long time), will be especially enthusiastic. If you enjoy "Gunsmoke", treat yourself to this set - you'll be very glad you did!
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