Gunsmoke: Season 1
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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 marshaljust 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
More TV Westerns
50th Anniversary Collection
- All 39 episodes from the 1955-1956 season on 6 discs
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this for my mom and she's very happy. She loves westerns. Decent quality and no problems watching. I can take them or leave them. As long as she's happy, I'm happy.Published 2 months ago by ILUV2SHOP
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