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Have Gun Will Travel - The Complete First Season

4.7 out of 5 stars 206 customer reviews

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(May 11, 2004)
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$12.96 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 18 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Richard Boone, Lisa Lu. Meet Paladin, a high-society gentleman who leads a double life as a justice-seeking gunfighter. Includes all 39 first-season episodes from this classic Western TV series: Three Bells to Perdido" (pilot episode), The Outlaw" (with Charles Bronson), Hey Boy's Revenge" and more. 39 episodes on 6 DVDs. 1957-58/b&w/17 hrs/NR/fullscreen.


The first season of Have Gun--Will Travel makes it easy to see why this Western series was an overnight success. Making its debut on September 14, 1957, the half-hour show ranked no. 4 in the ratings for its entire first season, which ran almost completely uninterrupted (minus a one-week preemption) until June of 1958--a punishing schedule unheard of in present-day television. (It ranked even higher in subsequent seasons, holding the no. 3 spot, behind Gunsmoke and Wagon Train.) Richard Boone was perfectly cast in the lead role of Paladin, a cultured gunslinger whose West Point education, impeccable style, literate sophistication, and distinguished Civil War service made him unique among Western heroes, and the prototype for many dashing figures to follow. Based in San Francisco's ritzy Carlton Hotel, he scans newspapers to locate trouble throughout the wild West, then cagily markets his services (via his legendary calling card, "Have Gun--Will Travel") as a hired gun, moral arbiter, voice of reason, and reluctant killer of badmen. Understanding the complexities of frontier justice, Paladin (whose full name is never revealed) could turn on those who hired him if he suspected dubious motivations. He wore black, but he traveled in an ethical gray zone.

Running about 25 minutes each, these 39 episodes are consistently good and economically plotted, since Have Gun boasted stellar talent on both sides of the camera. Each episode began with the memorable theme by legendary film composer Bernard Herrmann, and most of the first season was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, who worked regularly on Gunsmoke, Rawhide, and Perry Mason before graduating to a prolific big-screen career. Regular writers included Gene Roddenberry (who created Star Trek six years later), and budding maverick Sam Peckinpah co-wrote episode #22, "The Singer." In addition to series regular Kam Tong as Paladin's Chinese-American manservant Hey Boy (a "Coolie" stereotype, but Tong handles it with dignity, especially in "Hey Boy's Revenge"), Have Gun offered a who's-who of 1950s and '60s guest stars, from genre stalwarts like Victor McLaglen (Andrew's father), John Carradine, Strother Martin, and R.G. Armstrong, to promising newcomers like Angie Dickinson, Warren Oates, and Charles Bronson (the last starring in "The Outlaw," one of the season's finest episodes). Each episode is accompanied by background information and guest-star profiles, and while picture quality is quite good overall, the audio quality suffers from a low-level mix with noticeable hiss from aged source materials. Fortunately, this won't prevent anyone from enjoying a first-rate TV series that thrived for another five seasons, until cancellation in 1963. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • All 39 episodes from the 1957-1958 season
  • Behind-the-Scenes episodic information

Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Boone, Harold J. Stone, Wright King, Lisa Gaye, Vladimir Sokoloff
  • Directors: Andrew V. McLaglen, Lamont Johnson, Lewis Milestone
  • Writers: Albert Aley, Berni Gould, Buckley Angell, Don Brinkley, Doris Hursley
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Closed-captioned, Mono, Full Screen
  • 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: May 11, 2004
  • Run Time: 1009 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001JXQ2Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,545 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Have Gun Will Travel - The Complete First Season" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven Hellerstedt on March 13, 2005
Format: DVD
Richard Boone stars as Paladin in this six-disk dvd set of the first season of HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL (1957-1958).

CBS broadcast an incredible thirty-nine episodes that first season, each episode lasting 23 to 25 minutes. Most episodes begin with the spiffily dressed Paladin (we're never given a last name) scouring the thick stacks newspapers brought to him by the ever helpful Hey Boy (Kam Tong), bellboy at Paladin's residence, the Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. Eventually Paladin reads of a missing child in Colorado, or a rash of robberies occurring in Montana. Paladin slips his business card - a chess knight with the legend Have Gun, Will Travel, Wire Paladin, San Francisco - into an envelope and mails it to the injured party.

Slowly enough as we wend our way through the first year we learn something of Paladin. He has a passion for justice and a taste for the good things. His going rate is $1000, although he will take on a pro bono job if the cause is just. In town he dresses to the nines and in sundry other ways consumes conspicuously. When traveling with a gun he dresses in black. Somewhere along the line he picked up a military education, quotes Shakespeare and Pliny, savors a first-edition of Dryden. His taste in and knowledge of fine wines is commented upon in a couple of episodes....

I don't know if any of this matters, but going through fifteen hours of HGWT over a week or so it's kind of fun to have an aha moment or two. Paladin is an enigma, and Boone, a little more credible as the gunslinger than the city dandy, was an inspired choice to play him. Boone has a commanding presence and, believe me when I tell you buckaroos, was pretty darn quick on the draw.
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Format: DVD
Richard Boone was one of the most natural actors ever to grace the screen. Good guys, bad guys, he did them all with such a grace and ease that he made it seem so effortless. Paladin was a product of the post-Civil War. A West Point Graduate, he was an educated man, a man who appreciated literature, opera, culture. So it was not surprising he settled in San Franscisco after the war. Though a man of refinement, he made his living by hiring his gun out to those in need. He passed his little cards around - "Have Gun, Will Travel. Wire Paladin, San Fransisco" and waited for clients to find him.
While a cultured man, he was just as comfortable in the deadly knight errant persona, the man in black. Boone excelled at making you believe both sides could exist within one man. While he was a hired gun, he often spent more time talking to people making them listen to reason.
A loved all these Westerns. Have enjoyed the reruns on TVLand, Starz Westerns, and the Hallmark Channel. But so many of the old Westerns don't hold up well. I was surprised how well Rawhide and Have Gun, Will Travel hold their quality. So these are a super addition to any video maven's collection. Sadly, I don't think Boone ever got the true recognition his talent deserved, but those of us who appreciated him can now watch his talent shine.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This will be a review by someone who purchased ALL the Columbia House VHS videotapes of "Have Gun Will Travel" (as well as ALL the available "Maverick" and the half hour "Gunsmoke" VHS tapes) as soon as they were available, from 1995 to 1998. The price for four episodes of the half hour series was about $25 (about $5 for shipping.) If you do the math, these DVDs are a fantastic savings AND offer the added bonus of being easier to store and probably to use.

The quality of the VHS tapes was crystalline, which is probably why the DVDs have been reviewed favorably in the technical sense. Much of the filming for "HGWT" was done on location in what seems to be pristine wilderness areas, and this clarity of viewing - the extra effort to get the locations done by the production staff and the effort required by the actors involved - is beautiful to watch as well. Most episodes start out in the SF hotel and then lead Paladin far afield on his missions.+

It is true that the Gene Roddenberry episodes are very special. Even in the 90s, when a script - and the way that the actors presented it - awed me, it was almost certainly a Roddenberry episode. Truly, eye opening. You understand why "Star Trek" has been around forever.

Like many children of the 50s, Westerns were the 'meat and potatoes' of my TV experience, and while I liked the shows like "Maverick" and "HGWT" at that age, but to be able to view them as an adult is amazing. I would also recommend the same for the half hour "Gunsmoke" episodes. Clearly, these series went far beyond the standard shoot 'em ups and good guys versus bad guys plotting of production line Westerns.
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Most Westerns from the late 1950s and early 1960s, were full of details that are out of time. For example, women's hair-dos and makeup were often quite modern. Have Gun-Will Travel is not free of this nonsense, but you can see the extra effort they made to be accurate by observing the foreground and background objects instead of focusing on the action. The right curtains are on the window, the right dishes and silverware are on the table, and the extras wore clothing made out of the appropriate fabric. And, it doesn't stop there - When Paladin reads a note in Chinese, he reads it top to bottom, right to left. When he reloads his belt with fresh ammunition, he examines each bullet as if his life depends on it (you know the rest). Also, they often got out of the two-dimensional constraints of the studio and shot on location, which helps a lot with the suspension of disbelief. Being very modern for its time helps it hold up almost as well as Gunsmoke and Wanted - Dead or Alive. Mr. Boone is better than this role, but I am very glad that he took the part. If you weren't a fan of the series when it originally aired, this might not turn you into one, but if you were a fan (as I was) this is a whole bunch of fun!
The extras consist almost entirely of mini-bios for the secondary characters. I would have appreciated more.
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