TV Review – GUNSMOKE: P.S. MURRY CHRISTMAS (1971)

Gunsmoke: P.S. Murry Christmas - 1971 - Miss Kitty and Marshall Dillon  (With images) | Miss kitty, Gunsmoke, James arnessGUNSMOKE: P.S. MURRY CHRISTMAS (1971, USA) ***
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Herb Wallerstein; w. William Kelley; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Leonard Katzman; ass pr. Ron Honthaner; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Richard Shores; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Thomas J. McCarthy; ad. William Craig Smith; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Irving Pringle, Esperanza Corona, Gertrude Wheeler; sd. Andrew Gilmore, Jerry Rosenthal (Mono); tr. 27 December 1971; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Buck Taylor (Newly), Jeanette Nolan (Emma Grundy), Patti Cohoon-Friedman (Mary (as Patti Cohoon)), Jodie Foster (Patricia), Erin Moran (Jenny), Josh Albee (Michael), Brian Morrison (Owen), Willie Aames (Tom), Todd Lookinland (Jake), Jack Elam (Titus Spangler), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Jack Collins (J. Stedman Edgecomb), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), Herb Vigran (Judge Brooker), Sarah Selby (Ma Smalley), Maudie Prickett (Mrs. Pretch), Rudy Doucette (Barfly (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Barfly (uncredited)), Max Wagner (Barfly (uncredited)).

(s. 17 ep. 15) Handyman Titus Spangler (Elam) rescues seven orphans from an overly stern headmistress, Emma Grundy (Nolan), and winds up in Dodge City at Christmas time. This seasonal episode has all the warmth needed to deliver its typically moralistic story. It is helped by a strong guest cast including Elam as the good-hearted rogue and Nolan as the hard and embittered headmistress of the orphanage. Redemption is the keyword here and rest assured all ends happily ever after on Christmas Day in The Long Branch saloon. The peck on the cheek that Kitty gives to Matt in this episode is as close as the two came to an on- air kiss in the twenty years of Gunsmoke on television.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: MANNON (1969)

GUNSMOKE: MANNON (1969, USA) ****½
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Robert Butler; w. Ron Bishop; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Joseph Dackow; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Jaime Mendoza-Nava; th. Rex Koury; ed. Gerard Wilson; ad. Joseph R. Jennings; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Newton Jones, Gertrude Wheeler; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 20 January 1969; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Steve Forrest (Will Mannon), Buck Taylor (Newly), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), James Nusser (Louie Pheeters), Roy Barcroft (Roy), Charles Seel (Barney Danches), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), Woody Chambliss (Woody Lathrop), Tom Brown (Ed O’Connor), Charles Wagenheim (Ed Halligan), Howard Culver (Howie Uzzell), Michelle Breeze (Chris), Fred Dale (Townsman), Nick Borgani (Townsman (uncredited)), Stephen Burnette (Townsman (uncredited)), Bert Madrid (Townsman (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Townsman (uncredited)).

(s. 14 ep. 17) Will Mannon (Forrest), brutal and sadistic, comes to Dodge City planning to kill Matt Dillon (Arness) and cement his fearsome reputation. He first shoots and wounds Festus (Curtis) outside of Dodge, leaving Festus lying in the dirt and taking his mule Ruth to ride into town. He intimidates Dodge City residents, claiming to hold four aces in a poker game with the other players afraid to see his actual hand. Finally, he assaults Kitty (Blake). Finally, Matt returns to Dodge to confront the brutal Mannon. This is one of the series’ greatest episodes. Well-written with an unusual depth and superbly directed, this has an adult frankness rare in the TV of the day. Forrest delivers one of his very best performances as the Quantrill rider out to maintain his reputation ten years after the end of the Civil War. Blake is excellent here and her scenes with Forrest are TV drama at its best. The final shootout is both surprising and a fitting finale. Arness, Blake, Taylor, and Forrest reprised their roles from this episode 18 years later in the television movie GUNSMOKE: RETURN TO DODGE (1987).

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: THE PRISONER (1969)

Gunsmoke Full Episode Season 14 Episode 25 - The Prisoner. A great episode  where Jon Voight may have gotten his start. He s… | Gunsmoke, Jon voight,  Midnight cowboyGUNSMOKE: THE PRISONER (1969, USA) ***½
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Leo Penn; w. Calvin Clements Sr.; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Joseph Dackow; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Leon Klatzkin; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Donald W. Ernst; ad. Joseph R. Jennings; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Newton Jones, Gertrude Wheeler; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 17 March 1969; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Jon Voight (Steven Downing), Ramon Bieri (Jarvis), Ned Glass (Pink Simmons), Buck Taylor (Newly), Paul Bryar (Sheriff Ryan), Kenneth Tobey (Bob Mathison), James Nusser (Louie Pheeters), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Tom Brown (Ed O’Connor), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), David Fresco (Barber), Jan Peters (Cardplayer), Nick Borgani (Townsman (uncredited)), Michelle Breeze (Saloon Girl (uncredited)), Stephen Burnette (Townsman (uncredited)), Noble ‘Kid’ Chissell (Townsman (uncredited)), Fred Dale (Townsman (uncredited)), Duke Fishman (Townsman (uncredited)), Raven Grey Eagle (Townsman (uncredited)), Bert Madrid (Townsman (uncredited)), Fred McDougall (Mathison Henchman (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Townsman (uncredited)), Sid Troy (Townsman (uncredited)).

(s. 14 ep. 25) Voight is a prisoner being escorted by a bounty hunter (Bieri) to a town where his chance of receiving a fair trial are slim. When the prisoner saves Kitty from a near-death accident, she intervenes by winning his bounty at poker and then trying to protect the young man until the Marshal (Arness) can return. This is a well scripted and directed episode, which gives Blake centre stage. Her poker game with Bieri is well-staged and builds in tension. An embittered Tobey, the husband of the woman Voight has supposedly murdered, enters the scene in the final act to exact his own form of justice. The strong cast and interesting storyline make this an above-average segment.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: THE PILLAGERS (1967)

Gunsmoke S13 E09 The Pillagers | Gunsmoke, Best western, YoutubeGUNSMOKE: THE PILLAGERS (1967, USA) ***
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Vincent McEveety; w. Calvin Clements Sr.; pr. John Mantley; ass pr. Joseph Dackow; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Leon Klatzkin; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Grant K. Smith; ad. Joseph R. Jennings; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Helen Young; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 6 November 1967; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc Adams), Amanda Blake (Kitty Russell), Ken Curtis (Festus Haggen), John Saxon (Pedro Manez), Vito Scotti (Savrin), Paul Picerni (Ganns), William Bramley (Turner), Buck Taylor (Newly O’Brien), Allen Jaffe (Johns), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Harry Harvey (Eli), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), Joe Schneider (Juan Manez), George American Horse (Bandit (uncredited)), John Breen (Townsman (uncredited)), Albert Cavens (Townsman (uncredited)), Jack Lilley (Bandit (uncredited)), Bert Madrid (Townsman (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Townsman (uncredited)).

(s. 13 ep. 9) Buck Taylor joins the cast as Newly O’Brian when Newly and Kitty (Blake) are kidnapped by a gang who mistakenly believe he is a doctor. His skills as a gunsmith are central to their escape. Good introductory episode for Taylor with Saxon sharing centre stage as the bandit looking out for his injured brother. Whilst the story itself is perfunctory and the situation of Kitty being held hostage has been done before (and better in The Jailer), this still holds attention through to its conclusion.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: QUAKER GIRL (1966)

Quaker Girl (1966)GUNSMOKE: QUAKER GIRL (1966, USA) ***
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Bernard L. Kowalski; w. Preston Wood; exec pr. Philip Leacock; pr. John Mantley; ph. Harry Stradling Jr. (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Leigh Harline; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Otto Meyer; ad. John B. Goodman; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Pat Whiffing; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 10 December 1966; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Roger Ewing (Thad), William Shatner (Fred Bateman), William Bryant (Kester), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Joseph Breen (George), Anna Karen (1st Woman), Nancy Marshall (2nd Woman), Patricia Quinn (Cora Ellis (as Ariane Quinn)), Liam Sullivan (Benjamin Ellis), Warren Vanders (John Thenly), Ben Johnson (Vern Morland), Timothy Carey (Charles ‘Buster’ Rilla), Tom Reese (Dave Westerfeldt), Danny Borzage (Quaker (uncredited)), Pete Kellett (Quaker (uncredited)), Fred McDougall (Quaker (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Barfly (uncredited)), Rudy Sooter (Musician (uncredited)), Wally West (Quaker (uncredited)).

(s. 12 ep. 12) When a dying deputy swears in Thad to capture killer Fred Bateman (Shatner), Thad (Ewing) ends up in a Quaker town, in which the people cannot tell which one is the wanted man. Ewings gets his chance to hold the centre stage with Shatner in this story of culture clashes. The script does not make the most of the situation, but Shatner’s charisma and possibly Ewing’s best performance of the series carry it through. Watch out for Johnson as lead heavy of a gang on Shatner’s tail.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: THE WRONG MAN (1966)

Gunsmoke" The Wrong Man (TV Episode 1966) - IMDbGUNSMOKE: THE WRONG MAN (1966, USA) ***½
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Robert Totten; w. Robert Lewin; exec pr. Philip Leacock; pr. John Mantley; ph. Harry Stradling Jr. (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Irwin Kostal; th. Rex Koury (uncredited); ed. Otto Meyer; ad. John B. Goodman; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Pat Whiffing; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 29 October 1966; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Roger Ewing (Thad), Carroll O’Connor (Hootie Kyle), Glenn Strange (Sam), James Almanzar (Morell), Mel Gaines (Squeak), Gilman Rankin (Purvis), Victor Izay (Dutch), Terry Frost (Stage Driver), Kevin O’Neal (James Kyle), Charles Kuenstle (Wilton Kyle), Clifton James (Tenner Jackson), James Anderson (Harmon), Danny Borzage (Townsman (uncredited)), John Breen (Waiter (uncredited)), Duke Fishman (Townsman (uncredited)), Chuck Hamilton (Townsman (uncredited)), Bert Madrid (Townsman (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Townsman (uncredited)), Anthony Redondo (Stage Passenger (uncredited)), Robert Robinson (Townsman (uncredited)), Max Wagner (Townsman (uncredited)).

(s. 12 ep. 7) Hootie Kyle (O’Connor) felt cheated in a card game by Tenner Jackson (James). Later, he punches Jackson and takes his thirty dollars back. The next day Hootie returns the money to the Marshal (Arness) only to be told that Jackson had been murdered. O’Connor is convincing as a proud but desperate farmer struggling to make ends meet for his family. His performance and a decent script make this a strong episode, with its unusually downbeat climax. Totten handles the material well and the editing is tight. The only weak spot is the lack of focus on O’Connor’s wider family, which detracts a little from his plight.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: THE JAILER (1966)

Amanda Blake was scared to work with Bette Davis on GunsmokeGUNSMOKE: THE JAILER (1966, USA) ****
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Vincent McEveety; w. Hal Sitowitz; exec pr. Philip Leacock; pr. John Mantley; ph. Harry Stradling Jr. (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Morton Stevens; ed. Albrecht Joseph; ad. John B. Goodman; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Pat Whiffing; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 1 October 1966; r/t. 51m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Bette Davis (Etta Stone), Bruce Dern (Lou Stone), Robert Sorrells (Mike Stone), Zalman King (Jack Stone), Tom Skerritt (Ben Stone), Julie Sommars (Sara Stone), Roger Ewing (Thad), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), Stephen Burnette (Townsman (uncredited)), Fred McDougall (Prison Wagon Driver (uncredited)), Anthony Redondo (Guard (uncredited)).

(s. 12 ep. 3) Etta Stone (Davis) is a very bitter, older, woman who has Kitty and Matt captured and thrown into a homemade jail, and now she plans on hanging Matt for the execution of her husband 6 years before. This is an exceptional episode of the long-running TV series with a top-notch cast and excellent direction from McEveety. Davis is all brooding, dominant matriarch and vengeful psychotic as she seeks revenge on Matt (Arness) for the hanging sentence handed to her husband through her kidnapping of Kitty (Blake). She uses her sons – including Dern and Skerritt – as her instruments of retribution, as well as Dern’s wife Sommars, who unbeknownst to Dern has picked up with Skerritt whilst Dern had been serving time in prison. Arness and Blake begin to play on the sibling tension leading to the final confrontation. It is undoubtedly Blake’s best performance in the series (she acknowledges the episode as a personal favourite) and her scenes with Davis are electric. It is a great example of how superb acting and strong direction can lift a story.

TV Review – GUNSMOKE: WHICH DR. (1966)

GUNSMOKE: WHICH DR. (1966, USA) ***
Western
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Peter Graves; w. Les Crutchfield; pr. Philip Leacock; ph. Harry Stradling Jr. (B&W. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m sup. Morton Stevens; th. Rex Koury, Glenn Spencer (both uncredited); ed. Albrecht Joseph; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Pat Whiffing; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 19 March 1966; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Roger Ewing (Thad), R.G. Armstrong (Argonaut Moonercan), Gregg Palmer (Herk), Glenn Strange (Sam), Shelley Morrison (Addie Moonercan), George Lindsey (Skeeter), Elisabeth Fraser (Daisy Lou), Claire Wilcox (Piney), Noble ‘Kid’ Chissell (Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)), Chick Hannan (Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)), Pete Kellett (Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)), Cherokee Landrum (Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)), Jerry Schumacher (Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)), George Sowards (Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)), Lucian Tiger (Buffalo Hunter (uncredited)).

(s. 11 ep. 26) While on a fishing trip with Festus, Doc is abducted and forced to operate on a sick child, then ordered to be a bridegroom in a true shotgun wedding. This light-hearted episode is notable for being directed by Arness’ brother, Graves. There is some neat interplay between Stone and Curtis but Arness is mainly confined to the sidelines. The story of a buffalo hunting community living in the wilderness but needing Doc’s surgical skills to the extent where he is kidnapped in order to help is a little predictable and certainly lacking any real dramatic tension. It is played largely for laughs and is entertaining enough thanks to the performances of the regulars – except for Ewing’s wooden acting.

Film Review – THE ALAMO (1960)

Image result for THE ALAMO 1960Alamo, The (1960; USA; Technicolor; 193m) ****  d. John Wayne; w. James Edward Grant; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Richard Boone, Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, Linda Cristal, Joan O’Brien, Chill Wills, Joseph Calleia, Ken Curtis, Carlos Arruza, Jester Hairston, Veda Ann Borg, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Cliff Lyons. In 1836, as General Santa Anna and the Mexican army sweep across Texas, Colonel William Travis is tasked with defending a small mission on the Mexicans’ route at all costs. Grand spectacle, notably the closing final battle scenes, are the main draw for this exercise in logistics. Wayne handles the whole thing with considerable aplomb. Whilst the inevitability of the story’s conclusion has been laid down by history, there is a sense of admiration for the spirit of the volunteers that only occasionally veers into the overly-patriotic and preachy. Wayne, Widmark and Harvey all bring star quality to the proceedings. Great score by Tiomkin. Wayne assumed huge personal debt to get film finished after United Artists refused funding once budget was exceeded. Oscar winner for Best Sound. Original video release cut to 161m. Remade in 2004. [PG]

Film Review – THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959)

Image result for the horse soldiers 1959Horse Soldiers, The (1959; USA; DeLuxe; 115m) ***½  d. John Ford; w. John Lee Mahin, Martin Rackin; ph. William H. Clothier; m. David Buttolph.  Cast: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Althea Gibson, Strother Martin, Hoot Gibson, Anna Lee, Russell Simpson, Carleton Young, Ken Curtis, Judson Pratt, Willis Bouchey, Bing Russell, O.Z. Whitehead, Hank Worden. A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply centre. Solid Civil-War Western sees Cavalry Colonel Wayne and army medic Holden sparring with their ideals as rebel hostage Towers watches over and gradually warms to Wayne. Ford directs efficiently, handling the action scenes and spectacle with his usual aplomb. Whilst not amongst Ford-Wayne’s classics, this is still a sturdy character study. Loosely based on Harold Sinclair’s 1956 novel of the same name, which in turn was based on the historic 17-day Grierson’s Raid and Battle of Newton’s Station in Mississippi during the Civil War. [PG]