Tuesday, June 15, 2010


In the past few weeks, I've tried watching the shows JUSTIFIED, CASTLE, and BURN NOTICE but nothing was flipping my switch. It's probably not the fault of those programs but I'm just tired, for the time being, of television in general. Enter OLD TIME RADIO CATALOG and HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL.


Western adventure (1958 - 1960)

"If the girl who's being held prisoner has been harmed in any way, I'll flip a coin to see which one of you I gun down first."

It is the only significant radio show that originated on television. Starring Richard Boone as gunfighter Paladin, he did the sometimes-dangerous work that others would not or could not do for themselves. That he did these jobs for a hefty price did not diminish the fact that he was a man with a conscience and he wined and dined beautiful women. The role was later taken on by John Dehner. He was a loner, a man of no friends - his relationship with the bellhop Heyboy was cordial but cool: Paladin was always "Meestah Paladin," and Heyboy was always Heyboy.
Mr. Dehner was marvelous as the man in black with a voice very similar to Richard Boone. The quality of the 1950s production shine again thanks to these sharp transfers to MP3. And with 106 episodes for $5.00, how can you beat that?! I also snagged two discs of GUNSMOKE.

The added attraction for a writer when listening to radio is the medium had to be especially evocative to get the visual image across to their audience (they did a superb job with HGWT). I spend each episode like I'm in class, taking notes on my Mini-Dell.

HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, the Radio Series is very much recommended.


Barbara Martin said...

I'm getting the HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL for my oldest brother who loved this series on TV.

When Paladin mentions in the excerpt about Joe Whitehorse carrying a heavy saddle, listeners should note that western stock saddles of that time period often weighed 40 pounds or a little more. Gets a tad heavy after awhile.

Brian Drake said...

HGWT is a terrific show, and one I listen to often as well. The TV series is good, but I like the radio version better. If you haven't heard the very last episode, which actually ends the series, you'll enjoy it. It's a very subtle finale, and they did it very well.

Evan Lewis said...

Good show. Have you tried Jimmy Stewart in "The Six Shooter"?

David Cranmer said...

Barbara, Details like that give us western junkies a high. Btw I'm reading Thomas McGuane's SOME HORSES that is just an absolute marvelous collection of essays I'm positive you would enjoy.

Brian, I'm frustrated that the powers to be are taking their time releasing the individual seasons. I have one through three and now read that: The first half (!) of Season 4 was released on DVD on March 2, 2010,while the second half will be released on July 6, 2010.

Evan, I haven't seen THE SIX SHOOTER but see OTRCAT has that also. It looks good but I'm thinking of going detective next with Gerald Mohr's PHILLIP MARLOWE.

Leah J. Utas said...

I had no clue, or had long forgotten HGWT was on the radio. I've seen the TV show and I recall I liked it.
Radio as writing class. Cool.

Richard Prosch said...

I love HGWT and I second Evan's comment on THE SIX SHOOTER. MARLOWE will be good. My all time favorite show is the genre-crossing ESCAPE.

Chris said...

Sounds interesting, I'll need to check it out. I have little interest or luck with TV shows, even supposedly "good" ones, so I rarely even try. But listening to things is something I enjoy very much!

David Cranmer said...

Leah, Radio as writing class is essential. And more productive and cheaper than a writing group.

Rich, ESCAPE is new to me but after a quick check, damn, what a top collection of talent. I may give that a listen at some point. Thanks.

Chris, I seem to like TV shows twenty and thirty years after the fact. Perhaps, after they have proven they are something worth spending an hour of my life on.

Ron Scheer said...

Having grown up on radio, I have a natural affinity for this stuff and have enjoyed rediscovering early "Gunsmoke" episodes (which I found for free somewhere on the net) with William Conrad as Matt Dillon. Thanks for the link to otrcat.

Some Horses is a wonderful collection of essays. I learned a lot about cutting horses from that book. The piece about taking horses in a trailer from southern California back to Montana had me laughing. McGuane's novels are so off the wall by comparison with this material; I like it much better.

His scripts for Rancho Deluxe and Tom Horn were also great. (Sorry, you got me going here on a favorite topic.)

David Cranmer said...

TOM HORN, though far from perfect, is a film I liked. Didn't realize McGuane did the screenplay until now and that fact is making me wanna take another look soon.

Dave King said...

It's easy to get a surfeit of T.V. - at least, I find it so.

Tom said...

If you enjoy John Dehner in HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL, you should also give FRONTIER GENTLEMAN a try. Dehner plays J.B. Kendle, and he writes newspapers articles from his travels/adventures account giving an Englishman's view of the Old West.

Part of the opening runs: "As a reporter for the London Times, he writes his colorful and unusual accounts. But as a man with a gun, he lives and becomes a part of the violent years in the new territories."

Same high production level as other CBS westerns and great scripts. An Anthony Ellis production, and many of the supporting cast (such as Harry Bartell) you would recognize as regulars on HAVE GUN GUNSMOKE (both the TV and radio versions) and other shows. It's a shame FRONTIER GENTLEMAN only ran for one season (1958) with 39 episodes.

The photo of John Dehner with your post David, I believe is actually a publicity still from FRONTIER GENTLEMAN.

Tom Roberts
Black Dog Books

Charles Gramlich said...

I have heard only a very few of these old shows, though I know Gunsmoke when on for a long time in that format. I'm kind of tired of TV too, but that's been for awhile.

David Cranmer said...

Dave, The medium is dried up. Some fine cable shows and a sprinkle of talent here and there on the networks but mostly kaput.

Tom, A reporter for the London Times in the Old West is a unique plot. I have heard select episodes of FRONTIER GENTLEMAN and enjoyed them.

Charles, We should learn from the Brits (limiting the number of episodes) and not run shows into the ground. I mean six years of LOST?! Good gawd. That could have been a masterpiece if condensed into three well plotted years.

Geoff said...

Just what I need on the drive to work.

Randy Johnson said...

I haven't ried this one. I have OTRCAT's Gunsmoke and Marlowe series.

Tom said...

David, LOST condensed in to three well-plotted years?

Sounds like this 1960's show I used to watch about seven castaways on a tropic island.

Just sit right back and you'll here a tale . . .

Tom Roberts
Black Dog Books

David Cranmer said...

Geoff, Glad to help.

Randy, I just listened to episode one of Gunsmoke with the decidedly hardboiled style and the character named Mark Dillon. Very different.

Tom, Ha. Yeah, that probably would be asking alot. But we sure know how to ruin a good thing in the US don't we?

Clare2e said...

I'm going to try that radio series. I love radio, and I love the difference in perspective that comes from stepping out of time.

BTW, I thought it was just me, but I tried those 3 series, too, each a couple of times, and just nope for whatever reason. They're not bad, but I wasn't captured, well, except by Bruce Campbell, who I love in every incarnation!

Barbara Martin said...

David, I can just imagine I've had experiences with horses just like those in the book SOME HORSES. Trailering horses long distances can be a real experience, especially if those inside decide they want to follow you out the side door meant for humans only. Maybe I ought to do a post.

David Cranmer said...

Barbara, I would enjoy reading your adventures on this topic. And, now, I will be looking forward to them.