Have Gun - Will Travel Image: http://www.tv-intros.com/h/have%20gun%20will%20travel.jpg width=500
TV had never seen a western hero quite like Richard Boone's Paladin before Have Gun - Will Travel
mosied onto screens in 1957. Paladin -- no other name is ever given -- is a rather dandyish fellow who quotes Virgil and avidly attends Shakespeare productions as well as the opera. Living in a suite at the plush Hotel Carlton in San Francisco, he enjoys good food, fine wine, expensive cigars and the company of beautiful women Image: http://i.imgur.com/3Elyh.jpg width=350
To pay for all this high living, West Point grad and Civil War vet Paladin (the word, incidentally, is defined as "A paragon of chivalry; a heroic champion; a strong supporter or defender of a cause") hires himself out as a gunfighter to whoever will pay his $1000 fee. Image: http://www.cheese-magnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/paladin.jpg width=350
But Paladin, as his name suggests, is a man of old-fashioned honor who lives by his own code. He may even change sides if he feels his opponent's cause is just. Image: http://www.moviemarket.com/library/photos/178/178858.jpg Image: http://timvp.com/havegun.jpg Image: http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/Images/High-Wire.png Image: http://www.motifake.com/image/demotivational-poster/0904/have-gun-demotivational-poster-1240195594.jpg width=350
Sounds a bit like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, doesn't he? Have Gun Will Travel
was actually conceived as a modern-day private eye series set in contemporary New York. But P.I.s were out of fashion and cowboys were at the height of their popularity, so the writers re-imagined the concept for the old west. And in the process made a TV star out of craggy-faced Richard Boone, as well as creating a new and iconic archetype for the genre. Image: http://cdn1.iofferphoto.com/img/item/167/237/771/T8dS.jpg
The cultered yet deadly, empathising yet stubbornly independent Paladin is a facinating character, and the show's scripts are often of an extemely high quality; among the show's writers were Frank Pierson (Cool Hand Luke
; Oscar winner for Dog Day Afternoon
) Frank Gilroy (Pulitzer Prize winner for The Subject Was Roses
), and Sam Peckinpah (who should need no introduction for western fans).
I haven't seen anywhere near all the HGWT
episodes. Last time I checked there were a couple of seasons worth of DVDs at the Goodwood library. Here are some of the more interesting episodes available on YouTube:
"The Outlaw" LINK
Charles Bronson guest stars. Paladin has to bring in a wanted killer whom he gradually comes to respect -- but a clash of wills leads to an inevitable showdown. Image: http://www.the60sofficialsite.com/images/have-gun-bronson.jpg
"The Protege" LINK
Paladin teaches a young man to use a gun and stand up against a bullying thug -- but does he teach the young man too well?
"The Predators" LINK
Another bring-'em-back-dead-or-alive story, with the great character actor Richard Jaeckel as guest star.
"Squatter's Rights" LINK
While Paladin protects widows, orphans, damsels in distress, etc... like any conventional horse opera hero, his unique character often gives the show a moral complexity seldom seen in westerns. This episode, for example, starts off like a standard evil-rancher-versus-loveable-homesteaders story, but Paladin's attitudes and actions may surprise you.
"The Hanging Cross" LINK
Paladin's softer, gentler side is shown in this early, atypical Christmas episode. Written by Gene Roddenberry, who would go on to preach similar sermons on Star Trek
The first episode of the final season, where we learn Paladin's backstory and how he came to be "a knight without armor in a savage land", as the closing theme song puts it.
A tidbit of trivia: Supposedly the show was originally to be called simply Paladin
, but the network was afraid the audience wouldn't know what the hell a "paladin" is. And so... Have Gun - Will Travel
was born. Image: http://www.cheese-magnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Have-Gun-Will-Travel.jpg