The Restless Gun
|The Restless Gun|
John Payne as Vint Bonner, 1957
|Directed by||Christian Nyby
|Narrated by||John Payne|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||78|
|Executive producer(s)||John Payne|
|Running time||30 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Window Glen Productions
|Original run||September 23, 1957 – June 22, 1959|
|Related shows||The Texan
The Restless Gun is an American western television series that appeared on NBC between 1957 and 1959, with John Payne in the role of Vint Bonner, a wandering cowboy in the era after the American Civil War. A skilled gunfighter, Bonner is an idealistic person who prefers peaceful resolutions of conflict wherever possible. He is gregarious, intelligent, and public-spirited. The half-hour black-and-white program aired seventy-eight episodes. Jeanne Bates appeared in varying roles with Payne in five episodes of The Restless Gun.
The Restless Gun theme song (officially titled "I Ride With the Wind") begins: "I ride with the wind, my eyes on the sun, and my hand on my restless gun..." The song composer is probably Paul Dunlap, credited as the primary series composer, but could have been contributed to by either of the two other series composers, Dave Kahn and Stanley Wilson, also. Two versions (one a vocal) are currently posted on YouTube, but neither posting lists any composer or performance credits.
Broadcast on March 29, 1957, as an installment of the CBS anthology series The Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, the pilot episode was based on a radio series The Six Shooter, with Payne's character named Britt Ponset. For the television version, however, the name was changed to Vint Bonner. Some episodes were based on the radio programs.
The principal producer of The Restless Gun was David Dortort, thereafter in 1959 the executive producer of NBC's blockbuster western hit Bonanza. Dortort did not create The Restless Gun, nor did he produce the pilot episode, and he rarely contributed original scripts. A critic who considers The Restless Gun only an average program, writes that the series "probably owes its mediocrity more to MCA, the company that 'packaged' the series and produced it through its television arm Revue Productions, than to Dortort."
Set in Texas, The Restless Gun pilot episode features Andrew Duggan, William Hopper, and Michael Landon in supporting roles. Hopper plays a former lawman from Laredo in south Texas and long-time friend of Bonner's. Hopper's character is being sought for revenge by Duggan, whom the lawman had sent to prison. In the episode, Bonner speaks of taking a job near Waco.
Most end titles of The Restless Gun episodes read "Based on characters created by Frank Burt," but Burt's name is not mentioned in the pilot episode. Nor is he listed as the "creator."
Payne is the "executive producer" of his series, but a critic calls that designation "vanity." Payne has sometimes been compared to actor Dick Powell, who during that same period hosted and sometimes starred in his own CBS western anthology series, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater during the second half of the 1950s.
Selected Guest Stars
- Claude Akins
- Trevor Bardette
- Jack Elam
- Roy Roberts
- Denver Pyle
- Rip Torn
- Dan Blocker
- Paul Fix
- Lurene Tuttle
- Olan Soule
- Royal Dano
- James Gleason
- Anthony Caruso
- Peggie Castle
- Glenn Strange
- Bea Benaderet
- Charles Lane
- Edgar Buchanan
- George Dolenz
- Johnny Crawford
- Don Grady
- Dabbs Greer
- James Coburn
- Ruta Lee
- Ewing Mitchell
- J. Carrol Naish
- Alan Hale, Jr.
- Regis Toomey
- Robert Blake
On April 23, 2013, Timeless Media released Restless Gun: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 9-disc set features all 78 episodes of the series.
In its first season, The Restless Gun was aired opposite The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show on CBS and the short-lived variety program, The Guy Mitchell Show on ABC. In the second season, CBS aired a western, Rory Calhoun's The Texan, in the opposing time slot.
Rebroadcasts of The Restless Gun continued on NBC until September 1959. Then ABC rebroadcast The Restless Gun weekdays from October 1959 to September 1960 and on Saturday mornings from November 1959 to March 1960.
- "The Restless Gun". Classic TV Hits. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- "The Restless Gun". film.com. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
- "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars". tv.com. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- "David Dortort and The Restless Gun". classictvhistory.wordpress.com. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- A. C. Nielsen Media Research, 1957-1958 television season
- The No. 9 show that year was Spring Byington's December Bride on CBS, which also aired on Monday evenings.
- Pilot episode (1957), The Restless Gun, DVD, Timeless Media Group
- 1957-1959 network television schedules, Alex McNeil, Total Television, appendix