The Guns of Will Sonnett

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The Guns of Will Sonnett
Walter Brennan Guns of Will Sonnett 1968.JPG
Walter Brennan and Edward Andrews, 1968.
Genre Western
Created by Aaron Spelling
Richard Carr
Written by Ed Adamson
Harry Basch
Tony Barrett
Jameson Brewer
Richard Carr
Peter B. Germano
Cliff Gould
Kathleen Hite
James Komack
Edward J. Lakso
Robert Pirosh
Aaron Spelling
Cliff Todd
Directed by Jack Arnold
Thomas Carr
Irving J. Moore
Michael O'Herlihy
Richard C. Sarafian
Jud Taylor
Jean Yarbrough
Starring Walter Brennan
Dack Rambo
Composer(s) Hugo Friedhofer
Earle H. Hagen
Fred Steiner
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 50
Executive producer(s) Danny Thomas
Producer(s) Aaron Spelling
Dick Clark
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Thomas-Spelling Productions
Distributor King World Productions
CBS Television Distribution
Original network ABC
Picture format Color
Original release September 8, 1967 – September 16, 1969

The Guns of Will Sonnett is a Western television series set in the 1870s which ran on the ABC television network from 1967 to 1969. The series was the first production collaboration between Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas, who would later go on to produce one of ABC's most-memorable hits, The Mod Squad. Today, the series is distributed by King World (now CBS Television Distribution), and, when telecast, is usually seen in tandem with another 1960s short-lived Western series, the Mark Goodson-Bill Todman produced Branded, that King World was also originally responsible for distributing.

No brag, just fact, said Walter Brennan of Will Sonnett's prowess with a weapon


This series starred veteran character actor Walter Brennan as Will Sonnett, and Dack Rambo as his grandson, Jeff, who were searching for Will's son and Jeff's father, James. Disgusted with his father's being absent on army-scout business more often than not, James (also called Jim) had disappeared at the age of seventeen. A few years later, a baby boy was delivered to Will, with a letter identifying him as James' son. It went on to say that his mother had died in childbirth, and that not very many people get a second chance in life, but this was one for Will. The young boy was raised by his grandfather, who was grateful for the opportunity and did the best that he could to steer the grandson in the right direction.

The elder Sonnett was capable with firearms and often spoke to strangers about this prowess in a way that intimidated them. In the first episode, he mentions that his son is an expert with guns, while his grandson is better, "and I'm better than both of 'em -- no brag, just fact." This last phrase appeared frequently on the show, and became a catch phrase with many of the show's younger fans.

Apparently Will's absences had been significantly less than total, as he had taught James how to handle a six-shooter, and the younger man had become renowned as a peerless gunfighter. Hearing so much of his father's repute, Jeff decided he had to find him. Will agreed, and they rode across the West looking for their common relative. They often arrived at places which had been recently vacated by James. The inhabitants of those communities had mixed opinions of James, some seeing him as a ruthless killer, others as the only man brave enough to take the side of justice against other men far more ruthless. The middle Sonnett did in fact appear in several scattered episodes, invariably played by Jason Evers. One of those segments, entitled "The Man Who Killed Jim Sonnett" guest starred character actor Robert F. Simon.

Unlike most series with a similar premise, the problem was resolved during the life of the series. In the second season finale, "Three Stand Together", Will and Jeff eventually located and linked up with James. The three became lawmen together in a small town, Will as town marshal and the other two as his deputies. Had there been a third season for this series, it would have been as a much more conventional Western. The last episode aired on September 16, 1969, after ABC showed summer reruns on Monday nights at 8:30 P.M. During the summer, ABC promoted the concluding segment, in hopes of getting a large audience as it had done with the last episode of The Fugitive.

The Guns of Will Sonnett aired two years after Brennan's previous ABC series The Tycoon failed to develop sufficient audience in the 1964-1965 season.

Guest stars[edit]

  • Ahna Capri portrayed Laurie in "Stopover in a Troubled Town" (1968).
  • Charles Grodin played the gunfighter Bells Pickering in "A Bell for Jeff Sonnett" (1967).
  • Kevin Hagen played the prosecutor named Kingman, and Judson Pratt portrayed John Hardwick in the episode "One Angry Juror" (March 7, 1969).
  • Dennis Hopper portrayed Vern Reed in "Find a Sonnett, Kill a Sonnett" (1967).
  • Cloris Leachman portrayed Vera Sonnett in "And A Killing Rode Into Town" (1967).
  • Nora Marlowe portrayed Polly in "Meeting in a Small Town" (December 6, 1968).
  • Strother Martin played the bartender Harvey Bains in "Message at Noon" (1967).
  • Jack Nicholson portrayed Tom Murdoch in "A Son for A Son" (1967).

Episode list[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Episode # Episode title Original airdate
1-1 "Ride the Long Trail" (pilot) September 8, 1967
1-2 "A Bell For Jeff Sonnett" September 15, 1967
1-3 "A Grave For James Sonnett" September 22, 1967
1-4 "The Natural Way" September 29, 1967
1-5 "Of Lasting Summers and Jim Sonnett" October 6, 1967
1-6 "Message At Noon" October 13, 1967
1-7 "A Son For A Son" October 20, 1967
1-8 "Meeting At Devil's Fork" October 27, 1967
1-9 "First Love" November 3, 1967
1-10 "The Favor" November 10, 1967
1-11 "Ride the Man Down" November 17, 1967
1-12 "The Turkey Shoot" November 24, 1967
1-13 "And A Killing Rode Into Town" December 1, 1967
1-14 "Find A Sonnett, Kill A Sonnett" December 8, 1967
1-15 "Sunday In Paradise" December 15, 1967
1-16 "The Secret Of Hangtown Mine" December 22, 1967
1-17 "The Hero" December 29, 1967
1-18 "What's In A Name?" January 5, 1968
1-19 "End Of The Rope" January 12, 1968
1-20 "And He Shall Lead the Children" January 19, 1968
1-21 "Look For the Hound Dog" January 26, 1968
1-22 "Stopover In A Troubled Town" February 2, 1968
1-23 "Alone" February 9, 1968
1-24 "The Sins of the Father" February 23, 1968
1-25 "The Warriors" March 1, 1968
1-26 "A Fool and His Money" March 8, 1968

Season 2[edit]

Episode # Episode title Original airdate
2-1 "Reunion" September 27, 1968
2-2 "The Trap" October 4, 1968
2-3 "Chapter and Verse" October 11, 1968
2-4 "Pariah" October 18, 1968
2-5 "Joby" November 1, 1968
2-6 "The Straw Man" November 8, 1968
2-7 "A Difference Of Opinion" November 15, 1968
2-8 "Home Free" November 22, 1968
2-9 "Guilt" November 29, 1968
2-10 "Meeting In A Small Town" December 6, 1968
2-11 "The Fearless Man" December 13, 1968
2-12 "Where There's Hope" December 20, 1968
2-13 "Join the Army" January 3, 1969
2-14 "Time Is the Rider" January 10, 1969
2-15 "Robber's Roost" January 17, 1969
2-16 "Trail's End" January 31, 1969
2-17 "A Town In Terror" (Part 1) February 7, 1969
2-18 "A Town In Terror" (Part 2) February 14, 1969
2-19 "Jim Sonnett's Lady" February 21, 1969
2-20 "The Trial" February 28, 1969
2-21 "One Angry Juror" March 7, 1969
2-22 "The Sodbuster" March 14, 1969
2-23 "The Man Who Killed James Sonnett" March 21, 1969
2-24 "Three Stand Together" September 16, 1969

DVD release[edit]

Timeless Media Group released both seasons on DVD in Region 1 on July 14, 2009 in a 6-disc set entitled The Guns of Will Sonnett: The Complete Seasons 1&2.[1] However, they are the edited episodes distributed by King World. They are transferred from video tape sources and have not been remastered from the original film prints. The color is often faded, and the sound is rather poor. The edits in the episodes were poorly executed and sometimes confuse the plotline. The DVD package calls The Guns of Will Sonnett one of the most underrated westerns in the history of television.


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External links[edit]