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
Production
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
Release
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 was broadcast 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 production Branded; King World was originally responsible for distributing both shows.

Synopsis[edit]

The series starred veteran character actor Walter Brennan as Will Sonnett, and Dack Rambo as his grandson, Jeff, who were searching for Will's son, James. Disgusted with his father's absence due to army business, James 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 and explaining that the mother had died in childbirth. The letter also said that James was giving his father a second chance at being a parent. Will was grateful for the opportunity, and did his best to steer his grandson in the right direction.

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

Will was not completely absent from James' childhood, and he had taught James how to handle a six-shooter; the younger man became renowned as a peerless gunfighter. Hearing so much of his father's repute, Jeff decided to find him. Will agreed, and they rode across the West looking for James. They often arrived at places that had been recently vacated by James. The people they met had mixed opinions of James, some seeing him as a ruthless killer, and others as the only man brave enough to take the side of justice against men far more ruthless. James appeared in several episodes, played by Jason Evers. One episode, entitled "The Man Who Killed Jim Sonnett", guest starred Robert F. Simon.

In April 1969, ABC begun airing second season reruns until September 16, 1969, when they aired the final episode that concluded the series (just as The Fugitive had done in 1967). The main characters achieved the goal of the premise in the series finale, "Three Stand Together", when Will and Jeff located James. The three men became lawmen in a small town: Will as town marshal and the other two as his deputies.

The Guns of Will Sonnett aired two years after the cancellation of Brennan's 1964-1965 ABC series The Tycoon.

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] The episodes were taken from the form syndicated by King World, and were edited from the original broadcast versions, with 3 minutes missing from each episode. 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.

References[edit]

External links[edit]