The Restless Gun

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The Restless Gun
RestlessGun title.jpg
Title card
Genre Western
Directed by Christian Nyby
Edward Ludwig
Sam Strangis
Earl Bellamy
Jus Addiss
Starring John Payne
Narrated by John Payne
Composer(s) Paul Dunlap
Dave Kahn
Stanley Wilson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 78
Production
Executive producer(s) John Payne
Producer(s) David Dortort
Felix Jackson
Location(s) American Southwest
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Window Glen Productions
Revue Studios
Distributor Universal Television
NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Release
Original network NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 23, 1957 – June 22, 1959
Chronology
Related shows The Texan
Cheyenne

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.

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.[1]

Background[edit]

John Payne as Vint Bonner and villain Gene Baroda. The dual role in the 1959 episode "Dead Ringer" ended with a shootout between his two characters.

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.[2] For the television version, however, the name was changed to Vint Bonner. Some episodes were based on the radio programs.[3]

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."[3]

The Restless Gun ranked in the Top Ten during its first season on the air, ending the year at No. 8, but it was not among the highest rated programs in the second season.[4][5]

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.[6]

Most end titles of The Restless Gun episodes have a line that reads "Based on characters created by Frank Burt," but Burt's name is not mentioned in the pilot episode. Though he is not listed as the "creator" of the TV series,[3] Burt was the creator of the radio series that The Restless Gun is based on.

Payne is the "executive producer" of his series, but a critic calls that designation "vanity."[3] 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.[3]

Episodes[edit]

Season 1: 1957–58[edit]

Ep Title Original air date
0 0 "Pilot" 1957 (1957)
1 1 "Duel at Lockwood" September 23, 1957 (1957-09-23)
2 2 "Trail to Sunset" September 30, 1957 (1957-09-30)
3 3 "Revenge at Harness Creek" October 7, 1957 (1957-10-07)
4 4 "Rink" October 14, 1957 (1957-10-14)
5 5 "Jenny" October 21, 1957 (1957-10-21)
6 6 "The Shooting of Jett King" October 28, 1957 (1957-10-28)
7 7 "Jody" November 4, 1957 (1957-11-04)
8 8 "General Gilford's Widow" November 11, 1957 (1957-11-11)
9 9 "The New Sheriff" November 18, 1957 (1957-11-18)
10 10 "Man and Boy" November 25, 1957 (1957-11-25)
11 11 "Cheyenne Express" December 2, 1957 (1957-12-02)
12 12 "Thicker Than Water" December 9, 1957 (1957-12-09)
13 13 "Silver Threads" December 16, 1957 (1957-12-16)
14 14 "The Child" December 23, 1957 (1957-12-23)
15 15 "The Gold Buckle" December 30, 1957 (1957-12-30)
16 16 "The Coward" January 6, 1958 (1958-01-06)
17 17 "Friend in Need" January 13, 1958 (1958-01-13)
18 18 "Strange Family in Town" January 20, 1958 (1958-01-20)
19 19 "Hang and Be Damned" January 27, 1958 (1958-01-27)
20 20 "Quiet City" February 3, 1958 (1958-02-03)
21 21 "Hornitas Town" February 10, 1958 (1958-02-10)
22 22 "Imposter for a Day" February 17, 1958 (1958-02-17)
23 23 "A Pressing Engagement" February 24, 1958 (1958-02-24)
24 24 "Woman from Sacramento" March 3, 1958 (1958-03-03)
25 25 "Sheriff Billy" March 10, 1958 (1958-03-10)
26 26 "The Hand Is Quicker" March 17, 1958 (1958-03-17)
27 27 "The Suffragette" March 24, 1958 (1958-03-24)
28 28 "The Whip" March 31, 1958 (1958-03-31)
29 29 "The Crisis at Easter Creek" April 7, 1958 (1958-04-07)
30 30 "Aunt Emma" April 14, 1958 (1958-04-14)
31 31 "The Outlander" April 21, 1958 (1958-04-21)
32 32 "The Battle of Tower Rock" April 28, 1958 (1958-04-28)
33 33 "The Torn Flag" May 5, 1958 (1958-05-05)
34 34 "Hiram Grover's Strike" May 12, 1958 (1958-05-12)
35 35 "The Gold Star" May 19, 1958 (1958-05-19)
36 36 "More Than Kin" May 26, 1958 (1958-05-26)
37 37 "The Manhunters" June 2, 1958 (1958-06-02)
38 38 "The Peddler" June 9, 1958 (1958-06-09)
39 39 "Gratitude" June 16, 1958 (1958-06-16)

Season 2: 1958–59[edit]

Ep Title Original air date
40 1 "Jebediah Bonner" September 22, 1958 (1958-09-22)
41 2 "Day of the Dragon" September 29, 1958 (1958-09-29)
42 3 "Mercyday" October 6, 1958 (1958-10-06)
43 4 "Thunder Alley" October 13, 1958 (1958-10-13)
44 5 "The Nowhere Kid" October 20, 1958 (1958-10-20)
45 6 "Bonner's Squaw" November 3, 1958 (1958-11-03)
46 7 "Tomboy" November 10, 1958 (1958-11-10)
47 8 "Remember the Dead" November 17, 1958 (1958-11-17)
48 9 "No Way to Kill" November 24, 1958 (1958-11-24)
49 10 "Take Me Home" December 1, 1958 (1958-12-01)
50 11 "Multiply One Boy" December 8, 1958 (1958-12-08)
51 12 "Peligroso" December 15, 1958 (1958-12-15)
52 13 "A Bell for Santo Domingo" December 22, 1958 (1958-12-22)
53 14 "The Way Back" December 29, 1958 (1958-12-29)
54 15 "The Painted Beauty" January 5, 1959 (1959-01-05)
55 16 "Shadow of a Gunfighter" January 12, 1959 (1959-01-12)
56 17 "The Lady and the Gun" January 19, 1959 (1959-01-19)
57 18 "Blood of Courage" February 2, 1959 (1959-02-02)
58 19 "Better Than a Cannon" February 9, 1959 (1959-02-09)
59 20 "The Dead Ringer" February 16, 1959 (1959-02-16)
60 21 "The Last Grey Man" February 23, 1959 (1959-02-23)
61 22 "Melany" March 2, 1959 (1959-03-02)
62 23 "Ricochet" March 9, 1959 (1959-03-09)
63 24 "Dead Man's Hand" March 16, 1959 (1959-03-16)
64 25 "The Sweet Sisters" March 23, 1959 (1959-03-23)
65 26 "Incident at Bluefield" March 30, 1959 (1959-03-30)
66 27 "The Pawn" April 6, 1959 (1959-04-06)
67 28 "Four Lives" April 13, 1959 (1959-04-13)
68 29 "One on the House" April 20, 1959 (1959-04-20)
69 30 "Code for a Killer" April 27, 1959 (1959-04-27)
70 31 "Mme. Brimstone" May 4, 1959 (1959-05-04)
71 32 "Lady by Law" May 11, 1959 (1959-05-11)
72 33 "Ride with the Devil" May 18, 1959 (1959-05-18)
73 34 "A Trial for Jenny May" May 25, 1959 (1959-05-25)
74 35 "The Cavis Boy" June 1, 1959 (1959-06-01)
75 36 "The Englishman" June 8, 1959 (1959-06-08)
76 37 "A Very Special Investigator" June 15, 1959 (1959-06-15)
77 38 "The Hill of Death" June 22, 1959 (1959-06-22)

Selected guest stars[edit]

DVD Releases[edit]

On March 1, 2010, Timeless Media Group released a 3-disc best-of set featuring 24 episodes from the series.[7]

On April 23, 2013, Timeless Media released Restless Gun: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.[8] The 9-disc set features all 78 episodes of the series.

Scheduling[edit]

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.[9]

Syndication[edit]

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.[10] As of May 2016, it currently runs weekdays on GetTV at 7:00AM PST.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Restless Gun". film.com. Retrieved January 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars". tv.com. Retrieved January 1, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "David Dortort and The Restless Gun". classictvhistory.wordpress.com. Retrieved January 1, 2011. 
  4. ^ A. C. Nielsen Media Research, 1957-1958 television season
  5. ^ The No. 9 show that year was Spring Byington's December Bride on CBS, which also aired on Monday evenings.
  6. ^ Pilot episode (1957), The Restless Gun, DVD, Timeless Media Group
  7. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Restless-Gun-John-Payne/dp/B003BJODHS
  8. ^ http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Restless-Gun-The-Complete-Series/17769
  9. ^ 1957-1959 network television schedules, Alex McNeil, Total Television, appendix
  10. ^ "The Restless Gun". Classic TV Hits. Retrieved January 1, 2011. 

External links[edit]