Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Talk to the Hand (and What's Attached to It...)

By Mitchell

I've been in something of a classic TV rut lately. (I know, what else is new?) I might even get an article or two out of it, although quite frankly I think my claim that buying new DVD sets and TV Guides "for research purposes" is starting to get a little thin.

At any rate, check out this opening from one of the best TV Westerns of the late 50s and early 60s - Have Gun - Will Travel. Starring the brilliant Richard Boone, Have Gun was the story of Paladin - an intellectual, sophisticated gentleman who lived in high style in San Francisco, eating the best foods, associating with the best in society, well-read, speaking many languages. He was also a gun for hire, as evidenced by his calling card, with the words "Have Gun - Will Travel" set against his logo, a black chess paladin. Whenever he went to work, his wardrobe changed from an expensive suit to the black hat, shirt and pants of the gunman. Paladin held to a high standard of ethics, even turning against those who hired him should he find that he had been misled.

Have Gun - Will Travel existed in syndication for many years following the end of its original run on CBS. In 1968, it was singled out as one of the most violent programs on television in the witch hunts that followed the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Today, such a claim would be laughable - the violence in a typical episode would pale in comparison to the opening credits of programs such as The Sopranos.

Speaking of opening credits, here's the memorable opening of Have Gun - Will Travel, with the ominous music and imposing figure of Boone, heard but not seen, addressing the audience with a line of dialogue from the upcoming episode.

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