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DVD Review: Have Gun – Will Travel: The Fourth Season, Volume One

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Written by Fantasma el Rey

Have Gun – Will Travel: The Fourth Season, Volume One  finds our hero Paladin pretty much right where he left off, traveling the West and hiring out his gun for just cause. Richard Boone stars as the “fast gun for hire that heeds the calling wind” and rides into nineteen more half-hour episodes in this first half of the fourth season which cover late 1960 to early 1961. The plots and action have never let up in this series and Boone is perfect as the no nonsense, very wise and skilled gunman with a level head and quick draw.

The overall premise of Have Gun – Will Travel is as the title implies: a skilled gun hand hires out his pistol to those he deems worthy or situations he finds interesting. Paladin would rather settle any problems without his gun but you never push, prod, or threaten Paladin. He will send you to an early grave. Based out of San Francisco, this very well educated, mystery man of a good family isn’t simply a hired killer; many times he’ll show up and switch sides when he realizes his potential client is in the wrong or is simply bent on having someone killed.

Sounds simple and easily tiring yet it is not, at all. With many great writers, the stories stay sharp and involving. From the opening horns where we see Paladin drawing his black revolver (with cool chess knight emblem on the handle) and quoting an interesting line from that episode to the closing theme song “The Ballad of Paladin” sung by Johnny Western, you’re hooked and wonder what will happen to the gunman in black this time.

Through out the three DVDs we explore the many aspects of Paladin's wisdom, critical thinking and judgment. Have Gun – Will Travel is very adult and tackles some good issues or at least hints at them. We hear a tale of an Indian massacre by the U.S. Army in “The Montebank,” anti slavery in “Killing Of Jessie May,” the stigma of being a long-time felon in “The Prisoner,” and the prejudice against women in certain occupations with “The Tender Gun.”

Each episode is interesting and different, some are lighthearted as with “Love’s Young Dream” about a pelt scavenger who inherits a fancy nightclub; “Out Of The Old Ballpark,” which finds Paladin as baseball umpire to some feuding townsfolk, “Foggbound,” based on "Around the World in 80 Days," and “Princess And The Gunfighter,” in which Paladin himself falls for a lovely young princess.

On the other hand there are well-played dramas that lack not for action. “A Head Of Hair” finds Paladin facing off against Indians as his guide reflects on his mistreatment by a certain tribe, “The Calf” is a about a range feud begun between brothers, and then there’s “Quiet Night In Town” in two parts. “Quiet Night” is a solid story and has Paladin’s prisoner being lynched by rowdy, bored townfolk, and Paladin himself takes a beating and that’s just Part I. Part II sees Paladin awake again and mad as hell, at first, seeking revenge which he gets in a way. His cool head prevails and his hand is “forced” to kill where he would have been content to hand the killer over to the Sheriff.

Overall, Have Gun – Will Travel: The Fourth Season, Volume One  is just as action packed, hard hitting and interesting as the first three full seasons, which I’ve seen regularly since I was a child thanks to my Father. As always "Have Gun-Will Travel" is packed with guest stars such as Robert Blake, Denver Pyle, Jack Albertson, Harry Carey Jr., George Kennedy and Ben Johnson to name a few, and there are always lesser-known actors of the past who pop up in supporting rolls. Once again without the aid of my Father these names would be forgotten or not known at all to me. Thanks again, Pop. So “Wire Paladin San Francisco” or just look online or at a DVD store near you to find the latest installment of ave Gun – Will Travel.

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  • Jenna

    Good review which emphasises the wisdom of the character and the intelligence of the writing. I listen to some American Old Time Radio shows on the net and Have Gun… is one of them. This review has given a steer to tracking down the DVD’s