Paladin crosses paths with Sarah Gibbs on her way to see her husband's hanging for a crime he did commit. A proper burial is all she is seeking but she has a paper that says she can't even visit him....
The Double R Ranch featured "The King of the Cowboys" Roy, his "Smartest Horse in the Movies" Trigger, "Queen of the West" Dale, her horse Buttermilk, their dog Bullet, and even Pat's jeep, Nellybelle.
Professional gunfighter Paladin was a West Point graduate who, after the Civil War, settled into San Francisco's Hotel Carlton were he awaited responses to his business card: over the picture of a chess knight "Have Gun, Will Travel ... Wire Paladin, San Francisco."Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Paladin always carried a Derringer, a pocket gun concealed under his belt. "Derringer" is the misspelled last name of Henry Deringer, a nineteenth century maker of small pistols. See more »
Paladin usually presents his business card by taking it from his waistline (usually under his gun belt or out of his pants). The card is, understandably, wrinkled or bent when presented, yet when it is shown on screen in the close-up it is always a new, flat card with no wrinkles or folds, but when they show the card in Paladin's, or others, hand, it is wrinkled again. See more »
I don't think you got a very good look at this gun while you had it. The balance is perfect. This trigger responds to a pressure of one ounce. If you look carefully in the barrel you'll see the lines of the rifling. It's a rarity in a hand weapon. This gun was handcrafted to my specifications and I rarely draw it unless I mean to use it. Would you care for a demonstration?
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I suspect this series grew out of a radio show of the early 50's called Frontier Gentleman with John Dehner as a polished force for good in the Old West. Of course, a character like that cuts against the stereotype of the western hero, who, whatever his level of gun-slinging skill, is rarely able to quote Shakespeare or distinguish a Rothschild '29 from a swig of whiskey. But, of course, Palladin can. In fact, the guy in black knows all the arts of refinement, which not surprisingly came to separate him from the hundred other Western heroes of that day.
But casting an intellectual gun-fighter for a macho Western series presents a tricky challenge. The actor's got to be authoritative whether slinging a gun or fingering a glass of wine, and also be masculine enough to command respect in both regards. And this is where the series really succeeded. They got Richard Boone, an actor who can make you believe most anything. Plus, his homely, craggy looks are unlike any of the many handsome heroes of the day. At the same time, dressing him in black, with a mysterious background and a mythological name pretty much completes the package that produced big success in the ratings, lasting an unusual six seasons.
The opening sequence in San Francisco usually played up Palladin's refinements and success with the ladies, even dressing him often like a dandy. After that, he'd hire out, change into his black work clothes, and go on the road to some risky situation. My favorite stories are those that have him trying to figure out where the truth lies, because often his employer would shade the truth for various reasons. Then, our knight-without-armor would have to rely on instinct and a sense of honor since he's not a lawman with a duty to perform. What duty he does have comes from a knight's sense of honor that only he is responsible for, reinforcing his image as an ultimate loner.
Wisely, the script would occasionally humanize Palladin's superior skills by having him reflect on the strange ways of the world or on the wisdom of his actions. For example, he might stare off in silence at the end of a particularly troubling story, or quote something wise that would make us think. These were important moments that added a thoughtful dimension too commonly missing from other horse operas of the time. Then too, even weak stories were often compensated by Boone's commanding presence.
I don't know if HGWT was the best series of that six-gun saturated era—the early Gunsmoke (1955-60) was awfully good as was Sam Peckinpaugh's brilliant but short-lived The Westerner (1960). Nonetheless, the guy in black is definitely worth catching up with, along with that catchy title tune.
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