"Gunsmoke" Custer (TV Episode 1956) Poster

(TV Series)


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From the Frying Pan into the Fire
dougdoepke7 September 2011
Strong story. Matt and Chester encounter suspicious character (Hutton) on the prairie. He's got a pack of horses he says are his, but Matt says the brand indicates they belong to a farmer in the area. So Matt takes him to the farmer's place to see where the truth lies.

Hutton turns in a first-rate performance as the shifty-eyed stranger, managing to convey menace without acting tough. His smugly arrogant Joe Trimble is also one of the more dislikable troublemakers of the early series. There're also a couple of major twists, one of which the IMDb synopsis unfortunately gives away. Nonetheless, that and the final scene suggest something on the order of a cosmic justice should the human variety fail.

(In passing—I have mixed emotions about the very first scene that in effect removes all doubt about what happens later. I'm thinking the story would be more thought provoking had the scene not been included. See what you think.)
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Matt has some info that should have been past on to Fort Lincoln.
kfo949428 May 2013
In this episode, that takes place right before the battle of Little Big Horn, we have an Army deserter named Joe Trimble that makes his way to the area around Dodge. Matt and Chester meet the man in civilian clothes out in the prairie with five horses in tow that has the mark of Gramby's ranch. When the Marshal asks about the horses he gets curt answers from Joe which makes Matt believe something is wrong. They led Joe and the horses to Gramby's house where they find him beaten to death. Matt arrest Joe for the murder. Matt is set to take Joe for trial in Hay City when an army Major comes into Dodge looking for a deserter. Just so happens that Matt has him in jail. When jury fails to convict Joe for the crime it appears that he has escape justice. But the Army may have something planned. An unique episode where Matt felt like justice was not served. But the show had the interest to keep the viewer's attention as we find a surprising ironic situation at the end of the episode. Good Watch.
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Horsing Around
zafrom10 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
What do you think of in the 19th century when you see "Custer"? Boston? Thomas? Libbie? Or, how many viewers don't first think of "George Armstrong"? Maybe the episode title "Custer" was just a convenient reminder about the story for the radio producers. But with the title "Custer" on IMDb and on the DVD, the story did little to spark my curiosity, because I guessed very early on -- surprise? -- where Joe Trimble was headed. Also Major Banker mentioning the 7th Cavalry halfway through the episode killed even more suspense. Why not instead have an episode title like "When Grant was President" or "A Date in June" or "Money? What Money?". "Rhymes with Bluster"? Title guy, I'm ready to take over.

As dougdoepke mentioned, the episode would have at least started out better without "Say it ain't so" Joe trying to break open the metal box. (And also without the too much information in the episode's synopsis.) Only the TV audience saw the prologue, not the Marshal or the jury. No wonder how the jury voted. The radio version of 3 years earlier (November 21, 1953) starts out with Matt and Chester meeting Joe and the horses, so there is more ambiguity about what, actually, Joe did if more than just round up the stray horses.

Joe was right, technically, that the evidence against him was just circumstantial and not enough to convict him. But he was also lucky in having the the US Marshal find him before someone else would would have enjoyed lynching him for horse rustling. And why would you give your real name to the Marshal? Especially considering your past offense. All in all, Brian G. Hutton looked well cast as the smug bumbler.
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darbski5 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
**SPOILERS** Only an 8. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell ya. The show was going along just fine; I mean it - real creep for a bad guy, hidden money that nobody ever found (that's pretty good wonderment, right there), Matt and log bump (Chester), find creepy with roped up horses, owner dead; we know who did it, but the court in Hayes actually demands proof, and Matt ain't got it. Bad guy gets brought back to Dodge for the Army; and right here is when it goes off the rails.

Matt and Chester talk about how easy the Army treats their troopers and horses, and this is just dumb. Sure, they stopped to take breaks; they usually have to go long distances and the horses are the property of the U.S. government. Matt and civilians can beat their horses to death if they want to. Just say they get to Hays in a day and a half that's about sixty miles a day; when they got there and then back again, they could put their horses in a livery with good food, good water, currying, and resting. The Army did about forty miles a day on beans and hay and they'd do it for many days in a row.... civvies could never do what the cavalry or mounted infantry could.

Next, at the close of the show Major Banker was going to take Trimble NOT to Fort Lincoln, but fort Riley - the original home of the Seventh. They were pulling out, and it was warm and dry. The operations against the Off Reservation Indians did not start preparations until mid-winter. Nice, cold, and messy in Kansas. Most damning, in Kansas, in the 1870s, EVERYONE knew exactly who George Armstrong Custer was, and they loved him (mostly) for forcing the Cheyenne further west. Now, I believe Chester may not have known; he was the resident bonehead, but there's NO excuse for the writers giving Matt the lines that don't recognize Custer and the Seventh Cavalry.
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