TV Review – GUNSMOKE: MANNON (1969)

GUNSMOKE: MANNON (1969, USA) ****½
net. CBS Television Network; pr co. CBS Television Network; d. Robert Butler; w. Ron Bishop; exec pr. John Mantley; pr. Joseph Dackow; ph. Monroe P. Askins (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Jaime Mendoza-Nava; th. Rex Koury; ed. Gerard Wilson; ad. Joseph R. Jennings; set d. Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Alexander Velcoff; m/up. Glen Alden, Newton Jones, Gertrude Wheeler; sd. Vernon W. Kramer (Mono); tr. 20 January 1969; r/t. 50m.

cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Steve Forrest (Will Mannon), Buck Taylor (Newly), Glenn Strange (Sam Noonan), James Nusser (Louie Pheeters), Roy Barcroft (Roy), Charles Seel (Barney Danches), Ted Jordan (Nathan Burke), Woody Chambliss (Woody Lathrop), Tom Brown (Ed O’Connor), Charles Wagenheim (Ed Halligan), Howard Culver (Howie Uzzell), Michelle Breeze (Chris), Fred Dale (Townsman), Nick Borgani (Townsman (uncredited)), Stephen Burnette (Townsman (uncredited)), Bert Madrid (Townsman (uncredited)), Jimmy Noel (Townsman (uncredited)).

(s. 14 ep. 17) Will Mannon (Forrest), brutal and sadistic, comes to Dodge City planning to kill Matt Dillon (Arness) and cement his fearsome reputation. He first shoots and wounds Festus (Curtis) outside of Dodge, leaving Festus lying in the dirt and taking his mule Ruth to ride into town. He intimidates Dodge City residents, claiming to hold four aces in a poker game with the other players afraid to see his actual hand. Finally, he assaults Kitty (Blake). Finally, Matt returns to Dodge to confront the brutal Mannon. This is one of the series’ greatest episodes. Well-written with an unusual depth and superbly directed, this has an adult frankness rare in the TV of the day. Forrest delivers one of his very best performances as the Quantrill rider out to maintain his reputation ten years after the end of the Civil War. Blake is excellent here and her scenes with Forrest are TV drama at its best. The final shootout is both surprising and a fitting finale. Arness, Blake, Taylor, and Forrest reprised their roles from this episode 18 years later in the television movie GUNSMOKE: RETURN TO DODGE (1987).