The 77 half-hour episodes (all in B&W) of the television western "The Restless Gun" ran from 1957-1959 on NBC. John Payne (best known as the Santa believing attorney in "Miracle on 34th Street") played the title character whose series name was Vint Bonner. There was also a half hour pilot where Payne's character had a different name (Britt Ponset). 23 of these episodes (including the pilot) are on the new DVD release.
"The Restless Gun" was a big deal back in those days. It had its own Dell 4-color comic book and was part of Topps 1958 set of T.V. Western trading cards. This was the first series for "Bonanza" producer David Dotort. Payne was the show's executive producer.
What distinguished Vint Bonner from the legion of televised loners (Johnny Yuma, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Bronco Lane, etc.) who were roaming the range back then was that he was clearly a professional gunfighter (like Paladin) and not just somebody trying to find themselves. He didn't have Paladin's style or fondness for the good life, rather he seemed pretty world weary and disillusioned.
As someone has already mentioned, Bonner carried around a special kit that would extend the effective range of his colt. This involved a detailed assembly sequence in which a barrel extension and a rifle stock were attached to the handgun. The idea of a modified novelty gun soon inspired imitators, "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "The Rifleman" with the genre. But the U.N.C.L.E. gun was the most like what was featured on "The Restless Gun". The original has been largely forgotten except among toy collectors as a replica was released along with the show's other merchandising programs.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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