Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, two of the most wanted outlaws in the history of the West, are popular "with everyone except the railroads and the banks", since "in all the trains and banks ... See full summary »
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, two of the most wanted outlaws in the history of the West, are popular "with everyone except the railroads and the banks", since "in all the trains and banks they robbed, they never shot anyone". They are offered an amnesty on condition that they stay out of trouble for a year and that they don't tell anyone about it. With a view to keeping their noses clean they adopt the identities of Smith and Jones and use all of their ingenuity keeping out of the way of the law. Written by
This series often mixed fictional characters with real-life ones - even the two leads are that mixture. Jed "Kid" Curry was real, a fairly well-known outlaw who committed suicide when trapped (several episodes feature discussions between Curry and Hannibal Heyes on whether they will both stay straight, with Curry sure about Heyes and far from sure about himself). See more »
During the entire show, Heyes and Curry have either one pair of saddlebags each, or nothing at all, yet they continually appear in different recurring outfits, including heavy coats, suits (with matching hats), and different vest/jacket combinations. See more »
I'll always wonder: had he lived, could Pete Duel have rescued the TV Western from oblivion? Gunsmoke and Bonanza, the hoary old legends of the genre, already were teetering on their ancient last legs, with but a few more seasons to be squeezed out of them, when, out of the blue, as I remember it, came Alias Smith and Jones, whose fresh and jokey episodes became pretty wildly popular, especially with young people (that would be the likes of *me*, as I was 16 at the time). Alas, as others have already noted, Pete Duel committed suicide just as the series was hitting its stride. (The story of Duel's death made headlines across the country in a way contemporary viewers of TV dramas cannot imagine.) Roger Davis came in as a replacement and the series slid right downhill immediately thereafter--although I did like the episodes with Michele Lee. At any rate, about the only TV Western afterward to generate anything similar to Alias Smith and Jones' excitement was Kung Fu. Sidenote: James Garner's marvelous, and utterly forgotten series, Nichols, should have been the next great Western after Alias . . .
What made Alias Smith and Jones tick? I always thought it was a sleek updating of what had already been a semi-comic TV Western success a few years earlier, Maverick. In fact, you can spot touches of the Bret Maverick characterization in both Heyes and Curry, along with some similar story lines and plot developments. Not to mention the lifting of the "five pat hands" trick, which Bret Maverick employed more than once. All of which should not be too much of a surprise, however, as Roy Huggins was instrumental to both series.
Otherwise, watch out for the handful of episodes with Slim Pickens. "Exit from Wickenburg", the one where Slim works as the crooked bartender of a saloon/casino, is a masterpiece. It just wouldn't be a proper 1960s Western without Slim popping up every now and then.
What a pity that Pete Duel succumbed to his demons. What a loss for network TV, the Western, and the many fans of Alias Smith and Jones. Who knows what could have been . . . .
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