|Index||3 reviews in total|
This has one of the most powerful endings of any 'Gunsmoke' episode in
the entire series. Making this episode one of the best I have seen in a
very long time.
The show centers around Major Creed (RG Armstrong) who is a large land and farm owner outside of Dodge City. He has a son named Dal Creed (James Best) that happens to be a weak coward which is totally opposite from his father.
Dal happens up on the Long Branch one evening and tries to strong-arm a saloon girl named Lottie. However Lottie is in a relationship with Pat Kane who just happens to be a ex-worker of the Creed ranch that Dal got fired. Anyway Pat don't take kindly to have his girl roughed up by Dal so they get into a fist fight until broken up by Marshal Dillon.
The next night while Lottie and Pat are leaving the Long Branch, shots ring out and Lottie is killed. Chester happens up to the scene and witnesses Dal getting on his horse and riding off. So Matt and Chester go out to the Creed farm to arrest Dal.
After a guilty verdict with the penalty of hanging, Major Creed uses all his political power to try to get a retrial or pardon. When he tells Dal that all attempts so far have failed - Dal goes into a crying and whining fit that embarrasses all that witness the spectacle. His father apologizes for his son's action and begins to think of a way that his son can die with a smile on his face.
The sheriff where the hanging is to take place tells Dal that his father has paid him and others to fake the hanging. Dal will look like he was hung but will be safe under the boarded up scaffold. Upon hearing this news Dal changes from a crying coward into a arrogant bully. It will be with the flare of arrogance that Dal ascends the steps to the hangman's noose. But all is not the truth.
Whatever the reason, at the end of this episode I knew I had witnessed a great entertaining story. From the script to the acting the entire episode was solid. James Best was perfect as the coward. R.G. Armstrong was a perfect cast as the father figure. Even minor characters such as the sheriff of Hays City was brilliant to the script. One of the most solid shows in the entire 'Gunsmoke' collection.
I just finished watching this show and when the final scene completed I
said to myself, "that was probably the finest Gunsmoke episode i have
ever seen in my life!" and then I read the other reviews ... you guys
were spot on! If more westerns scripts were written like this, the
genre would have survived the march of time... well done.
I also always liked the actor James Best (the "hanged" guy), but I never liked the characters he played... too bad they had to type cast him so his entire career, he really was a decent actor. Kind of a B movie kind of actor, until he finally found Dukes of Hazzard, which totally type cast him for the rest of eternity... now this Gunsmoke episode will be the way I remember him.
My father is the author of this episode, and though I've tried to be
objective, it could be slightly biased! Now if you like your serial
television with a smattering of murder, rape, posh privilege, and false
redemption, this episode is for you! The basic premise, was to fool a
man about to be hanged, that he would actually escape. All so he would
die "with a smile" on his face. And the set up was done by his father!
The story of how "Dal" ends up in this end of life trauma, is possibly
the strangest plot to ever hit Gunsmoke. You can read the storyline on
IMDb, and see it has it's twists and turns, but I would encourage you
to purchase a copy somewhere, as it has everything a western should
have. Including Burt Reynolds, as the Native American, Quint.
And if you ask me, the story of Lottie Foy may be the saddest thing to hit American television. She deserves a prequel! Quite possibly a brilliant example of how we all deal with end of life issues, and the knowledge of our own mortality, this episode from season 8, should be submitted for a posthumous Emmy. But then again, my dad, Bud Furillo, was the author, so this review may be seasoned with a grain of salt.
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