A banker with a consuming thirst for vengeance hires Randall to accompany him to track down the man he believes responsible for his son's death and a bank robbery. The man Randall seeks can be identified by his distinctive gun draw.


(as Donald McDougall)



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Episode complete credited cast:
Mr. Walker
Sheriff Earl Tipton
Mrs. Walker


Josh Randall rides into Lauring, New Mexico, where the bank manager Mr. Walker wants to engage him to seize a man called Clay Whiteside, dead or alive. Five years ago Whiteside robbed the bank. He was caught and the money restored, but on his way to prison he run away, and hasn't been seen thereafter. Three months before the bank robbery he killed Walker's only son in a gunfight. Now Walker has found out that Whiteside is in Banner, Texas. He and Randall must go to Banner and seize him, although they have to ride for two weeks through the wasteland to get there. During the ride Walker gets deadly ill. Randall has to leave him in a cottage, and continue on his own. To identify Whiteside, Walker tells Randall that he should look for a man who grabs his right wrist with his left hand, when he fires. In Banner no one knows such a man, not even the sheriff Earl Tipton. Instead Randall bumps into the gangster Phil, who he captured three years ago and brought to prison. When Phil tries to ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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Release Date:

11 October 1958 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Sheriff Earl Tipton: Unbuckle those belts and let 'em drop.
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User Reviews

League of Unlikely Honorable Men
12 December 2016 | by (Omaha, Nebraska) – See all my reviews

"The Giveaway Gun" is among my favorite episodes of the series. A perfect story perfectly cast, with a twist ending and satisfying finish that illustrates well what it means to be a man.

Everett Sloane plays Walker, an embittered banker nursing a long grudge against Clay Whiteside, the man who robbed his bank and gunned down his son. When he learns that Whiteside mailed a letter from Banner, Texas, he employs Josh to accompany him there to take him--preferably dead. Walker's wife warns Josh that Whiteside shot their son ne'er-do-well son in self defense, and that Walker is not a well man. As Josh discovers when Walker collapses en route and is unable to complete the journey, entrusting Josh to go on alone and find Whiteside.

Walker gives Josh a way of identifying Whiteside that gives the episode its title. "The Giveaway Gun" refers to the distinctive way Whiteside fires his pistol, clutching his right wrist with his left hand, a habit he developed as a boy when the pistol was to heavy to hold steady. Josh is confident somebody in town will be able identify the man with so unique a draw, but Josh encounters a conspiracy of silence.

Complicating matters is Josh's unpleasant reunion with Phil, an outlaw who served three years in prison because Josh captured him. Phil boasts about brooding over the incident, swearing he'd get even some day. Phil is a parallel to Walker, who has also squandered so much of his life contemplating revenge.

Breaking up the brewing barroom gunfight between Phil and Josh is Sheriff Earl Tipton, who strikes up an easy rapport with Josh. That camaraderie comes into play soon thereafter when Phil and his two henchmen ride out of town on the heels of Josh, observed through the jailhouse window by Tipton.

Cut to the countryside where inexplicably Phil has gotten ahead of Josh and lays in ambush. A savage beating is again broken up by Sheriff Tipton who fires the lifesaving shot by... clutching his right wrist with his left hand! His cover blown, Whiteside/Tipton surrenders to Josh. But Josh, being a man of honor himself recognizes another of his tribe when he meets one. A highlight is when Josh turns the gun around and returns it to Tipton, grateful for what he's done and even offering a form of absolution that lightens the burden on Tipton's mind. Josh knows from the townspeople's protecting their sheriff that Tipton's earned their respect and honor.

The epilogue has Josh reporting to Walker his failure to capture Whiteside. The closing lines are powerful ones, and left me confident there was hope for Walker to find resolution and to live an unburdened life going forward.

BURKE'S LAW creator Frank Gilroy wrote this episode and only one other, "The Fourth Headstone." He also scripted an excellent episode of HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL titled "The Protégé" guest starring a pre-BIG VALLEY Peter Breck that had some thematic parallels to "The Giveaway Gun" in its featuring an older and younger man bridging the generation gap.

The cast was one of the best assembled. Everett Sloan of CITIZEN KANE fame was perfect as the embittered and deluded banker. Frank Faylen, veteran of a million Westerns and just a year shy from being cast as a sitcom Dad on THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS, really shined as Sheriff Tipton. Richard Devon, one of my favorite villain actors, was loathsome as Phil. John Harmon had a short scene at the beginning playing the rat informer to Walker. Lurene Tuttle enjoys a strong scene as the wife and mother who has to reveal uncomfortable truths to Josh, the stranger to whom she must entrust her husband's safety. Finally, an unbilled Jon Lormer is the stableman whose friendly demeanor changes when Josh asks about the distinctive gun draw. Each performer brought something special to the show and together made it great.

One of the best and an episode not to be missed.

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