Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
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Mistaken Identity 

A drifter tries to settle in Dodge after switching identities with a man he found who had been bit by a rattlesnake, but his plans are complicated when that man is brought into town still unconscious.


Robert Totten


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Episode cast overview:
James Arness ... Matt Dillon
Milburn Stone ... Doc
Amanda Blake ... Kitty
Ken Curtis ... Festus (credit only)
Roger Ewing ... Thad
Glenn Strange ... Sam Noonan
Albert Salmi ... Ed Carstairs
Hal Lynch Hal Lynch ... Mel Gates
Ken Mayer ... Jeff Timmons
Sam Melville ... Cal Dunster
Ted Jordan Ted Jordan ... Nathan Burke


Mel Gates, a traveler, stops by a creek to get a drink -- and a rattler chomps onto his face. His screams and his gunshots at the escaping snake are heard by Ed Carstairs, coming to the same watering hole from a different direction. But Carstairs is in no charitable mood. He's wanted in another town for killing a sheriff during a poker game, and justice in that town is notoriously corrupt (Matt later asks two sheriff's deputies snidely: "Was the town boss shot in the hip? Well, isn't that where he keeps the sheriff, isn't it ... in his hip pocket?"). So Carstairs tries to finish what the snake started by kicking Gates unconscious and switching identity papers with him. The ruse seems to work, but shortly after Carstairs arrives in Dodge he spots Gates being dragged unconscious on a litter behind Matt's horse -- Matt, making his rounds, also heard the commotion and found Gates still alive. Carstairs sneaks into Doc Adams' office and tries to smother Gates in his sleep, but jerks the ... Written by Peter Harris

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

18 March 1967 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS Television Network See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Both actors Albert Salmi and Hal Lynch died from self inflicted gunshot wounds. Albert Salmi suffered from depression and Hal Lynch in his later years had debilitating arthritis. See more »

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User Reviews

Good story but lacking action
30 July 2012 | by kfo9494See all my reviews

The episode begins when a cowboy named Mel Gates is by a creek and gets bit by a rattlesnake on the left cheek. Mr Gates fires his gun at the snake which only leads to an on-the-run criminal named Ed Carstairs to come to his aid. However Mr Carstairs has other plans than giving first-aid, he changes ID papers with Gates and assumes his identity. By accident Matt Dillon happens up on the snake bit cowboy and takes him back to Dodge City to be treated by Doc Adams.

Meanwhile, the criminal using the name of Gates has went into Dodge City and became friends with some locals. He is upset to see that Matt has brought the cowboy back to Dodge and feels like the cowboy can identify him. However due to the snake bit the cowboy does not remember anything about his past. Thus making all believe that the cowboy is the criminal that shot a sheriff in a nearby town.

From the following information we get the plot of the show that has the cowboy being accused of a murder he did not commit and the criminal trying to make everyone believe that he is just as concern with justice as anyone else. But the plot seemed to be lacking as parts of the show were long and without action.

Perhaps a sub-plot would have help this show --but that did not happen. Instead we have periods of long dialog and uninteresting conversation to fill in for action.

Could have been better with just some interesting aforethought.

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