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Have Gun - Will Travel  HD online
Language: English
Category: TV Series / Western
Original Title: Have Gun - Will Travel
Duration: 25min
Video type: TV Series
Professional gunfighter Paladin was a West Point graduate who, after the Civil War, settled into San Francisco's Hotel Carlton were he awaited responses to his business card: over the picture of a chess knight "Have Gun, Will Travel ... Wire Paladin, San Francisco."
Complete series cast summary:
Richard Boone Richard Boone - Paladin / - 225 episodes, 1957-1963
Kam Tong Kam Tong - Hey Boy / - 109 episodes, 1957-1963

While many television series are taken from radio shows, the radio show "Have Gun - Will Travel" with John Dehner as Paladin appeared after the television show.

Parts of season one, episode eleven, "The Colonel and the Lady", was filmed on sets used for Gunsmoke (1955). The Long Branch Saloon was minimally redecorated to stand-in for a saloon Paladin visits in a Nevada mining town. Shots of people walking the streets of the town were also taken from Gunsmoke (1955).

Regarding the name "Paladin", it comes from early European "paladino", "palatine" referring to a knightly, heroic champion who fights for a noble cause. "Paladin" can also refer to a military leader, trusted and relied on by his King. Both the "knight" (a "warrior") and "military leader" speak to the character's (Paladin's) military background.

Paladin's real name was never revealed.

Paladin's horse was Rafter. Richard Boone selected that name. Throughout the six-year run, the horses were called Curley, Frisco, Rudy, Mexico, and Rafter.

In early episodes of the series, Paladin's trail clothes were a rich midnight blue. This nicely complimented Richard Boone's blue eyes, they registered as black on the black and white film of the day. There was a shirt redesign from a buttoned front to a V-neck, and the colors of both changed to black around that time. Whenever Paladin's clothes were referred to in dialogue, he was always called "the man in black", whether he dressed in blue or black.

Although the series' title had a hyphen, Paladin's business card did not.

Paladin always carried a Derringer, a pocket gun concealed under his belt. "Derringer" is the misspelled last name of Henry Deringer, a nineteenth century maker of small pistols.

The building across the street from the Carlton Hotel is the San Francisco Banker's Exchange.

Richard Boone later said he thought the series was "a ridiculous thing".

The show was originally meant to be a private investigator series, not a western.

In 1957, Gene Roddenberry received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Script for season one, episode sixteen, "Helen of Abajinian".

Of the two hundred twenty-five episodes, twenty-four were written by Star Trek (1966) Creator Gene Roddenberry.

Paladin's name was never revealed in the television or radio series. There were three Have Gun - Will Travel novels. In one of them, Paladin was called Clay Alexander. "Wire Paladin" is a telegraph address, listed on the card just as businesses list their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses in the twenty-first century. Paladin's mailing address at the Hotel Carlton was also listed on the card. In the nineteenth century, there were only two means of long distance contact: mail and wire (telegraph). Some fans mistakenly believed that Wire was Paladin's first name. Source: "A Knight Without Armor, A Biography of Richard Boone" by David Rothel.

Paladin's suite at the Carlton Hotel is number 314.

Gene Roddenberry, of Star Trek fame, was a writer on this show, and is listed on season four, episode thirty, "El Paso Stage", amongst others.

The silhouette of a knight chess piece on Paladin's holster and business card, as well as his interest in playing chess, also demonstrate his self image as a knight errant seeking to right wrongs illustrated by his chosen assumed name. Even dressing all in black, like a black chess knight, adds to the image.

Paladin's business card reads, Have Gun, Will Travel. Wire Paladin. San Francisco". This is printed over the silhouette of a knight chess piece.

On the DVD covers, the season number corresponds to the number of rounds of ammunition shown, one through six, the same as the six shooter Paladin carried. Had the series gone more than six seasons, this would have proved to be problematic as Paladin carried a six shooter.

Reviews: [25]

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    As the proud owner of both the first and second seasons of "Have Gun - Will Travel", I am continually impressed with the quality and complexities of this "forgotten" treasure. Created during an age of western storytelling that was inundated with cardboard, do-gooders that were so clean they squeaked when they walked, Paladin stands out as an effective genre bridge between the over idealistic cowboy typified in John Wayne and the anti-hero "The Man With No Name" Clint Eastwood. "Have Gun - Will Travel" is a series that remembers the key to great storytelling is a believable character being true to himself at all times. Paladin is a combination rogue who works within the system, Robin Hood, and a crusader for the downtrodden. Quick with both a gun and a sarcastic wit, this professional problem solver is as at home in a drawing room as he is around a campfire. While this may sound hokey if you are as cynical as I am, I can assure you it is not. Besides casting the perfect actor for the role, the late Richard Boone, the creators used a talented group of writers {including Gene "Wagontrain to the Stars" Roddenberry} who used every second of screen time to move you through story lines that were frequently only westerns in their setting. I particularly enjoy the fact that you are never given more than an occasional hint as to Paladin's back-story. While this may frustrate some viewers, I find the air of mystery that it lends to the character adds to his complexity. For anyone that truly enjoys well crafted escapism or simply wonders if new life can be brought to an already overworked concept, you could not find a finer example of the true artistic potential of cinema's "bastard" child than "Have Gun - Will Travel".
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    I recently bought season one of "Have Gun - Will Travel" on DVD. I'm only twenty years old, but I've always had an interest in the golden age of television and westerns. I've never seen this show before purchasing it... but I've heard my father talking about it before and it sparked an interest.

    Unlike "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza", "Have Gun - Will Travel" is a lot darker (for it's time, especially) and a lot more in-depth - story-wise and moral-wise -- but not too dark, mind you. It's tasteful and holds important morals. Richard Boone, who plays the jack-of-all- trades hero Paladin, does a terrific job playing the classy scholar gun-for-hire who often quotes Shakespeare. The show relies more on character interaction and story, as opposed to the cliché gun slingin' and horse riding (although they are included tastefully into the story lines).

    Overall, this is an extremely fun show. If you like the '50s Disney "Zorro", starring Guy Williams, than you'll love this. Amazing for any Western and Drama fan, too.

    4.5/5, quality entertainment, writing, production and acting.
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    Richard Boone was brilliant as Paladin and the opening where he draws his gun to tension-building music was one of the best of any program made during the late-fifties. The half hour programs were always socially and politically poignant, with the hero always prevailing over injustice, discrimination and hate.

    The craggy-faced Boone dresses in black, making him a possible icon for the motorcycle sub-culture of our society. A typical "anti-hero"....establishing his OWN justice and being an avenging angel, tormenting those who have been unjust. Seemingly of the opinion that less is more, Paladin never EVER used his gun unless absolutely necessary and somehow, in the process, scared all malefactors crap-less. We could use more of that humbleness today.

    Shows like "Dog - Bounty Hunter" and "Orange County Chopper" once had the potential to be modern versions of Paladin, but are quite lost on me, due to today's propensity away from mental and moral stability and toward "quirkiness." Today producers feel more is best and less is nothing. This disease is epidemic in the entertainment productions of the early 21st century. Television was truly meant for great programs like Have Gun - Will Travel.
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    There was a lot of thought put into this TV series, which was not your typical Western. For one thing, his name: a Paladin was a lawful knight of Charlemagne's court. This accounts for the chess-piece knight on his calling card, and the lyrics of the theme song which refer to him as "a knight without armor in a savage land." His calling card said "Have Gun, Will Travel" and "Wire Paladin, San Francisco." (By the way, "Wire" was not his first name, it's a verb meaning "send a telegram.") Paladin, the only name he ever went by, was a true split-personality type. He was equally at home wearing expensive suits and living a rich playboy lifestyle in a San Francisco hotel, or donning his black working clothes, and avenging evil. Some of the clients he stood up for were not in the majority; for example, he once defended the Mennonites, which probably would make him seem to be a non-conformist. Paladin only cared about right and wrong. Even though he charged a fee for his services, he only took cases he believed in, and clients he wanted to help.

    " 'Have Gun, Will Travel' reads the card of a man. A knight without armor in a savage land. His fast gun for hire heeds the calling wind. A soldier of Fortune is the man called Paladin. Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam? Paladin, Paladin, far, far from home."
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    Intelligent, principled, competent, courageous, educated and suave. A bit ruthless perhaps, but a hero. Such was Palladin, who could quote Shakespeare as well as he used his perfectly balance Cavalry model 1873 Colt Single Action Revolver. This was the perfect counterpoint to Maverick's irony. For a school boy who also loved Shakespeare, Palladin became a justification. If a Western hero could be literate, then a literate boy was OK. Richard Boone was excellent, as we all know and yet... I wonder if John Dehner (who played Palladin on radio and who could not take the role on television because of contractual difficulties) had played the role, what would that have been like? Dehner vs Boone... speculation only but Dehner's greater sophistication against Boone's rugged masculinity. Both the radio and TV versions of Palladin were excellent. There has been little or nothing like it since.
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    The plot and the character, Paladin (which is not actually the gunfighter's name; he takes the moniker after being challenged by a character named Smoke) were ahead of the times for 1957. Paladin is a multilingual gentleman of letters who sees no need for macho bravado, is a champion of human rights (regardless of race or nationality) and who proves that real men can be literate, eloquent, and even wear a satin robe.

    Having viewed the Columbia House re-release of twenty-one episodes of "Have Gun", it amazes me how much Paladin is a renaissance man. Paladin laughs up his sleeve as his adversaries fumble in comic absurdity, trying to prove just how masculine they are. Psychology, not a pistol, often is the weapon of choice. Even so, after twenty-two minutes of clever strategy and elocution, the fist and the forty-four are often called upon to end the story, lest we run out of time.

    No small surprise that "Have Gun" provided writer Gene Roddenberry with a creative garden to develop ideas for another series (deemed by the omniscient sages of networkdom to be "too cerebral"), "Star Trek".
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    What a remarkable half hour of allegory and metaphor. Starting with the premise that our protagonist is a fellow who others don't like - he's a gunfighter. And that he charges a lot - $1,000 - and that he is cool - wears black and uses a business card - and he does good deeds for others.

    And he doesn't like to use his gun to solve problems.

    This vehicle is used over and over again to good effect. He solves interesting problems that span a large part of the country and a large array of people - blacks, chinese, mexicans, bums, crooks and good guys.

    Writers include Roddenberry.

    Good stuff, mostly.
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    I suspect this series grew out of a radio show of the early 50's called Frontier Gentleman with John Dehner as a polished force for good in the Old West. Of course, a character like that cuts against the stereotype of the western hero, who, whatever his level of gun-slinging skill, is rarely able to quote Shakespeare or distinguish a Rothschild '29 from a swig of whiskey. But, of course, Palladin can. In fact, the guy in black knows all the arts of refinement, which not surprisingly came to separate him from the hundred other Western heroes of that day.

    But casting an intellectual gun-fighter for a macho Western series presents a tricky challenge. The actor's got to be authoritative whether slinging a gun or fingering a glass of wine, and also be masculine enough to command respect in both regards. And this is where the series really succeeded. They got Richard Boone, an actor who can make you believe most anything. Plus, his homely, craggy looks are unlike any of the many handsome heroes of the day. At the same time, dressing him in black, with a mysterious background and a mythological name pretty much completes the package that produced big success in the ratings, lasting an unusual six seasons.

    The opening sequence in San Francisco usually played up Palladin's refinements and success with the ladies, even dressing him often like a dandy. After that, he'd hire out, change into his black work clothes, and go on the road to some risky situation. My favorite stories are those that have him trying to figure out where the truth lies, because often his employer would shade the truth for various reasons. Then, our knight-without-armor would have to rely on instinct and a sense of honor since he's not a lawman with a duty to perform. What duty he does have comes from a knight's sense of honor that only he is responsible for, reinforcing his image as an ultimate loner.

    Wisely, the script would occasionally humanize Palladin's superior skills by having him reflect on the strange ways of the world or on the wisdom of his actions. For example, he might stare off in silence at the end of a particularly troubling story, or quote something wise that would make us think. These were important moments that added a thoughtful dimension too commonly missing from other horse operas of the time. Then too, even weak stories were often compensated by Boone's commanding presence.

    I don't know if HGWT was the best series of that six-gun saturated era—the early Gunsmoke (1955-60) was awfully good as was Sam Peckinpaugh's brilliant but short-lived The Westerner (1960). Nonetheless, the guy in black is definitely worth catching up with, along with that catchy title tune.
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    Besides the fact that Richard Boone was perfectly cast, his character was particularly appealing. We knew little of who he was, yet we trusted him to right wrongs and create justice in a world of corruption and bullies. He was seemingly all powerful, besides his physical strength and weapons of perfection, he possessed an extreme intelligence. Much like the Paladin, which is the horse of the chess board (a fact lost on most viewers), he was able to circumvent obstacles and achieve victory where it was seemingly beyond the reach of a mere mortal. There was no hint of bias or bigotry in his character (keep in mind that this was the period of Civil Rights activism); he evaluated each man instantly and treated immigrants with respect and dignity. All of this took place while America was celebrating the centennial of the Civil War and public knowledge of weapons and that time period was intense.
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    We are used to 40 years of hour-long dramas and half-hour comedies. We think those time limits were somehow decreed by God. But once upon a time, half hour dramas were common. I've got a large collection of Gunsmokes, (it was ½ hour for the first six years- the most popular year sit ever had), Have Gun Will Travels, as well as Naked City and Secret Agent, (Danger Man), both of which were ½ hour in their first seasons. So were many other shows, including man Westerns, like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and the Rifleman. My experience is that these shows were uniformly strong and interesting and that they packed as much drama and action in 30 minutes as most shows do in 60. Occasionally, there's a plot that could have used some fleshing out and maybe an ending that seemed too pat, as if they lacked the time for something appropriately complex. One thing ½ hour dramas didn't do very well is allow for ensemble casts. They usually concentrate on single stars with supporting players mostly in the background and stock villains. There wasn't time for subtle shadings. The drama was as stark as a shoot-out.

    Still, there are so many hour-90 minute and even two hour dramas I've seen over the years that were padded with irrelevant subplots, pointless red herrings and other nonsense that the spare, to the point storytelling of these early efforts has a strong appeal. Have Gun Will travel was probably the best of the half hour dramas because it was perfect for it. Other than Hey-Boy, (and Hey Girl), there was just one cast member- the Hero. He was a constant, allowing for all the character development to be about the villain, or perhaps whoever was threatened by him. Despite Paladin's efforts at avoiding violence, the show typically came down to the inevitable shoot-out, where he had even better luck than Matt Dillon, (he was wounded far fewer times). Into this form was injected a series of shot, pithy poetry reading by the Shakespearean trained Richard Boone. That, plus the complexity of the villains, made this show a cut above the many other westerns of it's time. Ironically, what the show did not do well was comedy. Boone's stoic visage registered disgust better than amusement and disgust isn't very funny.
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    Television has, occasionally, left a worthy mark in our world. Mostly it's what's hot, faddish, trendish and popular at the moment. As years roll by the last "hot" is forgotten and bulldozed over by the current "hot" that pops up in our verbiage until the next "hot thing" takes over. Nothing lasts.

    This western (it wasn't a western, it just used the western setting for it's pallet, a wise choice) dug into the human condition and unleashed a series of morality plays that retain the power to "thunk our noggins" today.

    Yes, there's over-pumps to make a point and - yeah Paladin must be a couple hundred years old to have done everything he's done but he is, in a quiet way, one of the original superheroes (would make a great graphic novel.

    The series addressed issues decades ahead of its time.

    It was about the black, the white and the gray. And the unpopular ideas.

    Suggestive, challenging, heroic, humbling and holds its weight today.

    We could use Paladins today.

    Good stuff. Damned good stuff.
  • avatar


    "Have Gun, Will Travel" was a half hour adult western that ran for six very successful seasons on CBS television on Saturday evenings at 9:30 pm, immediately preceding "Gunsmoke". Richard Boone was expertly cast as Paladin, a loner who was very fast with either his gun or his fists but probably even faster with his wit and intelligence. This western was different from all the rest (and there were many) of the western series televised during the mid-to-late '50's in that the hero, Paladin, was a West Point trained, highly educated character who just happened to be quick with the gun and utilized violence only as a last resort. Paladin's services as a detective/bodyguard/courier were available to anyone who requested them and were able to pay for them. Paladin would accept these job offers but always took the moral high ground, often turning on the very person(s) who may have hired him if their cause was not just and honorable. "Gunsmoke" may have run longer but "Have Gun, Will Travel" was simply the best.
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    From 1957 through 1963, my father and I watched Paladin collide with, subtly interface with or adroitly meld with various picaresque characters in the old West circa the 1880's. What strikes me now at age 67 is that . . .

    a. In a manner similar to Gordon Parks' wonderful book, "A Choice of Weapons," in which the author chose compassion, wit, a sense of humor, patience, charm, resourcefulness and other positives - as opposed to violence - as a means out of the ghetto and upward and onward toward financial, personal and professional success - It strikes me now that Paladin was an exemplary role model for young men, maybe particularly in America of the 1950s and early 1960s - but moreover, now in the age of uncivil gridlock and those who appear desirous to utilize direct military intervention as the panacea for any and all international disputes.

    b. Paladin as portrayed by Richard Boone strikes me now as a rather Pirandello-esque character looking for and often trying to create a better, more civilized, world with his erudition, his wisdom, and his unwillingness to use his hand gun unless absolutely necessary. Paladin almost always finds himself outnumbered, outgunned, and often betrayed, sabotaged, and either beaten up or nearly killed by a scurvy array of vicious scoundrels, con men and women, roues, and miscreants. He frequently suffers for upholding the noblest of principles.

    The story "The Protégé" is perhaps the very best illustration of my point. A young man who was bullied turns into a bully himself. In the end, it is the protagonist's own father who confesses to Paladin that the latter proved himself to be the young man's very best friend- even beyond death.

    c. Rites of passage, naturalistic tragi-comedies, and complex slice-of-life short stories with a moral, "Have Gun Will Travel" was best viewed just before "Gunsmoke," another vehicle for what I view as real, pragmatic family values: e.g. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be trustworthy. Champion and defend women, children, the helpless and the underdog. When I purchased an autographed copy of James Arness's autobiography several years ago, I shared with him my appreciation for the values he inculcated in the heart of this young boy at the time.

    d. "Have Gun, Will Travel" may have represented an acquired taste for some viewers. Plots were never simplistic. Despite showcasing great writers such as Gene Roddenberry, this show never took the easy road to success. The show was a mighty draw for some of the greatest - albeit then unheralded - actors and actresses who wished to cut their teeth in a show without special effects, focusing, instead on good stories substantiated by excellent writing. With its emphasis on complex characterization and sensitive themes, the show took great creative risks.

    "The Gunfighter and the Princess" is apt illustration of this point. In the space of 30 minutes, minus commercials, Paladin regales an innocent young princess with two profound quotations from Marcus Aurelius, and another by Plato. These utterances focus on man's only responsibility to endure the prison of the self (Aurelius) and the difference, at heart, between anarchy, democracy, aristocracy (Plato).

    A classics scholar, a former commander of a cavalry unit at Bull Run, Paladin is, nonetheless, a tender, loving man of peace at heart, a renaissance man who impresses ladies with his ability to cook and clean house while honoring honorable people.

    To call "Have Gun, Will Travel" a western is to miss the point of a deeply philosophical drama, especially one that was filmed during the heating up of the Cold War and interspersed with the generals continually trying to egg Ike into one war after another with places like Quemoy, Matsu, Formosa and others. Like Ike, Paladin knew a better way: Getting along with human differences without resorting to violence. I suspect that like Ike who opined, "I knew those guys in the Pentagon," Paladin was quite familiar with the Dionysian impulse in humanity, that party-hearty urge that leads from narcissism to celebration, exaltation, violence and, ultimately, chaos. Paladin's Apollonian approach involved reason, logic, knowledge and making civilized, more authentic choices involving respect, cooperation and peaceful co-existence. His dialogue is always sprinkled with poignant witticisms from Western and Eastern classical literature and philosophy.

    This, clearly, is not a show for the passive viewer who merely wishes to see a very superficial portrayal of man-versus man, a mere shoot-em-up. "Have Gun, Will Travel" excelled in penetrating examinations of man-versus society, man versus nature, and, especially, man versus self.

    The older I become, the more gems and gold ore I find to mine in these seven seasons of "Have Gun, Will Travel."
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    In watching numerous episodes of Have Gun-Will Travel, I noticed that the producers endowed Paladin with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of wine, music, food, literature, etc. In fact, I'd have to say that Paladin's experiences paralleled -- and, in fact, far exceeded -- those of the cinematic James Bond when it came to recognizing and defining the intellectual and physical hallmarks of what is euphemistically referred to as "the good life." For example, in just a few episodes I've watched Paladin:

    • Identify, while blindfolded, a French wine not only by type but also the location in the vineyard of the grapes from which it was made. (In one episode he also identified several different American whiskeys by taste, which is an even bigger stretch because I recall a whiskey expert noting that the worst whiskey we have today is better than the best stuff they had back in the Old West.)

    • Quote extensively and accurately from Shakespeare, the classics (Homer, Aristotle), and the Bible, as well as legal statutes and rulings.

    • Reference numerous cultures he encountered during long trips to Europe and Asia.

    • Discern the different scents in a perfume bottle.

    • Display a proficiency in several languages, including Chinese and French.

    Of course, these facilities gave the character part of his appeal -- the ability to adapt himself to every situation, no matter how difficult or foreign it would be for the rest of us less experienced mortals.

    I would welcome a Have Gun-Will Travel movie, but the television episodes were only a half hour each, which dictated a taut, to-the-point script (half-hour dramas were very prevalent in the '50s). How do you translate that brevity to, say, a two-hour movie without losing or exaggerating, those elements that made the television show so successful? And, like the casting of James Bond, who do you pick to portray this multifaceted man of adventure and erudition?
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    Running for six years on television after many years on radio Have Gun Will Travel was one of the most popular westerns ever on television. Richard Boone never got a role quite the equal of it in his distinguished career.

    We never learned his real name, he was simply Paladin and on his business card was the chess symbol of the knight. His services didn't come cheap, but if you had a problem he'd definitely take care of it. And he was particular about who he worked for.

    He had to charge dear because Boone as Paladin liked to live high on the hog in San Francisco. I'm sure the education he had which he showed off when not on the job didn't come cheap and he was as comfortable in a Nob Hill drawing room as out on the trail.

    On the job he was skilled with all kinds of weapons, a deadly rife shot, a fast draw with a colt, and in a pinch his derringer got him out of a few bad situations. And he could make his point with language that you didn't hear on Nob Hill.

    I've always thought the modern day equivalent of Have Gun - Will Travel was Edward Woodward's famed Equalizer series from the Eighties. If Richard Boone had lived until then, I'll bet he would have seen the resemblance.

    Boone was an incredible actor as good at playing the cowboy hero in Have Gun - Will Travel as playing some of the nastiest villains in film such as in Big Jake or Hombre. He was loquacious in San Francisco or laconic on the trail as the situation called for it.

    Have Gun - Will Travel came over from radio where John Dehner starred as Paladin. But for me Richard Boone got his career role from this show. Would that we all could send a wire to Paladin and have all our problems solved.
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    I have three seasons of this Western and am hoping more will be released soon. Once you sit down to watch these episodes you can't stop, as each one is just that good. Richard Boone as Paladin makes you aspire to greater things. He is what every man wishes they could be and fall short of most of the time. These shows always have a moral to them. Violence is treated as a last resort and not as the main reason for making the show. Episodes do not always have a feel good ending, sometimes no one is a winner. The musical score at the end is a rousing piece that sticks with you long after the show is over. The fact that Gene Rodenberry was a contributer to this show is evident as this show is way ahead of other westerns as was StarTrek a way ahead of most science fiction on television and in movies.
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    While most westerns in the late 50's and early 60's were simple good guy wears the white hat and the bad guy wears the black hat and them injuns were all ruthless savages "Have Gun Will Travel" was well ahead of the times. You had several episodes featuring people of: "Color" in key roles. One of the finest examples of this was the episode: "Hey Boys Revenge".

    When Paladin learned that Hey Boy was dismissed he was furious by the lack of concern from the hotel management. When Paladin told that "these people can easily be replaced" angered Paladin enough to threaten to take his business unless he was given his address so he could find out what had happened to his friend.

    Each episode was a half hour of adventure and sometimes the tables would be turned. It is hard to make them like that any more. As for John Dehner playing the role on television, It would have been like James Caan playing Michael Corlioni in "The Godfather."
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    you secret

    This series was always well known, as was Boone. It was syndicated for many years and was always popular. I'd never seen it, as I was not old enough to watch it when it was first shown, and never bothered to catch it later. It was only recently that I began watching it, and I was shocked. It is an excellent example of the thirty-minute drama: no fat, just solid story, no time to waste, and is consistently well- written. The other reason I was shocked was the brilliance of Richard Boone. A student of Sanford Meisner and Elia Kazan, Boone was one of the finest actors and acting teachers of the twentieth century. He is remarkably subtle; like Gary Cooper, even the slightest facial move makes a difference in his performance. The character of Paladin is very much like Boone: a lover of art (he was a very gifted painter), poetry (which he wrote), music, women and Shakespeare (which he could quote at length). He directed several episodes of the series as well. It is a tragedy that because he smoked two-three packs of cigarettes a day, he died at too young an age. But his legacy mostly rests on over 200 half hours of this series, 86 of the series "Medic" (an early TV series about doctors), and 26 hour-long episodes of his own series on NBC after he decided to retire Paladin. That series has been difficult to see in the United States, and is ripe for rediscovery.

    "Have Gun" has held up beautifully, and the entire series is on DVD (all of the episodes were once on VHS tape issued by Columbia House via subscription).

    With all of this said, the quality of most of these DVDs is abysmal given that master negatives are available. These transfers probably date from the Columbia House era. When I see pristine copies of episodes of "Perry Mason, "Mission Impossible" and other vintage series and then compare them to the quality on these DVDs, it is sickening. And unfortunately, they will probably never be remastered given the marketplace. Should you still get these sets? Absolutely. This was one of the great television shows of any era, and many of the episodes could be remade today with the same scripts. However, there will never be another Richard Boone, and for him alone, these sets demand your attention.
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    Having watched the first three seasons of "Have Gun Will Travel" I was pleasantly surprised with some unique characteristics of the series; the most obvious point was the intelligence of the character and the contrasts in the well mannered gentleman, and the gunman for hire. But the one thing that caught my attention the most was that Paladin is one of the only dramatic characters I have ever seen on television or in movies where the lead laughed. Not just an ironic laugh, but a genuine belly laugh at the sight of the human comedy being played out in front of him. His total lack of racism, political ideology, or hypocrisy makes for a unique character.

    Though I liked the first three seasons,it is the fourth that knocked me over. It must have changed production companies, and had a shot in the arm as far as budget, because everything goes from good to great in one season.

    The first show of the fourth season "The Fatalist" brought in Robert Blake whose nuanced performance so overshadows the actors from previous seasons, that you feel that it was a major change of the producers who stopped bringing in the old near the end of their career character actors from the Republic Pictures school of acting, to one where you where looking at the changes brought in by the method acting crowd who where just starting to take over TV at that time. Even actors that had been seen in the earlier seasons, such as Denver Pyle, James Coburn, and Hal Needham, all seem to be able to fill the screen in a different and better way than just a year or too earlier. Also, the music is crisper, the camera work cleaner and more artfully shot, and an odd observation, there are more extras filling out the scenes; before the limited crowds gave a lot of the earlier shows a very stage sense to it. Anyway the improvement to the quality to the show from the first three season to the fourth caught me by surprise because in all my TV viewing I have never seen a program improve so dramatically and in such a worthwhile way.
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    In this world of dark anti-heroes it is refreshing to see a yesteryear hero espousing values perhaps long past. Yet Paladin is a man of complexities despite generally doing the 'right thing.' After all, he is a hired gun. It is not a naive series. Complex story lines, and the good guys don't always win. Finally, who can resist a series featuring episodes written by Gene Rodenberry.

    My wife and I came across this series from a Netflix recommendation... one not coupled to a Western. The name rang a distant childhood bell of recognition and we tried it out. We haven't looked back.

    Hope you'll take 25 minutes to try one episode and trying something very refreshing.

    Luke and Jessica
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    This is one of the most engrossing half hour shows ever made. The viewer is drawn in by the interesting plots (often involving lurking danger for Paladin or others), but just as much by the character of Paladin himself.

    The show is set in the west after the Civil War. Paladin, magnificently portrayed by actor Richard Boone, is a well-to-do, erudite resident of a fine San Francisco hotel. Though he dresses in ruffles and frills, he is no dandy. His business card reads: Have Gun Will Travel. On the road, he dresses in cowboy gear, all black, and rides to distant parts of the west to do his job. When it will not interfere with a job, he is interested in the ladies and is no stranger to the use of fine wines and other alcoholic beverages.

    Hired by various persons in need, for the normal fee of $1000.00 (quite a large sum back then), Paladin goes out and tries to accomplish the goals of his patron. When he agrees with them, that is. If Paladin's moral sense is offended, he will turn on his patron.

    Paladin's symbol is the chess knight, and he is known for his chess-like strategies to outfox the opposition. He is reluctant in the extreme to use violence, and always tries to discourage its use. Yet, when required to save himself or others, he uses his main firearm and his small hidden one with great speed and accuracy. He is not bragging when he wants to discourage some fool from challenging him, by referencing his gun and saying, "This is a precision instrument. I am an expert in its use."

    Paladin displays considerable proficiency in using his fists, and shows manly self-confidence in virtually every situation. He protects the weak against the strong. As the closing theme song says, he is "a knight without armor in a savage land."

    Unlike other western heroes, Paladin, a West Point graduate who served in the Civil War, is highly educated. He is well familiar with history, military strategy, literature, science and the like, and will often call upon his encyclopedic knowledge to illustrate a point, or to find the right strategy when he faces a similar situation as one faced by someone else long ago.

    The show has interesting style. Paladin wears all black. He has an outline of a chess knight on his holster. The opening music is dramatic and somber, and involves Paladin running a line from the show, when he is trying to talk some sense into some fool or opponent. All the while, he takes out his gun, cocks it, and points it directly at the viewer. The closing song is lyrical and catchy. Do not be surprised if you find you are singing it to yourself.

    Other than the minor character Hey Boy (for a short time Hey Girl), who serves him at the hotel in San Francisco, Paladin is the only recurring character. He is strong enough to carry the show, most of which takes place in typical western locales.

    If you have never seen this show before, please do. You will be very pleasantly surprised. And, because the action takes place in the 1800s, it does not go out of date like some shows. Have Gun Will Travel is on my list of the very finest television shows ever.
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    Richard Boone is one of a kind, a screen icon. Like so many of a small select group of actors who graced both the small and big silver screen, he had a compelling presence, enormous charisma, and a face the camera loved. In addition, as an actor, he could hold his own with anyone in Hollywood, from Broadway, or abroad, which allowed many outstanding character actors to be seen on his show in scenes with him without them being able to upstage him.

    Like fellow actors Bruce Dern and Jack Elam, he was equally effective as the bad guy. No one would ever describe him as having a pretty face. But he had an expressive face with a strong, masculine, dimpled chin, deep set eyes, a broad, intelligent forehead and brow below a head of curly dark hair; and that face many of his fans and admirers described as ruggedly handsome. When he was on screen, all eyes were drawn to him, anxious to see what he would do or say next.

    He made a great antagonist to actors like John Wayne who had enormous presence and could fill the screen, an accomplishment that allowed us, the audience a chance to relish some truly intense and exciting physical and verbal interactions between them.

    Have Gun - Will Travel is iconic in itself. It was sharp, well written, taut, well acted and, most often, well directed. As at least one other reviewer has mentioned, many of the episodes were darker than your average western series. It suited the name of the show, the way Paladin dressed and talked (including the poetry and prose he frequently quoted), and the subjects and themes of many of those episodes, where the B&W cinematography often had scenes filmed half in deep shadow, emphasizing and reflecting the darkness of the subject matter or underlying theme. It was both timely and timeless.

    Many of its episodes have contemporary themes and deal with social and ecological problems we are still dealing with today. Occasionally, the scripts were pedantic or preachy in a very small way for only a moment or two, just long enough for the writer or producer to get their point across. Fortunately, none of the shows I have seen ever lapsed into diatribes. The social or ecological consciousness of some shows remained in the shadows or within the underlying theme, showing up only in a short speech of a very few words at the beginning and/or end of an episode, where all such subjects should be kept in shows that are primarily entertainment in nature.

    I like this show very much and am glad I am getting a chance to see on the Western Channel of Starz Encore a series that I mostly missed as a child in the '50's and '60's. The series and Mr. Boone are well worth watching for the first time…and again.

    Richard Boone was perfect in this iconic role that he defined. He was and will remain unique, incomparable, and will never walk this way again. Thank our lucky Starz for the preservation of film, video, and all the other wonderful media where our cinematic memories are kept and treasured.

    *As a footnote, DirecTV shows Have Gun – Will Travel on Channel 538 at 1:52 pm CDT on weekdays and 9:00 am CDT on Saturdays.

    **For those interested in old classic westerns, on the Western Channel (Channel 538), you can also find Marshal Dillon (the half-hour episodes of Gunsmoke). Then there's Gunsmoke itself (the B&W hour-long episodes of the longest running dramatic series on television, which ran from 1955–1975. There was a reason it lasted as long as it did!

    Next is Rawhide, which had the best theme song of all time (sung by Frankie Laine). It was also one of the best westerns on television, featuring Eric Fleming as the trail boss, Gil Favor, and launched the career of a young Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates (who sings a tune every now and again).

    I almost forgot Wagon Train, an anthology show concerning different characters, and their lives, on their way west on a wagon train lead by regulars Ward Bond and Robert Horton, and later, John McIntire and Robert Fuller, among others.

    Two other excellent western series, not currently running on the Western Channel at this time, are Cheyenne with tall, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, iconic Clint Walker and Maverick, with America's favorite television actor, James Garner who played Bret, and Jack Kelly who played his brother, Bart, both series of which ran earlier and can be seen in special marathons you have to keep on the watch for. Fortunately, the Western Channel repeats episodes and does a lot of advertising at the end of classic series episodes where you can find out, far in advance, what's coming up.

    These are all early classic western series I recommend for anyone interested in, just discovering, or rediscovering the genre. There has always been good television and westerns, in particular, if you knew where to find them and what you were looking for. Good hunting and good watching!
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    The Apotheoses of Lacspor

    Richard Boone was a thoughtful and serious actor, and so must have felt a great satisfaction in playing a 'thoughtful gunman' in the Old West.

    Although Paladin often professed the desire to settle every situation without gun play if possible, his rivals in most shows didn't afford him that opportunity. Its a rare show that Paladin didn't have to shoot someone ... sometimes a few someones.

    Despite many story corners having to be cut to fit these stories into a 30 minute format, each story is interesting and compelling, virtually always with a twist that keep them from being some of the many Western clichés.

    Now that the series has been resurrected on Encore Westerns, generations who had no opportunity to appreciate this fine series in years past can now discover it for themselves. This is yet another example of how many television shows from the 50s and early 60s were far superior to most of what is filmed now.
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    ... but that wouldn't fit well on a business card, probably would not conjure up business, and most of all, would not have attracted viewers circa 1960 who were quite keen on Westerns at the time. Richard Boone seemed tailor made for the role of Paladin - a man seemingly with no first name, no family, and whose only anchor is the Hotel Carlton in San Francisco in which he lives when he is not out on a job. He is obviously well-educated, extremely good with a gun, and has a taste for the ladies but no lady in particular, even before Sean Connery as James Bond made that kind of thing acceptable. Paladin was such a good shot that he could have easily just been a mechanical assassin for hire had he so desired, but instead, you would be quite frustrated if you requested his services, told him to kill X, and then expected him to just go out and kill X in exchange for bags of money. Instead Paladin is a problem solver and a lover of justice, using his talent with a gun to defend himself and others only when necessary. As with some other Westerns of the late 50's and early 60's, the Western theme was used to tackle some of the thorny social issues of that turbulent time without coming out and saying so.

    Give this show a chance if you have the time. I think it has aged very well. Highly recommended.
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    If there was ever a western that verily defined an era, this was it. Remember that in the 50s westerns were a dime a dozen. Aaron Spelling, who fostered a Hollywood dynasty years later (Charlies Angels) broke into the game by selling TV a package of forgettable westerns that he produced so cheaply (in Ringo, for example, he made the lead actor sing his own theme song)that it was impossible NOT to make money. But this show was not of that ilk. HAVE GUN was different. The scripts, acting, direction, tone were all highbrow (for the day). Boone was an older, seasoned, actor who made this character his own and held his own with the young upstarts (think Clint Eastwood) of the day. Details were given care -- in one episode Boone suggests to an antagonist that he withdraw from the gunfight not only because he (Boone) is faster but because he has the better gun! (Boone's gun is rifled, with a longer barrel, making it more accurate but also potentially slowing the draw -- critics of the era used to joke that Boone had the slowest draw on network TV). In short, this excellent series is something that no producer currently grinding out a living in Hollywood will be able to resist trying to re-create, and therefore ruin. Only a matter of time.