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August 29, 2015

Gunsmoke getting the big screen treatment

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 5th 2009 8:57PM
gunsmoke_cbs_tvlandFirst there was the news that The Big Valley is going big screen. Now it's Gunsmoke getting the silver screen adaptation. Are westerns coming back and nobody told me?

Gunsmoke, the long running CBS western, the series that made a star of James Arness and was a fixture on the Tiffany network from 1955-1975, will be turned into a motion picture.

CBS Films has turned to the writer of National Treasure: Book of Secrets to craft a new incarnation of the exploits of Marshal Matt Dillon in the western town of Dodge City. The Marshal, as fans of the show or those who've seen the drama on TVLand, was ably assisted by Miss Kitty -- owner of the Long Branch Saloon -- and Doc Adams, the Dodge City doctor.

Gunsmoke was never a great series, although you would imagine that any show that runs as long as it did, had to have broad appeal. It even had a long run on radio with William Conrad (Cannon) as the voice of Dillon. Anyway, that enduring appeal is probably what the producers here have in mind. They're also contemplating a contemporary western, a script that feels like today but is set in the traditional wild west. I'm thinking more 3:10 to Yuma than Deadwood.

It'll be interesting to see which characters outside the three mains will be included. Will Festus or Dennis Weaver's Chester or Burt Reynold's half-Indian character Quint Asper be included? Reynolds could actually be in the movie, in that role or a new one, to create some connection between the TV show and the movie.

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It was an AWESOME series then AND now!!!!! It is still better than 95% of the shows on TV today!!!!!


August 10 2009 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's crazy to say it was never a great series. Apparantly you have never watched the shows. Whether it be the half hour/black and white hours or color hours the shows tended to be very crisp probably up to the last few years but even in those years there were standouts that would go on to win emmys. The casting was spectacular, a close knit group that stuck together for many many years, several staying all twenty. No matter what L & O or the Simpsons do they can't beat that record for a drama show. Even today there are newer fans signing on all the time and there are several internet sites dedicated to the show, it's characters and actors. Awesome show. I'll watch the movie but my heart will always be with the originals. And yes I've even listened to the radio shows but James Arness, Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone, Ken Curtis and all the others whether main characters or recurring town characters will always hold first place for me. Go Gunsmoke!!

August 09 2009 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe Matt Dillon can play Matt Dillon. Talk about perfect casting!

August 06 2009 at 4:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love this because maybe now younger generations will be able to understand what I am talking about when I say I am named after the actress who played Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke... :)

August 06 2009 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I'm not a big fan of studios constantly making TV series into movies, there is potential here for something really good. As long as they don't turn it into a Will Ferrell comedy we should be in good shape.

August 06 2009 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While it was considered as a "silver screen" movie, you just KNOW they are hoping it will spawn a spinoff into the TV genre. What better way to convince an audience they want to see more of something than to create a big budget movie that makes viewers want more.

Personally, I never really enjoyed Gunsmoke, but that is partly because I was young when the show was on the air and only got to watch on those special nights when I was allowed to "stay up" and partly because I was too young to understand what was going on within the show. It had horses, I was happy enough to sit and enjoy them.

I hope if they make the movie they do include Festus, Chester and the rest.

August 06 2009 at 8:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

Did you happen to miss the part where they said "silver screen?" As in a theatrical movie? This will not get "another LAME/ UNwatchable reality show OFF the airways." And as with any other format - including the glut of westerns in the 1950s - there are gems amongst the reality shows too (Amazing Race).

And oh yeah, Allison should have added an "in my opinion" before claiming that Gunsmoke was never a great series. I've been listening to some of the radio episodes - yes Gunsmoke started off on radio over half a decade before it became a TV show - and it always featured great story telling and strong acting in both radio and TV. More to the point, the show evolved as attitudes changed, becoming less violent and at times rather relevant to the times. It most assuredly was a great series, and one which is as watchable today as it was when it was on the air, unlike other westerns (I find it difficult to watch Bonanza these days because it just feels dated).

August 06 2009 at 5:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

Gunsmoke was a great show. It had it's best seasons when it was a 30 minute show and in Black & White. These shows are seldom seen in reruns. If you run for 20 years on Network TV you better be pretty good. And it was the #1 overall show on Network TV from 1957 to 1961. Not many shows stay #1 for that long.
It was the first adult TV western. Many westerns before them were tilted towards Children like Hoppy, Roy Rodgers, Gene Autry.
As for making a movie of it I would think casting would be a nightmare. I Always thought making an HBO series of Gunsmoke tilted towards Deadwood style would have potential to be great if done correctly. Just not sure about a Movie.

From Wikepedia:
Gunsmoke was TV's No. 1 ranked show from 1957 to 1961 before slipping into a decline after expanding to an hour. In 1967, the show's 12th season, CBS planned to cancel the series, but widespread viewer reaction (including a mention in Congress and pressure from the wife of the head of programming at CBS) prevented its demise. The show continued on in a different time slot: early evening on Mondays instead of Saturday nights. This seemingly minor change led to a spike in ratings that saw the series once again reach the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings until the 1973-1974 television season.[4] In 1975, the show was canceled after a twenty-year run. 30 TV Westerns came and went during its 20-year tenure. Gunsmoke was the only Western still airing when it was canceled.

August 05 2009 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ric Kaysen

There comes a point, I believe, where the networks, in their complete inability to create anything new, reach back so far to leech off the success of past hits, go so far that they have absolutely no idea how to connect with an audience that is not yet living in assisted living facilities and wearing diapers.

August 05 2009 at 10:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ric Kaysen's comment

I'm sorry, but are you nuts? Never a great series? Gunsmoke, while not as groundbreaking as the radio series that spawned it, the television version was stark and harsh and dealt with social situations other series wouldn't touch. It outlasted the many westerns that came and went during its run. And when it was canceled, it was the only western left standing. Art? Perhaps not. But engrossing, entertaining, a formative series that reflected each decade it ambled through? That sounds like a great series to me.

August 05 2009 at 11:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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