Legendary western starring James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillion. Memorable actors along the way include Amanda Blake as Long Branch Saloon owner Miss Kitty and Matt’s girlfriend, Dennis Weaver as the limping sidekick Chester Goode, Ken Curtis as Festus Haggen, Milburn Stone as Doc and Glenn Strange as Sam the bartender. For a good while Dennis Weaver’s “Mr.Dillion! Mr.Dillion!” became a catch phrase. The early years were half-hour episodes.
Here’s how it all started. Opening episode: September 10,1955 – “Matt Gets It” w/host John Wayne – John Wayne introduces the show and gives a nice plug to Arness. The episode opens with Matt walking through Boot Hill outside Dodge City. He says he’d rather men use logic instead of a gun and argue rather than draw or else this is where they’ll end up. The scene switches to Amarillo,Texas. Dan Grat (Paul Richards) is informed by a friend that the man he killed for cheating at cards was unarmed.
In Dodge City Matt and Chester get a visit from Amarillo sheriff Jim Hill. He explains about Grat and that he’s in town to get him. He tells Matt to stay out of it. Later at the Long Branch Matt and Kitty are engaging in small talk when Grat comes to their table and introduces himself. He tells Matt to leave him alone. He says he will unless he breaks the law. Grat leaves.
Shortly Chester comes back and says Hill and Grat are facing off at the end of the street. Matt goes outside but hangs back. He tells Chester it’s Hill’s move. They draw. Amarillo needs a new sheriff. Matt goes to take him in for gunning down a lawman. They draw. Dodge City may need a new marshal.
While an anxious Kitty and Chester look on Doc brings Matt back to life. The bullets just missed hitting vital areas. Chester says if Matt dies he’ll get a shotgun and kill Grat. Doc and Chester help Matt takes long walks to recover.
Matt finds out that Grat has killed two more men. Time to bring him in. His friends warn him that Grat is faster than him. Doesn’t matter. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Good start to the long running series.