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Genre: Western, TV series
Country: United States
Starring: Richard Boone, Lisa Lu
Guest stars of note: George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Duane Eddy, Janet Lake, Odetta, Hal Needham, Buddy Ebsen
Creators: Sam Rolfe, Herb Meadow
Run time: 8 hours, 11 minutes
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Paladin returns to dispense his brand of questionable justice in Season Five, Volume One of Have Gun Will Travel, out November 30th from Paramount Home Entertainment. It’s the same as other seasons in that Paladin (Richard Boone) heads off to help someone, advocates non-violence and tells them not to kill, then he recites some poetry by Tennyson or Donne and then he kills everyone. It’s still weird enough, and compelling enough to be awesome.
What sets Season Five Volume One apart from other volumes I have seen is the guest list. The second episode of the season features future Oscar winner George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke) as a man who may or may not have killed his traveling partner. The third episode features guitar great Duane Eddy (who does the rendition of the Have Gun Will Travel theme song in the video clip above) as a young man embroiled in a Hatfield-McCoy type feud with another family.
Then, for the western nerds like me who love this stuff, there’s an episode starring the smoking hot Janet Lake that starts off as a straight take-off on the 3:10 To Yuma story and ends with a bizarre showdown with a bandido in the desert. Buddy Ebsen, Hal Needham, and the great blues singer Odetta make appearances in various episodes as well. (Some more than one.)
But the greatest episode on the set is the one starring Charles Bronson. Well, in fact, there are two episodes that star Bronson in different roles. But the one I’m talking about stars Charles Bronson and George Kennedy (making his second appearance on this DVD). Bronson plays a total wimp. Yep – you read that right. A total wimp. He’s beaten down by his own mother, and lives a quiet life cut off from the rest of society. He hires Paladin to teach him to fight.
So Richard Boone shows up to teach Charles Bronson to fight. Bronson wants to fight George Kennedy. Because Kennedy has stolen Bronson’s mail-order bride. Who is a passionate Greek woman driven away by the wimpy Bronson’s mother. This gives us an opportunity to learn that Paladin (of course) knows Greek, and a chance to watch George Kennedy and Charles Bronson beat each other up. For me, anyway, that’s reason enough to grab this set of DVDs.