Gunsmoke's The Sodbusters debuted on Monday night, November 20, 1972. Alex Cord plays the legendary John Jobson, a notorious gunslinger once thought dead who stands up against a ruthless land baron. Regulars James Arness and Milburn Stone are also joined in the cast by Katherine Justice, Harrison Ford, Dawn Lyn, Leif Garrett, Robert Viharo, Morgan Woodward and Richard Bull.
CBS-TV's Gunsmoke (1955-75) was the big kahuna of TV westerns. The 1972 episode "The Sodbusters" guest stars Alex Cord as a legendary gunfighter who defends a group of farmers from a ruthless land baron.
Gunsmoke's The Sodbusters: Cast & Credits
Ron Bishop penned the teleplay for "The Sodbusters," with Robert Butler directing. Regulars, guest stars and supporting players are:
- Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness)
- Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake)
- Doc Adams (Milburn Stone)
- Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis)
- Newly O'Brian (Buck Taylor)
- Pete Brown a.k.a. John Jobson (Alex Cord)
- Clarabelle Callahan (Katherine Justice)
- Maria Callahan (Dawn Lyn)
- John Callahan (Leif Garrett)
- Dick Shaw (Robert Viharo)
- Lamoor Underwood (Morgan Woodward)
- Deems (Richard Bull)
- Navin (Joe Di Reda)
- Gene Hill (Colin Male)
- Kesting (Jim Boles)
- Print (Harrison Ford)
- Dan (Paul Prokop)
- Dorga (Norman Bartold)
- Murphy (Evans Thornton)
Alex Cord (1933-) - CBS-TV
The Sodbusters: Episode Synopsis
Land baron Lamoor Underwood has trained his sights on a group of farmers whose land he covets. He brings in gunfighter Dick Shaw to intimidate the sodbusters. Out on the prairie Underwood, Shaw and his men ride up to the sodbusters, who are represented by farm hand Pete Brown. Dick Shaw and Brown then face off, with Brown proving the quicker draw, placing a bullet dead center into his adversary.
Brown then straps the critically wounded Shaw to a horse, where the latter winds up on a ranch some one and a half miles away. The rancher brings Shaw into Dodge City where Doc Adams tells Matt that Shaw won't make it. Before he dies, the gasping Shaw fingers his shooter as the legendary gunfighter John Jobson, whom many believe had been buried in Ellsworth, Kansas, several years ago.
Matt goes out to visit this Pete Brown at widow Clarabelle Callahan's place. At first Brown denies being Jobson, but Marshal Dillon isn't buying his story. Matt prepares to take the wanted Jobson back to Dodge City, but the widow Callahan waylays the lawman, allowing Jobson to escape and finish his business with Underwood.
The Sodbusters: Air Date & Network Competition
"The Sodbusters" was aired over CBS on Monday night, November 20, 1972, in the 8:00-9:00 (ET) time slot. Network competition that evening was The Rookies (ABC) and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC).
The Sodbusters: Analysis & Review
Range, land and water rights wars are often a staple of TV westerns. Throw in a pair of hired gunslingers and you have the makings of a rousing episode. We get that in "The Sodbusters," with brawny tough-guy actor Alex Cord (1933-) turning a bravura performance as farm hand/gunfighter Pete Brown, who is really the legendary John Jobson.
The segment begins on a lonely windswept prairie where land baron Lamoor Underwood brings in hired gun Dick Shaw. Representing the scared farmers is Pete Brown, with the two gunfighters "jawing" a bit before going into action. Shaw believes that he's seen Brown before, correctly identifying him as the legendary John Jobson. Nonetheless, the unintimidated Shaw, who states he's already been paid, places a black glove on his gun hand and draws. Brown drills him dead center in the chest, telling Underwood that they have now "exchanged messages."
Pete Brown a.k.a. John Jobson proves to be one of the most fearsome gunfighters in Gunsmoke history. But he is a man with a conscience, later telling Clarabelle Callahan that he and her late husband Don had faced off in a saloon, with Don coming up on the losing end. He later learned that Don had a wife and two kids, leading him to bury "John Jobson" for good – or so he thought.
The big gunfight in the town of Underwood proves to be the climax of "The Sodbusters." Previously wounded by one of Underwood's men, Jobson journeys to see Underwood in order to talk. But Underwood and his men are having none of it, busting out windows and opening fire. Using a moving cart as cover, Jobson manages to make quick work of Underwood and his boys, aided in the final stages by Matt Dillon.
Look for Harrison Ford (1942-), who plays the part of Print, one of Underwood's boys. Sporting bushy sideburns and an angry, surly demeanor, Ford is superb as a heavy. In one scene he pushes the unarmed Pete Brown into a fistfight at a saloon, with Brown smashing Ford's Print into unconsciousness. In the end, Print – decked out in a pair of gaudy red long johns – is wounded by Brown and then killed outright by Matt Dillon, falling dead from an upstairs balcony. Harrison Ford would appear in two episodes of Gunsmoke before going on to greater things in Hollywood.
"The Sodbusters" hails from Gunsmoke's 18th season and is episode #574 of 635 in the series. "The Sodbusters" can be viewed on YouTube and other Internet venues.
- Gunsmoke's Dodge City TV logo
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.