Gunsmoke's The Judas Gun: Classic TV Western Episode
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Gunsmoke's The Judas Gun: Classic TV Western Episode

The Gunsmoke episode "The Judas Gun" was telecast on January 19, 1970. Ron Hayes plays professional gunfighter Boyd Avery who comes to Dodge City to intervene in a long-running feud involving ranchers Noah Haimes (Richard X. Slattery) and Clete Bolden (Sean McClory).

CBS-TV's Gunsmoke (1955-75) blazed new trails on the small screen. One of Gunsmoke's greatest episodes is "The Judas Gun" starring Ron Hayes, a classic tale of a gunfighter and his involvement in a long-running feud.

Gunsmoke's The Judas Gun: Cast & Credits

Harry Kronman wrote the teleplay for "The Judas Gun," with longtime Gunsmoke hand Vincent McEveety directing. The cast was comprised of the following regulars, guest stars and supporting players:

  • Matt Dillon (James Arness)
  • Doc Adams (Milburn Stone)
  • Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake)
  • Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis)
  • Newly O'Brian (Buck Taylor)
  • Boyd Avery (Ron Hayes)
  • Cully Haimes (Peter Jason)
  • Noah Haimes (Richard X. Slattery)
  • Janie Bolden (Laurie Mock)
  • Clete Bolden (Sean McClory)
  • Sam Noonan (Glenn Strange)
  • Tom Brown (Ed O'Connor)
  • Bar Girl (Margarita Cordova)
  • Liveryman (William Fawcett)
  • Teddy (Brad David)
  • Town Bum (Ralph Neff)

Ron Hayes (1929-2004) as he appeared in 1966 - Wikipedia

The Judas Gun: Episode Synopsis

Ranchers Noah Haimes and Clete Bolden were once business partners in Old Town. Now the two men are bitter enemies, carrying on a long-running feud. Complicating matters is the romantic relationship between Haimes' daughter Janie and Bolden's son Cully, with the two lovebirds threatening to leave Dodge City, get married and settle elsewhere.

When Cully is forced to graze Clete Bolden with a bullet during a fight between his father and Clete, old man Bolden decides to bring in notorious gunfighter Boyd Avery to teach Cully a lesson. He mails Avery $500 as a down payment, with Avery later showing up in Dodge at Kitty Russell's Long Branch Saloon where he immediately attracts the attention of Marshal Dillon.

While on his way to the Bolden spread, Avery's horse is spooked by a rattlesnake. Avery kills the rattler with a well-placed bullet, but is thrown from his horse and knocked unconscious. Coming to his aid is none other than young Cully Haimes, who fancies himself the fastest gun in this part of Kansas. Later, Avery and Cully demonstrate their gun prowess by shooting tin cans. Cully duly hits all six cans, but it's the lightning-quick Avery who's obviously the superior gun, as he shoots a tin can from Cully's hand and proceeds to make it dance as he fills it full of holes.

Boyd Avery arrives at the Bolden ranch where he meets with Clete Bolden. Avery is to be paid a total of $1,500 for his services, with Bolden still owing the gunslinger $1,000. Bolden doesn't want Avery to kill Cully, but merely rub his face in the dirt and back him down in front of his daughter. Avery, however, tells Bolden that he's a professional and his life is on the line. If young Cully draws, he will be forced to kill the youngster, warning Bolden to think twice on this one.

Cully Haimes believes Boyd Avery has come to kill the elder Haimes and challenges the gunfighter on the streets of Dodge. Avery refuses to draw, with Cully calling him a liar and coward and knocking him to the ground. Clete Bolden does think twice about his arrangement with Avery and simply pays him off, with the understanding that Avery will leave town. But now it's strictly personal, with the tarnished Avery paying a visit to Cully and the two agreeing to a showdown at Old Town.

The Judas Gun: Air Date and Competition

The Judas Gun, filmed at CBS Studio Center in Hollywood, was originally telecast on Monday night, January 19, 1970, in the 7:30-8:30 (ET) time slot over CBS. Network competition was The Young Lawyers (ABC) and The Red Skelton Show and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (NBC).

The Judas Gun: Analysis & Critique

"The Judas Gun" comes from Gunsmoke's 15th season, an especially fertile period in the show's history. Guest star Ron Hayes is superb as the sinister Boyd Avery, a tall, lanky, weatherbeaten gunfighter clad in black who comes to Dodge City to even a score for rancher Clete Bolden. Hayes has the slick, professional gunslinger character nailed to a tee, speaking in slow, deliberate tones as he eventually goads the young Cully Haimes into a gunfight.

Peter Jason ably plays the brash Cully Haimes, the lad who believes he's a fast draw but who would obviously come in second place in his first ever gunfight with the professional Boyd Avery. Both Richard X. Slattery and Sean McClory excel in their respective roles as hot-headed ranchers, with Laurie Mock only so-so as the young Janie. Mock's tone of voice is rather strange in this segment, a kind of husky monotone which almost sounds like it's being dubbed. Look for crusty old William Fawcett (Pete from the old Fury TV series), who plays the grizzled liveryman in a brief supporting role.

The climax of "The Judas Gun" is the showdown at Old Town, a barren, windswept ghost town where Boyd Avery and Cully Haimes aim to settle things. Once again it's Hayes' show as the professional gunslinger, as he speaks directly to his inexperienced adversary, repeatedly calling him "boy," toying with the six-shooter hanging at his side and trying to milk every advantage. When Janie and the two feuding ranchers finally show up, Cully realizes his error and backs out, but Boyd Avery is having none of it, placing a few well-aimed bullets near Cully's feet and yelling, "Don't you turn your back on me, boy!"

Gunsmoke produced 635 episodes during its reign as TV's longest-running western. During that time the series featured a number of memorable gunfighters. Count Ron Hayes as Boyd Avery in that category and "The Judas Gun" as one of Gunsmoke's all-time classics.

Top Image

  • James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon - CBS-TV

Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved. 

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Comments (5)

I don't recall this particular episode, but I'll bet my old friend Mr. Jerry Walch does!

I just watched "The Judas Gun" on a local channel. Portions of it can be found on YouTube, among other places.

Yes, James, I have seen the Judas Gun episode many times just as I have watched all the reruns many times. Just like I watch Bonanza, The Rifleman, and many of the other classic westerns on the cable channels. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, William.

I wasn't as familiar with Gunsmoke as I am with Bonanza. It sounds like something I would've watched as a kid.

I don't think I missed many of the Gunsmoke shows. My mother limited the TV watching, but this was one show that was allowed to be viewed.Digg.