HAVE GUN – WILL TRAVEL. CBS, 1957-1963. 225 30 minute episodes. Richard Boone (Paladin), Kam Tong (Hey Boy). Created by Herb Meadow and Sam Rolfe.

   I picked up several episodes of Have Gun – Will Travel a while back and found them, within their limitations, quite enjoyable. The Half-Hour Dramatic Series is nowadays a Lost Art, and it was interesting to see it in practice again.

   Quick cuts, elliptical storytelling and tight focus might lead one to expect these would be fast-paced affairs, but they aren’t at all. You see, it’s much cheaper to advance the plot by photographing two actors talking in a room, so there’s a lot of that going on here. Long journeys and even grueling Desert Treks are suggested by about ten seconds of footage, and Fight Scenes, for the most part, are short and to the point. I’ve never seen so many guys knocked out by one punch in all my life, and I wonder if this simplistic approach to Conflict Resolution might have had some effect on my bidding mind in those days.

   Anyway, the high point of the series is and always was Boone’s tough, intelligent acting, back in the days when he was Lean and Hungry, and when scriptwriters could let him actually get violent from time to time. Those familiar with Boone’s later acting — particularly the patently phoney, self-indulgent portrayal of The Drawling Cowpoke from Hec Ramsey, who always talked tough but never actually did very much — should get to see him in these.