Have Gun, Will Travel

-Except if you lived in 1880-ish San Francisco, you wouldn’t be traveling too extensively for your gunfighting-skills to be useful in a relevant time-frame. A setting in Denver would be perfect. In 1850-ish San Francisco, there’d be a lot jobs relating-to quelling claim-jumping disputes at the height of the Gold Rush. Local rurales would be swamped with ‘calls’ in-addition to solving regular crimes.

The concept of ‘Palladin’ is brilliant… a sort of ‘super Maverick-clan’ all rolled-up into one character. Richard Boone is superb. A Shakespeare-quoting, lightning-draw, no-nonsense ladies’ man. -Living in a high-society San Francisco hotel-suite. A few of the episodes take-place in SF, but not many. California (SF) wasn’t ‘the wild west’, because it was civilized from-the-coast-inward via wealthy Easterners and shipping-barons. Yet most of Palladin’s adventures occur on the other side of the Rockies. -So if a rancher, or town is being harrassed, the viewer is implored to believe that Palladin’s skills are worth waiting months for; good weather not withstanding.

The episodes themselves were 30-minutes, which just isn’t long-enough. -Another reason why it should’ve been a San Francisco-detective show. For example, Yancy Derringer’s adventures all took-place in New Orleans and riverboats. There was no need for him (Jock Mahoney) to venture ‘out west’ for the purpose of script-inspired derringer-sequences.

That all said, I liked HG,WT a lot, primarily because of Boone. I was a kid when it first came-on, and I wasn’t allowed to watch it because it aired too late at night. My parents loved it, though I remember my mom saying that Richard Boone “might scare me”, lol. In fact, I originally thought Boone’s name was ‘Will Travel’ and the show was called: Half-gun Will Travel… as his nickname. -Like Bronco/Sugarfoot/Cheyenne, etc.

wire Palladin, San Francisco

I thought the same when I was young, that the show was about the adventures of a man called Will Travel. I only spoke a few words of English in those days, and I wondered what this title really meant. I knew ‘have’ and someone told me what a gun was. Did Will travel have a gun? Yes, but what a funny thing to say: Hi, I’m Will and I have a gun.

Have gun, will travel was a late-night show, apperently it was thought to be more ‘adult’ than Rawhide or Bonanza, which were shown in prime time. I liked those shows better, although I was fascinated by Richard Boone’s ‘bad’ looks: black-clad, mafioso moustache, mean smile. I always liked the baddies, even if they were good. What I didn’t like, was this running time of 25-30 minutes. It was over before you knew it, and when it was over, it was bed time for Bonzo.

Today this is all different. While Bonanza and even Rawhide seemed to be marred by a certain longueur, Have Gun, Will Travel seems to have the perfect length. I often watch an episode late at night, when it’s too late to start a movie. And I love this theme song.

Yeah, the theme-song has a sinister 'death-comes-walking’ aura to it.

The bad-guys were more ruthless than the ones on most of the 60-minute shows. The viewers didn’t need to be presented with character-studies of them, which Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian, etc., usually did. Palladin’s adversaries routinely pistol-whipped women-and-old-men, or shot them in the back.

Yet, a surprising number of the episodes were comedies… or, light-hearted romps. Some of the last episodes I watched were of Palladin assisting Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, and Vincent Price as a Shakespearian-actor. -Usually involving mistaken-identities, girlfriend-mixups, or communication-bloopers.