35 user 32 critic


0:27 | Clip

On Disc

at Amazon

Marshal Matt Dillon keeps the peace in rough and tumble Dodge City.
380 ( 10)




20   19   18   17   16   15   14   13   12   … See all »
1975   1974   1973   1972   1971   1970   … See all »
Nominated for 4 Golden Globes. Another 15 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

More Like This 

Bonanza (1959–1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their ranch while helping the surrounding community.

Stars: Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker
Wagon Train (1957–1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Stories of the journeys of a wagon train as it leaves post-Civil War Missouri on its way to California through the plains, deserts, and Rocky Mountains.

Stars: Frank McGrath, Terry Wilson, Robert Horton
The Big Valley (1965–1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The Wild West adventures of the Barkley family in California's San Joaquin Valley.

Stars: Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors
Rawhide (1959–1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Gil Favor is trail boss of a continuous cattle drive. He is assisted by Rowdy Yates. The crew runs into characters and adventures along the way.

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Paul Brinegar, Steve Raines
Have Gun - Will Travel (1957–1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

The adventures of a gentlemanly gunfighter for hire.

Stars: Richard Boone, Kam Tong, Hal Needham
Maverick (1957–1962)
Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Bret and Bart Maverick are well dressed gamblers who migrate from town to town always looking for a good game.

Stars: Jack Kelly, James Garner, Roger Moore
The Virginian (1962–1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Personable Western series based in Wyoming from the 1890s onward.

Stars: Doug McClure, James Drury, Lee J. Cobb
Daniel Boone (1964–1970)
Adventure | History | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Frontier hero Daniel Boone conducts surveys and expeditions around Boonesborough, running into both friendly and hostile Indians, just before and during the Revolutionary War.

Stars: Fess Parker, Patricia Blair, Darby Hinton
The Lone Ranger (1949–1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The adventures of the masked hero and his Native American partner.

Stars: Jay Silverheels, Clayton Moore, John Hart
Cheyenne (1955–1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

After the Civil War, nomadic adventurer Cheyenne Bodie roamed the west looking for fights, women, and bad guys to beat up. His job changed from episode to episode.

Stars: Clint Walker, Clyde Howdy, Chuck Hicks
Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958–1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A Civil War veteran with a sawed-off rifle as a holstered weapon makes a living as a bounty hunter in the Wild West of the 1870s.

Stars: Steve McQueen, Wright King, Olan Soule
The High Chaparral (1967–1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The Cannon family runs the High Chaparral Ranch in the Arizona Territory in 1870s. Big John wants to establish his cattle empire despite Indian hostility. He's aided by brother Buck and son... See full summary »

Stars: Leif Erickson, Cameron Mitchell, Henry Darrow


Complete series cast summary:
James Arness ...  Matt Dillon 635 episodes, 1955-1975
Milburn Stone ...  Doc / ... 605 episodes, 1955-1975
Amanda Blake ...  Kitty / ... 569 episodes, 1955-1974
Ken Curtis ...  Festus / ... 306 episodes, 1959-1975
Dennis Weaver ...  Chester 290 episodes, 1955-1964


Marshal Matt Dillon is in charge of Dodge City, a town in the wild west where people often have no respect for the law. He deals on a daily basis with the problems associated with frontier life: cattle rustling, gunfights, brawls, standover tactics, and land fraud. Such situations call for sound judgement and brave actions: of which Marshal Dillon has plenty. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

10 September 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Marshal Dillon See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Black and White (1955-1966)| Color (1966-1975)

Aspect Ratio:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The back-and-forth banter and adversarial nature between Doc and Festus (the smart Doctor and the country fool), was similarly used in Star Trek between the country Doctor and the smart alien, McCoy and Spock. See more »


Matt is called a US Marshal. Kansas became a state in 1861, more than a decade before the series is set. There was only one US district court in Kansas and one marshal assigned to it, plus a number of deputy marshal. All deputies would be based in Hays, the capital, not towns like Dodge. And deputies would enforce federal laws and court orders, and capture federal fugitives. They would not have state or local jurisdiction (like breaking up fights in the Long Branch). At the time of the series Dodge had a town marshal, and a county sheriff with jurisdiction outside the town limits. See more »


Dr. Galen 'Doc' Adams: [Festus offers to buy Doc a beer with a silver dollar that he earned from shoeing horses in episode "Whelan's Men".] Why don't you take that money and invest it in something? Why don't you do that?
Festus Haggen: Invest it in what?
Dr. Galen 'Doc' Adams: There's wonderful land values outside of Dodge. Now why don't you go out there someplace, look around, and buy yourself a lot?
Festus Haggen: A lot of what?
Dr. Galen 'Doc' Adams: A lot! A lot of land!
Festus Haggen: Well fiddle, I can't afford to buy a lot of land. You probably could the way you've been a bilking and gouging...
Dr. Galen 'Doc' Adams: Oh, ...
See more »


Version of Gunsmoke See more »


The Old Trail
by Rex Koury and Glenn Spencer
Aspen Fair Music, Incorporated (ASCAP)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Gunsmoke: The Early Years
9 October 2007 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Those of us old enough remember Gunsmoke as a cultural landmark. Not only did the show usher in the era of the adult Western, but it also brought to series TV some strong dramatic values not much in evidence at the time. Few of us ever expected the show would last as long as it did. Nonetheless, there are some good reasons for the longevity. Those reasons, I believe, are most noticeable during about a five-year period from 1956 through the early 60's, and are worth focusing on for fans of the series.

The first year (1955) was far from the best, but it did put in place several elements that would mature powerfully over the following period. Of course, there's the cast of those early years. Above all, there's James Arness as the Marshal. Once Arness gets into the role after an uneven start, he's simply superb as the show's long-time anchor. Dennis Weaver's Chester is memorably easy to parody, with his slow wits and distinctive down-home drawl. But Weaver's also a fine actor, who provided his character with a rare measure of pathos unequaled by other supporting players over the 20 year run. There was always the chance that Chester's "comic relief" would descend into buffoonery, but Weaver and the producers handled the risk well. Milburn Stone's Doc adds a lot of color to the core cast, but he also trafficked in a lot of self-conscious mannerisms for my taste. Nonetheless, he mixed well with the others, while his caustic bantering with the over-matched Chester could be both unforced and funny. And, of course, there's Amanda Blake's Kitty, the good-hearted saloon-keeper, who a led a rather implausibly chaste private life. But here we're dealing with the mores of the time. The fact is that Blake brings just the right emotional tone to a character that was more constrained than the others. The cast may not seem so special on paper, but on screen the chemistry was superb.

The 1955 entries opened with an unusual prologue-- Matt's little contemplative walk through Boot Hill where he pondered the fate of those mouldering in their graves.These reflective moments set an unusual tone for an action genre. Plus, they provided an extra dimension that took us outside the story by suggesting there are larger meanings within which the story would unfold. These were not heavy-handed messages, but rather subtle suggestions that moral lessons can be drawn from the stories that follow. The prologue was dropped after the first year, perhaps because the writers had exhausted the brief time frame. Nonetheless, the undercurrent continued for the next few years, especially in Matt's reactions to how some stories turned out. In "Brother Whelp" (1959), for example, he finds out the unexpected truth behind two brothers' rivalry over the same girl,. His perplexed reactions in the final few seconds indicate an attempt to come to grips with the strange ways of the world, ones that continue to elude his grasp. Thus, the episode ends on a subtly contemplative note, unusual for that day or any day. It's this inner dimension present at times during the early years that is often overlooked.

Above all, however, it was the superior scripts that distinguished the series during this period. The excellence, I believe, was largely due to one man-- John Meston, who appears to have served as head writer until 1965. Note how many of the best screen-plays were either penned by him or taken from his ideas. He came to the TV production from the radio version where I expect he honed his skills. Those skills are in real evidence from 1956 to the early 60's. (And I expect it's no accident that this is the same time-frame during which Norman Mac Donnell served as series producer-- the man responsible for assembling the production crew.) Meston's specialty was dramatic structure. His best scripts are tight, suspenseful, and about as realistic as constraints of the time would allow. At his best, there was a dark inkling of just how difficult life on the Kansas frontier was. It's those moments I like best when some sorry homesteader or drifter confronts moments of personal anguish in the face of never-ending hard work, hostile Indians, and unforgiving elements-- in short, those rare moments of historical truth. Few series of the time bothered with the actual plight of prairie sod-busters. But Meston sometimes did. He was also good at limning colorful characters, building suspense, and also, surprisingly for the day, giving women strong roles in a genre that traditionally downplayed them. Together with Mac Donnell, I believe these two are largely responsible for Gunsmoke's "golden age". Too bad, their behind-the-scenes contributions have never been duly recognized.

I haven't seen all the entries from this 5-year period, but I have seen the majority. So let me recommend a few that I think are worth catching up with. "The Guitar"(1955), easily the best of the first season, scripted by the legendary maverick, Sam Peckinpah, and no doubt the only entry of that period to implicate cast principals in a major crime!; "Ma Tennis" (1958), an original concept, superbly directed by Buzz Kulik, with a number of dramatic twists; "Jayhawkers" (1959), an effective glimpse of a Texas trail crew, with a surprising dramatic turn by Jack Elam; "Kangaroo" (1959) a fearsome entry, with hulking, Bible spouting Peter Whitney showing no mercy to even his sons; and,"The Cabin" (1958), an unusual noirish entry that somehow got past the censors.

None of this is to deny that later entries in the series lacked merit. However, I do think the series soon lost the edge and tightness of this peak period. I'm only sorry that copies are so difficult to obtain. Most are worth a look-see, even in our era of super-charged TV.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 35 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed