Bespectacled and slight of frame, Elmo Sippy looks like a schoolteacher, but he's a cowboy who likes to gamble. When he arrives in Dodge and loses money to a gambler he knows will kill if he's not paid, Elmo ducks out of the Long Branch and steals the money from the till of the general store. It's his first foray into dishonesty, and he's elated to find it was "easy"--so much easier than being a cowpoke. When a little later he finds it necessary to use violence to get the money he wants, he discovers that killing is easy, too. Soon, the slight man on whom a gun belt looks absurd is a one-man crime wave, killing for the apparent joy of it.Written by
John Meston was the principal writer of both the radio and TV series, penning 183 (44%) of the former, and 196 (30%) of the latter. That 30% is misleading, as he wrote only during the first ten years of the TV series. His contribution is almost 53% of those scripts. *
"Gunsmoke" was intended to dramatize "the violence that followed men west", and Meston didn't stint on the nasty stuff. It's generally believed that the social anonymity of the unsettled territories and the general lack of law enforcement attracted people who couldn't get along in "good" society. Such people have major roles in many Meston stories.
You'd expect someone named Elmo Sippy to be a wussy milquetoast, and he looks like one -- tall and lanky, with wire-rimmed glasses. But he's not Tickle Me Elmo. He's a total psychopath, lying, stealing, and murdering without a shred of conscience or remorse, an id monster let loose on the prairie.
Andrew Prine absolutely nails the character -- completely empty-headed, driven only by the moment's impulse. He is incapable of making long-term plans to better himself (legally or illegally).
Sippy's attire is odd. He's a cowhand, but dresses in ordinary clothes. And he wears glasses, something I've never seen a cowhand wear in /any/ Western, traditional or contemporary. (At the very least, he would have been taunted by other hands.) I could waste space offering theories, but there's no question Sippy's near-sightedness is intended to represent something unnatural, even repulsive, about him.
Though "Easy Come" doesn't show up in any "best of" lists, I've given it ten stars because (like "Saturday Night") it's nihilistic, and Elmo Sippy is the worst of all "Gunsmoke" villains.
* A substantial percentage were rewrites of radio scripts. But, still...
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