Sunday, March 25, 2012

On DVD: Shotgun Slade (1959)

The success of Blake Edwards' Peter Gunn prompted writer Frank Gruber to create a Western version.

Shotgun Slade debuted in syndication in 1959, and lasted two seasons. Veteran Western star Scott Brady top-lined as Slade, a private detective based out of Denver who took on various cases, and often with the distraction of a beautiful woman or two the only hinderance.

Platinum released a 2-disc set a few years back, and billed Slade as a "Mercenary of the Old West", which in fact mis-stated the whole point. How many other Westerns do you know that have a jazz score, such as the one created by Gerald Fried for Shotgun Slade? Not many, if at all.

There are some familiar faces that pop up during the series' 2-year run, including Paul Picerni (The Untouchables), Connie Hines (Mister Ed), Howard Caine (Hogan's Heroes), and character actor Vito Scotti, whom most baby boomers might recognize from frequent appearances on Gilligan's Island and The Flying Nun. The AllisonHayesChannel uploaded "The Laughing Widow" to YouTube:

Today, a Western with a jazz soundtrack would be ripe for parody in the wrong hands. In the right hands, it could revive the genre anew for a new generation.

Rating: A-.

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