Thursday, July 5, 2012

On DVD: The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967)

After starting his career as a producer at Four Star, Aaron Spelling hitched his wagon to that of another Hollywood icon, Danny Thomas. Their first collaboration was a Western for ABC, The Guns of Will Sonnett, which aired from 1967-9, and was the last starring vehicle for actor Walter Brennan (ex-The Real McCoys), whose other series, The Tycoon, was a bust a couple of years earlier.

Brennan played the title character, a retired military man turned homesteader who now was traveling through the West with his grandson, Jeff (Dack Rambo) in search of Jeff's father, James (Jason Evers), who would show up from time to time, always a few miles ahead of his kin. The stories offered conflicting accounts of James' character as a gunman, but Will & Jeff persevered, always believing that they'd be one day reunited with James.

Timeless Media now holds the distribution rights for the DVD, while syndication rights belong to CBS through its acquisition of King World. Timeless, as they've done with other Westerns, released a sampler single disc to stores, then a full release would soon follow. The prints they used come from King World's syndicated run, which currently airs Saturday afternoons on Me-TV, but they also include the original ABC network intro card, which is not included in the following clip, provided through Timeless' YouTube channel:

Will would always end each episode with a short prayer of thanks, and I think that was what attracted the attention of CBN (now ABC Family), which carried the series during the 80's. In fact, the above intro was spoken as if it were a poem, and a very good one at that. The series also featured a collection of talent, including Harry Dean Stanton, Charles Grodin, Claude Akins, Paul Fix (ex-The Rifleman), Hank Patterson (Green Acres), and, in an early appearance, Jack Nicholson. The selling point was the familial theme, different from most Westerns of the day.

Rating: A.

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