Monday, February 06, 2012

Paladin in Have Gun -- Will Travel


I was born in 1957, the same year that Have Gun -- Will Travel debuted, and I recall seeing the series on television during my early years sometimes in Kansas City, whenever I was there off and on rather than in my hometown of Salem, Arkansas, where we had no TV, so I certainly missed every episode of the final season, in 1963, since I left Kansas City for good halfway through my kindergarten year, when I was only five.

I remembered the show despite my extreme youth because the title was so catchy . . . though I recall puzzling over its meaning and didn't figure it out until several years past age five. There was also a catchy ballad as theme music. I could recall the tune, but not the words, except for the line "a knight without honor in a savage land," but that turned out to be misheard lyrics, and that mishearing baffled me for years. Why "without honor"? Was the lead character a bad guy? He was a gunfighter, and he did wear black. Only recently did I think to check by going to You Tube for the lyrics:
The Ballad of Paladin

Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam?
Paladin, Paladin, far, far from home.

Have Gun Will Travel reads the card of a man,
A knight without armor in a savage land.

His fast gun for hire heeds the calling wind.
A soldier of fortune is the man called Paladin.

Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam?
Paladin, Paladin, far, far from home.

He travels on to wherever he must.
A chess knight of silver is his badge of trust.

There are campfire legends that the plainsmen spin,
Of the man with the gun, of the man called Paladin.

Paladin Paladin, where do you roam?
Paladin Paladin, far, far from home.
Far from home. Far from home.

And I learned that his name was Paladin, or was reminded of that fact, for I must have known when I was little, but I only recognized the meaning upon hearing the ballad again recently, knowing from my medieval studies of the legendary knights under Charlemagne called the paladins, Christian warriors who fought the Muslim Saracens prior to the actual crusades, in a time of Islam's first invasion of Europe.

The series itself was unique, as I've learned from the entry in the Museum of Broadcast Communications:
Because the entire concept revolved around Paladin, its success hinged on the ability of his portraying actor to, in creator [Sam] Rolfe's words, "'play a high-IQ gunslinger and get away with it.'" (Edson, 1960). When western movie icon Randolph Scott (the first choice for the role) was unavailable, the producers turned to Richard Boone who, they were overjoyed to find, actually could ride a horse. Boone's intimidating growl, prominent nose and pock-marked visage physically distanced him from the standard fresh-faced cowboy hero in the same way that his character's cultured background distinguished him from those prairie-tutored rustics. After watching Paladin muse about Pliny and Aristotle, one television critic marveled, "'Where else can you see a gun fight and absorb a classical education at the same time?'" (Edson, 1960).

Edson, Lee. "TV's Rebellious Cowboy." Saturday Evening Post (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 6 August 1960.

You can learn more at that MBC site, or -- of course -- at Wikipedia. Now that I've been reminded, I'd like to see the series again. Here are the opening minutes to season one, episode two.

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At 10:30 AM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

Here you go.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, John, but is that legal? Also, is it safe from viruses?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:48 PM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

This explains the situation better than I can, especially where it concerns television programs, like "Have Gun--Will Travel," that were broadcast for for free to the public in the first place.

No matter what the fools/congressmen feeding off the Hollywood lobbyists would have you believe (you can see how
SOPA backfired on these geezers), torrenting is here to stay and is a common habit of nearly everyone under 30. Ask your children and students if they, or anyone they know, is downloading/sharing files. You will definitely be surprised, but those who have grown up with smart phones can also tell you all about Blackmart Alpha.

And, no, I have never gotten a virus from that website (or others that I use mostly in South Korea, but also on TV shows back in the states), but you can get all the episodes for this originally, free, series from for about $500.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks. I'll look into this.

Jeffery Hodges

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