CLOUDS, PUFFS, AND...
"When the gunsmoke clears..."
That is the only use of the word 'gunsmoke' in Gunsmoke.
The line is uttered by Luke Frazer (Robert Lansing)
in the b&w hr The Bounty Hunter.
In the movie Shane (1953), the villainous rancher
Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer), after he and his men
have been beaten in a fistfight by Shane and Starrett,
angrily announces: "From now on, when we fight with them,
the air is gonna be filled with gunsmoke!"
Cowboy movie star Wild Bill Elliott has quite a few connections
with Gunsmoke, as will be discussed at a future date
in the cowboy movies history page.
In regards to the word itself,
there is a Wild Bill Elliott movie called Prairie Gunsmoke (1942).
Another Elliott movie, Hands Across the Rockies (1941),
is based on a story by Norbert Davis
called "A Gunsmoke Case for Major Cain."
And in "The San Antonio Kid" (1944),
Elliott uses the word "gunsmoke" as a verb!
A saloon fistfight breaks out between between Red Ryder (Bill Elliott)
and baddie Ace Hanlon (Glenn Strange!) after this exchange:
Ace Hanlon: "I buy what I want!"
Red Ryder: "And you only want the ranches
people have been gunsmoked into selling!"
A line from Louis L'Amour's 6th Sackett novel, The Daybreakers:
"There's nothing binds men together more than sweat and gunsmoke..."
From his 9th, Mojave Crossing:
"I knew that name. From long ago. It stirred memories
that brought with them a smell of gunsmoke and wet leather."
From his 10th, Mustang Men:
"Finally I went to sleep, though I knew when I closed my eyes,
that I would wake up to a day of guns and gunsmoke."
And from his 16th, The Sackett Brand:
"He's lived all his life on beef, beans, and gunsmoke."
In the episode The Return of Edwin Crane
of the radio western Hawk Larabee,
the sheriff defuses a tense situation in the saloon
with the admonition, "There's to be no smoke here!"
Border Devils (1932) is no great shakes,
but it has a few wonderful scenes between Harry Carey
and George F. Hayes (already gabby but not yet billed Gabby).
When the two are beset by baddies in the countryside,
Gabby suffers from confusion under fire.
Gabby: "How do see 'em?!"
Harry: "Shoot the smoke!"
On the 26th of March, exactly one month before the world
of Gunsmoke began on April 26, 1952,
the radio juvenile western Wild Bill Hickok
aired an episode called "Jokes and Gunsmoke."
Wild Bill Hickok had premiered on the Mutual network
in May 27, 1951.
From the Victor Mature movie Fury at Furnace Creek (1948):
"Mr. Leverett don't like gunsmoke--
there's been too much of it hereabouts."
In the Bat Masterson episode "The Pied Piper of Dodge City,"
a retelling of the Dodge City War inaccurate in every detail,
Wyatt Earp remarks before entering a saloon for a showdown:
"It's liable to get mighty smoky in there."
From Straight Arrow, the radio western that starred Howard Culver:
"Keep your hands off your guns, I'm warning you!"
"Try and stop me! If it's gunsmoke you want--"
In Frontier Town, a radio western that began
the same year as Gunsmoke,
the hero tells his sidekick that they must ride to Sundown Valley,
before the baddies "stir up enough trouble
to blanket that whole place in gunsmoke!"
Because of the overshadowing popularity of Gunsmoke,
it's unlikely that anyone will use that title again
(unless someone stages a remake).
However, there were a number of movies that had used it before,
such as Gun Smoke (1931), Gunsmoke on the Guadalupe (1935),
Gun Smoke (1936), Gunsmoke Ranch (1937), Gunsmoke Trail (1938),
Gunsmoke Mesa (1944), Marshal of Gunsmoke (1944),
Gun Smoke (1945), Gunsmoke (1947), Gunsmoke Range (1952),
Gunsmoke (1953), and Gunsmoke in Tucson (1958).
Footnote: There is also Gunsmoke Blues (supposedly released in 2004),
which is film of a 1971 blues concert shot
by five-time Gunsmoke guest star Link Wyler
and some members of the Gunsmoke sound and film crew.
July 17, 2005
Copyright © 2006-2011 E. A. Villafranca, Jr.
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