Gunsmoke - The Directors Collection from Paramount

Gunsmoke - The Directors Collection from Paramount
Gunsmoke - The Directors Collection from Paramount Gunsmoke - The Directors Collection from Paramount Gunsmoke - The Directors Collection from Paramount (click images to enlarge)

Gunsmoke - The Directors Collection from Paramount

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Description of Gunsmoke - The Directors Collection from Paramount

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Manufacturer Description

An impressive roster of Hollywood talent brings a keen eye to the camera lens in this Gunsmoke DVD Collection that spotlights the series' acclaimed directors. The courage, character and spirit of the American West blazes across the screen in a television series that set a standard for entertainment excellence during its 20-year run. Join James Arness, Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver and Ken Curtis in this fascinating collection of episodes filmed by such talents as Robert Stevenson (Old Yeller, Mary Poppins), Arthur Hiller (The Out-Of-Towners, Silver Streak), Mark Rydell (On Golden Pond, The Rose) and Andrew V. McLaglen (McLintock!, Chisum, Hellfighters). This three-disc set also features episodes shot by such familiar on-camera talents as Dennis Weaver, Peter Graves, William Conrad and Victor French as they step behind the camera, don a director's cap, and add a unique, personal perspective to Gunsmoke's celebrated heritage of rugged western adventures.

As a splendid sampler of standout episodes from the 20-season history of Gunsmoke, this well-chosen Directors Collection is a bona fide treasure. Fans of the long-running Western series will appreciate the archival care that went into this set: Not only does it provide a comprehensive overview of the series' evolution (from original radio shows to one-hour color episodes from the 1960s and '70s), but it also delivers a priceless abundance of oral TV history in the form of audio commentaries, some recorded by series stars and directors (like Dennis Weaver, a.k.a. "Chester") shortly before their death. The fact that this set "is dedicated with love to Dennis Weaver from his Gunsmoke family at CBS" indicates the deep affection that Gunsmoke inspired among cast, crew, and fans alike. This set gathers 15 episodes on three DVDs, with disc 1 containing seven episodes in the black-and-white, half-hour format that Gunsmoke maintained for its first six seasons (1955-61). Discs 2 and 3 contain four one-hour episodes each, culled from subsequent seasons (with disc 3 containing full-color episodes from seasons 14, 16, 17, and 20). Picture and sound quality is remarkably good, although some of the earliest episodes have a slightly grainy look that's common to DVD transfers of TV episodes of this vintage (like Have Gun, Will Travel).

The Directors Collection is a showcase for rookies and veterans alike whose filmmaking careers were boosted by Gunsmoke. Andrew V. McLaglen (who directed 95 episodes, far more than anyone else) is represented by season 8's "US Haggens," and his commentary is a highlight of the set. The episode commentaries (by John Rich, Arthur Hiller, Dennis Weaver, McLaglen, Mariette Hartley, and Harry Harris Jr., Mark Rydell, and Peter Graves--brother of series star James Arness) offer a wealth of Gunsmoke history, and while Hartley (a rising star in the early '60s) did not direct the eighth-season episode "Cotter's Girl," her commentary with director Harris is a real treat, as they playfully argue over their memories of the episode's production. Gunsmoke's excellent writing is evident throughout, including the third-season episode "How to Kill a Woman," written by David S. (Sam) Peckinpah, who would soon begin his own illustrious directorial career. Additional special features include four original CBS broadcasts of the Gunsmoke radio show (which starred William Conrad as Marshall Matt Dillon, the role played on TV by James Arness); an eight-minute interview with Amanda "Miss Kitty" Blake, from The Mike Douglas Show; a excerpt from a soundtrack scoring session, and a clip from Have Gun, Will Travel featuring Ken Curtis, who played "Festus" on Gunsmoke. Taken as a whole, the episodes and special features of The Directors Collection qualify as one-stop shopping for the best that Gunsmoke had to offer. --Jeff Shannon

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