About The Restless Gun
(1957-1959, NBC and ABC)
John Payne is probably best known today as the lawyer who saved Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). After appearing in some memorable noirs in the 1950s, the Virginia-born actor starred in and produced this thoughtful 30-minute Western drama for NBC.
Payne plays aging gunman Vint Bonner, a cowboy looking to settle down and retire his titular gun in post-Civil War Texas. Bonner was based on Britt Ponset, a character first played by Jimmy Stewart in the 1953 radio series The Six Shooter. Many episodes of the series are adapted from scripts originally written for radio.
“The whole Frontier knows how you feel about killing,” a gunslinger says to Payne’s character in the pilot. That essentially became the show’s mission statement. For two seasons, Bonner was a gunfighter who tried his best to stay out of gunfights. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes he wasn’t.
Why he feels that way is revealed in a flashback episode in which Payne plays Bonner’s grandfather, an aging gunman who lost his son and daughter-in-law – Vint’s parents – to violence. That episode was written by Payne, and it’s one of the series’ best.
The Restless Gun aired on ABC daytime following the conclusion of its primetime run
Notable guest stars:
James Coburn, Michael Landon, Angie Dickinson, Robert Blake, Chuck Connors, Alan Hale Jr, Claude Akins, John Dehner, Ellen Corby, Edgar Buchanan, Denver Pyle, Jack Elam, Vic Morrow, Kenneth Tobey, James Best, John Carradine, Ben Johnson, Irene Ryan, Bea Benadaret, Peter Breck, Johnny Crawford, Charles Lane, Ruta Lee, Regis Toomey, Frank Albertson, Frank Gorshin, Madge Blake, Burt Mustin, Glenn Strange, Dabs Greer, Iron Eyes Cody
Produced by David Dortort, John Payne and Felix Jackson. Based on characters created by Frank Burt for the radio series The Six Shooter