Monday, July 16, 2012


I watched an episode of THE RIFLEMAN the other day. This 30-minute, black-and-white classic western television series ran on ABC-TV from 1958 to 1963. The show starred Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a rancher and widower raising his young son Mark (Johnny Crawford) in North Fork, New Mexico. McCain never wore a gun-belt. But he carried a wicked repeater rifle and he gunned down scores of villains in every episode (although he had no official status as a peace officer).

A couple of things that I really enjoy about the show is the length of the episodes and the terrific guest stars. With a running time of slightly less than thirty minutes (gotta make time for commercials), the scripts are lean, tight and compact. There are no wasted moments or sub-plots in an episode of THE RIFLEMAN. Lucas gets down to business mighty quick.

The roster of guest stars reads like a who's who of classic Hollywood movie and TV character actors. The episode I watched the other day featured the legendary duo of Warren Oates and Lee Van Cleef as bad guys with an appearance by Hope Summers (Clara on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW) as a shopkeeper.

In the course of the story, six people meet their death by gunfire. Three of them are gunned down by Lucas. That's an extraordinarily high body count by anyone's standards. Did any other hero on any other western television series of the time kill as many people as Lucas McCain?

1 comment:

  1. Trivia: Lucas had a third cousin (never seen in any of the episodes) who was afflicted with a permanent head cold. His name was Mucas McCain.