Monday, January 17, 2011

One of the best: Frontier Gentleman

Another of the late-1950's radio entries, Frontier Gentleman was all about J.B. Kendall, a newspaper writer for the London Times who was making his way westward in the United States for a little bit of it's flavor. He would write a story and send it back to London to be published and was always waiting for his money to catch up with him. While he was never broke - that I recall - he was down to coins, or seemed to be in most episodes. 

John Dehner
Kendall was a gentleman, no doubt. But he was also tough. He owned a gun but rarely used it. We get the feeling that he was one of the best bare-knuckle fighters in the Radio Old West - not that he looked for a fight, he didn't do that. But he was going to do what was right and if that meant having to use his fists to defend himself, he was by no means a coward. He was hard to beat as well. The only time he lost a fight is when someone would sneak up behind him and plop him on the head with the barrel of their gun while he was fighting someone else.

John Dehner played Kendall and while Dehner played a million Western parts in radio (in every other Gunsmoke episode and as Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel) I think he was best as Kendall. He was smart, sympathetic but also a moralist. Add the toughness in there and what you have is a bonafide Western hero - who didn't go around gunning people - in some ways he was like Matt Dillon or even Paladin.  The only odd thing - he didn't own a horse and is almost never heard riding one!

As a gentleman, Kendall would often find himself the guest of a town's mayor or even a governor.  He met up with some of the West's urban legends, such as Wild Bill Hickock and came really close to being with General Custer on that fateful day when Custer foolishly led his men into their last battle.

The sound quality of the series is superb. It sounds as good as anything out there; seems most of the Westerns of the late 1950's have this advantage over other series. I know some people refuse to listen to old radio that is even half-way fuzzy.

This series is one of the best out there.

1 comment:

  1. John Dehner is one of favorite otr actors. Voice is so distinctive. I remember seeing him in the early tv shows, usually westerns. He is right up there with John Brown as unheralded actors of the period.


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