It’s true, my heroes have always been cowboys and two of my favorite have always been Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. A fan from their original run in the 70’s, I was absolutely delighted to find Alias Smith and Jones airing on Encore Western Channel – uncut and clear as they day they first aired! (Clearer actually, since back then we had a pair of rabbit ears on the TV).
The story is pretty much Butch and Sundance – our boys are the most successful gentleman bandits in the west (they never shot anyone), so the governor offers them amnesty if they can stay on the straight skinny until he deems them deserving of a break. The catch is, no one can know about the deal so while they’re playing it straight, lawmen and bounty hunters in three states are after them – wanted DEAD or Alive!
The show is magical because of the two leads (man, I miss buddy shows – why did they go?) Pete Duel and Ben Murphy. Pete (Heyes, aka Joshua Smith) is the thinker, sometimes brooding, sometimes impish, he can’t resist a challenge. Ben (Curry, aka Thaddeus Jones) is the fastest gun in the west. He’s also the boyish one of the two, more about pleasure than intellectual enlightenment. Together, they’re a heck of a team.
Throw in some of the best character actors of the era (Paul Fix, Fernando Lamas, Pernell Roberts), fun plots and great Universal Studios backlot action and you’ve got a very amusing hour of TV.
I freely admit to being a techno-junkie but from five to six everyday, thanks to the Westerns Channel, I am whisked away to a time long before cell phones and computers and microwaves (and I’m not just talking about 1971). A time when men called women ma’am, your word was your bond, and a good time was just a square dance away. Yeah, I like the comforts of the twenty-first century, but still my heart aches just a little at the thought of a long stagecoach ride with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.
There’s nothing like a handsome, smiling cowboy, and two of them??? Be still my heart. For the return of Alias Smith and Jones, I say thank you to The Encore Westerns Channel. Catch it, if you can.
I was cleaning out my old computer discs and found a bunch of entries from an online journal I as keeping at the time. I thought they were worth sharing again.
Original publication date: Tuesday, February 08, 2005