The Guns of Will Sonnett follows the exploits of Will Sonnett, a retired army scout and his grandson Jeff, as they journey through the west in search of the boy's father, James. James abandoned his family twenty years befo... more »re to become a renowned gunfighter. As Will and Jeff ride the high plains in hopes of finding and redeeming James, they often become involved with people who have been touched by the guns of James Sonnett. Although Will and Jeff come close, it is difficult to find James, who does not want to be found and who is always on the move. Starring Walter Brennan and Dack Rambo.« less
E. Hornaday | Lawrenceville, NJ United States | 03/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Guns of Will Sonnett is one of the best "unknown" western series ever produced on TV. Walter Brennan (best known from his movie roles and as a regular on TV's "The Real McCoys") is an absolute revelation in the lead role of Will Sonnett, the father who, with his grandson, is searching for his son, "James," a gunfighter.
The series only ran from 1967-1969 and was one of the first produced by now TV-mogul Aaron Spelling. Each half-hour episode began with Brennan reciting a western ballad-like narration of the premise:
"We search for a man named Jim Sonnett, and the legends folks tell may be true; Most call him gunman and killer, He's my son who I hardly knew.
I raised Jim's son from the craddle, 'til the day he said to me, 'I have to go find my father,' And I 'reckonned, that's how it should be; So we ride, Jim's boy and me."
Will's grandson, Jeff, is portrayed superbly by Dack Rambo, (who died tragically in the 1990's from AIDS.) In the show, Jeff had never met his father, portrayed throughout the series by Jason Evers. Jim Sonnett sent his infant son to live with his father, Will Sonnett, on an Army base where Will had worked as a Scout. A note penned to the baby from Jim told his father that few people have an opportunity for a second chance -- in this instance, to raise a child well.
Will's character is tortured by shortcomings as a father to Jim and blames himself for the "career" his only son chose and from leaving home and striking out on his own at a very young age. As a scout, Will was away from home much of the time, especially after his wife was killed by Indians. One day he returned to the fort to find that his young son, Jim, had left never to return.
An episode in this first-season set, "Alone," is a tour-de-force for Brennan who suffers a grazing gunshot wound to the head and imagines his reunion with Jim, and acts out all of the associated guilt he had felt for decades.
The series follows Will and Jeff as they look for the elusive Jim. While Jim is a fast draw, Jeff is faster and Will is the fastest, but neither man look for trouble. Jeff is innocent, while Will is tough as nails but has a heart of gold. Will's catch phrase, "No brag, just fact," became the mantra of the show over it's short run. Will and Jeff have a strong love for each other that is rarely depicted on TV between male family members, especially in westerns.
Along the way, the two encounter many whose lives were touched, some for good but most for bad, by Jim Sonnett or his legend. By the end of each episode, many wrongs have been righted, and a clearer picture of Jim's character emerges -- he's not a killer, but a man of integrity forced to defend his life by a never-ending series of gunslinging challengers.
Jeff must also contend with the stigma of having a notorious father and last name, which helps him grow up but maintain the human values instilled by his grandfather, Will.
It was also the only Western series to end with a western trail poem recited by Brennan summarizing the blessings or challenges the two encountered in the episode.
If you enjoy good stories, great acting and western action and have not seen this series, the DVD releases of the entire run should be must see viewing. If you remember this show, no more needs to be said, it is simply a series that must be purchased. No brag; just fact!!!!"
A study of love, longing and the curse of legend
Mykal Banta | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 08/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember this series from my childhood, and memories of certain scenes and pieces of dialogue have stuck with me into my late middle-age. What I remember best is the feel the series had - a kind of romantic earnestness - and a majestic and epic tone. I had nearly forgotten the series myself, except for these bits of memory, when one day browsing Amazon, I saw the DVD set offered. Suddenly, almost reflexively, I gave it the Amazon "one-click." Call it a childish impulse.
I began watching the first season with trepidation. I had watched this show originally when I was 11 or 12 years old. Things remembered from childhood so often disappoint in the glaring, cynical light of adulthood. Not this time. The series lived up to my memories and, in fact, was better than I had remembered it. The romance of the tone was still valid, which had captured me as a child, but now I could really appreciate the craft and care with which the series was made.
The series had a brilliant concept, biblical in its proportions: a grandfather (Walter Brennan) and grandson (Dack Rambo) go roaming the West in the late nineteenth century, searching for the young man's father, a famous gunfighter missing from the family for twenty years. One needs to find his prodigal son, the other needs to find a father he has never known. Both are skilled gunfighters themselves, both having been trained by the grandfather. As the grandfather puts it when questioned about the skill of his notorious son "He showed promise."
The acting is excellent throughout, most notably Walter Brennan as the patriarch, Will Sonnett, who is absolutely convincing in the part - whip-cord tough with more than a streak of mean in him, furiously devoted to his grandson and their shared quest. It is a simple thrill to watch him handle a Colt, as surprising and sudden as watching a snake strike. Dack Rambo is very good as Jeff Sonnett, the third generation of Sonnett gunmen. Rambo really captures the son's ache to find a father he has never met, and his open need is often a bit of a surprise and very moving (one of the strengths of the series is the direct and honest way emotions like love and loneliness are dealt with, always simply without a bit of hokum). Finally, Jason Evers is excellent as the aging, haunted gunfighter, Jim Sonnett, the mention of whose name causes barrooms to become tense and quiet. Evers as Jim Sonnett seems gaunt and ragged, maybe even cursed, until he is called out, at which time he suddenly stands up straight and is filled with unnatural speed. The actor, Jason Evers recently passed away (March of 2005) and he is well remembered with his performances in this series.
The writing is among of the best in television's history, with some of the finest episodes penned by co-creator Richard Carr (the other creator was Arron Spelling). In fact, all aspects that fall under the umbrella of "production values" were top-notch. The sets were always authentic and have a "deep" look, and the cinematography was always creative and original. (for a really great example of this, check out the episode "Of Lasting Summers and Jim Sonnett" which has a shot of a grinning hangman staring straight down through a gallows trapdoor, looking the viewer straight in the eyes).
When Will Sonnett says, "No brag, just fact" he will make a believer of you. Thanks heavens this series can be seen again. -Mykal Banta
" That's no brag, just fact."
Matthew Romanchuk | Westwood, N.J. USA | 01/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am very happy to see this series on dvd. I remember watching this when I was about 9 or 10 years old in the 60's. Walter Brennan, Dack Rambo and Jason Evers are sublime as the 3 principal characters in this very interesting western series. The photography, music and great scripts/acting will hook you. Although the transfers are not the most pristine one could hope for, this may be as close as fans will get to having a preserved copy of these great episodes. The fact that this series is relatively obscure as compared to say Gunsmoke or Maverick, makes this understandable. With regards to these shows being the syndicated versions( some stuff missing), this is probably correct, but again the fan/viewer should be happy that the show is available at ALL on dvd. I don't think it was ever made available on VHS. The picture/sound though are very good considering that they were transferred from 40 year old materials. In summary, this is a very enjoyable 4 star package of yesteryear entertainment that beats the current crop of " reality shows" by light years. Enjoy!"
Will Sonnett Shines but in short form
ELC | Grand Rapids, Mi. | 01/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is wonderful to have this under-rated western tv series available from the 60's. The episodes were produced well on dvd and the picture and audio is quite good--it is even recorded in dolby digital! There are bonus features as well including a great biography of Walter Brennan and a special guest star bonus feature. Also included is an old 50's episode of a series Brennan appeared in as well. The reason I rate it at 4 stars instead of 5 is that it has the edited syndicated shows. Is there no way to release these great shows uncut?"
Guns of Will Sonnett Seasons I & II
Tricia | Flintstone, GA | 01/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My family used to watch these episodes of Guns of Will Sonnett when they were on tv many years ago. We like the way they begin, and the prayer that is said at the ending of each episode. When my husband mentioned he would enjoy seeing those episodes again, I got on the internet and ordered the first season for him. He loved the gift! Our son, and the two of us, watch two episodes at a time, almost every night. We finished the first Season, and I ordered the second season for him, and we have started watching those episodes also. It is good, clean, tv watching, and there is a lesson to be learned in every episode....I rate these films with 5 Stars. They have become a treasured part of our DVD library."