THE 'ALIAS SMITH & JONES' STORY,
Superstar Magazine, June 1972
Most of them were pretty predictable--you know, who gets the girl, who's going to get shot and not make the end of the picture. And then something very different happened because along came Jones with his buddy Smith, two marvellously different characters who keep you, and especially themselves, guessing right to the very end!
Already a big, big hit TV series in the States before it came to our British screens, it's reception here was also fantastic, and it's popularity is still going up and up!
And the reason is very simple. "Alias Smith & Jones" really is different from any other Western series we've ever seen--it's laughs, adventure and excitement all rolled up into one. But, the real difference is that the heroes, Smith & Jones, turn out to be two friendly, lovable bandits on the run from the law.
Trouble is, they don't really want to be baddies, they want to be good. In fact, they find in their day to day adventures that it is harder to go straight and stay out of trouble than to stay crooked! But, fortunately, Smith & Jones have an enormous sense of humour and they can laugh and joke whether things are going well or bad for them. Every situation has its funny side and they always manage to find it! They take a punch on the jaw or a grateful slap on the back with the same light-hearted grin-- they're just incredible !
Naturally, the series has made stars of its two leading men, or vice versa. Dark good-looking Pete Duel played Smith up until his untimely death at the end of last year; and blond and handsome Ben Murphy plays Jones. Both were very experienced actors who had yet to hit the big-time. But, with Smith & Jones, the characters they play, they found it, and all the success trappings that go with it--fan clubs and a worshipping public.
The whole bit! The first series [sic, Pete died in the second season, not the first] was cut short, of course, because of Pete's sad death, but he is certainly not going to be forgotten as he built up a very strong and devoted following of fans in the months he worked on the series. In his own way he'll always be irreplacable as Smith. But Roger Davis has come in to create a different Smith. Roger is a very experienced, good-looking, young actor who is one of the very few people who could hope to fill the enormous gap left by Pete Duel. He actually appeared in the final episodes of the last series and he's undoubtedly going to create a big impression as soon as we see him over here.
Pete Duel, Ben Murphy and now Roger Davis are all part of the enormous success story of "Alias Smith & Jones", a story that still has a very long way to go, up! So let's go back to the very beginning and find out how it all came about.
The series was created by producer Glen Larson. He wanted to do a Western which was different from all others. He aimed to include a lot of humour, a lot of laughs.
It was while he was going through some reports on old outlaws that he came across the story of two men who had been offered amnesty and a chance of going straight.
This immediately appealed to Larsen because it was just the sort of story he'd been looking for. And, how right he was!
Next came the two characters who would be featured throughout the series--Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. Definitely not run-of-the-mill gunslingers although they've done a lot of robbing, bank jobs, train jobs and the like. But they never killed anyone! Basically they're nice helpful guys, more like western Robin Hoods. And they're always helping out the less fortunate. They may tote guns, but they only use them in self defence! And, that's pretty incredible considering the scrapes they get into!
They've been pretty lucky and they know it. You see, they're also quite intelligent too--they know when to quit! Most of their counterparts only gave up when a bullet stopped them!
But then, I told you our boys were different! You see, at the end of the last century, lawmen were few and far between, or didn't even exist at all, so it was all a bit too easy to be an outlaw. Then it all started to change. The wide open spaces were being fenced in and law and order was catching up fast. It got so bad for Smith & Jones that almost as soon as they pulled a job, or attempted to, the possee were on their trail and things were just getting too hot!
Bullets whistling over your shoulders day and night just isn't healthy work! Yes, our boys became the most wanted men around as their 'Wanted' posters proved, even being given the credit for jobs that they physically or geographically could not have pulled! Yes, times were changing and--being sensible--they wanted to change with them.
They'd heard about the many outlaws who were now leading honest lives through the Amnesty Act, so perhaps it would work for them? The territory's governor hearing of their change of heart promises them amnesty too--a free pardon for all their crimes if they can keep out of trouble and live decent, crime-free lives until he thinks they've proved themselves.
But, and this is what all their future troubles are about, it must remain a secret between the governor and Heyes and Curry for political reasons.
To avoid sheriffs, rangers and bounty hunters, who don't know about the deal, Heyes and Curry decided they'd better change their names, as well as their way of life, so they became Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones"Alias Smith & Jones".
The idea sounded good to them, and, it might even work! After all, Smith & Jones weren't wanted for anything by the law. They're just two decent law abiding citizens aren't they? Love and peace could be their motto, for this is all they really wanted.
Trouble is, things are never that easy are they? From week to week in the series you can see the kind of spots they get themselves into by just trying to stay on the right side of the law. People who recognise them from their wanted posters, try and blackmail them into doing 'little jobs' by buy silence. If the boys refuse they'll be handed over to the sheriff and exposed for who they really are. Try and get out of that one! Or, try convincing a bounty hunter with a shotgun who's been tracking you down for ages that you're not really who he thinks you are, and there is certainly not thousands of dollars reward money for you, dead or alive! Oh it's all very difficult!
And of course, with two such good-looking guys, you can't keep romances completely out of the picture. If there's only one girl around Heyes and the Kid can go to very extreme lengths in order to try and outsmart one another!
Watch out for Part 2 next month.
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