| write up courtesy of wikipedia
Alias Smith and Jones
was early 70's American Western series that originally aired on ABC from
January 1971 to January 1973. It stars Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes and Ben
Murphy as Jedediah "Kid" Curry, outlaw cousins who are trying to
reform. The governor offers them a conditional amnesty, aiming to keep the
pact a secret. The "condition" is that they will still be
wanted, until it becomes politically advantageous for the governor to sign
of Pete Duel
In the early
morning hours of Friday, December 31, 1971, series star Pete
Duel died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 31. He
was reportedly suffering from depression and had been drinking
heavily when he shot himself. Upon learning of Duel's death,
executive producer Jo Swerling, Jr. initially wanted to end the
series but ABC refused. Swerling later stated:
ABC said, "No way!"
They said, "You have a contract to deliver this show to
us, and you will continue to deliver the show as best you can
on schedule or we will sue you." Hearing those words,
Universal didn't hesitate for a second to instruct us to stay
in production. We were already a little bit behind the eight
ball on airdates. So we contacted everybody, including Ben
[Murphy], and told them to come back in. The entire company
was reassembled and back in production by one o'clock that day
shooting scenes that did not involve Peter - only twelve hours
after his death.
writer, director and producer Roy Huggins contacted actor Roger
Davis (who had appeared in episode #19 "Smiler With a
Gun" and provided narration for the series) the day of
Duel's death to fill the role of Hannibal Heyes. Davis was
fitted for costumes the following day, and began re-shooting
scenes Duel had previously completed for an unfinished episode
the following Monday. According to Swerling, the decision to
continue production so soon after Duel's death was heavily
criticized in the press at the time.
|Alias Smith and
Jones began with a
made-for-TV movie of the previous year called The Young
Country, about con artists in the Old West. It was produced,
written and directed by Roy Huggins, who served as executive
producer of AS&J and, under the pseudonym of John
Thomas James, at least shared the writing credit on most
starred as Stephen Foster Moody, and Pete Duel had the secondary
but significant role of Honest John Smith. Joan Hackett played a
character called Clementine Hale; a character with the same name
appeared in two AS&J episodes, played by Sally Field.
This pilot was rejected, but Huggins was given a second chance
and, with Glen A. Larson, developed Alias Smith and Jones.
Both The Young Country and the series pilot movie
originally aired as ABC Movies of the Week.
Alias Smith and Jones was made in the same spirit as many
other American TV series, from Huggins' own The Fugitive
to Renegade, about fugitives on the run across America
who get involved in the personal lives of the people they meet.
The major difference was that Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were
guilty of the crimes that they were accused of committing, but
were trying to begin a non-criminal life.
The series was inspired by the
success of the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,
starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford (Universal contract
player Ben Murphy was offered to the producers because he was
considered a Paul Newman look-alike.) There were a number of
similarities between the film and the TV series: One of the lead
characters was named "Kid Curry", which was also the
nickname of Harvey Logan, an associate of the real Butch Cassidy
(played in the film by Ted Cassidy). Unlike the TV version, the
real Kid Curry was a cold-blooded killer.
The TV series also featured a
group of robbers called the Devil's Hole Gang, loosely based on
the Hole in the Wall Gang from which Cassidy recruited most of
his outlaws. In order to lend them an element of audience
sympathy, Heyes and Curry were presented as men who avoided
bloodshed (though Curry did once kill in self-defense) and were
always attempting to reform and seek redemption for their
The names "Smith" and
"Jones" originated from a comment in the 1969 film Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when, prior to one of their
final hold-ups, the characters are outside a bank in Bolivia and
Sundance turns to Butch and says: "I'm Smith and you're
primarily in Wyoming Territory, Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah 'Kid' Curry
(whose boyish face spawned the nickname) are the two most successful
outlaws in the history of the west. However, the west is starting to catch
up with the modern world: safes are becoming harder to crack, trains more
difficult to stop, and posses more skilled at tracking them down.
mastermind of the Devil's Hole Gang, falls in disfavor with fellow
members, and so he and Curry decide to get "out of this
business!" Being popular and having "never killed anyone",
they seek pardons. Through an old acquaintance, Sheriff Lom Trevors (James
Drury in the pilot, alternately Mike Road and John Russell in the series),
they manage to contact the territorial governor. He agrees to grant them
amnesty, but cannot do so openly without angering the public. He therefore
makes a deal with them: if they can stay out of trouble for a considerable
but unspecified period of time ("until the governor figures we
deserve amnesty") and not tell anyone about their arrangement, they
will be cleared of all charges. Until then, they will still be wanted. The
two are skeptical and ask, "That's a good deal?"
Heyes and Curry
find that a lawful life is more difficult than they assumed. Heyes and
Curry (now calling themselves Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones) often find
themselves tangling with lawmen, bounty hunters, operatives of the
Bannerman Detective Agency, and other outlaws. They are forced to rely on
Heyes's silver tongue, Curry's fast draw, and occasionally a little help
from their friends from both sides of the law.
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