Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
3 user

Hard Labor 

Dillon is sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor by Judge Flood, who uses an illegally constituted court to staff his private silver mine.


Bernard McEveety


Earl W. Wallace (teleplay by), Hal Sitowitz (story by)


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Episode cast overview:
James Arness ... Matt Dillon
Milburn Stone ... Doc (credit only)
Ken Curtis ... Festus (credit only)
Buck Taylor ... Newly (credit only)
John Colicos ... Judge Flood
Hal Williams ... Widge
William Smith ... Latch
Kevin Coughlin ... Elton
Ben Piazza ... Fifer
Gregory Sierra ... Osuna
Gerald McRaney ... Pete Murphy
Don Megowan ... Mike
Jackie Russell ... Bar Girl
Lloyd Nelson ... Jury Foreman
Fred Lerner ... Guard


Dillon is sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor by Judge Flood, who uses an illegally constituted court to staff his private silver mine.

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Release Date:

24 February 1975 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS Television Network See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


There seems to be a controversy on whether or not this episode was repeated on CBS. One book gives it as airing as the second-to-last telecast on August 25, 1975, but a TV Guide for that week lists a Cher special in that time slot. See more »


When Matt and three others deliberately bury themselves in a mine shaft in order to dig toward the surface unnoticed, Matt swings the pick for digging at the level of his own chest, and the hole goes from his waist to his head when he finally reaches daylight. But when the scene dissolves out and back in to reveal it's now night outside, the hole is at floor level. See more »

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User Reviews

Jumped the shark!
28 July 2018 | by kenstallings-65346See all my reviews

The operable term for this episode is, "Jumping the shark!" The term was coined after the long running series "Happy Days" literally had star character Fonzi ski jump over a shark pen. Since then, the term is applied to a series that thinks it has to explore truly bizarre themes in a desperate effort to work up something new.

Sadly, after 20 outstanding years, even Gunsmoke finally jumped the shark with this turkey!

The theme is well past implausible. In the United States, where people are free to come and go, the notion that an entire town of people wouldn't have one person in several years manage to leave town long enough to alert reputable authorities! No, that's nuts! And this foolish basis ruins the episode immediately.

Fortunately, the series did not end with this episode, as the season ran a full 24 airings in this final twentieth year. And some of those final four episodes were truly outstanding efforts.

The characters are nearly all one dimensional except for one, who is a caretaker who at first is just trying to cynically survive, but eventually comes to recognize an opportunity to escape the hell hole. In the end, his character provided the means by which the seedy enterprise was ended. Hal Williams therefore provided the only real noteworthy performance, even though the way his character spoke one could be forgiven for thinking he was played by a younger version of Scatman Crothers.

This is one of the few Gunsmoke episodes that should have been shelved and started over again.

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