Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
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The Coward 

A coward gambler, who's too cheap to hire a gunman, wants Matt dead for a beating he got from him years ago, so he starts some talk around Dodge about the big reputation any person could gain, if they simply killed Matt.


Jesse Hibbs


John Meston


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Episode cast overview:
James Arness ... Matt Dillon
Dennis Weaver ... Chester
Milburn Stone ... Doc
Amanda Blake ... Kitty
Barry Atwater ... Ed Eby
House Peters Jr. ... Nat Swan
James Beck James Beck ... Jack Massey (as Jim Beck)
William Phipps ... Lou
Barney Phillips ... Bill Pence
George Selk ... Moss Grimmick
John Close John Close ... Pete
Sheldon Allman Sheldon Allman ... Bill


Jack Massey, who bears a strong resemblance to Matt, is shot in the back while standing in the Marshal's office. Matt subsequently learns that gambler Ed Eby has recently come to Dodge and that Eby claims to have overheard an unnamed man threaten to shoot the Marshal "any way he could". Matt is dubious of Eby's veracity inasmuch as the gambler bears a long-standing grudge against him. However, Matt is tense over the possibility that he could be murdered from ambush, especially after inebriated Nat Swan tries to do so in order to make a name for himself. When the tension causes Matt to become involved in an armed conflict that results in the death of an innocent man, he decides to confront Eby about his intentions as well as the accuracy of his story. Written by Sam Spear

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Release Date:

7 March 1959 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS Television Network See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Dillon is shot in the barn, he grabs the right side of his rib cage. In subsequent shots, he is shown holding his right outer shoulder/arm and blood is on the outer shoulder/sleeve area of his shirt. See more »


Kitty: I just don't understand why Eby didn't tell you about this right off the minute you got back to town.
Marshal Matt Dillon: I'll tell you, Kitty, I ran across Eby once some time back over in Tascosa. He was slapping a woman around and I gave him quite a beating for it. He probably has never forgotten it.
Kitty: Hmm.
Marshal Matt Dillon: He wasn't too big after that and he left town a few days later.
Kitty: I guess he figures he doesn't owe you any favors now, huh?
Marshal Matt Dillon: Not exactly.
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User Reviews

Average, at Best
27 July 2012 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Somebody's taking shots at Matt, but it's not just one guy, it's more. Meanwhile a dude gambler (Atwater) has arrived in town carrying a grudge toward Matt. So, what's the connection.

Strong opening since the kid (Beck) is so likable. But the remainder plays out in rather pedestrian fashion minus suspenseful staging touches implicit in the premise. The shootout in the barn, for example, is drained of suspense potential with unimaginative staging. Following that great opening shot in the doorway, it looks like director Hibbs simply films the script as it appears. Too bad he didn't follow-up stylistically on those first few minutes. On the other hand, Atwater does well as the dude, though I expected fangs to appear at some point given his many vampire roles. All in all, the entry is routine, at best.

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