Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
4 user

The Good Samaritans 

A group of former slaves on their way to Oregon are temporarily halted to repair a broken wheel. They find Matt on the prairie, wounded by two outlaws trying to prevent his reaching Dodge City, and hide him until he can recover.


Bernard McEveety


Paul Savage




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
James Arness ... Matt Dillon
Milburn Stone ... Doc (credit only)
Amanda Blake ... Kitty (credit only)
Ken Curtis ... Festus (credit only)
Brock Peters ... Cato
Rex Ingram ... Juba Freeman
Robert DoQui ... Benji
Paulene Myers ... Mama Olabelle
Hazel Medina Hazel Medina ... Erlene
Lynn Hamilton ... Reba
Sam Melville ... Croyden
Davis Roberts ... Ike
L.Q. Jones ... Kittridge
Pepe Brown ... Heck
Alycia Gardner Alycia Gardner ... Willa


A group of former slaves on their way to Oregon are temporarily halted to repair a broken wheel. They find Matt on the prairie, wounded by two outlaws trying to prevent his reaching Dodge City, and hide him until he can recover.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

10 March 1969 (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
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Great Acting Wasted by Poor Writing
7 October 2019 | by wdavidreynoldsSee all my reviews

With "The Good Samaritans," we have one of the more unusual episodes of the series. Clearly the writers wanted to deliver a story that prominently and positively portrayed black people during the immediate post-Civil War time. Unfortunately, the story says more about the time it was told--the late 1960s--than it does the time the story reflects.

This is a "Matt-only" episode. Matt is badly injured by a couple of cowboys who want to prevent him getting back to Dodge with written evidence that will convict a prisoner being held there. There is a $1,500 bounty on the prisoner elsewhere, and the cowboys, apparently along with several others, want the prisoner for the bounty being offered. Matt manages to elude capture by the pair of cowboys until he is found by a group of freed slaves who were on their way west when their wagon broke down. The group is led by a man named Juba Freeman, who insists on abiding by the laws of God and man. The group nurses Matt through the worst of his injury, at least enough that Matt regains consciousness and can move about a bit.

Cato is one of the men in Juba's group, but he doesn't necessarily agree with Juba's philosophy of life. He is headstrong and more bitter than Juba and the rest of the group, and he resents Juba providing assistance to Matt. (Cato has an ear that was badly disfigured by a slave owner.)

The problem with this story is that it is steeped in stereotypes. One of the cowboys named Kittridge is a stereotypical racist who doesn't even consider the former slaves people. Juba and his group are too trusting and kind, with the exception of Cato. As a matter of fact, Cato is the only one of the group that exhibits any level of genuineness, and the writers chose to turn him into a misguided character that almost brings disaster on everyone.

As usual for Gunsmoke, the acting in this episode is outstanding. L.Q. Jones as the despicable Kittridge was always great at playing people you just love to hate. Rex Ingram as Juba, Brock Peters as Cato, Robert DoQui as Benji, Paulene Myers as Mama, Hazel Medina as Erlene, and Lynn Hamilton as Reba, are all recognizable faces that play their roles perfectly, although they were forced to mostly play stereotypes.

There was a lot of potential with this story, but the writers failed to take advantage of the opportunities that were provided. As a result, the story is fairly formulaic. It is difficult to imagine this story being told this way in 2019.

One additional note of some interest: If you watch closely, at the end of the scene after Kittridge and his partner first encounters Cato, Kittridge turns to his partner and says, "You know something? If we don't find Dillon by nightfall, I'm going to find that camp and I'm going to roust me a smartmouth ____." The last word is silenced during reruns of the show. I'm not sure if it was allowed in the original network airing of the show or not. It is clear that L.Q. Jones says another word at the end of the sentence.

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