Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
4 user

Us Haggens 

To avenge the death of his twin brother Fergus, savvy plainsman Festus Haggen forms an initially uneasy alliance with Matt to track down his murderous uncle "Black Jack" Haggen.


Andrew V. McLaglen


Les Crutchfield


Episode cast overview:
James Arness ... Matt Dillon
Milburn Stone ... Doc
Ken Curtis ... Festus
Denver Pyle ... Blackjack Haggen
Elizabeth MacRae ... April
Billy E. Hughes Billy E. Hughes ... Timmy (as Billy Hughes)
Howard Wright ... Dietzer




To avenge the death of his twin brother Fergus, savvy plainsman Festus Haggen forms an initially uneasy alliance with Matt to track down his murderous uncle "Black Jack" Haggen.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

character name in title | See All (1) »




Did You Know?


Ken Curtis plays Festus Haggen for the first time in this episode. The Festus character became a regular during the ninth season. See more »


Black Jack Haggen: I remember when you was six years old and I bought you that pair of boots up from Jalisco. Genuine leather they was - first pair of boots you ever owned. Why, you was so proud of them you wouldn't even take 'em off to go to bed at night.
Festus Haggen: Ahh, boots is just boots and that was a long time ago.
Black Jack Haggen: Gonna grow up to be just like old Uncle Jack, that's what you used to tell everybody.
Festus Haggen: I never was real smart when I was a kid!
See more »

User Reviews

Hello Festus Haggen!
26 July 2019 | by wdavidreynoldsSee all my reviews

Black Jack Haggen is another of those Gunsmoke villains that are lacking any redeeming qualities. Killing another person means nothing more to him than someone stepping on a bug. When he kills one of the farmers that lives close to Dodge City, Matt Dillon sets out in pursuit.

Matt isn't alone this time, though. He runs across Festus Haggen, who is also after his uncle for personal reasons. Matt agrees to allow Festus to tag along in the pursuit of Black Jack.

And so, we meet the one-and-only Festus Haggen for the first time.

Decades later, I am not sure when the Gunsmoke producers decided to add Festus as a regular character on the show. Although we first meet Festus here, we don't see him again until the next season in the "Prairie Wolfer" episode. However, this episode sure seems like it is as much to introduce us to Festus as anything.

There is a lot of Festus storytelling, especially as he tells Matt about his very unique family, many who have no qualms about breaking the law when it suits them, and maybe that even includes Festus. A big part of the tension in this episode is built around Matt not being sure if he can trust Festus or not.

Denver Pyle is good, as always, as Black Jack Haggen. We also get to meet April as played by Elizabeth MacRae, perhaps better known as Lou Ann Poovie on Gomer Pyle USMC. April would make additional appearances as Festus's girlfriend in the next season of Gunsmoke. Billy Hughes, a frequent guest on many westerns at the time, also appears early in this episode.

It is difficult to judge this episode on its own merits, because we now know the profound impact the Festus character would have on Gunsmoke. But a large part of this episode is an early version of Festus being Festus. The resolution to the episode is not especially surprising.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 4 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

8 December 1962 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Recently Viewed