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Gunsmoke - Janss Conejo Movie Ranch, Thousand Oaks, Ca.
Regarding Gunsmoke Seasons 5 through 9, It is important to note that the majority of outdoor location shots were filmed at the Janss Conejo Movie Ranch in Thousand Oaks, California. Why this location ?
Originally, Gunsmoke Season 1 through 4 "outdoor" locations were filmed in two different locations: Corriganville ( Simi Valley, Ca ) and the "Melody Ranch" in Newhall, Ca. During season 1 through 4, the majority of outdoor location shots were at the Melody Ranch. You can tell when thay filmed at Melody ,the ever present wind blowing through the trees and the actors costumes ! The Melody Ranch was located in Placerita Canyon ( Newhall ) between California Highway 14 and Newhall Ave and was a natural "funnel" for gusty winds blowing from the high desert to the San Fernando Valley. Not a bad place to shoot a Western however, very challenging on cast and crew!
Starting in 1959, new corporate money became available ( due to the shows success ), and this led to new filming equipment. This was done to take advantage of the actors "range" and to broden the scope of what the old West and Dodge City was like in 1877. With this, a new outdoor filming location had to be found.
Enter the Janss Conejo Movie Ranch location. Easy to access by the 101 Freeway ( and only 35 miles from Hollywood ), the Janss Movie Ranch had everything. Originally a throughbred horse ranch for the family that developed Westwood Village ( UCLA ), the Janss Ranch could supply horses, movie sets, cattle, saddles and extras ! The primary Gunsmoke filming area was done in what is known today as the Wildwood Aera. If you locate the corner of Lynn Road and Ave. De. Los Arboles ( Thousand Oaks ) and look west, you are at the entrance of Janss Conejo Movie Ranch, Wildwood section.
Let me present the most identifiable locations and see if you can match them while viewing Gunsmoke ( 1959 - 1963 ). Note: The offical studio "names" of the sets within Wildwood are will Identify the sets by what the majority of the episodes used them for.
Rocky Ridge Line
The most prominate feature of the Janss Conejo Movie Ranch "Wildwood Area" location was the rugged, horizontal "rock ridge line" . This ridge line slopes up from a smooth dirt floor and was the primary back drop on many Season 5 through 9 outdoor locations. Most Gunsmoke episodes will "frame" the western most ridgeline ( two distinct outcroppings with a small trough in the midddle ). The western ridgeline can be seen as backdrop when filming took place within "Front Street" or when there was a wide shot ( looking West ) on various sets on the "Plateau" . The middle- left part of the ridgeline has a smooth "cap" and a "swayback" dip. This section was seen during long shots of subjects / wagons on a wide, dusty trail with the ridgeline on the left. The middle- right ridgeline dips low with "Flat Top Hill" in the far background. This part of the ridgeline base also contained the "Cactus Bowl" , a natural, low elevation bowl filled with cactus along with a wide dirt road that ran from the top of the Cactus Bowl down to Brushy Creek. Note to film buffs: This is the exact location used in the 1967 Henry Fonda film " Welcome to Hard Times". The Eastern ridgeline area has three distinct sections. The "Hard Ball", the "Wash" and the "Staircase" . The Harball is a rock formation that broke away from the ridgeline and rolled ( yes, rolled ! ) down the slope. The Wash, is a natural stormwater runoff flume that feeds into Brushy Creek ( before home development ) and the Staircase is the far eastern ridgeline "stepping down" right into the Cal Lutheren University property. All of the above ridgeline can be seen clearly today standing on the Wildflower Play Field area in Wildwood Park.
Another frequently used set in the Wildwood Area was called "Brushy Creek". This area did not have any actual sets, just overgrown brush and low growth willow trees ! This area / set played a major roll in the weekly Gunsmoke story when bandits, transients, military ( or Matt and Chester ) bedded down for the night or "took cover" . Originally a small, running creek bed originating from ( now ) Cal Lutheran University, "Brushy Creek" served Gunsmoke well by creating a minimum of 10 different camera angles within 100 yards of center point.
I will continue with this review in the near hope you enjoyed my report so far !
- . Mike
I would describe this show as my best friend because it has been a part of my life and such unforgettable. Most especially during the second era, it brought much excitement to the show! Why I can't find this type of show nowadays?! I bought a DVD of this show from gunsmokedvdset. com , it was in good quality and I'm glad that the seller produced a decent copy of this. Because Gunsmoke is the one and ONLY show that really worth watching for.moreless
a true legend
There are lots of critics before for these western TV shows, because some of them says these kind of shows makes its viewers liberally inclined. Well, of all the Western TV shows aired in the past, only Gunsmoke, I must say, really proved these critics very wrong. Marshall Dillon taught every one of us on what "integrity" really means as this is his best character in his role that's why millions of viewers waited every episode during its 20 years of airing in the television. There will never be another show like this nowadays, right? I really really missed this show sooo much!! I was glad I received a complete DVD set which is a gift from my grandson last Christmas. He said he just order it at . It really made me happy to watch this all over again. It's really worth the time, truly enjoyable. Gunsmoke rules!moreless
great puchase for an excellent show!
I really do miss watching this show and looked for a great copy! The Gunsmoke I received from appears to be excellent thus far! Never encountered problems with the seller and not to mention, the DVDs were shipped in short amount of period. The packaging is great - no damage and came in great condition! The whole set has all the complete episodes, no scratches, and most importantly, it's playable in our DVD player. For a very affordable value, it's really worth it!moreless
Gunsmoke TWENTY YEARS
I LOVE this show, it was a 10 all around from actors to writing to directors!!!! to "stryper7" if it was so abysmal then tell me HOW it lasted TWENTY YEARS???
The only criticism I have is the firing of Amanda Blake!!!! What was Mantley thinking????
I watched this as a child and I still watch it to this day!!!!
Gunsmoke! Greatest show of all time!!!
I grew up watching Gunsmoke as a kid and always wanted to be like Marshal Dillon yet comedic like Festus or Chester. There was always a variety of drama and laughter throughout the series, that's what made the show so GREAT!
Encore Westerns recently rewound back several years from 1966 to 1961, now the Chester era. I finally get to see the episodes with Chester (Dennis Weaver) and he's as funny and silly as Festus is, you gotta love that! I've only known Gunsmoke to be on TV Land all these years until it got canceled from TV Land few months ago. I'd like to see a network channel that'll show all the Gunsmoke episodes from beginning to end, that would be nice.
I love Matt Dillon's serious side, you don't dare mess with Matthew! As a Marshal, he was very hard but fair as always, professional yet courteous to his fellow man and woman. I would've loved to see the final episode of him and Kitty riding off in the sunset together. That may have been the perfect ending to the entire series.
Kitty... she was definietly easy on the eyes. A fine good looking woman who was tough as nails when she had to be. That's the kind of women I like...grooooowl !!!
Thad and Newly... always there for Matt when it got a bit rough out there, great back-up no matter what! I'll have to admit, the episode where Newly got married to a woman who just died after was tear jerking! Everyone knew she was going to die soon and all felt heartbroken over it.
Chester... still getting to know his character right now but realizing he's a lot like Festus yet more slightly on the serious side. Can someone tell me why Chester's leg limps? Was there a storyline to that or never brought up? Would love to know.
Louie Pheters... the town drunk. He tends to be at the wrong place and at the wrong time seems like. So drunk yet so innocent, I always feel sorry for him. I like how he always tells Matt "You're my friend Matt!" with a shaky scared voice and Matt lets Louie sleep it off in his jail.
And last but never least - Doc and Festus, my 2 favorites!! I will always crack up at those two when they go at it! That is definitely me and my old man neighbor next door. We are a lot like them. Too many scenes to mention, but every episode where they do the "Abbott & Costello" routines is a breath of fresh air to me! And yet when something happens to one of them the other either cries or gets deeply upset. I would've loved to see a spin-off series of just those two going at it all the time. "You old scudder"!
I knew Ken Curtis could sing (and I know he was with the Sons of the Pioneers) but never like what I saw on You Tube doing "Tumbling Tumbleweeds". What a voice! I didn't know Festus could sing that good!!! Holy Crap!!! His voice as Festus is so high pitched you would think he's lip synching to it. And yet he still wears his Gunsmoke clothes in that video, CLASSIC!!! Rest in peace my friend! I'll drink a beer with you anyday!
So yes, Festus is my favorite character from Gunsmoke, Dont'cha See???!!!
SFC Mark Michael, U.S. Army (Desert Storm Veteran).moreless
Oh boy, bummer we only have five channels to chose from!
Festus and Kitty, these two people alone were enough to make you puke! This show really stunk! Ok, relax all you old geezers, you have to realize there was nothing else on T.V. back then. I know you want to relive your past but just admit it, this show was lousy! The only reason I didn't give it a zero was because James Arness was a true monster of a man and one feared dude! But man, that Festus wimp...man was he a lousy actor or what! He always looked like a slob! Every commercial and every episode he always managed to be out in the dirt street winding up some rope into a circle. Ugh! To this day I can't get that image out of my mind, it torments me! That goofy loser winding that rope just past the water trough....ahhhh!!!!!! Oh, and that miss Kitty. Oh yuck! That goofy dot on her face, that drove me nuts! Was that supposed to be sexy? NOPE! Let's face it guys, Ginger did it for awhile but most men choose Mary Ann because of that freakin' dot! haha With cable there's no reason to watch this show. Period. Ok, if your last name is Arness or you have Altsheimers, five minutes at the most!moreless
A great western and a great show
As somone in my late fourty's I never watched the early gunsmoke episodes when they aired. I was brought on on the colored 1 hour versions with Festus as Matt side kick. These were for the most part great episodes mixed with heavy drama and playful interaction with Matt Doc and Festus and they were the only episodes we were shown on TV. When the first half hour seasons were issued on DVD It took a while for me to get used to them with a different side kick, Chester and a different more violent Matt (in one episode Matt and Chester voilently ambush six outlaws somethihg you would never see in the one hour cored episodes) However that being said I enjoyed these just as much as the later colored episodes becasue the action was quick and the story lines straightforward and although in the end I preferred Festus to Chester the later had a charm of his own.moreless