Rawhide is famous as the show which introduced Clint Eastwood and gave him his first brush with fame. Perhaps that's the way it should be remembered because as a show it was very uneven. You have to rank Rawhide a few notches below such classic westerns as Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Maverick, and Have Gun, Will Travel. There were times when Rawhide approached the level of those shows but more often than not it fell short.
Rawhide was best when it had a top notch guest star who could carry the episode and it had quite a few. Dean Martin, Victor McLaglen, Buddy Ebsen, Peter Lorre, Walter Pidgeon, Lon Chaney, and Charles Bronson are but a few who made guest appearances on the show. If an episode of Rawhide featured a good guest star it was usually good television. If an episode concentrated mainly on the show regulars it was usually average at best.
Part of the problem with Rawhide was that it wasn't particulary well cast (and yes, that includes Clint Eastwood). Star Eric Fleming had the on-screen presence but not the acting ability to go with it. His talents were better suited to B-movies like Curse of the Undead. Sheb Wooley found more note as a singer of country parody songs than he ever did as an actor in Hollywood and as for Eastwood let's just say that he managed to improve after Rawhide's run came to an end. I will say that Paul Brinegar (as cook G. W. Wishbone) consistenly did good work even though his character was a direct copy of Wagon Train's Charlie Wooster.