Swine alive or dead

From the American tv show Gunsmoke, in the episode “Fandango” (S12 E21, first aired 2/11/67), Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) to a man he’s taken into his custody for trial:

Mister, you’re going back pig or pork, now make up your mind!

The colorful alliterative figure pig or pork, a version of the formula alive or dead (more often encountered in the version dead or alive, with the monosyllable before the disyllable). And an excellent version it is.

(It appears to have been a creation of the Gunsmoke writers: I can find no occurrences that aren’t quotations of, comments on, or allusions to the “Fandango” cite.)

I was sure I’d posted about Gunsmoke before, but apparently not. From Wikipedia:


(#1) Clockwise from top: Ken Curtis (Festus, Matt’s deputy), James Arness (Matt), Amanda Blake (Kitty, the town’s saloonkeeper), and Milburn Stone (Doc, the town’s doctor) in 1968

Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon, played by William Conrad on radio and James Arness on television.

… The radio series ran from 1952 to 1961. John Dunning wrote that among radio drama enthusiasts, “Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time.” The television series ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975, and lasted for 635 episodes. At the end of its run in 1975, Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith wrote: “Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp Western as romanticized by [Ned] Buntline, [Bret] Harte, and [Mark] Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend.”

And about the lanky (6 ft. 7 in), broad-shouldered Arness:

James Arness (born James King Aurness, May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011) was an American actor, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years in the CBS television series Gunsmoke. Arness has the distinction of having played the role of Dillon in five separate decades: 1955 to 1975 in the weekly series, then in Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge (1987) and four more made-for-television Gunsmoke films in the 1990s. In Europe, Arness reached cult status for his role as Zeb Macahan in the western series How the West Was Won. He was the older brother of actor Peter Graves.

Now, about the “Fandango” episode, from IMDb:


(#2) James Arness and Diana Muldaur in “Fandango”

Marshal Dillon is trying to bring a suspected murderer back for trial (on foot) for killing a lawman friend of the Marshal’s. He finds the man near a large sheep ranch run by an independent Australian immigrant named Tyson [Fletcher Bryant]. Tyson wants to handle the prisoner in his own way for allegedly killing a few of Tyson’s ranch hands. The Marshal enlists the help of a local doctor [Paul Fix] and Tyson’s own daughter [Diana Muldaur] while acquiring horses. Ultimately Tyson and the Marshal meet face to face before returning to Dodge City.

The characters include an aboriginal sheep herder Changra [played by Shug Fisher], who was brought from Australia with the Tyson family.

Summary for Muldaur, from Wikipedia:

Diana Charlton Muldaur (born August 19, 1938) is an American film and television actress. Muldaur’s television roles include L.A. Law‘s Rosalind Shays and Dr. Katherine Pulaski in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

And for Fisher, also from Wikipedia:


(#3) The mature Fisher in a different episode of Gunsmoke

Shug Fisher (September 26, 1907 – March 16, 1984), born George Clinton Fisher Jr., was an American character actor, singer, songwriter, musician and comedian. During a 50-year career, he appeared in many Western films, often as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers in Roy Rogers serials. Fisher also had supporting roles on many TV shows, most frequently on Gunsmoke and The Beverly Hillbillies. His comic trademarks included his ability to stutter at will and his bemused facial expressions.


(#4) The mature Fisher as Changra in “Fandango”

(Fisher, a genuine country boy from Oklahoma, was part Choctaw, and in his later years was often cast in “ethnic” roles.)

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