Hostage! Full Episode – Gunsmoke, Season #18, Episode #13
Gunsmoke was a groundbreaking show in many ways, and the Western genre still upholds its impact today. Its unique portrayal of the American West helped popularize the genre and influenced subsequent Westerns. Hostage! is one of the many Gunsmoke episodes during its run, directed by Gunnar Hellstrom and written by Paul F. Edwards. This episode from season 18 aired on December 11, 1972.
Jude Bonner, the leader of an outlaw gang, kidnaps Kitty, brutally abusing and threatening to kill her to force Marshal Matt Dillon to stop the hanging of his condemned brother.
Check out Hostage!‘s plot and trivia, or watch the full Gunsmoke episode below.
Watch the Full Gunsmoke Episode, Hostage!
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Gunsmoke Hostage! Cast
The following cast members acted in the Gunsmoke episode, Hostage!:
- James Arness as Matt Dillon
- Milburn Stone as Doc
- Amanda Blake as Kitty
- Ken Curtis as Festus
- Buck Taylor as Newly
- William Smith as Jude Bonner
- Geoffrey Lewis as Lafitte Bonner
- Marco St. John as Virgil Bonner
- Nina Roman as Amy Lee
- Glenn Strange as Sam Noonan
- Ted Jordan as Nathan Burke
- Woodrow Chambliss as Lathrop
- James Chandler as Governor
- Hal Baylor as Toke
- Sandra Kent as Martha
- Stafford Repp as Sheriff Tanner
- Loren Brown as Townsman (uncredited)
- Ross Dollarhide as Dog Soldier (uncredited)
- Rudy Doucette as Townsman (uncredited)
- Jaye Durkus as Townsman (uncredited)
- Jack Lilley as Dog Soldier (uncredited)
- Fred McDougall as Townsman (uncredited)
- Rod McGaughy as Dog Soldier (uncredited)
- Jimmy Noel as Townsman (uncredited)
- John Quijada as Dog Soldier (uncredited)
- Max Wagner as Townsman (uncredited)
Full Story Line for Hostage!
A couple of outlaws are having fun at a saloon in some town. One of the outlaws, Lafitte, tells Virgil they must leave as his brother, Jude Bonner, is waiting for them. Virgil refuses to go, so Lafitte reminds him that Jude runs their gang, Dog Soldiers and that they must return before tomorrow comes. Lafitte’s warning didn’t stop Virgil from staying and having fun with a girl from the saloon.
Later that night, Marshal Matt Dillon tracked Virgil at the saloon and arrested him for murder. Before they go, Virgil warns Dillon that his brother, Jude, will burn Kansas down before he faces any hanging. Dillon brings Virgil to Hayes to stand trial.
Doc, Kitty, and Festus were discussing Virgil’s case. Found guilty and sentenced to hanging, Festus believes it’ll be hard to figure out what the Dog Soldiers will do next.
Upon hearing his brother’s sentence, Jude Bonner, leader of the outlaw gang named Dog Soldier, swears to avenge his condemned brother. He thought of two ways: one, to bust him out before they could hang him, and two, trade for him. Since the first would only summon an army, Jude proceeds with the other, believing the marshal, like any other man, has a weakness.
That night, Festus is patrolling over town while Kitty and several others are preparing to close the saloon. Festus finds several cables cut from a post, and as he approaches the area, three men from the Dog Soldier gang have him cornered.
The Dog Soldier gang held Festus and the now beaten-up Newly captive to talk about the marshal. When Festus refuses to tell Jude about any woman related to him, Jude beats him up and then proceeds to get information from some townspeople. They seek answers from two men in town and Sam, who’s finishing up at the saloon. Kitty hears the clamor from her room and proclaims herself as the marshal’s lady before Jude can hurt any of the townspeople. Jude takes Kitty as his hostage, threatening to kill her if his brother hangs.
Doc tends to Festus’ severe injuries while Newly delivers the news to Dillon. With four remaining hours before Virgil’s hanging, Dillon understood that he had to ask the Governor for a stay of execution. Dillon also asked Newly to get Sheriff Tanner and tell him to hold off as long as possible.
Dillon visits the Governor and tells him what happened to Dodge. However, when asked for a stay of execution for Virgil, the Governor claims the legislature would overrule him, considering it’s Virgil’s case. Since Virgil is a notorious outlaw, granting the stay of execution would only encourage other outlaws to try the same thing.
News has spread about the hanging of Virgil Bonner at Hayes City. Doc and Festus worry about what’ll happen next to Kitty, but all they can do is trust Dillon. Suddenly, the Dog Soldiers return to Dodge, bringing the savagely brutalized Kitty. Jude throws Kitty off her horse, shooting her before she can even enter the saloon. Doc rushes to Kitty as the gang leaves her there to die.
Dillon and Newly return to Dodge after hearing the news about Kitty. Doc tells Dillon how bad Kitty’s condition is; the gang abused her and broke her down until she lost her will to live. Dillon stayed by Kitty’s side while the townspeople waited outside for news.
Kitty’s pulse beats steadier and slower, implying her fair chance to survive. When he takes off his badge to avenge Kitty, Doc reminds him of everything he did for Dodge and the people who love and respect him for it. Still, this doesn’t stop Dillon from going after Jude. Outside, he discourages Newly and Festus from coming with him, but they tell him they’re going by themselves. As they leave, more and more men from Dodge join as they head to face Jude’s gang.
The Dog Soldiers have all the time they have to leave and escape Dillon. However, Jude isn’t satisfied with what he did to Kitty. Lafitte reminds him that nothing they’ll do will bring Virgil back, but Jude insists on dealing with Dillon himself.
Meanwhile, Kitty wakes up and asks Doc about Dillon’s whereabouts. Doc informs her that Dillon went after Jude with Festus, Newly, and the whole town following him. Kitty worries about Dillon, saying how she couldn’t live without him. Doc assures her that Dillon can care for himself and that she should rest for now.
In the middle of their search, Dillon insists this battle is his to face. He tells Festus to take the rest of the Dodge men home as they are no match for the Dog Soldiers. Soon enough, Dillon reaches the gang, who are all waiting for his arrival. Jude and Dillon agree to fight alone, but before leaving, Jude tells Lafitte to shoot Dillon if he ever loses.
Jude and Dillon engage in a fistfight as the Dog Soldiers watch close. When Dillon finally gets the upper hand and is about to strike Jude with a large block of stone, Lafitte aims to shoot his gun. Festus stops him and shoots Lafitte when he tries to fire at him. The rest of the Dodge men appear from their hiding place. They aimed their guns all over the place, threatening to shoot any Dog Soldier who tried to pull another trigger. Festus tells the gang to put their firearms down, then escorts them back to town.
Festus and the Dodge men’s arrival stopped Dillon from killing Jude, leaving the rest for the law to handle.
Full Script and Dialogue of Hostage!
With... And starring James Arness as Matt Dillon. (thunder crashes) (crowd chatters) (woman) Drink it all honey, look at him go! He's doing the whole thing! Come on baby, come on! Let's go, look at him go! (laughs) Whoo, whoo! (clattering) Did you see her, the girl's trying to charm me and you just sit there funnin', you don't give me no help! That ain't funny! Hey, come on boy. Drunker than a jimson hog. Past time we was due for gettin'. That mean nothing! - Come on. - Don't mean we gotta go! Tomorrow's coming on, boy, and your brother's waitin' for you. Do you hear me, Jude is waiting for you. Remember, we told him we's gonna be there. Come on. Well, Jude ain't got the say on everything. He don't huh, well he runs the Dog Soldiers and he runs you and he runs me, and you ain't drunk enough you could forget that. Now let's get going! Toke, get them horses set! Well, every time we got us a good party going you got to go and ruin it! Shut up, woman! We ain't talking to you! Oh come on Fitte, just a couple more hours'll be good. We could still make it. We ain't got the time the way it is, much less we stay around here till sun up. Jude don't want us here no how, but he'll find out you mess with him. (Man) Lafitte, all set! Virg, don't go, please. They can't make you, you know they can't. Stay with me. - (groaning) - (yelling) Lafitte! You goin' or not? You hang around here long enough playing kissy-face, some law man's gonna walk in there and hand you your head. We'll see you in Kansas if you get there. Lafitte! Lafitte! Tell Jude I'll be coming in at four tomorrow night! Virg! Come on in, you knothead. Don't you know enough to come in out of the rain? (laughs) I sure hope you're worth it! (yelling) (thunder rumbling) (dramatic music) (yelling) (dramatic music) Virgil! (door crashing) Hold it, right there. You got something you want from me? Hey, you got no right barging in here like that. He's my husband. I'm sorry to hear that lady, he's wanted for murder. Oh, you taking me in and turnin' me over badge? That's right. You might could get me in all right, you might even get me as far as a lock up, but Jude'll burn Kansas down to red-hot cinders before a Bonner hangs! Get it on. (dramatic music) - Sam, beer. - Sure, Doc. (Kitty) Sit down Doc, I'll be right with you. Thank you. Well? Guilty, they're gonna hang him. Jury wasn't out 10 minutes. Can't say that I blame 'em. If ever the death penalty was justified, the Bonner brothers have sure earned it. Yeah, but it's only the youngest one. Jude's the oldest, the leader of the Dog Soldiers till they get him, I'll tell you. - Miss Kitty, Doc. - Hello, Festus. Is it hot enough for ya? I reckon you heard about that Bonner yayhoo. Doc was just telling me about him. Matthew's fixing to trundle him up to Hayes today. Festus, what do you think the Dog Soldiers are gonna do about this? Miss Kitty, it's hard to tell what them killin' sywashers'll do. I'll kill him. I'll rip his town to pieces. Burn it to the ground till there ain't nothing left but hot dirt and smoking nails. That ain't gonna get him out, Jude. We don't get Virgil out, they're gonna hang him. Well, he got hisself in there, right enough. Or let him die there, the punk ain't been no good to me since he growed up. He's yours Jude, he's your blood and he's just a kid and he don't mean no harm. I don't mind what he means, I mind what he done! He got hisself caught and now I got to help him out! There ain't but two ways to do that. One's to bust in there and get him out proper. That ain't likely, 'cause they'll be looking for it, they'll have an army. The other way's more likely. The other way just might do it. How's that? Trade for him. That Dodge marshal's gotta be bone and blood like any other man. He's got a whole town tied to him. And it might be a family. We ain't got but three days, then they're gonna hang him up to cure. There's a fair shake Lafitte. If I can't catch myself something worth tradin' for in that time, well, I ain't a trappin' man. (dramatic music) Well, shall we call it a night, Miss Kitty? You bet, it's been a long day. Evening, Miss Kitty. Festus, what in the world are you doing riding around at this time of night? Nary a thing, the way it turned out. Me and old Ruth here's been having ourselves a little look-see out east of town. Find anything? Quieter than a gagged gopher all night long. Well, it can't get too quiet for me. - Goodnight, Festus. - Goodnight, Miss Kitty. (dramatic music) (animal howling) (dramatic music) Newly, you saw or heard anything? I heard an old coyote, maybe a couple of 'em. Hot as it is, you'd think they'd be still, wouldn't ya? Newly, you go on back to jail and I'll go down yonder to the depot and take a quick look. All right, Festus. (ominous music) (man) Don't even think. (dramatic music) Get movin', not a word! Who are you? What are you doin' here, anyhow? Name's Bonner, Jude Bonner. You know that name. Yeah, I know that name. If you're lookin' for that brother of yours you've came to a goat house for wool. He's up in Haye's, a-fixin' to get hisself hung. That ain't no news to me. I want to talk to you about your friend, the marshal. There's one or two things I got to know. You know what I mean, got to. You're libel to find out a whole heap more about him than you want to know before ye get done. Where's his family? He ain't got no family. If he was to have, I wouldn't tell ya no how. Where's his wife? What's her name? He ain't got no wife. Well, where's his woman? You gonna tell me he ain't got no woman! I ain't fixin' to tell you a blessed thing. You're not gonna help me at all, are you? Lafitte, I gotta get me some answers. I'm gather up some of them good town folks. They can't all be as willing to die as he is. You put him away. (clamoring) All right, let's get them inside! Over here! (man) Let him go! (Sam) All right, what is it? What do you want in here? Sam, be careful. This here is a town meeting. Now you put that piece down. I'll have Calinga here slit this old boy's throat like cattle. You sit tight, I'll be talkin' to ya. I got three of you boys and I want you to know why. My name is Jude Bonner and I kill folks for a living. But I don't aim to kill no one I don't have to. I want the marshal's woman. I want her now. And if I don't get her, I'm gonna cut throats. Now who is she? Who is she? All right. You're the oldest, you go first. Bonner! I'm the lady, now what was it you wanted, sunshine? (Jude laughs) I mighta knowed I'd find the marshal's lady in a sportin' palace. You listen tight... You tell the marshal that Jude Bonner's been to town and that I know it was him that brought my brother in and wired him for hangin'. Then you tell him this, my brother hangs, this little lady is gonna wish to God she'd never been born. (ominous music) How does it look, Doc? Apparently, Sam, we're in luck. It just looked like they tried to kick his head off. Yeah, I know. They did a pretty good job of kicking these ribs too. I'll have to take care of that when I finish here. Now hold on to him real good here, because this is gonna sting. (dark instrumental music) (man) Just hold still, Festus. (dramatic music) (door knocking) Marshal. Newly, what happened? They hit Dodge. How bad? Dodge is all right. It's Miss Kitty. Jude Bonner rode into town and took her away with him. Told me to tell you if his brother hangs... They worked Festus over pretty bad too and shot him through the shoulder. I tell ya, they hit us before we knew what happened. It's gonna be four hours before Virgil hangs. I'll get the governor to see if I can get a stay of execution. You get to Sheriff Tanner, tell him to hold off as long as he can. Yes, sir, marshal. Festus and I did all we could. I know it, Newly, let's go. (dramatic music) You reckon she fixed herself up all pretty for Jude? Don't let it bother you, old son. She don't have to be pretty for Jude or me either. You wouldn't know pretty if you stepped on it, Toke. That woman ain't here for playin' with. Shame though, such a waste, just to kill her off. You know what? There's not a chance in the world he'll let him go. I see you don't know Matt Dillon. Not like you do, I guess that's true enough. He doesn't make deals, not with anybody. Everybody makes deals. Most of 'em just make bad deals, there's a difference. Even if he wanted to, your brother has been tried and convicted. He's out of Matt's hands now. Could be there's a way to get him back in his hands. And if he can't? Then there's gonna be a lot of sorry people, isn't there ma'am? You'll get your revenge by killing me, right? That's how it's gonna be. Well now, isn't that something. Big Jude Bonner, fearsome leader of the Dog Soldiers... Kill a woman, as if that would bring his brother back. Now you listen to me lady, I got something to lose, I got something I want back! I got a brother fixin' to die and Dillon put him there! Unless I'm an awful fool, I got something he wants back too. Bad. I lose, he loses. Easy as that. Tell you a story, lady... I'm a breed. I'm a breed born of a Cheyenne woman. A Cheyenne woman your calvary cut up and killed before I was old enough to do anything about it. My old man switched sides by then. Sorta set my style for me, you know what I mean? I ain't got nothing against you personal... and I ain't gonna lay a hand on you but I hear that boy was hanged and... Woman you don't mean nothing to me. Take a thousand like you to pay back the debt that people owe me. (dramatic music) Governor, I want a stay of execution. You're not serious? I'm dead serious. Why, in the name of all that's holy, for him? And on what grounds? While I was on my way to Hayes, the Dog Soldiers hit Dodge. And they shot up my deputies and kidnapped a woman. They're holding her to trade for his life. That's terrible. Dreadful thing. I guarantee you, they'll kill her if he hangs. Matt, this woman.. Is it Miss Russell? It wouldn't matter, she's a woman and her life's on the line. But, you know the law. Matt, you know my position. I can grant a stay maybe, if there's good cause, if they verdict is in doubt, if the evidence has been tampered with or is incomplete. Yes, by all means. But Virgil Bonner? Even if I were to commit political suicide and issue a stay, it wouldn't hold. The legislature would overrule me and they'd be right. You set a precedent like this and every desperado in Kansas will be trying the same thing. Dammit Matt, I want to help you, you know I do. But I can't. I ain't got a conscience. And if I did, you reckon I'd waste it on you? Bonner, she's an innocent woman. I can take her place, it's no good to you or your brother to have her die. There ain't anything no use to me anymore! I did everything I could with the governor to get you a stay of execution. Now we can get word to your brother today. I wouldn't cross the street to pull you out of hell fire, Mister Law! You kept in mind what I told you back when you was bringing me in? I told you how Jude'd get you, I did! I told you how he'd do ya! You never took me serious, did ya? Well, now I've got you taking me serious and every time you think of that woman and what happened to her... you'll remember Virgil Bonner! Matt! Sorry, Matt. Okay, fat man, let's go to the party. (dramatic music) This morning Virgil Bonner, notorious outlaw and younger brother of Jude Bonner, was hanged at Hayes City. Virgil Bonner was apprehended by Marshal Matt Dillon of Dodge City. Doc, what do you reckon they'll do with Miss Kitty now? Festus, I don't know, I don't like to think about it. I'd ought to be out there lookin' for her. Festus, for heaven's sakes. These are a desperate bunch of men. I know how you feel, but your condition, you couldn't do a thing, not a thing. Well Matthew, he'll be gettin' back directly - and you can just... - Shh! - (gunfire) - (hooves clopping) (woman screams) Listen Dodge! This here's Jude Bonner! They hung my little brother this mornin'! I took that marshal's woman now I bring her back! (ominous music) Doc, I gotta get me a gun. No, no, don't move, don't move. (dramatic music) You tell that marshal of yours, it was him made this deal. And then you tell him... Jude Bonner's satisfied! (dramatic music) (dramatic music) Doc, Doc, somebody get Doc, hurry! (somber instrumental music) Kitty. Kitty, my God. (dramatic music) (sad instrumental music) All right, get outta here, all of you, just get on out. Is there anything I can do, Doc? No, not a thing Burt, thanks. (dramatic music) (somber instrumental music) I tell you this, something's got to be done. Any changes? - Heard from the marshal? - No. Doc, I just wish there was something I could do to help out. I think there is. She's upstairs, Marshal. What happened, Doc? He shot her. He just... deliberately shot her down. How bad is she? She's alive. That's just about all. The wound, it's bad, awful bad... but Matt, they abused her. They treated her something terrible. They broke her down. I don't think she wants to live. I've done all I can. Kitty. I need you, Kitty. I need you. (dark music) (clock ticking) (low moaning) (dramatic music) Pulse is steadier Matt, slower, it's a good sign. What's her chances? Fair, I think. That's about all I can say. (somber instrumental music) Do the best you can, Doc. (dramatic music) Matt, no. Don't do that, don't do it. I know you gotta go after him, but before you take off that badge, you'll want to listen to me. Before you came into Dodge, Matt, there was no law at all. You brought it all with you when you came and people love you for it and respect you. Now, if you take off that badge and go out there with vengeance in your heart, then you'll betray everything you've ever stood for. Within the law, like it's always been. If it was anything else, Doc, anything else. (dramatic music) Not this time, boys. Well, we're going by ourselves then, me and Newly, but we're going. (dramatic music) Well, we ain't makin' no time. You in a hurry? No, I got all the time in the world, but I know a law man who's whistling boots and saddle long about now. - Of course, you don't care. - I don't. You know that wasn't gonna bring Virgil back, Jude... killin' her. We did everything we could. We just couldn't get him outta there. But we got at that lawman. I don't want at him, that ain't enough. You want him to catch up with us, then, is that it? How come we don't just set up and wait and then spike him when he comes riding through? Just drop him before he even sees us. Fossy gets tired when he gets too far from a saloon. Dillon ain't gonna quit. He'll follow me up into Wind River country. He'll lose a man here and there as he goes. Then when we get him where we want him, if he's got anybody left, we'll cut him apart. When we get that marshal under our guns, I want him. - [softly] Doc. - Kitty. - Where is he Doc? - He went after him, Kitty. - Alone? - No. Festus and Newly went with him, and the whole town rode out after him. They can't help him. They're just targets for those... Kitty, no power on earth could have stopped him, you know that. I don't want you to think about it, not at all. I want you to rest, just rest, that's all. I couldn't live without him, Doc. You know that. You bet I know. Let me tell you something... you won't have to, because the sun hasn't come up on the day that Matt Dillon can't take care of himself. Now, you believe that. You just believe it. It appears like they forked north, Wind River mountains. Ridin' the way you are Matthew, you're just libel to run spang into their brisket without even never knowin' that they was there! There's a bunch of fellers from Dodge back there, Marshal, sure would like to be with you when the time comes. Have or, do whatever you're a-mind to but, don't hold us out, Matthew, not now. Festus, I know what you're saying, I appreciate it. But this is something I gotta do alone. How you gonna do that by yourself, Marshal? Jude Bonner's got his pride. I call him out in front of his men, he'll come. You ain't coming out, Matthew, if you go in there all by your own self. Festus, the Dodge men are no match for those Dog Soldiers. I want you to turn around and take 'em home. We been together a long time. Too long to make any speeches. Been a lot of good years. (horses approaching) (dramatic music) I got to give you the figurin' prize, Jude. I reckon we got him where it hurts. He don't care if he lives or dies. All right, let's get set to help him out. (dramatic music) Bonner! Jude Bonner! You're talkin', law! I'm here to kill ya! What are you gonna do, talk me to death, Dillon? I thought I might take you apart with my bare hands! That is, if you like to fight men as well as you do women! You ride on up here, we'll see who likes to do what! Just give me the word, Jude, I'll drop him kickin'. You sit tight. I told you back there, I want him myself. You ain't gonna fight him, you ain't gonna get down there and take him on alone. Yes I am. You maybe can't understand this, but it'd be worth my life to hang his hair on my lance. I lose, you shoot him down. (dramatic music) All right Bonner, it's your move. Blood gets blood. That's the way the preachers talk. Know a lot about preachers, do ya? I know it was you who hung my kid brother. He hung himself, I just brought him in. Well, it don't matter. I lose, you lose. Man like you's got no way to win, Bonner. She lived. I got a way to win. And you give it to me. (dramatic music) I said leave him, he's mine! Hold it right there! Anybody squeeze one more trigger and you're all fodder for the turkey buzzards, and I mean it. Now throw your guns down. (dramatic music) (theme music)
Behind the Scenes of Hostage!
Marshal Matt Dillon and Jude Bonner’s final fight scene took place outdoors. However, almost all shots recording the reaction of the onlookers (including one where director Gunnar Hellstrom acted as one of the “Dog Soldiers) took place on a sound stage in Los Angeles.
The massive rock where Festus emerged at the end of the fight scene appeared for the first time in Festus’ shot and wasn’t around during the group shot.
Two of the Bonner brothers are on their horses talking that morning when Marshal Matt leaves to go after the Dog Soldiers. In that scene, a shadow of a boom mic is visible from the boulder behind Jude.
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