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SUGARFOOT

For Hicksflicks.com, Aug. 9, 2013

Back in the olden days when I was a growing up in the 1950s, my Dad and I loved the black-and-white Westerns on TV, and a couple of the shows we looked forward to were "Cheyenne" and "Sugarfoot," hourlong dramas (mostly) that alternated on Tuesday nights.

Six of "Cheyenne's" seven seasons are on DVD, thanks to Warner Archive, the manufacture-on-demand site (www.WarnerArchive.com) that has given life to so many movies and TV shows languishing on studio shelves.

And now, finally, Warner Archive also gives us "Sugarfoot: The Complete First Season" (1957-58, b/w, five discs, 20 episodes), a laid-back Western about a laconic character dubbed "Sugarfoot" because he's a nice guy, he's gun shy and he's a lady charmer — so unlike a typical cowboy that he's considered one level below a tenderfoot.

Will Hutchins is perfectly cast in the role, a young teetotaler whose law-school correspondence courses put him in a unique position to understand how the new law in  the Old West is supposed to work as he wanders through various towns helping folks in need.

The pilot is a direct remake of the Will Rogers Jr. film "The Boy From Oklahoma" (1954), though Hutchins is not quite as adept with a rope as was Rogers, a skill he learned from his father, the great Will Rogers. But Hutchins perfectly captures that film's sense of humor, and that's really what kicks this show up a notch or two above so many others of the same period. Like "Maverick," "Sugarfoot" often had its tongue in its cheek, and that, coupled with Hutchins' natural charm, made the show must-see TV for a few years.

Guests in this first season include James Garner (as his "Maverick" character), Charles Bronson, Connie Stevens, Dennis Hopper, Slim Pickens, Iron Eyes Cody and future "Bonanza" stars Dan Blocker and Pernell Roberts.