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Saturday 8 February 2020

Living In Harmony!

     I have never understood why people have symbolized the Man With No Name who refuses to wear a gun in ‘Living In Harmony,’ to the “draft dodgers” who refused to pick up arms and go and fight in the Vietnam War. Perhaps the episode itself isn’t enough for most people causing them to make more of it than there is. There is another way of looking at it, a far simpler and more mundane. One thing which must be remembered was that before this Man With No Name who became a drifter, was once a Town Sheriff of an American Wild west frontier town. It was a job from which he eventually resigned, handing in both his badge and his gun. But why did he resign? That’s easy to answer, a town Sheriff would be open to many dangers as he tried to keep the peace, aided sometimes by deputies. There might be a gang come riding into town, say the James gang, the Dalton boys, the Youngers, or the Clanton gangs, to rob the Bank. And the Sheriff would have to try and stop them, and if he couldn't, then he'd have to form a posse and go after the Bank robbers.
    A Sheriff, worth his salt, would have to be fast on the draw; otherwise he wouldn't last very long. But then the faster on the draw the Sheriff was, so much greater his reputation, and that in turn would attract every two-bit gunslinger out to make a reputation for himself. And the Sheriff, who got paid very little for being a peace officer, a few dollars a month, would have to stand up to every gunslinger who came to town, and then would have to face up to him in front of the whole towns people in order to face down the gunslinger or be forced to take him on in a gun-fight. In time this can wear a man down, the killing, having to put his life on the line every time a gang or gunslinger came to town. Perhaps that’s why the Sheriff handed in both his badge and gun, it had taken its toll on him, worn him down, he had had enough of killing. And after that he simply refused to wear a gun again.
    Many of my favourite American Westerns are in black and white, ‘High Noon’ being very near the top of my list. Marshal Will Kane hands in his badge and gun, as he prepares to retire and leave town with his new bride for Mexico. Well he would have done, had it not been for Frank Miller and his gang…… there’s always one last gunfight, one last badman to face down. Kill or be killed! And so it is with a Sheriff who agrees to wear the badge but not the gun in the town of Harmony. But there’s always that one last gunfight, one last gunslinger to face down in the street that of the Kid…….
   For the 50th anniversary of ‘the Prisoner’ I watched ‘Living In Harmony’ for the first time since 1967 in black and white, and I enjoyed the episode more on that occasion. Probably because watching the episode in black and white did make it look more like a Western, and made it more believable.

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