Marshal Matt Dillon says, "Hold it! Real easy now. Read this hub"

Cast of Gunsmoke-- James Arness, "Matt," Burt Reynolds, "Quint,," Ken Curtis, "Festus," Amanda Blake, "Kitty," and Milburn Stone, "Doc."
Cast of Gunsmoke-- James Arness, "Matt," Burt Reynolds, "Quint,," Ken Curtis, "Festus," Amanda Blake, "Kitty," and Milburn Stone, "Doc." | Source

"Hold it," a trademark phrase.

635 times total. This was the number of times that fabled-television "marshal," Matt Dillon, (Gunsmoke), a/k/a the late James Arness said those stop-all words, "Hold it,' to stop the meanest outlaw and roughest of bullies. This phrase could easily be in competition (as television's best-known catch-phrase) with Jack Lord's, "Steve McGarrett," "Book 'im Dann-o," on the early CBS' series, "Hawaii Five-O," that was more realistic than today's cheap copy.

An early James Arness as "Matt Dillon." Sadly, Arness died in 1988,
An early James Arness as "Matt Dillon." Sadly, Arness died in 1988,

More stars with their catch-phrases.

Do you also recall the bold, confident Telly Savalas' hit detective series, "Kojak," the lollipop-eating New York detective who ate nails for breakfast and snacked on cement between meals, whose delight was catching criminals by saying, "Busted, baby?" I do. I loved the show. Side note: today in 2015, my head looks just like Savalas' head--shaved slick. No, the hot girls do not attack me when I appear in public.

Even tough Broderick Crawford who was "Officer Dan Matthews," on early television's action-series, "Highway Patrol," has his own famous phrase: "Take 'im away," which meant "take these lawbreakers straight to jail."

A pre-Ken "Festus" Curtis photo of cast of Gunsmoke: Amanda Blake, "Kitty," Burt "Quint Asper" Reynolds, James "Matt Dillon" Arness and Milburn "Doc" Stone.
A pre-Ken "Festus" Curtis photo of cast of Gunsmoke: Amanda Blake, "Kitty," Burt "Quint Asper" Reynolds, James "Matt Dillon" Arness and Milburn "Doc" Stone.

Other stars' catch phrases.

As far as television's tough lawmen and their catch-phrases, there was also, "That's far enough," "Stop or I'll put you down," "Don't even think of running," and this one that is so bland, it was a miracle that it even made it to early lawmen scripts: "Stop! You are under arrest." They were all fun to hear each week and sometimes we adults worked these phrases into our work life. Or I did. And that was always met with confused looks from my coworkers. So I stopped saying these famous phrases.

I will leave you with one more that although it seemed out-of-place in with these other demanding terms, caught my eardrums one night on the old "Starsky and Hutch" episodes where the police duo were chasing a crime kingpin named, "Amboy," who had his hand in "every crooked pie" in town. So at "this" episode's end and with Starsky and Hutch sometimes on foot and sometimes in Starsky's tomato-red Ford Torino, winding down, "Amboy," had nowhere to run. He was on the edge of a dock that overlooked the ocean. With one breath, Hutchinson yelled, "It's all over, 'Amboy,' thrown down that gun!" And that was that.

The first scene of every Gunsmoke episode.
The first scene of every Gunsmoke episode.
 Buck Taylor starred as "Newly O'Brian," the town gunsmith.
Buck Taylor starred as "Newly O'Brian," the town gunsmith.
Thadeous Greenwood starred as "Thad" in Gunsmoke's last season.
Thadeous Greenwood starred as "Thad" in Gunsmoke's last season.
Glenn Strange as "Sam Noonan," the barkeep at Kitty's Long Branch Saloon.
Glenn Strange as "Sam Noonan," the barkeep at Kitty's Long Branch Saloon.
James Nusser as Louie, the town drunk.
James Nusser as Louie, the town drunk.
Matt and Kitty.
Matt and Kitty.
James Arness played bit parts such as this monster in a cheap film.
James Arness played bit parts such as this monster in a cheap film.

Oh, how catch-phrases change

But wouldn't it been just as effective for Hutch to say, "It's all over?" Rather than add 'Amboy,' throw down that gun"? That's just me.

On COPS, the reality show about cops being filmed in some city catching thugs and serving the community, these modern-day lawmen are more sensitive and courteous to their criminals than their forerunners. When making a traffic stop, the officer slowly walks to the driver's side of the car and says, "Driver. Show me your hands." And the driver complies. Then the officer says, "Get out of the car, please." And the driver obeys without conflict. I guess it was all because of the power of the word, "please." If only Matt Dillon, Bat Masterson, and their crime-fighting bro's had just used "please," instead of those uncultured terms to get the thug's attention.

I think that "Matt (James Arness) Dillon," should have been given a variety of phrases he could have yelled at the lawbreakers in his time to get them to halt so he could take them to jail. This, after all, would have been the fair thing to do. Right?

So going from there, let's see my title . . .

Other Phrases "Matt Dillon" Could Have Used Besides "Hold it"

"Hey, you. Put your brakes on!"

"Halt, lawbreaker."

"This is 'Matt Dillon,' United States Marshal. Hit the ground with your face."

"One more step and you're a goner."

"I hate to do this, but cease running."

"How'd you like a slug in your back?"

"You're under arrest now learn to like it."

"Hands up, low life!"

"Get to stopping or get to finding a doc!"

"Your back makes a great bulls eye."

"I said stop!"

"Whoooaaa! What are you, a mule?"

"You are going to jail, mister."

"Uh, now don't make this harder than it has to be. Stop. Now!"

"Hands up, please!"

"Excuse me, but you are going to jail tonight."

"Freeze where you stand!"

* "Stop or I will fill you full of lead!"

"Drop it. You don't stand a chance."

"That's it, you low-down polecat!"

"You don't want to tangle with me, 'Harley!"

"This badge ain't tin, so throw them hands up!"

* This command was actually used by sheriff(s) Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

James Arness, left, with another Hollywood great, Robert Lansing.
James Arness, left, with another Hollywood great, Robert Lansing. | Source

For all Gunsmoke fans

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Comments 8 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 19 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I admit that I never paid much attention to these phrases, but it is interesting from a writer's view, more than a lawman's. I remember from some writing instruction about giving characters a "marker." Usually it was a physical characteristic that helped identify hin or her to the reader, such as a scar or anunusual firearm as in the old TV Westerns. I can see that the Hollywood writer's must hve used verbal markers in these shows to help form the character of the characters.


DWDavisRSL profile image

DWDavisRSL 19 months ago from Eastern NC

So many phrases from old TV shows and movies have made it into the everyday language. Thanks for the reminder of the greats from the golden days of television westerns.


melissae1963 profile image

melissae1963 19 months ago from Tennessee, United States

I was always such a big western fan. I used to imagine what it would be like to live in those times.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 19 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

melissae1963,

Me also. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I loved Rawhide and its characters; Wagon Train; Rifleman, but I did not care for Bat Masterson, the guy, Gene Barry, who played Masterson. I do not think that the real Masterson was as self-serving and self-important as this character.

Come back any time you like.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 19 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

DWDavisRSL,

You are very welcome. I have just started re-loving Westerns in my latter years. Now I was a Bonanza fan, but it is not a real Western. This show was filmed as the end of true Westerns. It was a drama, a comedy, and a love story. It was all things to most people.

Please come back anytime.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 19 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

dahoglund,

Very interesting comment you left. It never occurred to me that these phrases were used as markers by writers to secure a perimeter that put whatever show they were writing for in a separate category.

Thank you for your sharing.


Jami 18 months ago

It's too bad you had such a bad ercexienpe with the PT. My first ercexienpe was not helpful, and I ended with more pain than I had to begin with. So I wasn't eager to go to another. But this time it was much different and I had no pain, enjoyed interesting conversations with the therapist while he worked on my shoulder, and eventually, I did get over my problem. So I would say it depends on the therapist.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Jami,

Thanks for your concern and warm comment.

Peace.

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