The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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"The Money Cage"
Original NBC Broadcast - 6 March 1963
Revue Studios Production
Executive Producer Roy Huggins
Produced by Winston Miller
Teleplay by Jameson Brewer / Story by Donn Mullally
Directed by Alan Crosland, Jr.
(shown on the ride-in)
Lee J. Cobb as Judge Henry Garth
Doug McClure as Trampas
Gary Clarke as Steve Hill
James Drury as The Virginian (NOT in this episode)
Steve Forrest [ Roger "Buster" Layton - aka - Dr. William C. Martin]
End Credits (complete)
Dayton Lummis as Horatio Turner
Cyril Delevanti as Evans
John Harmon as The Clerk
Rusty Lane as Ezra Griswold
King Calder as Harry Andrews
Ray Montgomery as John Dales
Virginian Theme - Percy Faith
Director of Photography - William Margulies, A.S.C.
Supervising Producer - Frank Price
Art Director... George Patrick
Film Editor... Budd Small
Editorial Dept. Head... David J O'Connell
Musical Supervision... Stanley Wilson
Set Decorators... John McCarthy and James M. Walters
Color Consultant... Alex Quiroga
Color Processing by Consolidated Film Industries
Assistant Director... Donald Baer
Sound... Lyle Cain
Costume Supervisor... Vincent Dee
Makeup... Jack Barron
Hair Stylist... Florence Bush
The title "The Virginian" by permission of EMKA, LTD.
Regular characters appearing in this episode:
Judge Garth, Trampas, Steve, Betsy
"It's crazy, it's theatrical, it isn't sound banking practice. But the same
goes for what happened in your bank today.
It was crazy, it certainly wasn't sound banking practice.
What it was was human nature. . . They don't want logic
or a lecture on how sound your bank is. They want to see
their money. . . Fight fire with fire. The panic is psychological, so you
use psychology to lick it."
It's a set up from the very beginning: While travelling back to Medicine
Bow by train, Lydia Turner, the daughter of Medicine Bow's banker,
is accosted by a drunken drummer with a sales pitch for corsets.
Noticing Lydia's plight, a gallant young man comes
to her rescue. When the train arrives in
Medicine Bow, Lydia introduces the gentleman to her father.
The fellow explains he will be in town for a few days because he
has an interest in land in the area. Learning that
he's a bachelor, Lydia extends him the invitation to dine
with her and Mr. Turner on Saturday night. Later in the
hotel some members of a con-artist team assemble:
Charlie Dorsey (Foster), the salesman from the passenger car;
Jenny (Moore), the new (and "prettiest") chambermaid at the hotel;
and Roger "Buster" Layton (Forrest)--the gentleman himself,
who is in town posing as geologist and "oil genius" William Martin.
Layton feels confident he will succeed in his plan to defraud
Mr. Turner (Lewis) and Judge Garth. He has an "in at the bank,"
and Jenny is sure she'll have no problem getting a geologic
magazine (in which Layton had replaced the photo of the real
Will Martin with one of his own) before Judge Garth's eyes
because "he's got a cowhand working for him thinks
I'm as cute as a little old heifer." Layton makes a deposit, explaining
he is going to be in Medicine Bow a little longer than planned.
Lydia, who is the bank cashier in addition to being the
banker's daughter, is pleased with this news because she's
become attracted to the man. Jenny has her concerns
about Layton's counterfeit attentions to the "lady-like spinster"
since she is in love with him herself.
Seeing as how Judge Garth is the owner of the largest
amount of land around the community, Mr. Turner invites
him and Betsy to Lydia's dinner party. At the Turner home
Garth reveals he already knows all about "Martin"
and the reason he's in Medicine Bow. Layton
plays it cool by saying he had hoped to keep his business
there quiet to prevent an oil "fever" from starting.
Layton figures Turner and Garth will be eager for a chance to
invest in the petroleum business. But to his disappointment,
the men don't jump at the opportunity to put their money
into the speculation. However, Layton is up to the challenge
that will "make victory more satisfying" and sets
about to work on Turner by feigning deep feelings
for his daughter. While Jenny is making a bed in
the hotel, Charlie approaches her and attempts to kiss her.
When she refuses his advances, Charlie cautions, "Some day he's going
to walk out on you." Jenny is fully aware of this possibility, but her
philosophy, should that time come, is "when the fire goes out,
why should the fire department hang around."
All seems to be going as "scheduled" until a bank panic unexpectedly occurs.
Now with the prospect of quick riches looking bleak
Layton comes up with another notion. Pretending to care about
Turner's plight and the ultimate welfare of the town,
he devises an elaborate scheme for the
bank to borrow $150,000 to make a "money cage" with a
false center so the nervous customers could see and feel "a million dollars"
and be reassured that their savings are secure.
The deception is successful at stopping the run on the bank, and Layton
revises the plot from one of fraud to that of outright robbery,
intending to steal the $150,000 when it is taken back to
the financial institution in Denver. Layton lies that he has to go
to St. Louis for awhile on business and will
be glad to accompany Trampas and Steve who have been given
the assignment of safely returning the money. On the train ride
to Colorado Trampas tells "Martin", "I wasn't sure of the whole thing at
first, but after what you did for the bank and Turner, my hat's off to
you." Layton fakes humility when he replies, "I merely had an idea, it
didn't cost me any time, effort, or money." But Trampas points out,
"Not many strangers would worry about a place they
were stuck in temporarily." At this comment Layton leaves for
a "smoke" and meets Charlie and Jenny in another car. But there
is a noticeable difference in his attitude toward his friends.
When the train arrives in Denver, Layton pretends to go
on to St. Louis and another member of his team appears
with an "armored" wagon to pick up the cash from Trampas
and Steve. The cowhands are a bit hesitant because their
orders were to deliver the money in person in the morning.
The con-man states that things are different in a big city like
Denver, and the bank wants their funds secured in the vault
tonight. Trampas wisely asks for credentials, and the imposter
provides phony ones. Satisfied, the boys turn the money over, get a
false receipt, and decide to go back to Medicine Bow on
the late night train. However, there's been another change in
Layton's plans. When the men toting the $15,000 arrive
at the hotel, Layton informs them he's backing out on the deal.
There is a scuffle when the other swindlers demand their shares
and won't hear of their partner's insistence on returning all the money.
Jenny retrieves the gun that had been knocked to the floor and declares,
"I have to go along with Buster." Back in Medicine Bow, Lydia receives
the copy of "The American Journal of Geology" she had ordered with
the intention of reading up on Martin's work to better discuss
it with him (but her father appraises it won't be geology
the man will want to discuss when he returns). She eagerly looks up the
article and is surprised to find the photo of the real Will Martin.
In Denver Jenny graciously leaves Buster "with a laugh," noting the "fire
had gone out" between them and they both knew it. Layton reckons
"one swallow doesn't make a summer," but Jenny knows better and tells him
he isn't good for her anymore because he's
"become an honest man" who has "lost his contempt for the world"
and has "even gone as far as having a conscience." That morning
Layton returns the money to the Denver bank, and while he's waiting for a
receipt some officials inform him he's wanted on charges in Medicine
Bow. There he has to confront Mr.Turner with the truth, and the
banker earnestly inquires why he would return the $150,000 when
fraud was his profession. For a man not usually at a loss for
eloquent words, Layton can only think to say that maybe he got
"soft in the head" or didn't want to hurt a man like Turner but doesn't
really know the reason behind his decision to give it back.
Mr. Turner looks at his daughter in the cashier's window
and mentions perhaps Layton did know but didn't want to admit it, even
to himself. Layton explains, "Look, the deal went sour. I didn't stop to
analyze it. I just did what I felt like doing," then asks, "Am I under
arrest?" Turner replies, "You're free to leave--or stay."
Layton says good bye, but Turner reminds him
he still has money on deposit. The banker won't handle the
transaction for him and tells Layton he'll have to see the cashier.
Lydia busies herself at the teller window and will hardly look at Layton,
yet she seems hopeful he will want more from her than just his money.
But the withdrawal will "wrap it up," and Layton bids her farewell.
Roger Layton boards the train, and as the whistle blows
for departure Lydia runs down the boardwalk after him but
arrives too late to catch the locomotive before it starts on its way.
The woman is crestfallen until she notices Layton coming from
behind the station. They meet in an embrace, and Layton tells
her, "Your father kept asking me the reason. Now I know." (bj)
Notes on characters and their relationships:
Even though Garth thought he had discovered
"Martin" was an oil speculator, he's a man of integrity and tells Layton
that information will be kept confidential. During the bank panic,
the Judge is the one who stands with Turner to try to calm
the customers. Although he is at first dubious of Layton's
money cage he tells him he could borrow $100,000
of the $150,000 from the First State Bank in Denver on his
signature alone. This would not only point to the amount of
his material holdings but to the respect others had for him,
even in places other than Wyoming. But his wealth
could sometimes cause hard feelings with some
of the townspeople who, although they, too, respect him,
feel Garth can easily say he's "leaving every cent on deposit"
during the run on the bank because he has "plenty more" to spare.
Betsy's teenaged intuition tells her that "Mr. Martin," an "exciting
man" who is "refined and polished," is very much
attracted to Lydia. But Lydia notes, "You can tell nothing of the sort.
Mr. Martin is very gallant and has good breeding and drawing room manners"
and probably uses charming comments on all the women he meets.
Betsy assesses he had used a little extra charm on Lydia. The woman
comments, "Betsy, like all young girls you are an incurable romantic."
Betsy doesn't consider herself "that young." Lydia explains, "I didn't mean
you were infantile, I just meant comparatively--to me, for example." Betsy
blurts, "You're not that old, either," then pictures, "That's the kind of
man I'm going to wait for, the right one. The kind you always dream about."
Lydia advises her not to set her sights too high because time passes very
quickly. Betsy asserts, "but you found him." Lydia, older and wiser,
responds, "Even if you find the man, he's got to find you."
By the way, Betsy did find that "right" man, "the kind you always
dream about" in 4.05 "The Awakening."
Because Trampas is easily taken in by pretty women, Jenny
has no problem setting him up to pass on the phony magazine to the Judge.
Trampas would like to pride himself as being the heartthrob of
the female gender, but when he tries to kiss Jenny's cheek he is
greeted instead by a turn of her head in the opposite direction.
After he takes the magazine (thinking it was his idea to "borrow" it)
Trampas asks Jenny if he'll see her Saturday night. "Why
not," the girl replies. Trampas seems to have had his
pride deflated when he responds, "That's a good question. I'd
better leave before you think of an answer." Jenny does join him
Saturday night, and after a dance at the saloon (when Trampas accidentally
steps on the hem of her dress) she comments, "You're a pretty good dancer."
Trampas replies, "It's a gift--so are my big feet."
Trampas uses his signature word "yo" when Layton excuses himself
to leave for a "smoke."
Trampas and Steve appear to have been given a great deal of responsibility
for two young cowboys when they are both assigned to help
guard the bank during the panic and watch over the money cage
while the people see and feel the "million dollars."
More than that, they, not the Judge (who had gone to Denver to
borrow the money in the first place), are given custody of the funds
in order to see to their safe return. This seems like quite a show
of trust from the Judge, especially since Trampas had once been a con
artist himself. There is the usual friendly bantering
between Steve and Trampas when the boys are watching
Layton hammer rocks and Trampas tells Steve
about the new chambermaid at the hotel that is keeping
him informed on all the newest happenings
with "Martin." As they continue to watch Layton, Trampas asks,
"Ain't you got any curiosity?" Steve replies, "About Jenny?"
And Trampas comes back with, "No, about him."
There is more of the enjoyable jabbing on the train to
Colorado when Trampas tells Layton they'll get a few hours of shut-eye
at the hotel before the bank opens in the morning and Layton questions
how he could sleep with all that money around. Steve quips, "That don't
bother him none. He can't count past 100 anyway." After Layton leaves
for a "smoke," Trampas puts his feet on the
suitcase containing the money and tells Steve to pinch
him if he goes to sleep. (bj)
Steve Forrest also guest stars as another con-artist in 3.04 "The Hero"
Bethel Leslie is also featured in 8.13 "A Woman of Stone"
Joanna Moore may be also be seen in 2.03 "No Tears for Savannah," 3.08 "A
Father For Toby," and 6.11 "To Bear Witness"
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