CTVA - The Virginian 3.02 [062] "Dark Challenge"

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3.02 [062]
"Dark Challenge"

(not to be confused with episode #126 'The Challenge')
Original NBC Broadcast - 23 September 1964

Revue Productions
Executive Producer Frank Price
Produced by Winston Miller
Teleplay by True Boardman and Joseph Hoffman / Story by Joseph Hoffman
Directed by Don McDougall

(shown on the ride-in)(all appear)
Lee J. Cobb as Judge Henry Garth
Doug McClure as Trampas
Clu Gulager as Emmett Ryker
Roberta Shore as Betsy Garth
Randy Boone as Randy Benton
James Drury as The Virginian

Guest Stars (credited during the ride-in)
Victor Jory [Carl Hendricks]
Chris Robinson [Arnie Hendricks]
Katharine Ross [Jenny Hendricks]

Ending credits (complete):
Larry Pennell as Wally Koerner
Louis Quinn as Perkins
Michael Bregan as Matt
Than Wyenn as The Coroner
John Bryant as Dr. Spaulding
Gregg Palmer as The Cowboy
Frank Sully as The Bartender
Joan O'Brien as Joan
Music Score Sidney Fine
Virginian Theme Percy Faith
Director of Photography Walter Strenge, A.S.C.
Story Editor Cy Chermak
Art Director . . . George Patrick
Film Editor . . . Edward Biery
Assistant Director . . . Jack Doran
Set Decorators . . . John McCarthy and Perry Murdock
Sound . . . David H. Moriarty
Color Consultant . . . Alex Quiroga
Color by Pathe
Editorial Dept. Head . . . David J. O'Connell
Musical Supervision . . . Stanley Wilson
Costume Supervisor . . . Vincent Dee
Makeup . . . Bud Westmore
Hair Stylist . . . Larry Germain
The title "The Virginian" by permission of EMKA, LTD.

Series regular characters appearing in this episode:
  Trampas, Ryker, Judge
Garth, Betsy, Randy, Virginian, Dr. Spaulding, and Danny the Bartender.
Randy and Betsy sing "Wait for the Wagon" at the dance.

The Hendricks family is new to the area, having just purchased a ranch near Medicine Bow.   Arnie (Robinson) would rather go into town to be with a saloon girl than help his father (Jory) with chores.  The boy hopes Joan (O'Brien) will marry him so they can both leave the drudgery of their lives, but she is holding out for just the right man--an older one who'll have enough money so she can get away and never come back.  After seeing the big winner of a poker game board the stage, Arnie robs the passengers of over $600.  During the hold up the young man shoots one of the coach drivers.  When the stage arrives in town, Dr. Spaulding removes the slug from the injured driver. Trampas recognizes the caliber of the bullet, and Ryker hopes that information may be a help in finding the highwayman.  Arnie returns to the ranch and hides his loot in a cash box in a trunk in the barn.  With much reluctance on Jenny's part, the Hendricks attend the Saturday night dance at the Grand Teton Hotel so they can meet some of the people in town.  Goaded by Trampas, shy blacksmith Wally Koerner (Pennell) asks Jenny (Ross) to dance with him, but she turns down his invitation.  Trampas tells Wally he gave up too easily and should be more "forceful."  Determined to show Wally how to get a girl's attention, Trampas won't take Jenny's "I'm not dancing" for an answer and insists on taking her out on the dance floor.  Mr. Hendricks comes to his daughter's rescue, and the family leaves the ballroom.  As the Hendricks are walking toward the door the whole gathering notices Jenny has a club foot, and Trampas feels the heat of embarrassment.  The next morning Betsy rides out to where Trampas is filling sandbags. She tries to reassure him that, although he was a little "fresh" in the way he went about asking her to dance, he didn't know Jenny was crippled.  When a sullen Trampas still expresses shame over his actions at the dance, Betsy declares, "You think you know everything about women, and you don't even know that much!"   She tells him if she were the girl she wouldn't hold an honest mistake against anyone and advises him that both he and Jenny would feel better if he went to talk to her.   Trampas figures it wouldn't do any good, especially since Jenny's father probably won't let him near the place. But Betsy wins out when she says, "Well, of course, if you're afraid."   Mr. Hendricks and Jenny are agreeable to Trampas apologizing, but not Arnie. Jenny puts the cowboy at ease by saying the incident Saturday night was really her fault because she shouldn't have gone to the dance if she didn't intend to dance.  Trampas decides to befriend the girl and (appearing not to have learned his lesson on the dangers of forcefulness) goes about trying to persuade her to attend the upcoming church bazaar with him. The morning of the bazaar, Trampas sets up a "chance" meeting with Betsy and Randy then rides into town where he asks Wally to check one of his horse's hooves.  Wally feels terrible about the happenings at the dance and reckons it was partly his doing.  He wonders what they could do about it, and Trampas states they should just walk right up to her and tell her how they feel.   When Wally supposes Jenny won't ever come back into town, Trampas appraises that she will, and he'd "even bet on it." After Trampas picks Jenny up at her house, Arnie observes his father's happy expression and asks, "Are you starting to set your price?"  Upon arriving in town, Trampas collars Wally to get him to join them at the "shindig."  In the saloon Arnie tells Joan he has money enough for the both of them to start a new life in a new place.  She realizes it must have been he who robbed the stage and, refusing his proposal, demands he leave and never bother her again.  When another man steps in to help the woman, Danny sends a customer at the bar to get Ryker who arrives just in time to take Arnie's gun before the two men can have a shootout. Jenny has a wonderful time at the bazaar, especially with Wally--a man who (according to Betsy) "has the body of a gorilla and the heart of a Collie pup" and treats her like she was "made out of glass."  Mr. Hendricks is delighted his daughter enjoyed herself and asks if she is planning to see Trampas again.   As a matter of fact, Trampas will be picking her up for the Founders' Day celebration. Hearing this, Hendricks suggests Jenny invite the cowboy to supper.  But she refuses because she knows how her father's mind works and she hasn't even remotely suggested that Trampas is the "right man" for her. When Mr. Hendricks tells Arnie he wants to improve the ranch and is thinking about hiring a foreman, Arnie is convinced his father shows favoritism to Jenny's needs and wants to know "which half of the ranch are you going to offer him--yours or mine."  At Shiloh, Judge Garth advises Trampas that Mr. Hendricks has come to see him with a business proposition, and he needs to make sure he is "aware of all the implications."  Mr. Hendricks meets with Trampas in the Judge's study and offers him the job of foreman with the possibility of becoming a partner in time.  Trampas wonders, "Why me?" and Hendricks replies, "You're intelligent, experienced..."  Mr. Hendricks then goes on to explain that he wanted to make sure Jenny was taken care of and asks the cowboy, "Do you love my daughter?"  Trampas can but answer, "We've only known each other a short time."  Hendricks is noticeably disappointed by that reply and is finished with his business there. Trampas wonders if Jenny knows about the job offer, and Hendricks responds sofltly, "No." After the Founders' Day celebration Jenny has some things to pick up from the general store. As she comes back outside she overhears Ryker talking to Trampas about the rumor he is going to work for Mr. Hendricks. Trampas denies it, and Ryker nods, "I didn't think you'd leave Garth." Ryker takes Arnie's gun out to the ranch to return it to him and has some questions to ask the boy. He informs Arnie he was glad to see that the gun was a .45 because the slug that had been removed from the stageman's shoulder was shot from a 44-40.   Ryker does have some misgivings, however, about Arnie paying off a $200 debt at the saloon and asks him where he got the money. Mr. Hendricks lies that Arnie had borrowed it from him, but after Ryker leaves he interrogates his son regarding the guns and how he really came about the money.  Angrily, Hendricks heads for the barn where he gets the cash box out of the trunk and tries to pry it open with his knife. He asks why his son would rob the stage, and Arnie explains he did it for his father's and Jenny's sake so he could get away and leave them alone. Hendricks reveals that all he wanted was for Arnie to stay there at the ranch and be a man.  While wrestling over possession of the box, Mr. Hendricks falls on his knife. Trampas brings Jenny home from town and is concerned when she just wants to be alone.  As she walks away Trampas notices she had left her purse in the buggy.  He finds her in the summer house, and Jenny confides that they can no longer be friends because her father had tried to "buy her a husband."   Trampas tries to console her that her father had just offered him a job and he'd "be getting a good man." Jenny discerns they both knew from the start they weren't right for each other, and she now fears they can no longer even be friends. Trampas assures her that, just as she had told him to forget about what happened at the dance, all is well between them. Jenny comments, "I almost wish you had been the one."  Arnie, distraught over his father's death, comes out of the barn with the knife in his hand.  When he hears Trampas approach he throws the implement in the cowboy's buggy and hides in the bushes.  Making his investigation into Mr. Hendrick's death, Ryker questions Jenny and Arnie.  Arnie suggests it could have been an accident, but since there was an absence of a sharp object in the vicinity of the body the lawman says it appears their father had been murdered.  Because Jenny mentions Trampas had brought her back from town that afternoon, Ryker decides to make a search of his buggy. Although the Virginian and Emmett don't believe Trampas would be stupid enough to leave a murder weapon lying around, Ryker insists Trampas will have to come in for questioning. At the inquest the evidence points heavily to Trampas or possibly a short, stocky drifter whom Arnie said had been at the ranch a few days earlier.  But Ryker's tactics get to the truth of the matter.  Jenny decides to stay in town until she feels better about the happenings, and Wally asks if he can do some work around the ranch in case she wants to move back in later. Jenny thanks him and affectionately kisses him on the cheek.  The couple drive off in the wagon, leaving a satisfied Trampas behind. (bj)

Ride-in credit note:  Roberta Shore's ride-in credit for season three came from this episode.  The first shot is of Betsy reining in her horse when she sees Trampas filling sandbags, and her screen credit (alongside Randy Boone) was taken from the scene at the dance when Randy and Betsy sing "Wait for the Wagon."

Victor Jory was a frequent guest star on THE VIRGINIAN.  You can find him in these other episodes:  4.25 "The Return of Golden Tom," 5.22 "Melanie," 6.09 "A Bad Place to Die," and 7.25 "Fox, Hound, and the Widow McCloud"

Chris Robinson can also be seen in 2.06 "It Takes a Big Man," 7.01 "The Saddle Warmer," and 9.10 "Experiment at New Life"

Trivia:  Katharine Ross and Doug McClure would later team up in the 1967 made-for-TV movie "The Longest Hundred Miles," and both also appeared in the 1965  theatrical movie "Shenandoah."   (bj)

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