The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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"Return a Stranger"
Original NBC Broadcast - 18 November 1964
Executive Producer Frank Price
Produced by Winston Miller
Teleplay by True Boardman / Story by George Slavin
Directed by Maury Geraghty
(shown in the ride in)
Lee J. Cobb as Judge Henry Garth
Doug McClure as Trampas (not in this episode)
Clu Gulager as Emmett Ryker
Roberta Shore as Betsy Garth
Randy Boone as Randy Benton
James Drury as The Virginian
Leif Erickson [Charley Ryan]
Peter Brown [Craig Ryan]
Complete Ending Credits
Whit Bissell as Whit Parsons
Robert Colbert as Joe Barker
William Fawcett as Sam Elberry
Roy Engle as Barney Wingate (recurring character)
Richard Garland as Vet
Ollie O'Toole as Ray Masters
Bob Anderson as Jenkins
Audrey Swanson as Mrs. Wingate
Dan White as The Baggage Man
Hinton Pope as Dales
Frank Sully as The Bartender (recurring character)
Joe McGuinn as The 1st Rancher
Russ Whiteman as The 2nd Rancher
Dean Harens as Reverend Haggerty
Virginian Theme Percy Faith
Director of photography Ray Rennahan, A.S.C.
Art director ... George Patrick
Film Editor ... Robert Watts, A.C.E.
Assistant director ... Les Berke
Set decorators ... John McCarthy and James M. Walters, Sr.
Sound ... Earl Crain, Jr.
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
Hairstylist ... Larry Germain
The title "The Virginian" by permission of EMKA LTD.
Series regular characters appearing in this episode:
featuring Judge Garth, with Betsy, Randy, Ryker (as Sheriff), Barney Wingate and Danny the bartender, very brief appearance by the Virginian
It's Sunday as Judge Garth and Betsy ride up to the Gloria mine after church looking for Charley Ryan. "Old Charley, he never gives up!" says Judge Garth. "There's still silver in it, isn't there?" asks Betsy. "Oh, sure there is, but the ore isn't rich enough to really pay off, not by the time they ship it to the refinery. But Charley can never manage to get that through his head!" answers the Judge. Charley emerges from the mine and greets them warmly. The reason for the Judge and Betsy's visit is to deliver a telegram. The telegram is from Charley's son, Craig, who is returning from college as a mining engineer. Charley is sure that Craig has come up with a way to refine the ore on the premises, without having to ship it away, which would make the mine profitable again. Charley invites them inside to celebrate and show the Judge the plans that Craig has sent him. After looking them over, Judge Garth says, "It's all very interesting, but are you sure you understand?" Charley is so confident of Craig's abilities that he's given him his power of attorney and taken out a short-term loan with the mine as collateral. They'll have to produce a certain quota of ore, or he'll lose the mine.
Judge Garth and Betsy drive Charley into town to meet the afternoon train. Betsy is also anxious to see Craig again after four years. Craig is accompanied by Whit Parsons, his new partner, and Joe Barker, who will help run the mine. After getting off the train, Craig is all set to get started. He'll need to buy some rolling stock because they'll have a lot of equipment coming in. Judge Garth offers the use of a wagon, but Craig turns him down, saying they'll buy everything they need. He also tells Charley to quit his part-time job sweeping at a store because he'll be needed to work on the mine full time. In addition, Craig says that Parsons is bringing in his own crew from out of town, so they won't be hiring anyone from Medicine Bow to work in the mine. Betsy, obviously disappointed at Craig's business-before-pleasure attitude, nevertheless invites Craig to come to Shiloh for dinner some evening and to see his favorite old horse, Thunder, who is part of the Shiloh stock. Craig says he'll try but can't promise a definite date. He takes a longer look at Betsy and remarks, "I just realized I looked at you before, but I don't think I really saw you...All I can say is you've certainly changed after four years." "That's funny. I was thinking the same thing about you," replies Betsy. On their way back to Shiloh, Betsy remarks that Craig has changed so much, "you'd think we were only casual acquaintances." The Judge says he has a lot on his mind and has a big responsibility. Betsy says "I guess I'm not being fair to him at that. I'll give him one more chance to notice what a charming young lady I've grown into!"
The next scene opens with a shot of the now hustling-and-bustling mine almost three months later, complete with a security fence and "No Trespassing" sign. Parsons enters the office and he and Craig discuss how they're going to soothe the feelings of the men who haven't been paid in awhile. Craig calls the crew together and gives a rousing speech thanking the men for their hard work, showing off the first load of refined ore produced at the mine and promising "smooth sailing" from now on. Just then, Charley arrives with a contingent from town, whom he has brought out to show off the mine. In a speech of his own, Charley proudly sings Craig's praises, but Craig responds that because the safety devices aren't in place yet, he won't be able to give the townsfolk a tour, although he hopes to "be in better shape to receive you the next time you come out." Betsy again invites Craig to dinner at Shiloh prior to the upcoming church social, but again, Craig can't commit.
On the way back from the mine, Judge Garth notices a diversion dam in the creek; "Maybe he had a reason for not wanting us to look around. Look over there. I was wondering why our stream was running low...Charley knows better than to pull a stunt like that!" He returns to the mine and asks Charley about this. "It's not legal. Every outfit downstream, including Shiloh, needs that water!" says the Judge. Charley promises that this will only be a temporary situation. The Judge reluctantly agrees and rides off. After he leaves, Craig scolds his father for making such a promise. Charley insists that they have to respect their neighbors, so Parsons says he'll work something out.
We next see Craig and some of his men at the freight yard loading a bunch of pipe. The yard master tries to stop him because the pipe was intended for Barney Wingate, but Craig insists that he, too, had placed an order that must have gotten lost. He says that he needs the pipe more than Barney does and slips the yard master an extra ten dollars to let him take it.
Back at Shiloh, Betsy is preparing to ride out to the Gloria mine, bringing along Thunder, Craig's old horse, to show to him. Judge Garth tells her not to go because Craig has made it clear that strangers aren't welcome there. "We're not strangers!" says Betsy. "I'm not sure Craig knows the difference any more," replies the Judge.
In the next scene an old trapper, Sam Elberry, is shown riding onto the Gloria mine property, ignoring the posted "No Trespassing" sign. The trapper is stopped by Joe Barker, but Sam produces a paper signed by the chief of the Nez Perce tribe giving him the right to trap on the land. Barker says that he doesn't care if Sam has twenty of those papers, his boss, Craig Ryan, has given him strict orders not to allow any trespassers. "Craig Ryan? "Old Charley's kid? He's running the Gloria now?" asks Sam and insists that Barker take him to him. Craig greets Sam warmly but is adamant about not allowing him to trap on Gloria land. Charley tries to intervene, but to no avail. "I know Sam's an old friend," says Craig, "but five years ago you had nothing but old friends around here. And when the chips were down, when help from them would have kept this mine running, where were they? You may have forgotten that, but I haven't and I don't intend to." Parsons enters with news that the conveyor belt is broken and will require three days to repair. Charley says they'll have to cart the ore the old fashioned way, by mule, but Craig says that the pipe deal cleaned out their working capital and they can't afford to buy any mules. Just then he has an idea. They'll go calling at Shiloh to see if they can borrow some mules.
Betsy and Randy are practicing for the church social when Craig and Charley ride up. Betsy is so delighted to see them finally making a visit that Judge Garth doesn't hesitate in granting Craig's request for the use of the mules. Betsy takes Craig out to ride Thunder. They stop in a meadow and Betsy confides to Craig that she used to have a crush on him. She also apologizes for not writing to him back when the mine closed because she "couldn't find the words." "You weren't the only one," says Craig. "As it turned out it was the best thing that ever happened to Dad and me. We both learned what you've got to learn. There's only one person in the world you can count on and that's yourself." He again complains how nobody helped Charley out when needed help to keep the mind going. Betsy says that her father told her the mine was played out, but Craig says he's proven that it isn't and he's going to make Charley the richest miner in the territory and make up for all the years he had to sweep out stores and do other menial jobs in order to send him to college--and nothing's going to stop him. "I guess I just don't know you anymore, Craig," says Betsy, "It seems like you went away as one person, and only part of you came back, or you're a different person altogether." Back at Shiloh after their ride, Craig says that he feels like he's been playing hooky from school. Charley says that Judge Garth has invited them to supper the next night prior to the church social. Craig at first turns down the invitation, but when told that Betsy is going to sing, reconsiders. After they leave, Betsy again remarks on how much Craig has changed. The Judge replies, "Well, every man changes under pressure. The question is how much does he change and in what direction."
The next evening after the social, Barney Wingate confronts Craig about commandeering his pipe from the freight yard. This is the first Charley has heard of it. Craig explains that he needed the pipe to fulfill Charley's promise to Judge Garth about removing the diversion dam and that he'll gladly recompense Barney for any inconveniences. "Yeah!" sneers Barney and walks away. "Remember what I told you?" says Charley proudly to the Judge and Betsy, who have witnessed this exchange, "straight down the line!" "I'm beginning to see what he means," says the Judge to Betsy as they walk away.
While out gathering strays, Randy notices a dead steer and calf by the stream. Judge Garth sends for the veterinarian, who examines the animals and says he can't determine what the problem is, except that it is not anthrax. The Judge and the vet check the water in the stream, but it appears to be okay and none of the other ranches have reported any problems. He tells Randy to warn the other ranches downstream while he goes and checks upstream. Sure enough, upstream on the Gloria mine property he finds more dead cattle. Barker sees the Judge riding in and goes to warn Parsons. Parsons "proves" to the Judge that the water is safe by taking a drink of it himself. "Sorry to have bothered you," says the Judge, not entirely convinced. After he leaves, Parsons shows Craig that he had rigged up a bypass for when they needed to work on the equipment. Although they usually send the polluted water into the stream, this bypass allowed him to perform his little "demonstration" for the Judge. Craig doesn't like this, but Parsons tries to assure him that the water should be safe for human consumption after it flows far enough away to leave mine property. As long as he keeps trespassers off the property itself, there should be no problems. Craig says they may have convinced Judge Garth, but what happens if more cattle from other ranches downstream start dying? "You have one other choice," says Parsons, "close it down until we get the filter equipment cleared up. That'll only take about two months to get it here and installed." Craig reluctantly agrees to keep the mine operating but instructs Parsons to double the guard at every entry to keep out trespassers.
Back in town at the saloon, the old trapper, Sam, drunkenly tells Danny, the bartender, of his intentions to return to the Gloria land and lay his traps no matter what Craig Ryan says. Danny tries to talk him out of it, but Sam won't listen. He takes the rest of bottle with him and goes off. At Shiloh, the other ranchers are angrily meeting with Judge Garth. They have all indeed begun to see some of their cattle die from drinking the water and want to go as a group and close down the mine. Judge Garth warns that they'd have a range war on their hands if they tried to go up against Craig Ryan and all his men. He instead suggests that they get an injunction; "Judge Phillips is in town and with all of us asking for it, I'm sure we'll get an injunction. Oh, he'll close down the mine, (and) have an investigation. I know Craig Ryan is riding pretty high, but even he wouldn't dare defy an injunction!" "What if he doesn't?" asks Barney Wingate. "We'll cross that bridge when and if we come to it," replies Judge Garth.
We next see Sheriff Ryker serving the injunction to Craig, Charley and Parsons. He warns that they'd better obey it. After he leaves, Craig tells the others that he was prepared for this. He had a clerk in Medicine Bow wire a lawyer in Cheyenne to have a territorial judge vacate the injunction even before court opens here tomorrow. Furthermore, he's going to request a change in venue because he won't be able to get a fair trial in Medicine Bow. In just three more days, they'll be able to make the final shipment on the contract and the mine will belong to Charles A. Ryan. "And partners," adds Parsons. "And partners," Craig agrees. Charley, who has himself become increasingly avaricious, looks admiringly at his son for all that he's done and says that he can't believe his good fortune.
Barker interrupts the proceedings by saying he needs them to look at the equipment, but the real reason, he confides to Craig and Parsons, is that he found the old trapper "just inside the south gate, face down by the stream" and he thinks he's dying. Craig asks if he drank water from the stream and Barker says he doesn't know. Craig wants to send for a doctor, but Parsons warns that this could mess up their whole deal and not even Craig's legal tricks could get them out of it. They should do what they can for him here, but under no circumstances should they go into town and fetch a doctor. Craig is unsure, but Charley enters and is horrified that his son would even consider such a thing. Craig tries to reason with his father that if anyone finds out about the water, they'll be in big trouble. The water? Charley thought that whole business about the water had been taken care of. Charley now finds the gumption to order Craig to take Sam to the doctor "and you will drive him to town and you will pray every step of the way that he gets there alive, because if he don't, if you have killed him with your lies, I swear I'll never call you a son of mine again!" A chastened Craig agrees, puts him in a buckboard, and starts into town accompanied by Parsons. As they pass by a cliff dropoff, Parsons makes him stop. He wants to dump Sam over the cliff. Craig refuses and Parsons draws his gun, but Craig manages to escape and heads for Shiloh. He asks for a fresh rig to take Sam to the doctor, but Judge Garth examines him more closely and says that he's dead.
Back at the mine, Barker rides in to warn Parsons that Craig and Judge Garth are leading a group of ranch hands headed for the mine. The crew arm themselves in preparation for a fight. The group rides in and tells Parsons that Sam is dead. Parsons says that's too bad, but they can't prove he had anything to do with it. Judge Garth replies that he won't mind then if he takes a sample of the water to send to a lab in Cheyenne for testing. Parsons tells him to go ahead, knowing that by the time they get the test results back, the final silver shipment will have been made and he will have had time to cash out and leave. The Judge is aware of this, however, and says he has a better way to test it. He wants Parsons to take another drink. Parsons, knowing the jig is up, tries to get away and shoots Craig in the process. One of the "posse" subsequently shoots down Parsons. When all of Parsons' men have been subdued, Charley holds his son's limp body and says, "You're gonna be all right. Hear me? Well, now that I got him back, he's gotta be all right!"
We next see Charley, Judge Garth, Betsy, Randy, Barney Wingate and others standing beside a grave listening to the preacher deliver a final memorial. The camera pans to the others in attendance and among them we see Craig, whose arm is in a sling. Apparently the bullet had just just hit his arm. "Goodbye, Sam," says Charley at the end of the service. Ryker approaches Charley and tells him that an autopsy showed that Sam slipped crossing the river. There was no evidence of poisoning, so there will be no charges. Judge Garth insists that Craig come stay at Shiloh while he recuperates and where there is a "very efficient nurse (Betsy)". He also tells him that Barney Wingate and the other ranchers got together and decided to invest in the mine to help him get back on his feet again. As Craig heads back to Shiloh with his "nurse", Charley says, "That boy is going to make the Gloria the finest producing mine in this territory." "Charley," interrupts the Judge, "I'm already sold, remember?" The two enjoy a laugh and walk away. [rho]
In the very first scene of the episode, where Judge Garth and Betsy come to the mine to tell Charley of Craig's upcoming arrival, the proud father takes Betsy aside and shows her Craig's report cards from college: "Mineralogy, 'A'. Geology, 'A'. Engineering Science, 'A'...Ethics and Logic, 'C'." A portent of things to come, perhaps? [rho]
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Main Contributor for this episode Robert Henry Ohlemeyer [rho]