CTVA - The Virginian 3.15 [075] "A Man of the People" 23-Dec-1964

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3.15 [075]
"A Man of the People"

Original NBC Broadcast - 23 December 1964
Universal TV
Executive Producer Frank Price
Produced by Winston Miller
Teleplay by William Fay and True Boardman
Story by William Fay
Directed by William Witney

(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 (not in this episode)
James Drury as The Virginian

Guest star
James Dunn
[Congressman Matthew J. Cosgrove]

Ending Credits (incomplete)
Arthur Space as Ownie Francis
Martin West as David O'Mara
Roy Engle as Barney Wingate (recurring character / larger font than the others)
Brendan Dillon as James Dolan
Hal Baylor as Sgt. Costello
A.G. Vitanza as Dominic Pellegrini
Robert Boon as Hans Jungmann
Alvy Moore as Ray Harris
Pitt Herbert as the Telegraph Operator
Russ Bender as the Land Office Clerk
David McMahon as the Conductor
Sam Edwards as the Hotel Clerk
Shirley O'Hara as Mrs. Dolan
Barry Brooks as the Workman
Jimmy Joyce as the Cameraman
Hoke Howell as the Corporal
Virginian Theme Percy Faith
Director of photography Ray Rennahan, A.S.C.
Story Editor Cy Chermak
Art director ... George Patrick
Film Editor ... Edward Haire, A.C.E.
Assistant director ... Ray Taylor, Jr.
Set decorators ... John McCarthy and unknown (George ?)
Sound ... Frank H. Wilkinson
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 ... Virginia Darcy
The title "The Virginian" by permission of EMKA LTD.

Series regular characters appearing in this episode:
featuring Judge Garth, with Betsy, Ryker (as Sheriff), Barney Wingate, brief appearance by the Virginian

Detailed Synopsis:
The Virginian and Judge Garth ride out to a pasture where some homesteaders are camped. They are greeted by James Aloysius Dolan, who is not happy to see them. The Judge informs them that this is government land leased to the ranchers for grazing and is not suitable for farming. Dolan will hear nothing of it and orders them off "his" land. Judge Garth, who had tried to be reasonable with them says that the next time he returns it will be with a court order. After they leave, Dolan's wife scolds him for being so rude. Dolan replies, "We've got all the friends we need. We've got Matt Cosgrove, haven't we? Are you gonna take that fella's word against 'Honest Matt'?"

Meanwhile, Betsy is driving a buggy and is passed on the road by a group of cavalry men. The cavalry kicks up a load of dust causing her to sneeze and lose her hat. The leader of the cavalry unit stops, goes back to retrieve Betsy's hat and apologizes to her.

Back in town, Judge Garth and Barney Wingate are at the land office checking the status of their lease on the grazing land. They are informed that the lease expired two months ago. Barney is surprised and says that the lease has always been renewed automatically. The land office clerk explains that an order came down from Washington cancelling that kind of renewal. When asked if the homesteaders have picked up the lease, the clerk says he hasn't heard anything about it. As they leave the land office, Barney is apologetic for not having kept on top of the lease and says he'll check with the other ranches to see if they've heard anything about this. Outside, they see a large sign being unveiled welcoming Congressman Matt Cosgrove of New York to Medicine Bow. They check in with Ray Harris, at the Medicine Bow Banner who tells them that Cosgrove has arranged for 200 families to move from New York to the 10,000 acres of grazing land (50 acres for each family). He shows them a Banner story on the matter which says that Cosgrove will be arriving for a three day celebration of the new settlement. The article further states that Cosgrove is an old friend of Judge Garth's, having "read law with him" some thirty years earlier in Springfield, Ohio, and that it was at the Judge's suggestion that this resettlement take place. This arouses the Judge's ire, for he had indeed known Matt Cosgrove in the past but thought he was a "windbag" and had certainly not made any such suggestion about the resettlement. Ray says that this will increase the town's population substantially in one fell swoop and that's important to the newspaper and the local merchants. It's so important, in fact, that United Press is sending a reporter from Denver to cover the story. "Oh, by the way, starting tonight there'll be free drinks for everyone at the saloon, courtesy of Matthew J. Cosgrove, just in case you're interested," he adds.

The cavalry unit we met earlier rides into town and their leader, Lt. David O'Mara, stops by the hotel to visit Ownie Francis, Cosgrove's administrative assistant. We learn that David is Cosgrove's nephew. Ownie explains that Cosgrove will be in town to officiate over the resettlement deal. David says that doesn't sound like his Uncle Matt, "transporting two hundred voters two thousand miles from the polls." Ownie says they're doing it through various immigrant societies; the Sons of Erin, the Italian-American fellowship and a German organization, "so aside from the nobility of the idea, for every vote we lose, we gain twenty more back home." David also correctly surmises that his uncle pulled a few strings so that David and his unit would just happen to be in the area repairing a bridge while Uncle Matt was enjoying his moment of glory. When asked why Cosgrove selected Medicine Bow for this venture, Ownie says that the Congressman got the idea last year when he stopped off to visit his old friend, Judge Garth, and discovered that there was a lot of government land available here for anyone who wanted to buy it. David remembers his uncle talking about the trip and also remembers him mentioning Judge Garth's daughter; "'the fairest flower this side of Dublin' he called her." At this, he decides he should go out to Shiloh and visit her himself; "After all, it's only polite that I should drop in on my uncle's old friend!"

David rides out to Shiloh and is pleasantly surprised to find that Betsy is the girl he met earlier. He flirts with her and explains that he is Congressman Cosgrove's nephew. Although Betsy is polite and at first impressed with him, he makes several awkward errors, such as calling her "Bessie" and inaccurately describing the scenery around West Point. Judge Garth and Barney Wingate enter and, not realizing who David is, Barney says, "If you're right about this fellow Cosgrove, if, as you say he's nothing but an opportunist and a carpetbagging demagogue, why don't we go over his head in Washington?" Barney leaves and Betsy sheepishly tries to tell her father who David is. David picks up the slack and says, "What your daughter is trying to say is that the opportunist and carpetbagging demagogue you have referred to happens to be my uncle!" and leaves in a huff.

The next day Betsy rides out to where the cavalry is camped to apologize to David. He is still angry and tells her that he heard in town that Judge Garth is leading a group of ranchers to try to destroy his uncle's "entire plan for Medicine Bow." Betsy sticks up for her father and says that if he's opposed to the plan, he must have a good reason. David sneeringly replies, "That's a detached and impartial judgment if I ever heard one!" She retorts, "It's obvious they didn't teach you one thing at West Point, Lieutenant--to be a gentleman!" and rides off. He mounts up and rides to catch her as she leads him on a merry chase. While chasing her, he takes a spill on his horse and pretends to have been knocked unconscious.

Congressman Cosgrove arrives in town accompanied by another group of settlers and is met at the train by Ownie Francis and Ray Harris. Back at Shiloh, Betsy is caring for the "ailing" Lt. David O'Mara. He's obviously enjoying being a patient and tells her, "With service like this and food like this, I don't think I'm ever going to get well!" They start to resume their argument, but decide to call a truce. "Let's make a bargain. Your father and my uncle are grown up men. Let's let them fight their own battles. What do you say?" says David. Betsy agrees and shakes his hand. She hears voices downstairs and sees Congressman Cosgrove and Ownie Francis at the bottom of the stairs. Cosgrove is arguing with her father and demanding to see his nephew. Betsy comes down to say hello and Cosgrove reverses course and turns on the charm. "Ah, Betsy, me gal, you're still the fairest flower this side o' Dublin!" he says as Judge Garth winces. David comes downstairs and assures his uncle that his injury was nothing more than a bump on the head. He says that he could have gone back two days ago, but he wanted to stick around until he was sure Betsy was no longer mad at him. Betsy says that everything between them is okay now, so with that matter settled, Judge Garth invites Cosgrove and Ownie into the study to discuss the resettlement plans. The Congressman acknowledges that the Judge is upset with him for taking away his "private empire," but says that they made sure that there was other grazing land available farther away that he could use. Ownie adds that they consulted maps to determine this. "Maps?" yells Judge Garth, "Two thousand miles away and you can tell what's good grazing land? You couldn't tell a good piece of grazing land if you rode over it!" He then asks him what he knows about the land the settlers are using. "Well, you showed it to me youself last year! A great green sweep of God's providence, and much better for families to be sharing than your cows!" replies Cosgrove. The Judge says that the land is "handsomely suited for successive crops of grass suitable for grazing. I'm sure that's not what your settlers had in mind." He adds that "if you take a plow to that land, within two to three years every grain of topsoil will have blown away." He asks if they got a government report on the suitability of the land for farming. Ownie says they did, but he doesn't have the papers with him. A surprised Judge Garth says he wants to see them and admits that he doesn't like giving up the grazing land, but they'll manage to survive. His main concern is for the settlers. Ownie says he'll wire Washington and should have the report sometime tomorrow.

As they return to town, Ownie tells Cosgrove to go on ahead while he sends the wire. However, he does not do so. Instead he picks up the Congressman's incoming messages and several blank forms. He then goes up to Cosgrove's hotel room to deliver the messages and lies about having sent the wire to Washington. Cosgrove thanks Ownie for his loyal service through the years, 18 to be exact, and says that they make a good team.

Over at Shiloh, Barney Wingate has something to show Judge Garth. It's an advertising brochure titled "Go West Wise Man" that was given to the settlers. The brochure includes a beautiful picture of a farm and a testimonial from one Carl Stoner, who is described as a "successful Wyoming farmer." Barney and the Judge remember Carl Stoner and he was anything but successful. To prove their point, they fetch James Dolan and two other settlers and take them out to show them "the actual farm of Carl Stoner after he's tried to farm it three years." What they see is a barren wasteland with a broken down barn. The settlers can't believe it's true and accuse the Judge of lying. Just then, Cosgrove and Ownie ride up with the Congressman complaining that the Judge "went behind me back" with his "lies." Judge Garth replies that if he would have gone to him first, he would have gone behind the settlers' backs. He wanted them to see it first-hand. Cosgrove can't believe this is the farm in the picture and Ownie produces a telegram purportedly from the Department of Agriculture saying that the soil tested fine.

Finally, the day arrives for the celebration. There are banners galore and a marching band. The press is on hand taking pictures of the event. Cosgrove starts to give a speech; "Me good friends, old and new, we come to a glorious occasion, an event that marks the fulfillment of a thousand dreams and the dawn of a magnificent tomorrow!" He is interrupted by rousing applause from the crowd, including Betsy, who tells her skeptical father, "Oh, Daddy! Now you have to admit it is exciting!" David O'Mara comes up from behind and informs Betsy that there will be a street dance later and "all her dances are spoken for." She hushes him and turns their attention back to the podium where Dolan, as representative of the Sons of Erin, is presenting Congressman Cosgrove with their final payment of $10,000 for the land. This is followed by similar payments from the German group and the Italian-American fellowship. While all this is going on, the telegrapher comes up to Judge Garth with a reply to a telegram he had sent off earlier. The telegram is from the Department of Agriculture stating that a report sent to "Owen Francis two weeks ago" said the land is "not suited for farming." The Judge asks about the telegram that came yesterday from Washington for Ownie or the Congressman. The telegrapher doesn't remember any such telegram coming yesterday from Washington.

Up on the podium, Cosgrove has received a total of $40,000 from the various groups and entrusts it to Ownie for later deposit in the local bank. He summons Sheriff Ryker from the crowd to accompany Ownie to his room to count the money. Ryker wonders why they didn't just collect and deposit the money in a bank in New York and take out a bank draft. Ownie replies, "You'd never make a politician, Sheriff...That's no way to get your picture in the paper. Nobody takes pictures of a bank draft." Ryker doesn't like the idea of announcing to everybody where the money is; "You know you could open that safe downstairs with a hammer and a screwdriver." Ownie is one step ahead of him, however. He's not going to put the money in the safe, but instead will put it in a suitcase in his room and only he and Ryker will know about it. Meanwhile, Judge Garth is over at the telegraph office verifying that no messages had indeed come in from Washington the previous day. The Judge is puzzled because he saw the telegram that Ownie had produced saying the soil had tested fine. He asks if Ownie could have gotten a blank form. The telegrapher says that indeed he did.

Judge Garth returns to the hotel and insists on speaking to Congressman Cosgrove and Ownie. He shows them the telegram that he received saying the soil is not suitable for farming and accuses Ownie of writing the other telegram himself. A shocked Cosgrove grabs Ownie and asks him if he's going to deny it. Ownie admits that he fabricated the telegram as part of an ongoing coverup for Cosgrove's promises. The Judge asks how they planned to cover up the fact that the soil was no good. Ownie replies that it would have taken two to three years before anyone found out and by that time Cosgrove "would have had a dozen other projects going." The angry Congressman tells him to "get out of here! Get out of me sight!" Ownie adds a parting shot of his own; "Sure, I'll go. You're through, anyway. I don't want to stay hooked up with a loser!" After he leaves, the realization of what has happened hits the Congressman hard; "You know, he's right. I am through." Judge Garth offers to break the news to the settlers, but Cosgrove insists on doing it himself. "I've made a lot of speeches and I used to enjoy it. I won't enjoy this one," he says, "there's one thing good about it, though. I won't have to make another one." Meanwhile, Ownie is back in his room, packing to leave, when he spies the money-filled suitcase in his closet.

We next see the train pulling out of Medicine Bow. A short way out of town, Ownie, breathless and with suitcase in hand, stops the train and boards. Back at the celebration in town, Matt Cosgrove stops the music to make the difficult admission that they've all been fooled. He attempts to return the money to the settlers, but the lock box from the safe is empty. Ryker steps up to say that there never was any money in it. Ownie Francis put it in a suitcase in his room. Ryker discovers that Ownie has run off with the money and tells the angry crowd that he'll wire the sheriff at the first train stop to arrest him. The telegraph isn't working, however. Ownie must have cut the wires. Cosgrove asks if there isn't anything they can do and Ryker admits that if he gets off at the first stop, Carbon Junction, he'll be hard to find. Lt. David O'Mara hears this and, without telling anyone, races back to his camp. He can use his unit's semaphore signalling equipment to get a message to Carbon Junction ahead of the train.

It's five o'clock back at the telegraph office in Medicine Bow. The wires are still down, so Ryker has to announce that the train has probably made it to Carbon Junction. He offers to walk Cosgrove back to the hotel for protection, but the Congressman says that these are good people and will not harm him. Ryker does so anyway as the would-be settlers look on in silence. The sad procession is broken up by the unexpected arrival of the train backing up into Medicine Bow. On the train are the captured Ownie and the money, guarded by the U.S. Cavalry.

Later that night, up in Cosgrove's room, we see the Congressman brainstorming with Judge Garth and some of the settlers about various jobs they could do around Medicine Bow. Judge Garth notes that some of the settlers were dairy farmers and that the grazing land could indeed be used for that purpose. When Cosgrove reminds him that that would force his "precious steers" elsewhere, the Judge says, "Everyone's making adjustments around here. I guess we can make some, too." He then goes to Betsy and David, who are waiting downstairs. He tells David that his uncle is "tireless" and asks him to drive Betsy home. The two enjoy a laugh as David shows Betsy how she could use a sword to reflect the moonlight or sunlight to him if she ever wanted to send him a message in the future--the same way the semaphore equipment did. [rho]

Time problem: When Judge Garth and Barney Wingate first see the banners welcoming Congressman Cosgrove to Medicine Bow, the Judge remarks that "Matt Cosgrove is the biggest windbag this country has produced since the hot air balloon went up at the St. Louis fair!" The St. Louis World's Fair took place in 1904, which was later than the presumed time period of the series.

On the reliability of the train schedule: Ownie tells the telegrapher that the celebration will start at 11 AM. The telegrapher says that's good. He'll be able to attend because the eastbound train is due at 11 AM. Ownie asks him if it's due at 11, won't he need to be at the station? He replies, "Due at 11; hope for noon; count on 2 o'clock. Real dependable that way!"

Ryker's heritage?: When the Congressman is making his speech at the celebration, he makes a laudatory statement about the German settlers and we see Ryker joining the crowd in the applause. When he makes a similar laudatory statement about the Italians, we see the same people applauding again, but this time Ryker doesn't join in. I always wondered if this was supposed to imply that Ryker might be of German descent.[rho]

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Main Contributor for this episode -  Robert Henry Ohlemeyer [rho]