CTVA - The Virginian 4.21 [111] "Morgan Starr"  9-Feb-1966

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 4.21 [111]
"Morgan Starr"

Original NBC Broadcast - 9 February 1966

Universal TV
Executive Producer Norman Macdonnell
Produced by Joel Rogosin
Teleplay by Herman Miller and Barry Oringer
Story by Barry Oringer
Directed by Tony Leader

Starring: (shown on the ride-in)
Lee J. Cobb as Judge Henry Garth (not in this episode -- although still
featured in the ride-in, Cobb was no longer a series regular)

Doug McClure as Trampas (not in this episode)
Clu Gulager as Emmett Ryker
Randy Boone as Randy Benton
Diane Roter as Jennifer Sommers
James Drury as The Virginian

Guest Star
John Dehner [as Morgan Starr]  

Complete ending credits:
George Mitchell as Noah MacMillan
L.Q. Jones as Beldon (*usually credited as Belden)
Buck Young as Walker
Brad Weston as Ben
Roy Engel . . . as Wingate
Ken Mayer . . . as McDuff
Edward Faulkner . . . as Proctor
Paul Birch . . . as Mack Lewis
James Hurst . . . as Wilder
Pitt Herbert . . . as The Telegrapher
Frank Sully . . . as The Waiter
(in Dodge -- better known as recurring series character Danny the Bartender)
Jimmy Lee Cook . . . as Jimmy Lee
Peggy Castle as Melissa
Associate Producer
James Duff McAdams
Theme by Percy Faith
[no score credit was given, but some of Sidney Fine's music from 4.02 "Day
of the Scorpion" was noticeable as well as cues from Russ Garcia's
4.03 "A Little Learning..." and Bernard Herrmann's 4.09
"Show Me A Hero." John Williams'/Stanley Wilson's tune
"Golden West" was played at the party] (bj)
Director of Photography
Benjamin H. Kline, A.S.C.
Art Director . . . George Patrick
Film Editor . . . Danny B. Landres, A.C.E.
Unit Manager . . . Ben Bishop
Assistant Director . . . Lou Watt
Set Decorators . . . John McCarthy and Ralph Sylos
Sound . . . Earl Crain, Jr.
Color Coordinator . . . Robert Brower
Color by Technicolor
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:
Morgan Starr, theVirginian, Jennifer, Randy, Ryker, Belden,
and Barney Wingate

Overview: This episode introduces John Dehner to the cast as Morgan Starr,
the tough interim Shiloh supervisor between Judge Garth's departure
and the entrance in season five of new owners John, Stacey,
and Elizabeth Grainger.
It's 9:00 in the morning when down-hearted Randy and Belden arrive in
Medicine Bow with a
load of Judge Garth's furniture for transport by train to Cheyenne. Even
though it's early in the
day the two men head to the saloon for a drink. There they are joined by
Ryker and discuss not
only the Judge's new position as Governor of Wyoming but the question of why
Garth would
bring in someone from the outside to run Shiloh when the Virginian is
perfectly able to handle the
affairs of the ranch himself. They wonder how the Virginian feels -- he
owes his loyalty to the
Judge, but the Judge passes him over. What will he do -- go or stay? Ryker
asks, if not the Virginian, who is it Garth has put in charge of his
The question is raised -- "Who the blazes is Morgan Starr?"
Meanwhile, the tough trail boss from Texas is driving a herd of cattle to
Dodge City, Kansas,
when he's met by men blocking the way who profess to own the land and want
$1.00 per head to
allow the beeves to pass through it. Starr will not be intimidated,
however, and threatens to
stampede the cattle over them if they don't get out of his way.
One of the gunmen doesn't like Morgan's attitude and charges at him.
Morgan knocks him down in self defense. Yet, being a man of principle,
he comments that if any of them have a legitimate claim to the
range to take it up with the Association in Dodge.
At the end of the drive Morgan joins his ramrod in the saloon.
The drover hands his boss the payment for the cattle and says,
"I wish you the joy of it." Starr is indeed tough, but fair,
and he gives the man a considerable bonus for his
work. Morgan invites him to "come along" with him to Wyoming,
but the ramrod has already had his fill of Mr. Morgan Starr.
As Morgan is leaving, he's greeted by Melissa (Castle),
a female acquaintance from the past
with whom he wants no ties. "You don't just finish things, you wipe them
out of your memory. . . Is there anything at all from the past you keep
with you?" asks Melissa.
Morgan replies, "A woman, a child. That was a long time ago.
It isn't important." Melissa
continues, "It's more important than you think. A man is what
he's done, what he's felt, and what he's suffered. The
things a man holds on to are the bonds that tie his life together and give
it meaning. Without them there isn't anything at all."
When Morgan responds, "I don't know what that
means," the woman sighs, "I'm sorry for you, Morgan."
When Starr steps off the train in Medicine Bow, the Virginian is at the station to meet him. Their
relationship starts out like the disappointment of a bad hand of cards in a high stakes poker game
when Starr has little to say except to ask the foreman to take care of his luggage.
Back at Shiloh the men still wonder how the Virginian is feeling about the Judge passing him over
as ranch manager. The consensus is, "If he leaves a lot of us will follow."
The Virginian and Morgan arrive in the buckboard, and the curious hands come to look over the newcomer.
But there is one, Noah MacMillan (Mitchell), with whom Morgan exchanges a gaze of recognition.
Jennifer welcomes Starr in the Judge's study and comments, "A lot of the Judge is in this room."
Morgan decides, "I think I'll have the books taken down and packed away," then asks why
Jennifer hadn't gone to Cheyenne with her uncle. She tells him she might join him later, but he
has enough to do right now, and she likes it here at the ranch. Ever the one to try to be
understanding, Jennifer relates that the Judge had wanted her to make him comfortable, and she
knew how he must be feeling because she was a stranger at Shiloh once herself. Starr explains
that he and the Judge had been soldiers together and had contended between themselves until they
found other enemies in battle. They later partnered in the cattle business and fought the
adversaries of famine, wind, and drought. When Nature won out, the two had split up, but
Morgan had new ranching ideas to implement, and if they worked the Judge and he would go on
again as partners. Jennifer inquires, "And if they don't?" Morgan responds confidently, "They will."
The Virginian is supervising branding when Randy rides up with news that Morgan wants to see
him right away. The foreman says Starr can wait until later since he's busy getting the cattle
ready for the drive. But Randy informs him, "There ain't gonna be no trail drive. So says Morgan Starr."
As the Virginian rides off, Randy appraises, "Now the fur's gonna fly."
The Virginian confronts Starr informing him that the men had been working
double time on the round up. He tries to explain the
importance of getting the cattle to market before the price
of beef drops, but Morgan makes the statement that he's not postponing the drive, he's canceling it.
The Virginian can't believe what he's hearing, and when he protests, Morgan asks, "Are you
questioning my right to give the order?" The Virginian asserts, "I'm questioning the order."
Morgan explains that he is going to keep the cattle on the range until they are ready to sell, and he
will tell him when that time comes. The foreman argues that the men had been working their
heads off. Was he to tell them it was all for nothing? Morgan assures him they will get their
wages no matter what. But the Virginian adds, "These are the best men there are because they're
proud of what they do." Their pride was something that couldn't be "bought with wages."
Morgan responds, "Suppose you leave that to me." Holding back his
irritation, the foreman leaves without pressing the matter further.
In the bunkhouse, the men express their displeasure by telling the Virginian, "There's only one
man that should be running Shiloh while the Judge is gone, and that's you."
Although annoyed by
the new manager, the foreman answers, "The Judge never does anything without
reason. Whatever you may think of Morgan Starr,
he's the Judge's choice, and that's good enough for
me. Whatever I might think of him personally I'll ride along with him till he gives me reason not
to." Noah grumbles that he had worked for Starr and knows the man is "hard and tough and
won't mellow with time." He continues that on a trail drive Morgan had been responsible for the
drowning of two young drovers when he took the herd through a swollen river simply to cut two
days off the trip. One of the boys had been Noah's son.
The Virginian is in town to pick up a mechanical seeder that Morgan had
ordered. Ryker wonders "what's the matter with the range grass?"
The Virginian's reply is, "Ask Mr. Starr." At
the mercantile the Virginian encounters Jennifer who is loading up on goodies for a party she has
planned for the evening. The Virginian comments she should be standing around looking helpless
so some man would come and help her. Taking him up on this, she asks him to be the one to
assist. The Virginian isn't at all impressed with her idea of having a get-together to introduce Morgan
to the neighbors and inquires if she has even told Starr about it.
Jennifer's shindig finds the ranchers discussing among themselves Starr's plans to buy fodder,
plant seed, fatten Shiloh cattle, then make a big profit by getting railroad cars to haul them
back East -- if he doesn't go broke in the process. The comment is made, "It's crazy, but if he
pulls it off being 'crazy' is going to be fashionable next year." Barney Wingate is irate at Starr's
decision not to join the trail drive and wants to know where the "guest of
honor" is. Jennifer finds Starr standing alone in the study. When
she asks why he's not dressed for the party, the man
informs her that he doesn't want to join the gathering because the ranchers don't
want to meet him, they just want to see who it is they are mad at. He recounts that he heard a
story about a man who was asked to run for President but declined because he didn't want to do
something one hour a day and then have to explain the other 23 why he did it. But Starr's
gruffness doesn't deter the girl's desire to befriend him. Changing
the subject, Morgan asks Jennifer how old she is. When she replies, "Nineteen," Starr confides that
his daughter would have been 19 now, but she and his wife had died, and he was not used to
having someone to talk to. Jennifer tries to encourage him that there are lots of people he can
talk to at Shiloh, including the Virginian. With the mention of the
foreman's name, Starr again changes the topic asking why the
Virginian had stayed on. Jennifer declares, "Because he belongs here." Starr can't imagine why
he would remain at Shiloh feeling like he did.
He knows how a man would feel to be passed over. Jennifer
states that he knew how HE would feel, but that wasn't necessarily how another man would.
Morgan reckons that he's not that different from other men.
Jennifer finally cajoles Starr to join the others, but Ryker and a federal agricultural agent for
the territory of Wyoming interrupt the gathering with ill tidings that locusts are headed their way.
The agent's suggested solution is to move all the livestock across the Green Straw Desert to
federal land where the government would assure them a grazing permit all the next year until the
grass grew back on the ranchers' properties. The cattlemen fear only half
of the animals could survive such a trek,
but the agent advises if they don't try to move them they will lose them
all. Morgan states that, as planned, Shiloh cattle are staying put and proposes instead setting a
firebreak to deter the insects. But the agent insists this will be too risky, and the ranchers
agree that half the cattle are better than none at all. Morgan remarks, "Do what you like, but
Shiloh cattle stay here." The others complain that they can't
possibly separate all the cattle in time and
want Morgan to change his mind. Starr holds firm, however, and
leaves the meeting saying, "We're keeping the ladies waiting."
The next day Morgan and his men are headed out to set up the
firebreak when three of the other ranchers approach.
Possibly in a hurry but probably more to escape the confrontation,
Starr leaves after telling the Virginian to talk to them. The men request the Virginian send a
telegram to the Judge and get authority to speak for Shiloh. "You're asking me to go over Mr.
Starr's head?" the Virginian queries. The ranchers reckon the Judge backs up his men but would
listen to the Virginian. He owes it to Garth to let him know what is going on, and they wonder
why the foreman puts up with Starr. The Virginian agrees, "The Judge backs up his men all the
way," but adds, "It works the other way. The Judge sent him here. I'm backing him all the way."
The Virginian joins Starr and informs him he can't push men around and force them to go along
with his ideas. Morgan shrugs that he's only trying to build a firebreak. The Virginian notes that the
other ranchers can't separate their cattle without Shiloh's help then asks if he's sure the firebreak
will work. Morgan coolly replies, "It's my job to make decisions and live with the consequences."
The Virginian continues that Starr is like a man at a poker game using the land, herds, and people
for chips -- putting them all up for gamble against a big pot he sees in his mind, and if he goes
down he won't go down alone. "You live with that for awhile."
Out on the range the men are chopping brush and stacking it into piles along the line. Belden is
handing out cans of kerosene when he notices there won't be enough to "stretch." Starr sends
him and Randy to town for more, and since the store had already closed for the night, Randy
kicks the door open. The two men load up on fuel. As they leave, Randy writes an IOU for 41 cans of oil
plus 10 cents for the candy he and Belden had consumed.
Back on the line, one of the hands is injured when a wagon rolls over his leg. Morgan appears to have no
compassion and insists the others get back to work. Some men had been laboring for 30 hours
straight. The Virginian fears Morgan runs the risk of killing them, and "nothing is worth
that, not even Shiloh." Noah throws down his shovel in disgust, and when Morgan reprimands
him the Virginian says that he will call a break if Morgan doesn't. Starr now agrees to work until
supper then take four hours off. But as Jennifer is dishing up the meals, Ryker comes with word
that the locusts have been spotted. Morgan wants the hands back on the line and appraises that
no man is finished when he thinks he is. There's always a little bit more, and they've put in too
much work to let it all be lost just because the Virginian feels the men won't be at their best.
Starr does, however, allow for one hour's rest. "We'll make it," Morgan states. The Virginian
has had all he can take from this hard man and replies, "You'll make it, Mr. Starr. It's all yours,
nobody else's. I wish you the joy of it." Morgan responds, "If this is too rough for you, you can
always get out." "Alright, Mr. Starr. When this is over, win, lose, or draw, I'm out." Just when it
seems that exhaustion or bitterness will take over the group, the neighboring ranchers show up to
give the Shiloh men a much needed relief, explaining that they felt it was too late now to do
anything else, and since the fire was their only chance to save their herds they'd be fools not to
help. At this, Jennifer insists Morgan come back to the ranch with her for rest and food.
As Jennifer is making Starr comfortable in the study, he asks her if she feels the same way the
others do, that he was wrong to push the men like that. Wise for her youth, the girl replies, "I
guess it depends on what you think is most important - the land or the people on it." Morgan
declares, "The people will survive if the land survives. Man won't really put out all he's capable
of unless he's driven to it." He continues that there is no limit to what a man can do, but the
penalty is they do not love the man who drives them. Jennifer responds, "They would have
worked as hard for the Judge. They wouldn't have hated him." Morgan states, "I don't think the
Judge would have asked the men to do it. We're different men, Judge Garth and I. I can live
with a man hating me." Jennifer adds, "One other thing to consider. The Virginian or Judge
would have had the other ranchers working for them in the beginning." Morgan disagrees, "They
would be half way across the Green Straw Desert by this time instead." Jennifer asks, "Are you
sure the firebreak is going to work?" Morgan responds, "We'll know tomorrow," then, quite
adept at changing the subject, turns to interrogating Jennifer
about "What's wrong with the Virginian? . . Why did the Judge
pass him by for the top job?" Jennifer wants to make it clear
to this conceited man who has so brashly taken over her uncle's ranch, "You
just won't see it, will you. The Judge asked him to stay on. The Virginian would fight the devil
himself if the Judge asked him to." "Meaning me," Morgan grunts.
"Meaning no more than what I've said," Jennifer
replies. Morgan observes, "It's not too far off at that. How he must hate me. How would any
man feel toward the man who's taken over his job?" Jennifer calmly remarks, "It's time for me to
betray a confidence. The Virginian wouldn't want me to tell you this, but
I'm going to anyway. You were second man.
The Virginian was offered the job of head man here, and he turned it
down." Incredulous, Morgan asks, "Why would a man turn down top job and stay on as second?"
Jennifer responds, "Why don't you ask him." But Morgan is "much too tired to think about it."
Morgan is awakened from sleep by the sound of someone coming into the room. He asks, "Is that you, Jenny?"
But it is a slightly inebriated Noah, "the avenging angel come for the day of
reckoning." Noah asks if Morgan knows any reason why he would not be doing the world a big
favor by pulling the trigger, for he feels Starr has "a clear disregard for men's lives" -- to get
what he wanted, he would drive men to their deaths, and one of those men had been his son. Morgan
turns the blame back on the man by arguing that Noah had given his son poetic speech but no
strength. When the going got rough both of them turned to alcohol. His son had gotten liquored
up before taking cattle across the swollen river. When Noah reminds him that two men had died
during the crossing, Starr reveals that the other young man had drownedtrying to save his drunken boy.
But Noah, still bitter with grief, refuses to believe the truth. Jennifer now enters the study, and
Morgan takes the opportunity of Noah's shifted attention to knock him unconscious. Morgan
asks Jennifer to see that the man is taken care of. When the girl assesses, "He would have killed
you," Morgan states with empathy, "I know how it feels to lose a child."
Starr returns to the range where he is given a cold reception. The Virginian advises him to give
the others time and, if the firebreak works, they will come around. Morgan inquires, "And you?"
"I thought it was pretty clear where we stood," replies the Virginian. The men are at their posts with
lighted torches when Randy spots the swarm of locusts. Morgan barks orders to pour the
kerosene on the brush piles and ignite the fires. The men replenish the branches to keep the
flames burning hot as the locusts approach, and the few forage eaters that escape the blaze
are stomped and hit with shovels The men suddenly regain their energy,
dancing and hugging each other, elated that the grueling job has been accomplished. But an
exhausted Morgan Starr shows no sign of emotion as he mounts his horse and heads back to the ranch.
The next morning the Virginian is looking out the window of his room in the bunkhouse. Morgan joins him
and expresses that he would like to do something for the men. They had saved $60,000
worth of Shiloh beef, and he wants them to have 25% of that. If the Judge objects, it will come
of his own share. The Virginian agrees that would be a nice bonus and reckons there would be no
objection from the Judge. The foreman pours them both a cup of coffee and has to admit, "I give
you this, no one could have done it but you." Morgan is curious, "Tell me something. Why does
a man, a good man, turn down Shiloh?" The Virginian answers, "I guess it's a matter of roots. I
need to be free. If a thing chafes I have to know I can put it down." Morgan directs the Virginian
to see that the men know about the bonus, but the foreman reminds him, "Aren't you forgetting
something? Win, lose, or draw I leave." The two stubborn men face each other. Now bending
with a hint of humility, Morgan inquires, "What would it take to get you to change your mind?"
Without a grudge, the Virginian answers, "Two words." "Stick around?" asks Morgan. "That's
them," pronounces the Virginian. (bj)
Note: According to the Virginian, at this time Belden had been working at Shiloh for 8 years. (bj)

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