CTVA - The Virginian 5.15 [135] "Vengeance Trail"  04-Jan-1967

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5.15 [135]
"Vengeance Trail"

Original NBC Broadcast - 04 January 1967
Universal TV
Executive Producer Frank Price
Produced by Cy Chermak
Written by John Hawkins & Ward Hawkins
Directed by Thomas Carr

(shown in the ride in)
Charles Bickford as John Grainger (not in this episode)
Doug McClure as Trampas (not in this episode)
Clu Gulager as Emmett Ryker (returned to the ride-in as of 5.14 but does not appear in this episode)
Don Quine   as Stacey Grainger
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger (not in this episode)
James Drury as The Virginian

Guest stars
Ron Russell
[Toby Willard]

Mary Ann Mobley
[Ellie Willard] (pictured above with Don Quine)

Complete Ending Credits:
Ben Hammer as Qunicey King
Wesley Lau as Sheriff Ben Morris
William Bramley as Del Hobart
Jeff Scott as Deputy Cal Brown
L.Q. Jones ........... Belden [recurring character]
Barbara Eiler ........ Fredrika King
Noah Keen ............ Judge Benson
Warren Hammack ....... Joe Willard
John Zaremba ......... Polk
Barry Cahill ......... Harry Donovan
Budd Perkins ......... Cook
Theme by Percy Faith
Director of Photography Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director ......... George Patrick
Film Editor .......... Robert L. Kimble
Unit Manager ......... Abby Singer
Assistant Director ... George Bisk
Set Decorators ....... John McCarthy and Ralph Sylos
Sound ................ Ed Somers
Color Consultant ..... Robert Brower
Editorial Supervision ... Richard Belding
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:
Stacey, the Virginian and Belden

Detailed Synopsis:
In the town of Dunn Flat, small-time rancher Joe Willard walks into the bank
to inquire about a loan. Stacey Grainger is in line in front of him withdrawing
$500 for supplies for a cattle drive. After Stacey concludes his business,
the banker turns down Joe's request, telling him his ranch is already "mortgaged
to the ears." Feeling sorry for him, the banker gives him five dollars,
specifically instructing him to spend it on food.

Joe follows Stacey down the road and attempts to rob him. Stacey is too fast
for him, however, and he shoots him down, but not before being clipped in the
arm himself. As Joe lay dying, he pleads with Stacey to "take him home" rather
than to a doctor. He dies before Stacey can get him on the buckboard, so he
indeed decides to take the body "home." At Joe's ranch he meets his sister,
Ellie, and explains what happened. Although grief-stricken, she believes
Stacey's story but wants him to clear out before her hot-tempered younger
brother comes back. She then notices Stacey's injured arm and brings him
into the house to dress the wound. In doing so, she has to cut off part of
his shirtsleeve. While she's treating him, Stacey keeps insisting that he
should accompany her and the body back to Dunn Flat to report the incident
to the sheriff. She doesn't want him to because she knows it will only result
in a gunfight with her brother and makes a convincing argument that by
leaving he'll "help keep the last of Willard men alive." Stacey reluctantly
agrees but tells her she knows where to find him and if anybody needs him,
he'll come back.

Stacey leaves and the younger brother, Toby, returns. As expected, he's
devastated by the news of Joe's death and vows to seek revenge. His sister
refuses to tell him who shot Joe, but Toby notices that whoever it was was
driving a wagon with a narrow wheel and left part of his shirt behind.
He'll go north checking out the various cattle drives in the area and when
he finds the wagon, he'll find the "drover with a sore arm."

Stacey arrives back at the Shiloh herd. He informs the Virginian of the
shooting but wants to eat before he goes into detail. The Virginian tells
him of possible trouble ahead on the drive. The president of the bank in
Beulahville "cleaned out the vault and went south with every dime those
folks had. They're desperate for money." "That shouldn't affect us," says
Stacey. "I hope not," says the foreman, "Get yourself something to eat.
I want to hear about the shooting." Stacey first wants to change his
clothes, including the shirt with the sleeve cut off.

Riding north, Toby encounters the Shiloh herd and stops for a cup of coffee
and a meal. Not knowing who he is, the Virginian offers him a job. Toby
is at first reluctant to accept because he's not sure if this is the herd
he's looking for. He asks for a few minutes to "think it over" and goes
off to inspect the wagons. When he finds one with a narrow wheel, he accepts
the job offer and gives his name as "Toby Jones." The Virginian tells him
where to put his bed roll and starts to walk away. As he's doing so, Toby
feigns falling down and grabs the Virginian's arm to see if the foreman
is the one with the sore limb. Satisfied that the Virginian is not the man
he's looking for, Toby prepares to settle in as Stacey and Belden ride up.
They introduce themselves and attempt to be friendly but draw only a curt
response from Toby. "That's the way I like 'em--friendly!" says Belden

Out on the drive, Toby proves to be a pretty good cowpuncher, but remains
aloof and distant from the others. The situation isn't helped by Belden's
pranks and practical jokes. The last straw comes when Belden undoes the
cinch of Toby's saddle after having tricked him out of his prime sleeping
spot the night before. Toby draws his gun, thinks better of it and tries
to duke it out with Belden using his fists. Belden says it was all a joke
and tries to apologize, but Toby continues on. The fight is finally broken
up by the Virginian. He tells Stacey that he's thinking of taking the east
fork trail rather than going through Beulahville, but he needs to know how
much grass is available. He assigns Stacey and Toby to go check it out.
When they're alone, Stacey tells Toby in a friendly but firm tone, "On this
spread we don't point guns at each other." "Just at strangers. Is that it?"
asks Toby.

On the east fork trail outside of Beulahville, we see the sheriff and several
town businessmen setting the grassland on fire. One of the businessmen,
Quincey King, expresses doubts about the mission; "Burning grassland? That's
the kind of job you normally put a man in jail for!" Stacey and Toby arrive
in time to see the arsonists making their getaway and give chase, although
they're too far away to see who they are. The sheriff sends the others on
their way and fires warning shots to keep Stacey and Toby at bay. "Nobody
bushwhacks me and gets away with it!" says Toby. He impulsively heads out
to open ground to continue the chase, but Stacey cold-cocks him for his
own good.

As Toby is coming to, Stacey notices that he is carrying the remnants of
the shirtsleeve that Stacey left behind the day he killed Joe Willard.
Now realizing why Toby had joined the Shiloh cattle drive, he silently winces
when Toby asks for a "hand" to be helped up. Stacey apparently has fooled
him and Toby offers his thanks for keeping him from getting shot.

The fire-setters return to Beulahville and immediately report to a meeting
of the county commissioners. It seems that they set the fires as a way of
forcing the cattle drives to go through town so they can charge a toll.
Del Hobart, leader of the commissioners, insists they're on firm legal
ground and Judge Benson, who is also present, backs him up, but Quincey
King still has an "attack of conscience" that's further exacerbated when
he is later admonished by his wife: "You're going to make other men pay
for your troubles! That's not a solution to your problems, that's robbery!"

Back at the Shiloh camp, Stacey reports the grassfires to the Virginian.
The foreman surmises that "it looks like somebody in Beulahville wants to
make certain we come their way." He realizes there's not much else they
can do but ride in and see what they want. ""There's something else," says
Stacey, who then relates seeing Toby carrying the torn shirtsleeve: "I
figure he's the younger brother." "Wanting to square things, huh? I'll
send him down the trail," says the Virginian. "No, don't fire him," says
Stacey, "He doesn't know who I am yet. It'll take him a while longer to
find out. Give me a chance to get to know him better ... I owe him something."

The drive continues. Toby notices that Stacey is late coming back from a
water hole. He goes off to see what is the matter and encounters a cougar.
Stacey has been tracking the cat and the two shoot it simultaneously.
This strengthens the budding relationship between the two as Stacey takes
note that Toby came looking for him out of concern for his "friend." The
two start talking and Toby reveals that he lives on a small ranch and has
long wanted to get rid of it, but his late brother, Joe, wanted to keep
it going. "Who's working it now?" asks Stacey. "My sister," Toby replies.
"Your sister? Alone? While you're out here?" Stacey asks. "Uh, well,
there's something else I have to do--something that's important. Is there
anything wrong with that?" asks Toby. "I guess not," Stacey answers,
"I was just wondering what could be more important to a man than protecting his
property and taking care of his family." Their conversation is interrupted
when the Virginian rides up and tells them he's received news from Beulahville.

The Virginian and Stacey ride in to the Beulahville sheriff's office. After
some idle chit-chat the sheriff informs them they'll have to pay a $4600
"head tax" ($2 per head). Stacey protests and says they can't go any other
way but through town because all the grass has been burnt off. "That's not
my problem," says the sheriff. "It is now," answers the Virginian, "Because
we're not going to pay the toll ... It amounts to the hog's share of what
we'd hope to make out of this drive ... You can call it the law. I call it

Returning to the drive, the Shiloh foreman explains the situation to the rest
of the men. Belden asks, "Can they do that? Can they pass a law that makes
highway robbery legal? ... That's kind of a stacked deck. What choice does
that give us?" "None," answers the Virginian, "That's why we're not going
to pay. They can make and pass all the laws they want. No argument about
that. They've got no right to burn the grass so their trail is the only
one we can use." Turning to the other men, the foreman says, "You men hired
on to herd cattle, not to fight a war ... If any of you want to quit now,
go right ahead. No hard feelings." Seeing no volunteers to quit, the
Virginian says, "All right, those of you riding nighthawk better get moving!"

That evening, while the others are bedding down for the night, Toby walks
up to the Virginian and Stacey and tells them he'll be leaving after the
end of the next day, "It's not that I'm afraid of what might happen up the
trail. It's--I have to go home. It's important." "You don't have to
explain," says the Virginian, "We'll be sorry to lose you, Toby." With that,
Toby takes the torn shirtsleeve from his pocket and tosses it into the campfire.

We next see Ellie Willard riding into Beulahville. She stops by the sheriff's
office to ask if there's been any trouble with the Shiloh drive. She tells
the sheriff that she's worried there might have been a gunfight between Toby
Willard and Stacey Grainger over her brother Joe's shooting. This gives
the sheriff an excuse to ride out and place Stacey under arrest.

Back at the drive, Stacey and Toby stop at a waterhole. Toby says, "Stace,
I want to thank you ... for talking to me and being a friend when I needed
one. You see, there's something about me that you don't know." "I think
I know everything I need to know," says Stacey. "No," Toby says, "When I
signed on to this drive, I really wasn't looking for a job. I was looking
for something else--trouble." He's interrupted by the arrival of the sheriff
and his deputies. The sheriff arrests Stacey for the murder of Joe Willard
and starts to lead him away. A suddenly enraged Toby yells out, "You knew it!
You knew who I was all the time! ... It ain't over yet! I'll come for you!"

That night the Virginian and Belden ride in to the sheriff's office. The
foreman suspects that this is all a ploy to get them to pay the toll. The
sheriff admits as much by saying that Stacey will be tried by a jury of
Beulahville citizens and they'll be much more "kindly disposed" toward Stacey
if the "taxes" are paid. The Virginian, seeing that he's getting nowhere,
says he doesn't have the authority to pay that kind of money and will have
to wire his boss. The sheriff tells him to go ahead but won't let him see
Stacey until after he sends the wire. The Virginian and Belden leave the
sheriff and head over to the telegraph office. They're observed by Toby and
Ellie from the hotel window. Toby notes that they're leaving without Stacey.
"Toby, give it up!" pleads Ellie, "The law's between you and Stacey now.
If you try anything, they have the perfect right to kill you--and they will!"
Meanwhile, the Virginian tells Belden that he's going to send the telegram
to "get them to relax a little," but that Mr. Grainger most certainly will
not tell them to pay up.

Back in the sheriff's office, the county commissioners are getting panicky
over whether they're going to get their payoff from John Grainger. Del Hobart
tells the others that they should prepare for gunfire if the Shiloh herd tries
to go through their fences without paying. "There'll be dead men on both sides!"
protest Quincey King. "Including his grandson," says Hobart, "And if that's
the way it has to be, it has to be!"

The next morning we see a "posse" of county commissioners riding out of town.
Meanwhile one of the deputies bursts into the sheriff's office with news that
a telegram from John Grainger has arrived. The wire states that the Virginian
is to make "whatever arrangements he deems necessary." The sheriff tells
Stacey he "may not have to hang after all" and shows him the telegram. Stacey
doesn't believe his granddad would authorize such a payment, but when he reads
the message admits "everyone's entitled to one mistake." The sheriff goes out
to join the posse at the edge of town leaving one deputy behind to guard the
jail. With only one man on guard, the Virginian and Belden ride in and force
him at gunpoint to release Stacey.

We next see Toby up on a hill overlooking the Shiloh herd. Down below, Belden
rides up and tells the foreman that there is indeed a fence across the trail
and "men to back it up." "Well, I guess there's nothing more to be said," says
the Virginian, "We'll have to take out the fence. Let's get started!" They
then start firing their guns, causing a stampede.

Down the trail by the fences, the posse is plotting strategy. Hobart says they
should cut their share out of the front of the herd and then he'll take down
the fence. They hear gunshots and heavy hoofbeats but Hobart can't believe
they'd start a stampede "while Grainger is in jail," not knowing that Stacey
has been sprung. The sheriff and the others begin to get cold feet and want
to get out of the way, but Hobart insists they stay and attempt to turn the
stampede. "It's not so much the money. We can't quit now that we've come this
far," he says. "Maybe you're right," says Quincey King, "That's the shame of it!"

The other men retreat, but Hobart holds his ground and is trampled. "So much
for the head tax," says the Virginian wryly after it's all over. Stacey reports
that one of their men was killed. Just then Toby rides up. "Here comes trouble,"
says Belden. "My trouble," says Stacey, telling the others to stay out of it.
"You were laughing at me!" yells Toby, "All that time you were trying to be
friends, giving me advice, behind it all you were laughing!" "You're wrong!"
says Stacey, "But even if you were right, even if I was laughing, the only
thing that's really hurt is your pride. Is that worth killing a man for?"
"You killed my brother!" Toby screams. "And you want to get even!" says Stacey,
"Because a man doesn't let himself get pushed around, right?" "Does he?
Do you?" asks Toby. "No," Stacey answers, "That's why this herd was just
stampeded. That's why there's a man lying on that trail dead. But a man has
to use his common sense, too. He doesn't draw his gun just because somebody
looses his cinch or because somebody busts into a chow line. It doesn't take
a giant brain to figure out that sort of thing!" "We're talking about my brother!"
yells Toby. "All right, let's talk about him!" says Stacey, "Now what if it was
you, Toby? What if you were carrying $400 of the boss' money and somebody tried
to rob you?" "Joe didn't try to rob you!" says Toby. "Are you sure?" asks Stacey,
"I mean, right down at the bottom, are you real sure? Because, if you are, maybe
we ought to have it out! Right now!" Toby starts for his gun, thinks it over,
and then walks over to horse and rides away.

The scene shifts to the sheriff's office where the sheriff tells the Virginian that
"good law or bad law, you broke it and I can't say I like letting you get away
with it." "Maybe the next herd that comes up the trail will have the time to fight
you in court. I didn't," says the Virginian. "Won't be necessary," says Quincey,
"I think I can convince the rest of the county commissioners that we made a mistake."
He offers his hand and wishes them luck. The sheriff does likewise. Toby enters
the office and says that he and Ellie have decided to sell the ranch and head up to
Canada where they have cousins. He's sending Ellie on ahead to meet him in Medicine
Bow and asks if he can ride with the Shiloh herd. The foreman slaps him on the
shoulder welcoming him back and they all go outside to start on their way. When
Belden tries to mount his horse, he finds that his cinch has been loosened and he
falls off. "What's the matter, old man? Didn't you ever learn how to saddle a
horse?" asks Toby as Stacey and the Virginian smile in amusement.[rho]

An exciting stampede sequence and Belden's pranks are the highlights of this episode.

"Bad law or not," the Shiloh crew seems to get off rather lightly for springing Stacey
from jail and stampeding the herd through the fences killing Del Hobart, especially
when a local judge told the commissioners they were on "firm legal ground." I guess
the commissioners didn't want to see their "head tax" scrutinized in open court.

At the beginning of the episode, the name of the town "Dunn Flat" is superimposed on
the screen. This isn't really necessary, because a couple of signs and the dialogue
sufficiently establish the locale. Also, Stacey refers to the town as "Dunn Flats,"
adding an "s" to its name.

The issue of the bank president running off with the money in the Beulahville bank
is never resolved. [rho]

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