The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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"Requiem for a Country Doctor"
Original NBC Broadcast - 25 January 1967
Executive Producer Frank Price
Produced by Joel Rogosin
Teleplay by Chester Krumholz / Story by Judith & Robert Guy Barrows
Directed by Don McDougall
(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 (not in this episode)
Don Quine as Stacey Grainger
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger (not in this episode)
James Drury as The Virginian
(pictured above DebbieWatson, Coleen Gray and James Drury)
Debbie Watson [Lucy Marsh]
Cloris Leachman [Clara Baines]
John Doucette [Lumberfield]
Complete Ending Credits:
Coleen Gray as Mrs. Marsh
Dick Foran as The Mayor
Ford Rainey as The Sheriff
Tom Baker ... Deputy
Raymond Guth ... Josh Miller
Dee Carroll ... Sarah Miller
Tim Graham ... Clerk
Jordan Whitfield ... Carpenter
Richard Reeves ... Bartender
Vicki Malkin ... Amy
and Morgan Woodward as Randall
Theme by Percy Faith
Director of Photography Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director ... George Patrick
Film Editor ... Michael R. McAdam, A.C.E.
Unit Manager ... Abby Singer
Assistant Director ... Donald White
Set Decorators ... John McCarthy and Hal Overell
Sound ... David H. Moriarty
Color Consultant ... Robert Brower
Color by Technicolor
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: The Virginian and Stacey
The Virginian rides into a town and observes a gallows being built. After
checking into the local hotel he goes over to the saloon for a beer.
The deputy sheriff follows him into the saloon and inquires about his
business in town. The Virginian says he's looking for Stacey Grainger,
to which the deputy abruptly turns on his heels and walks out. Clara,
the saloonkeeper, has overheard this, tells the bartender to give her
a bottle of her "best stuff" and invites the Virginian to join her.
She hems and haws and tells the Virginian that Stacey "got into a game
the other night...and there was trouble." He's now in jail.
Over at the sheriff's office, the sheriff tells him that Stacey is being
held for the murder of a respected doctor. The story goes that Stacey
was angry over "being cleaned out during a poker game" and even had
words with the doctor for looking over his shoulder during the game.
Afterward, when the hotel wouldn't extend him any credit to stay the
night, the angry Stacey allegedly rode out into a rainstorm where he
encountered Dr. Marsh on the road, robbed him and killed him.
The Virginian asks if there were any witnesses and the sheriff replies,
"The two men who caught him afterwards." In his cell, Stacey tells
the Virginian, "I was riding out to meet you and heard a shot and found
a man on the ground. A couple of other men came by and pulled me in."
"Anything else?" asks the Virginian. "Yeah," says Stacey, "as I rode
up, I heard someone running away. I fired a shot to stop him." "You
should have hit him, son," says the sheriff. "I wasn't trying to hit
him," replies Stacey, "Anyway, it was too dark." "Not too dark to
recognize a man with some money." counters the sheriff. "I don't have
his money!" Stacey snaps. "We figure he threw it away when he heard
someone coming," the sheriff says to the Virginian, who then asks if
they found the money. "No," the sheriff replies,
"It was pretty wet up there after the rain. It's dried out by now,
I expect. We'll find it." "Everybody in the saloon heard the doctor
talk about making a collection for that orphanage. Anybody could have
followed him!" Stacey says. The sheriff ignores this last comment,
tells the Virginian, "You've got five minutes," and leaves. While all
this has been going on, the prisoner in the next cell has been eavesdropping
on their conversation. The prisoner, a man named Randall, who has been
accused of bank robbery and is awaiting transfer to the territorial prison,
tells the Virginian that the gallows outside is for Stacey. He's already
been tried and convicted and the hanging is scheduled for early the next
morning. The Virginian voices his objection to this too-swift justice to
the sheriff but the sheriff refers him to the man who passed down the
sentence; the justice of the peace who is also the mayor.
The Virginian locates the mayor, who at first seems more interested in
discussing fishing. When asked why the trial/sentencing/execution process
was being done so quickly, he explains that "this town is growing, bursting
at the seams. Miners, cattlemen, traders, easy money easy virtues, it's
an old song, I know--but when the disease strikes, when the epidemic comes
under these conditions it must be dealt with speedily and efficiently!"
"And fairly?" asks the Virginian. "We were fair. You can believe that!"
the mayor answers. "Then you made a mistake," counters the Virginian.
"Your friend made the mistake! He didn't kill just some no-account tough.
That would have been bad enough. No, he killed Dr. John Marsh, probably
the best loved man in this town!" the mayor retorts. When he refuses
to delay the hanging, the Virginian angrily says, "Well, you say that
doctor was murdered. All right. I realize the killer has to be caught
and brought to trial. As far as I'm concerned, you haven't done that
yet, so I guess someone else will have to!"
Conducting his own investigation, the Virginian goes to Dr. Marsh's house,
where he is informed by daughter Lucy that it is also the "Marsh Home for
Children." Outside there are children playing and inside is another group
of children taking lessons. At first he's greeted warmly by Lucy and Mrs.
Marsh, but their attitudes turn cold when he explains that is a a friend
of Stacey Grainger and is investigating the murder on his behalf. They
refuse to believe that anyone else could have committed the murder because
everyone that knew the doctor loved him. After the Virginian leaves, Lucy
expresses thoughts of doubt to her mother, "He seems so sure ... Suppose
he IS right. Suppose his friend DIDN'T do it ... It could be someone we
know, couldn't it?"
The Virginian returns to the saloon and ascertains from Clara and the
bartender that Dr. Marsh was indeed in the saloon that night. The bartender
reiterates how respected the doctor was and says he can't remember if anyone
followed him out that night. He further states that the doctor said he was
going to stop at Josh Miller's on the way home, "That's the dog-eared place
about a mile out of town." The Virginian rides out to the Miller house and,
for the first time, gets an inkling that the doctor wasn't quite so universally
beloved. The Millers are poor people and are resentful at having paid doctor's
fees over the years without seeing much improvement in Mr. Miller's health.
Josh Miller even hints that after leaving him, the doctor may have "gone
visiting...a pretty girl, maybe?" "That's just idle talk, Mister!" interrupts
Mrs. Miller. Josh Miller responds, "Well, I tell you, I wouldn't put anything
past any member of that crowd of his--Mayor Summers, Councilman Lumberfield or
the sheriff ... They may have showed one face to the town maybe, but I hear things.
They weren't as cozy as all that. Lumberfield and the doctor, they had words
.... No wonder one of them got shot. None of them could handle power and a man's
gotta know how to live with power!"
This prompts the Virginian to pay a visit to Councilman Lumberfield, who runs the
general store. Lumberfield says that he was good friends with Dr. Marsh, although
he admits they'd had some differences in the past. The Virginian tries to coax
information about another woman from Lumberfield, but the councilman sidesteps him
by saying, "Let me put it this way: Dr. Marsh was an itch that the sheriff couldn't
scratch. The rumor was merely a handy weapon .... Marsh didn't always agree with
the way the sheriff operated." "What's your opinion?" asks the Virginian.
"The sheriff's always done his job," answers Lumberfield. "How long has he been
sheriff?" asks the Virginian. "About fifteen years now," says Lumberfield.
"Maybe the job's getting a little big for him," says the Virginian. "Well, I
don't know of anyone else in town who wants it. What do you want?" asks Lumberfield.
"The Virginian tells him he wants him to convene the town council and give Stacey
a stay of execution until he can find the murderer. Lumberfield refuses and says
that Stacey was tried, found guilty, sentenced and "you'll have to live with that."
"Stacey Grainger may have to die with it!" the Virginian replies.
Outside, the Virginian notices an odd exchange between Lucy Marsh and Clara.
Clara is pleading with Lucy to let her come over and help with the the orphans
but Lucy will have nothing of it. She won't even accept Clara's offer of money.
Lucy tells Clara that if she really wants to help, she should "buy a ticket to
some place far away from here but please leave me alone!" After Lucy walks away,
Clara notices the Virginian observing this scene and cynically tells him "Some
days you can't even give it away!"
Over in the jail, prisoner Randall is talking with Stacey and hinting of a possible
escape, but this doesn't register with Stacey, who is consumed with his own worries.
Just then the Virginian walks in and reports that he has nothing solid yet. He
asks Stacey to recount what happened that night. Stacey recalls that out in the
grove he heard a noise that could have been a buggy and saw a shadow. The Virginian
asks if the shadow could have been that of a woman. Stacey is surprised at this
question, but says, "It could have been anybody. All I know is it wasn't me."
The sheriff enters and motions for the Virginian to join him in the front office.
He tells the Virginian that he shouldn't be getting Stacey's hopes up and should
let him "make his peace." The Virginian takes this opportunity to question the
sheriff about his own past disagreements with Dr. Marsh. "I thought that was you
coming out of Lumberfield's store," says the sheriff, "I could have saved you
the trouble ... The doctor stuck his nose in once in awhile and I didn't like it.
Lumberfield told you that. Nothing secret about it, but you can't keep a lid
on a town like this and please everybody. As far as that goes, Lumberfield and
the doctor didn't see eye to eye in how much the miners paid for the supplies
they got. The doctor figured that he squeezed them a little. Maybe he did.
He's a businessman, but Dr. Marsh, he just didn't see things that way. But none
of this helps your friend, does it?" The Virginian brings up the subject of
the doctor being involved with another woman, but the sheriff flatly denies
knowing anything about that. The Virginian says that Stacey may have seen a
woman running across the grove. The sheriff again says that witnesses swore to
the fact that there was nobody else in that grove but Stacey and the doctor.
The Virginian says he wants to have a look at the grove himself. The sheriff
objects but begrudgingly allows him to do so, even allowing him to take the deputy
along with him, but warning that everything has since been washed clean by the
rain. Back in the jail cell, Randall is making further rumblings about a possible
escape attempt saying he he has friends coming to town and it finally dawns on
Stacey what he's talking about.
The scene shifts abruptly to the front of the saloon where we see a single rider
unhitching his horse. Could this be one of Randall's friends arriving in town?
The Virginian and the deputy ride out to the grove. The deputy is skeptical about
finding anything. "What are we looking for?" he asks. "We'll know when we find
it," the Virginian answers. At that moment, Lucy Marsh rides up. She says
wistfully that this is the "last place her father was alive" and she'll never
again be able to come here without thinking of him. She asks the Virginian what
he hopes to find. The Virginian answers, "The truth. Stacey says someone was
with your father that night. They may have left some sign." "He killed my father!"
insists Lucy. "You don't know him. You've never even met," says the Virginian.
"I don't want to know him!" Lucy replies, "If your friend weren't about to die
right now, would you still be here searching for the truth? Or would you be on
your way to another town, another life?" "Lucy, I can't do this alone. There
isn't time," the Virginian says. "Do you expect me to help? ... Help ME bring
back my father!" says Lucy. "I can't do that. He's gone. Nothing can change
that. Hanging an innocent man won't bring him back." replies the Virginian.
Just then the deputy walks up with something he's found. It's a wallet filled
Back in the sheriff's office, the sheriff and Mayor Summers tell the Virginian
that this should settle the matter once and for all. They tell the Virginian
that he's done his best but he should now give up and let the hanging go forward.
The Virginian says that maybe robbery wasn't the motive and that the doctor
was shot for some other reason. He says that Stacey saw someone else there,
someone who was running away. "This 'someone' you keep talking about--any idea
who he'd be or why he'd be meeting the doctor?" asks the sheriff. "This doctor
sounds too good to be true! There's one possible answer to that question!"
says the Virginian. "John Marsh was everything we said he was: decent, respected,
loved!" the mayor retorts. The Virginian is about to leave when Lumberfield enters.
"Well, now you're all here together and you can get down to business and decide
where you're going to build a statue for the 'great man.' I recommend the town
square!" the Virginian says sarcastically. After he exits, the three men ruminate
on what other unpleasant facts the Virginian might dig up. Lumberfield suggests
that they discourage him and "slow him down." "So far we're in the right," says
the sheriff. "John Marsh used to say you could never call anything you ever did
right or wrong until ten years after you did it and had a chance to look back and
reflect on the results," says Lumberfield.
The Virginian returns to the Marsh home and confronts Mrs. Marsh about her husband
seeing another woman. Lucy enters at that moment and orders him to leave. "It's
all right, Lucy. It's all right. I've heard the talk," says Mrs. Marsh, "My
husband and I were very much in love," she says to the Virginian. Turning to Lucy,
she adds. "More than even you knew. He was a very rare, wonderful person. I didn't
want to say anything. I didn't want to dignify the gossip, but that's all it was!"
The scene shifts briefly to the saloon, where we see the man we saw earlier in front
of the saloon sharing a drink at the bar with another rough looking man, both of
them being observed by the deputy.
As the day turns to evening, Lucy Marsh makes a surprise visit to the jail to visit
Stacey. The sheriff doesn't think this is a good idea, but allows her to do so when
she insists. Stacey is equally surprised to see her. "I know it won't do either
one of us any good, but I'd like to tell you I'm sorry about what happened," he says.
"Your friend says you're innocent," says Lucy. "What do you think?" asks Stacey.
"I, I don't know," answers Lucy. "I didn't kill your father," returns Stacey.
"Did you see anybody run away that night?" she asks. Stacey pauses and says quietly,
"I told them everything I knew." Lucy looks the other way with a growing feeling
Meanwhile, the Virginian walks into the saloon where Clara is singing. After she
finishes her number, she joins the Virginian at his table. He tries to fish for
information, namely about her possibly being the "other woman" in the doctor's life;
"You tried to be nice to Lucy Marsh out in the street and she cut you down ... Mrs.
Marsh was afraid I'd come across a dirty little story. You know any stories like
that? ... The doctor was here the night he was shot ... Jealous women kill, Clara."
"So do jealous men!" answers Clara, "and greedy men and selfish men and scared men
and so do hot-headed men like your friend! You've been asking a lot of questions.
It doesn't matter to you if you take a good man like the doctor through the mud,
a man people looked up to because he was something special! I'd be proud to say
I was his girl. Why, I'd shout it from the rooftops! If he even looked at me,
I'd want it printed in every paper in the world. You wouldn't have to pull it
out of me!" Flustered, she rises from her seat and adds, "Listen, you'd better
get out of here. You're giving the place a bad name!"
As the Virginian leaves the saloon, we see more rough looking strangers riding into
town, again being observed by the deputy. The Virginian goes over to the jail to
see Stacey and is surprised when the sheriff tells him, "Only one visitor at a
time" and that Lucy Marsh is already visiting him. The sheriff agrees to bend
the rules and give five minutes to the both of them. The Virginian asks Lucy why
she's there. Lucy replies, "You said I didn't know him." "Now you do?" asks the
Virginian, "Something else brought you here!" "What do you want of me?" she asks.
"The name of your father's killer!" the Virginian replies. She looks at Stacey
and says she's sorry and she wishes she could help him, but she can't. "You can
help us. I know you can!" pleads the Virginian. "I can't break my mother's heart!
I don't even know if this means anything!" she says. "Tell us what you know before
it's too late!" says the Virginian. Reluctantly, she says, "One night my father
went out without his hat. It was raining and I didn't want him to catch cold, so
I went after him. I saw them. I saw them together in that grove." "Who?" asks
the Virginian. "My father. Clara Baines." she answers. With that, the Virginian
takes her by the arm and escorts her out of the cell area. After they leave, the
ever-present Randall asks Stacey, "What was that all about?" "I'm not sure. Maybe
there's a chance," says Stacey. "I told you we make our own chances in this life,"
says Randall, "You know, it occurred to me that once the stoop's open, all the
birds can fly out at the same price. I've grown kind of partial to your company.
I'll put a word in with my friends." "You'll never make it," says Stacey.
Randall grins and says, "We'll make it!"
The Virginian sees Lucy off in her buggy and thanks her for her cooperation.
Walking by an alley near the saloon, he's confronted by two men who say, "We don't
need your kind around here, Mister. You and your friend don't deserve to walk
among decent folk!" "When you see any, let me know. I'll ask them!" replies
the Virginian sarcastically. The men proceed to beat him up, drawing a crowd of
onlookers. The deputy arrives on the scene, but the two attackers get away.
The deputy tells Clara, who has joined the bystanders and is attending to the
unconscious Virginian, to "take him some place." "It'd be a good thing for us
all if he slept until it was over in the morning," he adds.
Meanwhile, Randall's cronies have arrived outside the jailhouse. They signal
their presence and Randall asks Stacey, "You going? Running sure beats swinging!"
Unbeknownst to the would-be jailbreakers, the sheriff and deputy have been
following them. The deputy takes out one of them and without knowing this, the
others enter the empty sheriff's office, retrieve the key and let Randall out
of his cell. Randall tells them to let Stacey out, too. As they're doing so,
the sheriff and deputy enter and gun down all the jailbreakers. Locking Stacey's
cell door, the sheriff says, "Good thing you weren't with them." "Doesn't look
like it makes much difference, does it?" Stacey answers wryly.
We next see the Virginian in Clara's room splashing water on his face in an
attempt to recover from the beating. Clara enters and asks if he knows who did
it. "I thought I saw them coming out of Lumberfield's," he replies, "I'm not
too popular around here and I know why." He takes a drink of whiskey that Clara
offers and continues, "It was you, wasn't it, Clara? ... Someone saw you together.
Not that night. Before." "Who?" she asks. "Lucy Marsh," replies the Virginian,
"You and the doctor had been seeing each other. Some of the people here in town
suspected it. Lucy knows it for sure. She didn't want to say anything because
she wanted to protect her mother. When the doctor was killed, they genuinely
believed that Stacey did it. They still do. They didn't want me nosing around
finding out that you and the doctor had been keeping company." Clara still
won't admit to anything and the Virginian further goads her by saying, "Your
conscience must be eating you alive." "Conscience? Me?" she laughs, "In my
business conscience isn't a necessary part of the equipment!" "You've already
killed one man. Isn't that enough?" the Virginian asks. "Who'll believe that?"
she replies. "Let's find out!" says the Virginian, forcibly taking her by the
arm and escorting her toward the door.
She suddenly has a change in heart and says, "All right. I've always played the
cards the way they were dealt. So far I've managed to stay alive ... I used to
know the doctor a long time ago. When I hit town, I didn't know he was living
here. I just bumped into him one day. We started seeing each other, but it
bothered him. He said he loved his wife and his daughter. He wanted to break
it off but I wouldn't let him." The scene shifts and we see her continuing her
story in the presence of Lumberfield, Mayor Summers and the sheriff: "So he
came to the saloon that night. He asked me to meet him later. I did. He offered
me money. I threw it in the brush. I had a gun. I said I'd kill myself. Isn't
that a laugh? I've got a business, a couple of dollars, a chance to be clean for
the first time. Kill myself! Me! After all these years of what I've been doing
to stay alive. He should have known I wouldn't do it! Anyway, he tried to stop
me. The gun went off. It was an accident..." After a long pause the sheriff says,
"Well, the problem is to show strength, swift justice, like you put a sign across
the road that says, 'Mind your ways when you waltz in here, Mister, or we'll send
you out feet first if you don't and we'll do it fast.'" The mayor adds, "Well, I
guess we just have to say it was an unfortunate accident." "A misunderstanding,"
Lumberfield chimes in, "We never thought that Clara..." The Virginian, not impressed
by their excuses, tells the men, "I've got an errand to do. When I get back, you
have Stacey out of that jail cell."
The Virginian goes over to the Marsh home. He tells Lucy and Mrs. Marsh, "This won't
be easy, but you'll hear about it soon enough ... Everybody's been trying to protect
something; themselves, each other or the doctor. I've been trying to protect a
friend ... Lucy, Stacey Grainger didn't kill your father. It was Clara Baines."
"Clara? But why would she...?" asks Mrs. Marsh increduously. "I think you know
that, Mrs. Marsh," says the Virginian. "Mama, I didn't want you to find out," says
Lucy, "I saw them together; Daddy and that woman!" Mrs. Marsh asks how it happened.
The Virginian tells her that they quarrelled, the gun went off apparently by accident
and it looks like "they believe her." "She killed my father!" says Lucy, "It was all
her fault!" "No, it was my fault," says Mrs. Marsh, "because I'm shallow and vain and
have never been able to face life honestly ... I don't know Clara. I've never talked
to her, but I understand what she's trying to do. She would rather have you believe
a lie about your father than to find out the truth about yourself ... I forced your
father to tell Clara to leave town. He didn't want to, but I forced him .... Your
father and I had wanted a family so very much. We waited and hoped for a long time
before I became pregnant. We were so happy. We made plans, all sorts of plans.
And then I lost my baby, a little girl. I wanted to die, too, but your father wouldn't
let me. He made me live again and hope again. I couldn't have any more children,
but one day he told me that he had attended a young woman who had a beautiful little
baby girl. She couldn't keep her. She was alone. She had no money and she offered
us her child." "It was Clara Baines?" Lucy asks. "Yes. When she came here she said
all she wanted was to be near you, to see you and to talk to you sometimes. I didn't
know what to do. I was afraid that if you found out, I might lose you somehow," says
Mrs. Marsh. "He wasn't my father!" says Lucy, shaking her head in disbelief. "Oh,
Lucy!" says Mrs. Marsh, "We couldn't have loved or cared for you more if you were our
own!" "Why are you telling me this now?" asks Lucy. "Because I want you to know your
father was everything you thought he was .... He was a remarkable man, a fine man!
I couldn't let you think less of him. She didn't kill him. It was my fear that killed
him!" says Mrs. Marsh. The Virginian, who has been listening to all this, apologizes
for stirring things up but says that he had to do it. Mrs. Marsh tells him that despite
everything, she had no idea he was meeting Clara in the grove that night. "I believe you,"
says the Virginian.
We next see the Virginian and Stacey leaving the hotel. The Virginian spots the two men
who beat him up. "Stacey, I'll be right back," he says and goes over and cold-cocks each
of them. As they ride out of town, they pass by the saloon where Clara is talking to a
man who apparently wants to buy it. The Virginian takes her aside and tells her that
Lucy knows she's her mother. "Listen," she says, "I'm going to make a bundle. That
orphan's home sure could use the money ... I could leave it with the mayor in an envelope."
"You don't have to run, Clara," says the Virginian. They ride on farther down the
street where they spot the empty gallows one last time. "You all right?" asks the Virginian.
"I think I could use a change in scenery," says Stacey. Lucy rides up in a buggy and
says, "I'm so glad I caught you before you left. I wanted to thank you. I might never
have known the truth about my father. I'd have gone on thinking that he deceived us about
the kind of person he was. I want the town to know that he was all they thought he was
in the first place. That's what they need, to know that there still can be people like
my father in this world." Looking towards Clara, she asks, "We want to invite her to supper.
Do you think she'll come?" "I'd say there's a pretty good chance," the Virginian replies.
Lucy rides on down the street, greets Clara and the two embrace as the Virginian and Stacey look on. [rho]
To drive the point home that the Virginian is under the gun to find the murderer, we see
frequent shots of the gallows under construction. At one point when the Virginian is
in the saloon questioning Clara and the bartender, the carpenter walks in, orders a beer
and grouses that "it sure is a lot of work for just one second's use." "Take your time,"
says the Virginian.
We never hear the names of the sheriff and deputy. In fact, the name of the town is
never even mentioned.[rho]
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Main Contributor for this episode - Robert Henry Ohlemeyer [rho]