CTVA - The Virginian 5.19 [139] "The Modoc Kid"  1-Feb-1967

The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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5.19 [139]
"The Modoc Kid"

 Original NBC Broadcast - 01 February 1967
Universal TV
Executive Producer Frank Price
Produced by Cy Chermak
Written by Leslie Stevens
Directed by Abner Biberman

(shown in the ride in)
Charles Bickford as John Grainger
Doug McClure as Trampas (not in this episode)
Clu Gulager as Emmett Ryker
Don Quine as Stacey Grainger
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger
James Drury as The Virginian (not in this episode)

Guest star
John Saxon
[Dell Stettler]
And introducing
Harrison Ford
as Cullen Tindall

Complete Ending Credits:
Paul Fix as Doctor Hinton
Ross Elliott ... Mark Abbott
Harry Carey, Jr. ... Bob Archer
John Goddard ... Roy Tindall
Tom Fadden ... McCord
Gene Ellis ... Frank Cave
Barbara Bell Wright ... Mrs. Hinton
Theme by Percy Faith
Director of Photography Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director ... George Patrick
Film Editor ... John Elias
Unit Manager ... Abby Singer
Assistant Director ... George Bisk
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:
John, Stacey and Elizabeth Grainger, Ryker (as Deputy), Sheriff Mark Abbott

Detailed Synopsis:
The episode opens with outlaw Dell Stettler outlining plans for a Medicine
Bow bank robbery with his cronies, Frank Cave, Bob Archer and brothers Cullen
and Roy Tindall. The scene shifts to town where John, Elizabeth and Stacey
Grainger are picking up a shipment of live pedigreed chickens that Elizabeth
has ordered for exhibition purposes. They are greeted by Deputy Emmett Ryker
who makes some wisecracks about the Graingers "going into the poultry business."
John retrieves his shotgun, sends the others on the rest of their errands and
walks over to drop off his shotgun at the gunsmith's shop. Stettler, Cave and
the Tindall brothers have been individually riding into town. Ryker takes a
brief notice of them and walks into the bank. In the saloon, Stettler is
complaining to Cave that Archer hasn't shown up yet. He rebuffs Cave's
suggestion that the robbery go forward with just the four of them, saying,
"Five is better. We'll wait." Archer finally arrives, having been delayed by
horse trouble, orders a whiskey and the plans are back on.

As the robbers are taking their positions, Archer senses that something is
wrong and takes his own position outside the bank. As he cocks his gun,
Ryker appears and says, "You wouldn't be that foolish, would you? Look up."
Ryker points to Sheriff Mark Abbott and a posse who are on the roofs of
various buildings all with their guns aimed at the bank. "Now listen!" yells
Sheriff Abbott, "There's no back door to that bank! The windows are barred.
The only way your friends can come out is through the front door with their
hands up!" A gunfight ensues. Archer is shot and captured. Cave is killed.
Stettler, Cullen Tindall and a wounded Roy Tindall get away.

The three remaining would-be robbers hit the trail followed by the posse.
Roy Tindall is badly hurt and his brother Cullen refuses to leave him behind.
Dell agrees because Roy was instrumental in helping them get away but points
out, "I can't help him. You can't help him. Only one to help him is a doctor."
He then remembers that "there's a big ranch back up to the north," referring
to Shiloh.

The posse returns to Medicine Bow after an unsuccessful pursuit. As Sheriff
Abbott and Deputy Ryker return to the sheriff's office, they run into Dr.
Hinton, who has been attending to the wounded prisoner, Bob Archer. The
doctor tells them that Archer is sufficiently enough on the mend to be
"begging for a drink." Dr Hinton notes ironically that "He should be dead...
Decent people slip on thier porch steps and die on the spot!" "Well, you
can't kill this pack of rats with a flat shovel, Doc," says Ryker. After
the doctor leaves, Ryker gets an idea. "The doc said he wanted a drink--do
you care?" he asks the sheriff. "No. go ahead," replies Mark. With that,
Ryker walks into the adjoining cell carrying a bottle of whiskey and pouring
himself a drink. He's able to cajole key information from Archer about the
gang's planned meeting place.

The scene shifts to Shiloh where Stacey is working on the windmill, John is
in the study and Elizabeth is in the kitchen making a pie. All the ranch
hands are away on a cattle drive. Elizabeth senses a presence in the kitchen
and she is grabbed by Cullen Tindall. Simultaneously, Stettler appears in
the study with a gun drawn on John. As Elizabeth is grabbed by Cullen, she
drops a bowl of flour. Stettler hears it and moves toward the kitchen,
telling John, "We won't hurt her any." "You'd better not!" John says sternly.
Stacey enters the house looking for Elizabeth. John calls him into the study
and tells him to drop his gun belt. Stacey is suspicious and asks if there
are intruders in the house. Just then, Stettler reenters with his gun pointed
at Stacey. "I didn't want you trying to fight with a gun at your back," John
explains. Cullen brings Elizabeth into the study. Stettler asks if there are
any household staff around and why the bunkhouse is empty. John tries to
bluff him by saying that the hands are "out in the east range" and "should
be back any minute." Stettler is wise to this, however, and tells him that
he knows the hands are all out on a trail drive, having heard this in town.
Stettler introduces himself as Dale Stettler, also known as "the Modoc Kid."
He says they have a wounded comrade outside and, addressing Elizabeth, says,
"You're going to be his nurse." He then tells John and Stacey that "if you
tell me I don't need this (his gun), then I'll put it away." "You won't need
it," says John. Stettler puts away his gun but not before taunting Stacey
with his fast-draw prowess.

Cullen carries Roy upstairs and lays him down in Stacey's bed. Meanwhile,
Stettler picks up some money John has placed on the desk and ambles over
behind the desk all the while mouthing his authority. Stacey takes umbrage
at Stettler standing behind his grandfather's desk and lunges at him.
Stettler knocks him down and orders the two to sit quietly in other chairs
in the study. "That was stupid!" John says to Stacey. "I had to try it!"
he replies. "All right. So you tried and you lost. This man is a professional,
Stacey!" John says, "Don't try it again!... And don't think I'm saying that
because he's in the room with us. I'm not. So you get this clear: there's
only one thing in this house worth dying for and that's Elizabeth, and as long
as they treat her with respect, we sit still!" "And what if they don't?"
Stacey asks. "Then we both go in on top of his gun. One of us will get to him,"
John replies. He continues, "I know how you feel. These animals offend me, too.
But we've got one thing to think about and that's Elizabeth! I want your word."
"You've got it," Stacey replies tersely. "Does that suit you, Mr. Stettler?"
asks John. "Mm-hmm. That suits me fine," Stettler answers.

The posse reassembles and rides out to the meeting place Archer told Ryker about.
They find fresh blood and tracks leading north, but into a creek bed.
"No telling which way or where they're going to come out," says Ryker. Back at
Shiloh, Stettler is searching through John's desk. He finds a pistol in one of
the drawers. "I'm ashamed of you, Mr. Grainger," he says. "I forgot it was there!"
says John. Stettler asks if there are any more weapons in the house. John points
to two decorative pistols hanging over the fireplace. "I said weapons," says Stettler,
checking one of them out. "Those are flintlock dueling pistols," says John,
"In their day, they were quite lethal." "Now they don't even have a flint to make
them work," says Stettler. He tosses the flintlock to Stacey and mockingly says,
"If I get close enough, you can throw it at me." Stettler turns his back to look
through the bookcase. Stacey cocks the gun and pulls the trigger. Nothing happens,
of course, but it gives Stettler a start. "Wishin' don't make it so, son," he says.

Upstairs, Cullen and Elizabeth are attending to Roy. Cullen goes over and calls down
to Stettler from the top of the stair. Stettler warns John and Stacey not to move
and steps out to see what Cullen wants. Cullen tells him that "only thing that's
gonna ease him is a doctor." While Stettler is out of the room, John says to Stacey,
"I'm sorry to be so rough on you, but if we have a chance to get out of this, we
have to make them trust us. That means you've got to trust me." Stettler reenters
the study and orders Stacey to go upstairs with Cullen. He tells John that he is
to go fetch a doctor using as an excuse that Elizabeth broke her collarbone. Stettler
warns that he'll be riding along with him with his gun "pointed at the nape of your
neck." Also, he warns that if they're not back by dark, Cullen is to "cut down the
rest of your family and run." "You don't have to threaten," says John, "I'll help
you get a doctor." Stettler, showing signs that he's getting suspicious of John's
politeness and cooperation, snaps at him, "I'm not asking you to give me help, I'm
giving you orders!"

Upstairs, Cullen is pacing the floor with his gun pointed at Stacey. Stacey tells
him, "You don't have to keep your gun pointed at me...I gave up." Cullen replies,
"I don't believe you. A man can't help wanting to bust loose. It's human nature."
Elizabeth enters the room with some food. Cullen notices that the tray includes a
napkin ring. "I wish Roy could see this!" he says. While Cullen is eating, Stacey
asks him where he's from. Between bites, Cullen says he and Roy were born into a
life of crime having grown up on a "rock farm" in Dakota with an abusive father.
"We set fire to half the county and run off," he says. When Stacey asks if he's
ever killed anyone, Cullen takes offense, cocks his gun and says, "You shut up!...
We rob and steal because we don't have a rich granddad to pay for it! We kill
because someone sticks a knife in our ribs!" He picks up the napkin ring and
throws it across the room for further emphasis.

John hitches up the horses to the buckboard and tells Stettler, riding in back,
to pull a tarpaulin over himself so he won't be seen. "I'll worry about being seen.
You just drive," says Stettler. "Now look here!" says John, "You can't afford to
make a mistake and neither can I!" Stettler then tells him they're not going into
town. He wants to be taken to an abandoned farmhouse he saw outside of town.
Puzzled, John asks, "Crofton's?...Crofton pulled out a couple of years before I
bought this property." Stettler says, "You know, I'm gonna buy me a spread just
like yours. Bigger. With a nice trout stream running right through it. It took
you a whole life to earn your way to something like that, didn't it? Take me about
two weeks! Strike it rich in some nice little bank. You see, we all want the same
thing. I'm just taking mine while I'm young enough to enjoy it!" "I like to sleep
nights," says John.

Back inside, Roy has awakened but is talking hysterically. He suddenly stops talking
and Cullen orders Stacey to listen to his heart. "Is it still beating?" he asks.
"Just barely," Stacey replies.

John and Stettler drive into the Crofton farm. Entering the stable, Stettler tells
John to "stomp around a bit. Make some footprints. Want it to look like the three
of us stopped here...Then I'll cover up the wagon tracks. Make it look like we
headed north. Then when they come looking for the doctor, you tell him they headed
out this way." "Why would I send them to an abandoned homestead?" John asks.
"You're the last one who saw him," answers Stettler, "When they come looking for
him, you tell them he headed out this way." "You know all the tricks!" says John.
Stettler tells him that there's a big reward out for him and when you carry a
reward like that, you learn to "move fast." "The price of fame!" says John.
"People look up to a man who stands above the law...My name strikes fear!" says
Stettler. "Seems to me you have fear mixed up with fame. A copperhead snake
strikes fear!...You can't make people respect you. You can't take it and you can't
force it. To get respect you have to earn it!" says John. Stettler finishes his
business in the stable and tells John to "come on." John refuses to go any further
or cooperate any more. "I'm not afraid and you know it! Secondly, I don't think
you'd kill me without a reason." John tells him he won't take him to the doctor
because he doesn't want to jeopardize the doctor's life to save his own. "And
what about the rest of them? The boy? The girl?" asks Stettler, "You don't know
Cullen. You've never seen him blow up. Well, I have and I can promise you if
his brother dies, Cullen won't be able to hold himself. He won't let Roy die alone.
He'll kill!" "I don't believe you!" says John. "You will!" Stettler says with
his gun pointed at John, "In that split second before the flash, before everything
goes black, you'll believe! Only then it'll be too late!" John pauses and says,
"All right." Stettler adds, "Next time you want to lecture me about respect, you
remember what you saw when you were looking down the barrel of my gun!"

Back in town, Ryker returns from the pursuit, having reached a dead end. He tells
Mark Abbott that he still has a nagging feeling that the gang is "holed up around
here somewhere," so the two go out and continue the search. We next see John
driving up to Dr. Hinton's home with Stettler hiding beneath the tarpaulin pointing
his gun at him. John tells Mrs. Hinton that Elizabeth has had an accident and
asks her to fetch the doctor. As she goes inside, Ryker and Sheriff Abbott ride
by briefly and make some joking remarks about the chickens. The doctor comes out,
climbs into the buckboard and sees Stettler and his gun. "I'm sorry, Doctor.
Deeply sorry," says John.

John and Stettler return to Shiloh with the doctor. After entering the house, Dr.
Hinton says that he's going to need "scalding water and an iron tip--red hot."
John asks about possibly using a fireplace poker. "That'll do," says the doctor,
"Bring it to red hot to make a searing iron." Stettler tells Stacey to start a
fire. John says, "I'll help you" and he and Stacey head to the study. While the
two of them are in the study alone, John picks up the flintlock dueling pistol
that Stacey had left in the chair. "Stacey, that box of shotgun shells--where is
it?" asks John. "You left that shotgun in town at the shop, don't you remember?"
replies Stacey as he's stoking the fire. John shows him the flintlock and it
dawns on Stacey what he has in mind. "Top shelf in the kitchen cabinet," he says.

Stettler tells Cullen to guard John and Stacey while he goes upstairs with the
doctor and Elizabeth. John sends Stacey into the kitchen to retrieve a large pot
in which to boil water. Cullen goes with him. While he's filling up the pot
with water and Cullen isn't looking, Stacey grabs some shotgun shells from the
shelf. Upstairs, the doctor tells Dell to get him the poker and that they should
heat up a pot of coals to keep it searing hot. Stettler calls down to Cullen,
who leaves the room briefly. While he's gone, Stacey passes the shotgun shells
to John. Cullen reenters and dumps the water out on John's desk, which arouses
John's anger. "You shut your mouth, Mister, before I slop hot coals after it!"
says Cullen, growing ever edgier. He fills up the pot with hot coals and calls
up to Dell asking how he's supposed to bring it upstairs without leaving them
alone. Stettler comes downstairs and sends Cullen up with the hot coals and
poker. "Stettler, you're in charge. Tell this man to have a little respect for
private property!" John says to Stettler, who is also becoming more visibly nervous.
"Well, I can see why you've had your streak of bad luck!" John adds. Upstairs,
Cullen hands Dr. Hinton the poker and asks, "Is he dead?" "He was a minute ago,
but he came back," says the doctor as he sticks the poker into the hot coals and
prepares to use it on Roy.

Downstairs, Stettler is pacing the floor. John asks, "What does the doctor say?...
Does he think there's a chance?" "What's the matter, Mr. Grainger, nervous?"
Stettler blurts out. John gives a short laugh and Stettler says, "Now I'm going
back up there. Do you remember the stable, Mr. Grainger?...Don't let me catch
either of you out of your chairs!" After he leaves, John goes to work on the
flintlock. "We'll need a piece of flint!" he says. Stacey notices some Indian
arrowheads mounted on the wall. As Stacey works on installing the flint and
John works on extracting gunpowder from the shotgun shells, Stacey asks about the
stable. "I tried to bluff him and lost," says John. "The don't intend to leave
any of us behind--not alive!" he adds while feverishly continuing his work on the

The scene shifts to the sheriff's office later in the evening. Mrs. Hinton is
reporting that her husband is missing. The sheriff suggests that he may be out
on an emergency, but Mrs. Hinton says that he always manages to get word to her
somehow. She says that when she last saw him he was heading for Shiloh because
Elizabeth broke her collarbone. "We saw Mr. Grainger. He didn't say anything
about that to us," says Ryker as he and Sheriff Abbott exchange thoughtful looks.

Back at Shiloh, Cullen and Stacey are slumped in chairs sleeping and Stettler is
again pacing the floor. John is sitting at his desk reading and "playing" with
the flintlock. "Make you feel better holding that in your hand?" asks Stettler.
"Make you feel any better if I put it down?" returns John. "It would!" says
Stettler and John lays the flintlock on the desk top. Stettler walks out of the
study. John, noticing that Cullen is sleeping and not paying attention, props
up his book and, hiding behind it, carefully pours the gunpowder into the barrel
of the flintlock. Stettler goes upstairs to check on Roy, who is sleeping. Dr.
Hinton tells him he is past the crisis stage. The doctor tells him he shouldn't
be moved for at least three days. "We're leaving tomorrow!" says Stettler.
"You might just as well put a bullet through his head right now and save yourself
the trouble!" answers the doctor.

Stettler returns downstairs. They hear horses riding up. Cullen looks out the
window and says it's the sheriff and deputy. Stettler tells John to answer the
door and reminds him to to tell them that the doctor "came here and then headed
out to that Crofton farm." He tells Cullen to go upstairs and "cover the doc and
the girl." "If you hear a shot fired, you're to kill them both!" he adds, pulling
his gun on Stacey to further ensure that John complies. John greets Sheriff Abbott
and Deputy Ryker at the door and tells them the doctor had been here earlier to
attend to Elizabeth's collarbone but had left hours ago. Mark asks for a drink of
water. John invites them in and says, "You know where the kitchen is." When
Ryker asks John why he's "burning the midnight oil," John tells him that he spilled
water on his ledger and is busy rewriting everything. As the sheriff and Ryker
are leaving, Ryker asks if the doctor said where he was heading. John tells them
that he said he was heading to Crofton's. "But there's nobody out there," says Mark.
"He had some idea of buying some land," says John. After they leave, Stettler
brings Stacey out of the study and says, "You can thank your granddad for saving
your life."

Stettler announces that he's going upstairs to check on Roy and once again warns
John and Stacey not to move. After he leaves, John makes the final preparations
on the flintlock and Stacey says he's going into the living room and will slip
upstairs when Stettler comes back and take care of Cullen. "Don't jump Cullen
until you're sure I've shot Stettler. One of us has to stay alive!" warns John.
Stacey leaves the room and John points the flintlock at the door in anticipation
of Stettler walking back in. However, the flint falls out of the gun and John has
to make a hasty repair and put it aside when Stettler walks back in. He asks where
Stacey is. John says he sent him out of the room. Stacey walks back in. "I'm
gonna teach you to mind!" says Stettler, who then calls Cullen downstairs and tells
him to take Stacey into the kitchen and tie him up. Meanwhile, Ryker and the sheriff
have arrived at the Crofton farm, where they find the "evidence" that Stettler
planted indicating that they had jumped the doctor there and dragged him off.
Sheriff Abbott says that it's too late to track them now and to wait until morning.

In the morning, Roy wakes up, his fever having subsided, looks around the room and
sees the doctor sleeping in a chair. In the kitchen, Stacey, alone and tied up,
tries to cut his bonds with a piece of the flour bowl that Elizabeth had broken
the day before. Cullen walks into the study and tells Dale that Elizabeth wants
to go outside for some fresh eggs. "Tell her to put on some coffee," says Stettler.
At the sheriff's office, Ryker tells Mark, "Something else kept me awake.
Something about Grainger. Look, let me ride over there and I'll meet you at
Crofton's farm." Back at Shiloh, Dale, Cullen and John are eating breakfast.
Stettler once again is bragging that he's going to get a spread like this and
boasts that by using his outlaw methods, he's now sitting at the head of the
table while John is not. John says, "I see a little boy sitting at the head of
my table trying his best to look like a man...Looks to me like you're running,
hiding." "Yeah, I'm running, hiding," says Stettler, "But not from any one lawman,
not from two or three lawmen. Force of numbers, that's what makes the law. You
match me up man to man and I'll stand above any one of them, any one, anywhere!"
"Last night you hid from two of them," says John. "That's because I've got a purpose.
I'm carrying Roy," says Stettler. "That's what I'm saying. Your purpose is your
problem!" John replies.

We hear the whinny of a horse as Ryker rides up. Stettler tells Cullen to take
Stacey and Elizabeth upstairs. "You come with me," he says to John. Cullen asks
Roy if he's sufficiently recovered to handle a gun. Roy says that he is and Cullen
hands him a gun to cover Stacey, Elizabeth and the doctor. He tells Roy that a
man rode up wearing a badge and "Don't be surprised if you hear a shot." "You going
to murder him?" asks Stacey. "He gives us cause," answers Cullen. He goes downstairs
and Stettler tells him to go to the living room so they'll have him covered from
both sides. Stettler tells John, "Send him away. Tell him the girl shouldn't be
disturbed." "He'll ask about Stacey," says John. "Tell him anything. You know what
to tell him. I'm letting him live, Mr. Grainger. You do your part!" says Stettler.
Upstairs, Roy struggles out of bed and goes over to the window to see what's going
on. Spotting Ryker outside, he foolishly breaks the window and starts shooting.
While he's distracted, Dr. Hinton hurls his bag at him. Stacey, whose wrists are
still bound, manages to punch him and get his gun. Cullen hears the commotion from
downstairs and wants to go up, but Dale warns him that he may walk into a gun: "You
cover the stairs, I'll take care of the law!" Ryker has hidden behind some bushes.
"I don't see him," says Stettler as he turns to John, who is sitting behind his desk.
"All right, Mr. Grainger, it's time you earned your keep. Over here!" says Stettler.
When John doesn't move, Stettler says, "You want it right where you're sitting?"
"Well now," says John, "If you did that, you wouldn't have a hostage, would you?
You'd have to fight. What you want of me is to draw him out so you can lay back and
hide, murder him and run!" "I can take him!...I told you. Any lawman, any time!"
says Stettler. "Not this one. He's fast!" says John. "I'm faster!" says Stettler.
"I doubt that, Mr. Stettler!" taunts John. Stettler breaks the window and calls out
to Ryker, but there's no response. "You goin' out to him?" Cullen asks incredulously,
"Don't waste your time. He's a backwoods sheriff!" "I don't give a care about him.
It's this ramrod I want to show!" an infuriated Stettler yells. Turning to John,
he says, "You been sticking me ever since I came here! Looking down your nose,
spitting near my boots! Running? Hiding? Stealing eggs? Murderer? Well, you're
gonna eat every word! You're gonna respect!" He walks toward the window and calls
out to Ryker again. Stacey has moved down the stairway with Roy's gun. Cullen is
preoccupied watching the proceedings. John picks up the flintlock and lights a match.
Cullen sees Stacey coming downstairs and fires on him. The shot misses and Stacey
is able to shoot at Cullen and hit him. "Stettler!" yells John. He shoots him with
the flintlock as he turns around. From outside, Ryker shoots through the window,
also hitting Stettler. Elizabeth runs downstairs, sees the dead bodies and runs outside.
Stacey and John go out to comfort her. "It was bad," says Stacey. A rooster crows.
John says, "Well, lets get back to raising chickens!"  [rho]

This an exciting and suspenseful episode with good performances by the regulars and guest stars.

The flintlock dueling pistol usually requires flash powder to make it fire. John and
Stacey know they're taking a chance by using ordinary gunpowder, but they have no
other choice. Fortunately for them, it works!

The final shot of this episode is of Stacey, Elizabeth and John standing outside with
John comforting Elizabeth. It starts out as a full-screen shot and reduces in size
while the rest of the screen goes to black. As far as I know, this is the only time
such a device was used to end an episode. [rho]

Guest star notes:
John Saxon also guest stars in 7.04 "Vision of Blindness" and 9.21 "The Regimental Line."

This was a very early appearance by Harrison Ford. He's billed in the opening credits as
"And Introducing..." He also can be seen briefly in 6.09 "A Bad Place to Die."
As we all know, he went on to become one of Hollywood's biggest superstars.[rho]

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