CTVA - The Virginian 5.20 [140] "The Gauntlet"  8-Feb-1967

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5.20 [140]
"The Gauntlet"

Original NBC Broadcast - 8 February 1967
Universal TV
Executive Producer Frank Price
Produced by Cy Chermak
 Written By Lou Shaw
Directed By Thomas Carr

(shown in the ride-in)
Charles Bickford (not in this episode)
Doug McClure (not in this episode)
Clu Gulager (not in this episode)
Don Quine (not in this episode)
Sara Lane (not in this episode)
James Drury as the Virginian
Guest Stars
Mark Richman
Marian Moses
Complete ending credits:
Stefan Arngrim
as Jimmy Keets
Tony Young
as Shoop
Harry Lauter
as Lund
Calvin Brown .......... Gus
Pitt Herbert .......... Doctor
Robert B. Williams .... Hardy
Fred Carson ........... Walvis
Chuck Bail ............ Hardyís Rider
Erik Cord ............. 1st Hand
Harper Flaherty ....... 2nd Hand
Theme By Percy Faith
Director of Photography, Ray Rennahan A.S.C.
Art Director ........... George Patrick
Film Editor ............ Michael R. McAdam, A.C.E.
Unit Manager ........... Abby Singer
Assistant Director ..... Roger Slager
Set Decorators ......... John McCarthy and Hal Overell
Sound................... James T. Porter
Color Coordinator ...... Robert Brower
Color by Technicolor
Editorial Supervision ..... Richard Belding
Musical Supervision ....... Stanley Wilson
Costume Supervision ....... 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:
The Virginian

Brief synopsis:
The Virginian is seriously wounded by a rustler and is forced to spend time
recuperating at the home of Al Keets, a wealthy rancher. As Keets gets to
know his guest better, his admiration for the Shiloh foreman grows. But the
Virginian becomes the unwitting accomplice in May Keetsí plan to leave her
husband and take their son, causing a showdown, in the form of a gauntlet
race, between the two men. [apm]

Detailed synopsis:  [apm]
"This is the KEETS RANCH for as far as you can see in all directions and more.

Thus reads a sign that the Virginian sees while heading home from Mexico through
Texas. On the way across Keetsí land heís shot from his horse by a rustler, who
gets away. Bleeding from a nasty shoulder wound, the Virginian somehow manages
to climb back on Joe, but it isnít long before he falls out of the saddle again.
He is helped by an elegant woman and her young son who are embarking on a trip
to New York City. As she is examining his wound, three men suddenly gallop onto
the scene. One of them is her husband, Al Keets, the owner of the ranch. He is
filled with concern for his son, but treats his wife coldly. As Keets makes
room for the wounded cowpuncher in his wifeís buggy, he notices two suitcases
tied to the back of it, and it dawns on him that she was trying to run away with their son.

A bed-ridden Virginian is being examined by the doctor, when Al Keets comes into
the room. He asks the foreman where he got the $8,000 heís carrying. The Virginian,
visibly annoyed that Keets went through his things, explains heís the foreman of
Shiloh Ranch, Medicine Bow, Wyoming. "And your boss just lets you run around with
$8,000 of his money?" "He lets me" answers the foreman. "I know why, too!" says
Keets, "You werenít even conscious and you put up a good fight trying to hold
onto it!" The Virginian tells Keets that he is on his way back from Mexico where
he closed a big cattle deal. Heís anxious to get going and to find the man who
shot him, but the doctor orders him to spend at least a week recuperating.
Downstairs in the living room, Keets warns his wife May that she can stay or she
can go, itís her choice, but if she goes she is not taking Jimmy. She asks him
what he wants her to do, but he evades the question and storms out. In the barn,
he orders two of his men, Shoop and Lund, to stop their work and find the rustler
that shot the Virginian.

Time passes and we see scenes of a horse round-up with Keets supervising. Then one
day, May comes into the guest room to find the Virginian sitting up in a chair.
She chides him saying he should still be in bed. "Who says so?" he playfully asks.
When she answers "the doctor!" he smiles and says "Iím bigger than he is!" "Well
then I say so" she retorts. "In that case, I apologize" he says. She laughs and
hands him his shirt, now mended. He compliments her work telling her it looks
new, and she thanks him. She looks wistfully out the window and they both agree
that the ranch is very beautiful. The Virginian then tells May that he knows if
it werenít for him, she would have been long gone from here. She tells him not
to be concerned, and not to judge her husband harshly. "Iím not judging him at
all" the Virginian says.

The next day the Virginian is sleeping on the porch when Keets approaches him.
"You oughta try and take it easy" he says. "Not a chance" says the foreman,
continuing to doze. "I gotta hand it to you" says Keets "when you do something
you do it - all the way!" He then hands the Virginian an opened telegram,
telling him his boss says he should take all the time he needs. The Virginian
is once again annoyed by this invasion of his privacy, but Al tells him "when
I want to know something I find it out." He comments that it doesnít make sense
for someone like the Virginian to work for another man; he should be his own
man. The Virginian says he would agree "if Shiloh was just another ranch and
John Grainger was just another boss. But they arenít. And Iím still my own man."
"Iíll bet you are!" says Keets with undisguised admiration.

Another day, the Virginian is wandering the property near the house when he
spots a fine-looking horse. He tries to negotiate the purchase of some horses
for Shiloh using the money from the Mexico cattle deal. Keets is impressed that
the Virginian has the authority to make such a purchase on his own and agrees
to the deal. But a visiting neighbor, Sam Hardy, reminds Keets the horses arenít
his to sell unless he wins their bet. It seems that Keets and Hardy are planning
to run a gauntlet race, where anything goes short of murder, and the horses are
the prize. The Virginian remarks that he thought gauntlet races had been outlawed,
but Keets answers sharply "Iím the law out hyeh."

More time passes with cattle being rounded up and calves being branded, all
supervised by Al Keets. The Virginianís strength is returning slowly, and one
day Al finds him practice-shooting at a tin can in back of the house. He tells
the Virginian heís doing pretty well with a bad arm, but the foreman is not
satisfied with his progress. "You know your mind goes the same way mine does,
you always like to know what youíve got going for you," Keets says. Then he tells
the Virginian heís been operating without a foreman because he never found a man
that suited him "till you showed up". Al asks him to stay and help him run his
ranch, but the Virginian turns him down, saying he likes the job he has. "I can
do better than a hundred a month," Al says, but before he can finish, theyíre
interrupted by one of the hands who announces the arrival of someone named Walvis.
Keets eagerly runs into the barn with the Virginian following slowly after him.
As the Virginian enters the barn, Keetsí son Jimmy playfully jumps onto his back
causing him some discomfort. Jimmy apologizes, but the foreman laughs it off.
Keets shows off Walvis, the man heís paying to ride in the gauntlet race. Then
he orders Gus, a hired hand, to square off with Walvis, so he can see what the
man can do. Walvis almost beats Gus senseless while the Virginian, Keets and
Jimmy watch, until the Virginian puts a stop to it. The foreman comments that
Keets is breaking the rules by hiring an outsider, but Keets laughs and walks
out, leaving Gus on the floor. When Jimmy asks the Virginian if it really is
wrong, the Virginian tells him to ask his father, then helps Gus to his feet.
Back at the house, May is playing piano when Keets comes in and provokes an
argument with her, accusing her of marrying him for his money. Suddenly Jimmy
bursts through the door bragging to his mother about the man his father hired
for the gauntlet race. Another argument ensues between them, this time over
whatís best for Jimmy, as the Virginian stands at a respectful distance and
Jimmy looks on. Keets calls his wife a Park Avenue gold-digger and she storms
upstairs, with Jimmy following soon after. Alone with the Virginian now, Al
confides that his wife will give him the silent treatment for several days
and then she will apologize, even though the argument was his fault. The Virginian
suggests that Al should try apologizing, but Keets tells him itís complicated
by the fact that he loves his wife, but she considers their marriage a business deal.

The Virginian goes upstairs to get ready to try his hand at riding again. As
he passes Mayís door he overhears her telling Jimmy never to speak badly about
his father again. She tells the boy that his father is kind and strong and
loves him very much. The confused child asks if his father loves her also,
and if she loves his father. She tries to explain how some people hide their
feelings by yelling, and sends him off to do homework.

Later as the Virginian is on his way outside, May asks him to join her for
a drink. But they are interrupted by Al who insists the Virginian should come
outside and see that his men have killed the rustler who shot him. After
examining the body, the Virginian says "Looks like you used him for target
practice" and one of the men answers "He had it coming." Disgusted, the
Virginian says "Nobodyís got that coming" and returns to the house.
The next day, Al announces to May he will be away for a couple of days and
asks her if there is anything she needs before he goes. She tells him that
what she needs is to hear him say that he wants her to stay. Once again, he
avoids answering her and leaves, but meets up with the Virginian, who is
preparing to leave for Medicine Bow. They sit on the porch and Al offers the
foreman a partnership in the Keets ranch because "There are lots of men
around, but to find one out of all of them who really cares, thatís a tough
thing to do." The Virginian tells him he appreciates the offer, but turns
it down because Keets is "two different men, one of them I understand, the
other I donít like." "You donít have to like me to get rich with me," Keets
retorts. "I have to like myself" answers the Virginian, and goes in the house
to collect his things.

Inside he meets May, who asks his help in planning a surprise birthday party
for Jimmy. Would the Virginian take Jimmy with him when he leaves and wait at
the line shack for her to pick him up? The Virginian agrees and rides off
with Jimmy. Once they are at the line shack, however, the boy expresses his
disappointment that itís not very exciting. He explains that his father often
promises to take him hunting or on a roundup, but has been too busy to spend
time with him. Touched by Jimmyís situation, the Virginian asks him what he
would like to do. Jimmy says heís hungry, so the foreman hatches a plan. He
peers into his saddlebag and pulls out several items, reciting as he does
"flour, pepper, salt, side meat to cook with, dried chili peppers fer flavoriní,
everything but the main course!" But he has some pins, and he shows Jimmy how
to bend them to make fish hooks so they can catch their food in the stream.
Back at the house, May is writing a farewell letter to her husband when he
unexpectedly returns. Sheís visibly upset by his early return, and his inquiry
as to the whereabouts of their son, because it is interfering with her plans
to leave him. She tries to put him off by saying that Jimmy often wanders
off when heís playing. Al storms out of the room and goes to the barn where
his hands, Shoop and Lund, tell him they saw Jimmy leaving with the Virginian.
Panicking, Al runs back into the house to ask May if she knows anything about
why Jimmy went with the Virginian. She lies and says she didnít see them
leave, so Al mounts a search for the boy, thinking he has been kidnapped.
Meanwhile, the Virginian is innocently showing Jimmy how to string and bait
the hooks theyíve made. They tie the string across a stream and later, after
theyíve eaten their catch, Jimmy exclaims that he never knew anything could
taste so good. Itís because they caught it themselves, the foreman tells him.
Jimmy says heís still hungry, so the Virginian tells him to build a fire
while he goes out to catch them a rabbit. In his absence, Shoop and Lund arrive
at the line shack, and hatch the idea to kidnap the boy for ransom themselves.
When May arrives at the line shack she finds the ransom note left by the two
men. At first she thinks the Virginian wrote it, but when he returns from
hunting she realizes otherwise. May sorrowfully tells him that she planned to
run away with Jimmy and how she duped the Virginian into helping her. "What
will we do?" she tearfully asks and the foreman answers sternly "Find Jimmy!"
He then sends her back to the ranch with the ransom note and sets out to
track the kidnappers.

That evening, Keets finds May crying and tries to console her by saying that
he has the ransom money and is going to bring Jimmy back home. But May is
crying because she feels responsible for what has happened. She tries to tell
Al about her scheme to run away, but she chokes on the words.
Meanwhile, the Virginian finds the campsite of the kidnappers and Jimmy. The
two men go for their guns and the foreman is forced to shoot them both. Heís
checking the bag with the ransom money, when Keets rushes into the camp and
orders his men to seize the Virginian. After checking on Jimmy, Keets delivers
two punches to the foremanís face. Jimmy tries to tell his father how Shoop
and Lund pulled their guns on the Virginian, but Al is convinced they were only
trying to rescue his boy. He knocks the Virginian out cold and brings him back
to the ranch.

In the corral, Keets prepares to hang the Virginian. Suddenly, May rushes out
of the house and confesses everything to her husband. "You nearly made me hang
an innocent man" Keets tells his wife and then turns to the Virginian saying
"For whatever itís worth to you, Iím glad I didnít have to do it." Then he
orders May to leave, alone, without Jimmy, and the Virginian offers to see her into town.

As theyíre leaving, Sam Hardy arrives to begin the gauntlet race. Walvis refuses
to ride for Keets when he sees the competition is someone heís lost to twice
before, so Keets decides to compete in the race himself. Just then, the Virginian
gets an idea. "Know what a gauntlet is Keets? Iím throwiní it down." "You mean
youíre challenging me? Why?" "Your boy for one thing - I like him." He then
tells Keets that even if he had known what May was up to, he still would have
helped her leave her husband. If the Virginian wins the race, he wants Al to
let May take Jimmy when she goes. Al agrees and Hardy offers the Virginian his
specially trained horse so he can "see what he can do."

The two men ride an exciting race, with first one, then the other pulling slightly
in front. Al pulls his horse alongside the Virginian and begins to strike him
with his whip. Then they ride through gravel with Alís horse kicking the gravel
up into the foremanís face. As they take a turn around a lake, Al jumps the
Virginian and drags him off his horse. The two slug it out in in the water and
Al re-mounts with the Virginian in hot pursuit. As they race downhill towards
the ranch, the Virginian pulls ahead, but Al lassos him and pulls him from his
horse. The quick-thinking foreman jumps on the back of Keetsí horse as he rides
by, and as they ride onto the property, the Virginian pulls Keets to the ground.
Once again the two begin to slug it out, but the Virginian proves to be the
stronger and finally knocks Keets down with a powerful blow to the side of his head.

May rushes to her husbandís side; exhausted, he tells her she won and should
take Jimmy and leave. "For once in your life, Al, say something you feel." "All
right, May, Iím asking you - stay!" The two embrace and each agrees to the otherís
terms regarding how Jimmy will be raised, except "no more gauntlet races!" On
their way back to the house, Keets retracts his offer of a partnership to the
Virginian, telling him "youíre too soft. But if youíre not in a hurry to get back,
Iíd like to buy a friend a drink." "My pleasure." the foreman replies with a
smile, and all three go back to the house. At the door, the Virginian picks up
Mayís suitcase and carries it inside. [apm]

This might be the only episode that mentions how much the Virginian probably
earned as foreman of Shiloh, "a hundred a month" according to Al Keets.
The Virginian's pride in his position as foreman of Shiloh, and the trust his
employer places in him, are themes running throughout this episode.
As in "Another's Footsteps", we glimpse the Virginian's fatherly instincts in
his interactions with young Jimmy Keets. [apm]

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Main Contributor for this episode -  Alice P. Munzo  [apm]