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Original NBC Broadcast - 18 October 1967
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Executive Producer Norman Macdonnell
Produced by Winston Miller
Written by Norman Katkov
Directed by Don McDougall
(shown on the ride-in)
Charles Bickford as John Grainger (not in this episode)
Doug McClure as Trampas
Clu Gulager as Emmett Ryker
Don Quine as Stacey Grainger (not in this episode)
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger (not in this episode)
James Drury as The Virginian
Lloyd Nolan [Tom Foster]
David Hartman [George Foster]
Diana Muldaur [Laura Messinger]
Full ending credits:
Bobby Buntrock as Tim Messinger
Harry Hickox as Bill Manders
Ed Prentiss . . . Carl Jensen
Norman Leavitt . . . Charles Colton
Forrest Lewis . . . Len Torrance
Pitt Herbert . . . Telegrapher
K.L. Smith . . . Tod Jamison
Richard Alden . . . Ben Jamison
Frank Sully . . . Bartender
Robert B. Williams . . . Station Master
Associate Producer - David Levinson
Music Score - Dave Grusin
Theme - Percy Faith
Director of Photography - Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director . . . John T. McCormack
Film Editor . . . Edward Haire, A.C.E.
Unit Manager . . . Abby Singer
Assistant Director . . . Roger Slager
Set Decorators . . . John McCarthy and James M. Walters, Sr.
Sound . . . Melvin Metcalfe, Sr.
Color Coordinator . . . Robert Brower
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:
(as sheriff), Trampas, and Danny the bartender
George Foster (Hartman in a pre-Dave Sutton role) has been taking supper
with widow Laura Messinger (Muldaur) and her son Tim regularly on
Saturday nights for "one year, eight months, and two weeks," yet,
being a "most polite" man, he's not forceful enough to ask her to marry him
nor deal with Timmy's disrespect. Laura wants her boy to get an
education, but he's more interested in selling his apples to the general
store to help support his mother. A puzzling letter arrives at the
sheriff's office, and Ryker and the Virginian head over to
the bank where they present George with an envelope
addressed to "Sheriff George Foster, Medicine
Bow, Wyoming Territory." Ryker wonders if this was
some sort of mistake, but George bemoans it was not. He
had told his father Tom, a retired sheriff and "one of the best lawmen who
ever wore a badge," that he was Medicine Bow's law officer because
he wanted his "pa" to be proud of him and feared it would break
his heart to learn his only son
was just a "bank clerk." Adding to George's dismay, the letter bears the
news that Tom will be coming through Medicine Bow by train
in a few days and plans to stop for a short
visit. George doesn't want to face his father with the truth,
and the Virginian (who thinks his friend shouldn't
underestimate the importance of
his job) presents this solution: George will simply pretend to be the
sheriff--why not, since Tom will only be in town for two hours. And what's
there to worry about with Ryker as his coach and everyone in
town spreading the word about the masquerade. After their initial
reactions of "George?", the citizens eagerly join forces to help their
"likeable" neighbor. George lacks confidence in his ability to pass
for a lawman, and Trampas doesn't help when he finds humor
in the situation. But the Virginian (who by now seems
more interested in the idea of pulling off the deception than in George's
plight) cajoles, "This whole town's behind you. You
ain't gonna let them down? Aw, come on." Trampas does have
one suggestion, though-- "He ain't gonna wear that hat, is he"?
When Tom gets off the train he is greeted by George,
who has exchanged his suit for more suitable sheriff's
attire complete with holster, gun, and badge--and a new hat.
The retired lawman is overjoyed to find "My own son,
following in his father's footsteps." With Ryker as a trusted "deputy,"
all seems to be going well as the townsfolk (except for Tim) salute
their "sheriff" and tell Tom what a wonderful man his son is.
However, the eastbound train had jumped the tracks, and the two hour
layover turns into a three day one. This is a concern to Mr. Jensen
(Prentiss) the banker who, although willing to allow his
employee a few hours liberty to
impress his father, depends on George and needs him back at the bank.
The Virginian suggests perhaps George would be willing to
come in "after hours" to do some catching up on the ledger. George
and Tom have supper with Laura and Timmy, and Tom tries to convince
his son that he should ask Laura to marry him. George argues
that there are problems to be worked out, especially with Timmy. Then glad
to have an escape, George leaves right after the meal and is relieved to be
back in his more familiar surroundings. Mr. Jensen gives George
the bank key and tells him to lock up after he finishes then
comments it was about time he entrusted the key to him.
George spends the entire night at the bank taking
care of business then returns to the sheriff's office. He's about to snooze
off when Laura bursts in to say that Tim had run away to "seek his
fortune." She demands to see Ryker
since her son's safety is more important than George's charade, but Tom,
who had been asleep on a bed in one of the jail cells, orders his son to
get busy and search for the lad. Drowsy George's efforts are in vain,
however, as he passes by Tim who is hiding in the bushes then falls from
his horse in exhaustion. Tim leaves his refuge to check on George's well-
being but refuses to return with him. Ryker, who has also been tracking the
runaway, soon arrives and with his more demanding manner insists Tim come
along back to his mother. Tom has enjoyed his visit but notes
that nothing of much excitement seemed to happen in Medicine Bow.
However, it isn't long until news arrives that the Jamison Brothers had
"broke jail" and were thought to be in the area. Ryker forms a posse,
and an elated Tom expresses, "This is my lucky day--the chance
to ride with my son." Laura wants George to tell the men he
can't go with them, but George (prodded by his father's insistance that
a sheriff heads his posse instead of just sending it out) declares,
"I appreciate your concern, but I have
a job to do." When the Jamisons and lawmen are caught in a standoff
among the rocks, George suggests someone surprise the outlaws by going in
behind them. Tom decides he should be the one to go since he
has the most experience, but as the men
are trying to disuade his father George sneaks off to ambush the bandits.
Tom applauds his son's efforts, "I always wondered how he'd act when
the chips were down." Answering the other
men's questioning expressions, Tom continues, "You don't think
a man could be sheriff as
long as I was and not know a civilian when I see one." As he leaves to
assist his son, Tom assures them, "I'll take care of him. Don't let on that
I know." George and his father capture the Jamisons, largely due
to Tom's still sharp shooting abilities. Now back in town, Laura once again
invites George and Tom to supper. But George asserts they are
"dining out" tonight, and if Timmy doesn't like it (because
he has to get dressed up) he can stay home. Laura is impressed with
his new found authority and smiles with submission, "Yes, George."
When it is time for Tom to get on with his trip he calls George aside to
tell him he is happy he is doing well and has a good job.
George confesses he does have a good job, but it isn't as sheriff. He
had only pretended to be a lawman because he didn't want his "pa" to be
disappointed in him--he's a bank clerk who "can't shoot a gun
worth a darn and doesn't want to." Tom congratulates George
on his importance to the community and informs him he'd always
envied people who could use their brains. He assures his son
that when a sheriff goes after outlaws he's just doing his job,
but when a bank clerk does he's brave ("foolish maybe, but brave").
He is indeed proud to have a son who has "both guts and brains."
As the train pulls away from the station, George
takes off his holster so he can hold Laura close to himself.
Looking for these scenes?
1) Tom wants to buy George a drink at the saloon, and Trampas and Danny the
bartender overdo their tales of their courageous "sheriff." Trampas
recounts the time George single-handedly fought and killed Indian
Chief Black Eagle (it was "majestic"). Then, even though
George tries his best to make it plain to Trampas that he can't handle
hard liquor, Trampas and Tom encourage him to have just one drink.
They toast to their "sheriff," and the men down their whiskey.
But one gulp sets George into a coughing fit.
2) A gun salesman wants to show off his wares and asks "Sheriff" George
and Tom to try them out on a target he's set up outside of town.
Ryker joins them and directs George to just point the gun and wait to
the count of three to shoot ("What if I hit it"? "You won't.").
Counting down (complete with drum rolls), at Ryker's signal the
Virginian, who has taken his place with his rifle among the bushes behind
them, fires in George's stead and hits the bull's eye. [bj]
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