The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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"The Saddle Warmer"
Original NBC Broadcast - 18 September 1968
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Executive Producer Norman Macdonnell
Produced by James Duff McAdams
Written by Robert Van Scoyk
Directed by Charles S. Dubin
(shown on the ride-in) -- all appear in this episode
John McIntire as Clay Grainger
Doug McClure as Trampas
David Hartman as David Sutton (introduction to the series)
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger
James Drury as the Virginian
Ralph Bellamy [Jeremiah]
Chris Robinson [Coley]
Quentin Dean [Saranora]
Tom Skerritt [Rafe]
Complete ending credits:
Jeanette Nolan as Holly Grainger
Jean Peloquin . . . Jean
Dee Carroll . . . Saranora's Mother
Stuart Nisbet . . . Bartender
Harper Flaherty . . . Harper
Dick Shane . . . Dick
Special Appearance by
The Irish Rovers
Music Score Pat Williams
Theme Percy Faith
Director of Photography
Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director . . . William J. Kenney
Film Editor . . . John Elias
Unit Manager . . . Henry Kline
Assistant Director . . . George Bisk
Set Decorations . . . John McCarthy and Perry Murdock
Sound . . . John Erlinger
Color Coordinator . . . Robert Brower
Editorial Supervision . . . Richard Belding
Musical Supervision . . . Stanley Wilson
Costumes by . . . Helen Colvig
Makeup . . . Bud Westmore
Hair Stylist . . . Larry Germain
The Title "THE VIRGINIAN" by permission of EMKA, LTD.
Series regular characters appearing in this episode:
Introducing David Sutton
with Trampas, the Virginian, Clay Grainger, Elizabeth Grainger, Holly Grainger,
Harper, Jean, Dick, Bart the bartender, Cecil
This seventh season opener introduces David Sutton as the "dedicated
drifter" who proves himself to be more than just a greenhorn "saddle
Having been quite awhile since he passed a creek, David Sutton asks for
water at a farmhouse. The girl is at first frightened of him but then
returns to ask him his name and where he's from. Pennsylvania was the
man's starting place, but now he's just headed West with the next stop
Medicine Bow. She introduces herself as Saranora (named after her mother)
then pleads that he take her away with him. The farmer, Jeremiah
(Bellamy), returns from the fields with a rifle in his hands and demands that
David leave his property.
Dave arrives in Medicine Bow and finds a job scrubbing floors at the Rocky
Mountain Saloon. He's finishing washing the stairs when Bart snaps at him
to hurry and dispose of the dirty water. Trampas comes into town with some
of the other Shiloh boys. The men are insistent that Trampas have a drink
with them, but the cowhand is set on being "on time and neat" for his
important date. However Coley (Robinson) convinces him to celebrate the
fact that the mustangs will soon be in the area and that he found a buyer
in Rawlins that will take every head he and Trampas can catch. Trampas
agrees this is something to drink to and goes along for "just one beer".
But as they approach the swinging doors of the saloon Dave throws the water
out, drenching Trampas. Infuriated that his courting clothes are soaked in
dirty liquid, Trampas follows Dave inside to "wipe him off the face of
Wyoming." When the chase heads up the stairs, Dave warns Trampas that the
wet steps might be dangerous. But Trampas doesn't listen and slips down
to the floor below. Fearing that Trampas could be seriously injured, Dave
tells the other men not to touch him then examines the cowboy himself. Dave
wants to set his broken leg, but Trampas wants Dave out of his sight.
When Jeremiah's handyman Rafe (Skerritt) announces that the old man has shot
the mare that was having difficulty foaling, Saranora (Dean) only grumbles
"he likes to kill things." She wants to read her mother's book, which is the
only thing she has left to remember her by since Jeremiah destroyed
everything else. But Rafe has other things on his mind and takes the book
from her. To get her beloved possession back, Saranora flirts with the
Rafe and asks him to take her away from there. He attempts to kiss her, but
she refuses his advances. Jeremiah comes in the house just as Rafe is
forcing himself on Saranora. Rafe excuses his actions saying that
Saranora had suggested they go off together. The farmer orders the girl to
her room, but Saranora only asks to sit quietly and read her book. Jeremiah
takes the book from her and throws it in the fire then locks Saranora in her
As the Virginian and Clay delegate Trampas' chores to other hands, Holly
interrupts by introducing David. Elizabeth, curious about the new man in
the house, slips in to hear the discussion. David states that he knows one
of the Shiloh men was hurt in the saloon, and he was the "swamper" that felt
responsible for it. Dave doesn't want Trampas to be put out because he can't
do his job and wishes to work in his place - no pay, just room and board.
Clay declares, "there's been no thought of turning him out. Trampas is our
top hand." The Virginian inquires if Dave has had any experience with cattle.
Dave has not but says he does know about horses. The Virginian grills him on
a Persian Pudding Foot, knots, hackamores, bits, and stirrups until Dave has
to confess that he has his own horse and takes good care of it and that is
the extent of his experience. The foreman tells him they need a "seasoned
hand, not a saddle warmer." Liz interrupts to ask her uncle to just give a
willing-to-learn Dave a try.
In the bunkhouse Trampas loses his interest in the card game when the
discussion of the horse roundup reminds him he had hoped to be able to
catch the Appaloosa he'd seen as a colt last year. The Virginian and Dave
enter with the announcement that Dave will be working at Shiloh. Coley is
outraged at the thought of this, and when the Virginian gives him the job of
taking Dave "under his wing" he makes it as hard as he can on the new hand
hoping Dave will decide the job's too hard and be on his way.
While Saranora is gathering eggs, a drunken Rafe comes on to her once more.
He reminds her that she's nice to other men, so why can't she "be nice" to
him. Saranora runs out of the barn just as Jeremiah returns. When he sees
her torn blouse, the farmer heads for the barn to have it out with Rafe.
Seeing her chance, Saranora shuts them both in the barn and rides away.
David is practicing roping a barrel with hopes that if he learns this skill
he won't have to spend all his time putting up fence. Trampas hobbles up on
his crutch to give him a few pointers. Dave would like to know what is so
special about the wild horse roundup he's been hearing about. Trampas replies
that it's like a vacation. All the men drop what they're doing. Each hand
can pick out his own string and sell any of the others he's caught. But the
thought of missing the big doings so upsets Trampas that he murmurs it didn't
matter because Dave can't rope well enough to go anyway and should just
stick to swamping saloons.
Jeremiah and Rafe search for Saranora, and Jeremiah vows that if he finds
her with a man he will kill him. Maybe that's the only way she'll learn not
to run away.
To avoid further confrontation with the men, Dave has taken his roping
practice away from the ranch yard and is getting proficient at lassoing a
tree stump. Liz inquires why he's bothering to learn to rope if he intends
to only stay until Trampas' leg has healed. David explains that it might
come in handy sometime at the next place he works. Elizabeth wonders where
David will go. Dave answers he lets his horse make the important decisions.
"In other words," the girl comments, "you're a dedicated drifter." David
recites something in a dialect Elizabeth has never heard then tells her his
father had come from Wales and had been a coal miner like his grandfather
and great grandfather before him. His dad wanted something more for his son.
However, Dave felt it was "something I'm not, something I'll never be." So
he worked his way West and here he was at Shiloh. Liz says, "for awhile"
then asks, "David, what are you running from?" The drifter replies that
he'll know that "as soon as I know where I'm going." An excited Jean rides
by heralding the arrival of the mustangs. The cowhands get their gear and
exit the bunkhouse leaving a dejected Trampas behind.
The wild horses are chased into a small canyon where the men put their ropes
on them. Dave gets his loop over one, and Clay approves, "Well, Boys, looks
like we got us a new roper." But Jean observes, "Isn't that Trampas' little
Appaloosa?" Indeed it is.
Back in the bunkhouse Trampas and Liz are playing checkers. Trampas doesn't
have his mind much on the game and reminisces how "last year I didn't quit
until it was too dark to see what I was roping." There's a knock on the door,
and Liz opens it to an anxious Saranora who asks if Dave Sutton works there.
She wants to see him - now! - and, afraid that she might not be permitted
to talk to Dave otherwise, she lies that she is his wife.
Holly brings Dave to the guest room where Saranora explains her plight:
She had come looking for him because she had no other place to go,
and if Jeremiah finds her he will kill her. After her pa died Jeremiah took
her and her mother in, and at first they thought they could depend on him.
But he killed her mother. And now he was keeping her a prisoner. Dave
promises he will talk to the Graingers. They are "good people", and she'll
be "safe at Shiloh."
Jeremiah finds Rafe in the saloon and determines to ask everyone around if
they have taken in Saranora, but the hired hand comments they don't need to
ask everybody, just the "men folk."
In the corral, Dave has his rope on the Appaloosa, and Trampas limps up to
join Harper and the other men at the fence. Showing a little resentment that
Dave has the horse and not he, Trampas spouts out some advice - not so much
for David's safety as because he doesn't want to "spoil a good horse."
Dave becomes exasperated at Trampas' continuous talk and makes it clear that
it was his horse and he was going to train him himself. In his jealousy
Trampas mouths off that Dave will never break the horse to saddle because he
doesn't know enough about it, and he "won't get any help from anyone around
here." Dave doesn't understand why Trampas should be such a "sore head,"
but the Virginian explains that Trampas had had his eye on the Appaloosa -
not for himself but because he wanted to break it and give it to Elizabeth
for her eighteenth birthday.
Up in the hills David relates to Saranora that he's a "dud" at making friends.
The girl declares that she is his friend. They spot an abandoned house, and
inside Saranora recounts that she and her mother had lived in a house like
that with her gentle, loving father. Then Dave relates that his mother had
died when he was born. His father wanted more for him than mining so he had
gone to medical school where "they teach you how to treat everything but
cure nothing." When his Dad got lung disease all Dave could do was watch him
die. Saranora finds a pitiful wooden doll and remembers her father making
her one. Her mother read her stories of dragons and princesses, and she
pretended to be a princess. Dave suggests they leave the house to the ghosts
and "go where there is life and music and good times."
David and Saranora attend a dance with Elizabeth and Trampas (who is finding
little pleasure in being there because he can't participate). Liz suggests
that Saranora dance with Dave. Rafe enters the dance hall and sees Saranora
enjoying herself with another man. On the way home from the dance the foursome
is accosted by Jeremiah and Rafe who insist Saranora return with them.
Saranora refuses, and David takes the girl's side. Rafe threatens Dave, but
Trampas pulls his gun and shoots the pistol out of Rafe's hand. Jeremiah
asserts that Saranora hasn't seen the last of him, and he'll be coming after
Holly and Liz try to assure Saranora that Jeremiah is "only one man against
a whole ranch." After the other women leave to fix supper, Saranora hears a
commotion at the corral and looks out the window to see Dave being thrown
from the Appaloosa.
Trampas and Harper join the others at the corral to watch Dave make another
attempt at riding the horse. Coley wants to place a bet that the mustang
will win, and yells for the horse to throw the tenderfoot. But finally
Trampas has to admire Dave's grit and the fact that he kept getting
back on the horse until he successfully rode him. However, the irate Coley
will only consider Dave a "stinking saloon swamper" with no place at Shiloh.
Dave agrees he may leave alright, but first he has to give Coley a
punch in the jaw.
Dave is cleaning up outside the bunkhouse when Saranora joins him. Dave
confides his "hand is sore for waiting for someone to shake it" and that no
one had even a good word for him. Saranora wants them to run off together,
but Dave recounts how his grandfather had been buried under coal and all he
could do was move his fingers. Yet he had tried to dig himself out and, by
the grace of God and the digging of other miners, he lived to tell about it.
Dave wants to think he is no more a quitter than his grandfather was.
He goes in the bunkhouse where the other men are eating supper. The atmosphere
is tense until Trampas announces with a grin, "what's the matter, horse
fighter? You too proud to sit with us common cowpunchers?" Trampas moves
his foot from the chair it's propped on and offers the seat to Dave.
But Coley can't abide Dave sitting at the same table and leaves his plate
The next morning Liz informs Dave that Saranora is gone, and all she took
with her was the old wooden doll. Coley, who has decided to quit Shiloh,
overhears Dave's comment about knowing where she might be, and when Jeremiah
comes to the bunkhouse demanding to have Saranora returned to him the
disgruntled cowboy tells the farmer where they have gone.
Saranora is at the abandoned house remembering an argument with Jeremiah
when David calls her name. She thinks at first it is Jeremiah and yells
that she hates him because he killed her mother. She wonders why Jeremiah
wants to come take her home, and at the word "home" David interrogates
Saranora about that home and her father's name until she finally screams out
"Jeremiah." She runs from the house with Dave after her, and Jeremiah
demands David stop. But David determines he's going after Saranora. As
Jeremiah takes shots at Dave, Saranora comes from the bushes. David tells
Jeremiah that Saranora had claimed her father was dead. Saranora suggests he
kill her, too, just like he killed her mother. Jeremiah admits that he had
killed her mother - the way men kill their women in the West, by working her
to death. And the night his wife had died Saranora had locked herself in her
room. After that nothing was the same between them. The girl wants Dave to
take her away, but Dave declines explaining he'd been running
for a long time and running "is no way to be, no way to live.
You have to belong somewhere." Saranora belongs with her father. Dave
suggests that Jeremiah take her to town sometimes and let her find out what
she can be in life. The girl leaves the doll behind, and father and daughter
go home together.
There's a party at Shiloh - Elizabeth is eighteen years old. Trampas shows
off his healed leg by dancing Liz a turn around the room. Harper gives Liz
her birthday present, a new saddle "from all the boys in the bunkhouse," then
Clay declares that someone is waiting for her outside. As Liz goes out the
door, she is met by David and the Appaloosa horse. Liz exclaims, "David, not
your horse." "No," replies Dave, "not my horse, yours. It's a present - from
Trampas." Trampas blurts, "From me? You roped him, you broke him, and you
trained him" to which Dave retorts, "But it was your idea." Liz breaks into
the escalating contention with "let it be from both
of you" and gives each man a kiss on the cheek. (bj)
Notes on Trampas' character and his relationships:
The director made good use of Doug McClure's ability to say more with a
facial expression than with words. Trampas' face showed the disappointment
in not being able to go on the horse roundup because he had his eye on the
colt. It also showed the hurt in not having caught the horse and the welling
envy as Dave worked with "his" Appaloosa. Yet as it became apparent that
Dave was not a quitter and was indeed a "horse fighter" the expression on
Trampas' face changed to reflect a genuine admiration even with the undertone
of disappointment. He probably still wished he could have been the one to
train and give the horse to Liz, but the time had come to drop the jealousy
and not only show appreciation for a job well done but happiness for the
person who achieved what he had not. Also, at the dance Trampas did have a
moment when he determined to join in the fun by making himself clap along
with the music. These are just other examples of how the character of Trampas
was brought along in the series from the self-centered boy of 2.01 "Ride a Dark Trail."
During the seventh season Trampas seemed to be more demonstrative with
his affection for Elizabeth. When the girl failed to blow out all the
candles on her cake, Trampas was standing by to proudly blow out the one she
missed then give her a kiss on the cheek. The affection was toned down
in season eight. This also marked the start of a genuine friendship between
Dave and Trampas. Although they sometimes had their altercations, Trampas
still said that Dave was his "best friend" (7.17 "Crime Wave in Buffalo
Springs). These two men were often used together in the comedic episodes of
the season. Universal must have thought there was a chemistry between the
actors having paired them in the 1968 theatrical release NOBODY'S PERFECT.
Use of the word "yo": When Trampas congratulates Dave on his horse breaking
with "Sure gonna be a good horse," Dave affirms, "yo." Trampas comes back
with, "You betcha" and then, recognizing his word, agrees, "yo!" Also, at
the end of this episode Trampas comments, "Good looking horse, yo?" to which
David pronouces, "yo!" Humor was added to this scene when Doug McClure
(at 6'2" and a few inches shorter than David Hartman) stepped up a stair on
the porch to stand even with Dave, whistling as he did so. When Dave saw
Trampas eye to eye he stepped up on the same stair to once more tower over
him, much to the amusement of Holly Grainger who was behind them.
The wish Clay had for Liz on her birthday was the same one recalled by
her when she was trapped in the mine in 7.23  "Storm Over Shiloh":
"May the woman you've become tonight be of the same joyous spirit, the same
wondrous wisdom as the girl you've been." [bj]
The horse chase scene must have been Universal stock footage as portions of
it were also used in Revue's OVERLAND TRAIL episode 13 "Sour Annie".
You can also see the footage where the black horse falls down the hill (in
a mirror image) on THE VIRGINIAN episode 3.18 "Hideout."
The Appaloosa that Dave was shown roping and breaking was not the one
given to Liz for her birthday. The latter horse was the one Sara Lane rode
during the rest of the series, and according to Peggy Hudson's TV TODAY and
March 1970 THE WESTERN HORSEMAN article "Sara Lane, Television's Cowgirl,"
was named Easter Ute, owned by James Drury, a gift from a rancher in
Dave left his canteen at Jeremiah's well. Jeremiah picked it up and looked
at it. After the horse was shot, the camera went to Saranora holding Dave's
canteen and then putting it on a peg on the wall. Nothing else was seen of
The Irish Rovers sing "Come In" and "Don't Mind if I Do" at the dance.
Jean Peloquin sings "Liz Has Turned Eighteen" at the birthday party.
Tom Skerritt fans can also find him in 1.08 "Impasse," 2.26 "The Secret
of Brynmar Hall," 3.29 "The Showdown," 6.22 "The Crooked Path," and "9.14
Look for Chris Robinson in 2.06 "It Takes a Big Man," 3.02 "Dark
Challenge," and 9.10 "Experiment at New Life" [bj]
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