CTVA - The Virginian 7.02 [177] "Silver Image" 25-Sept-1968

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7.02 [177]
"Silver Image"

Original NBC Broadcast - 25 September 1968

Universal TV
Executive Producer Norman Macdonnell
Produced by Joel Rogosin
Teleplay by Don Tait /  Story by Joel Rogosin
Directed by Don McDougall

(shown in the ride in)
John McIntire as Clay Grainger (not in this episode)
Doug McClure as Trampas (stock footage only)
David Hartman as Dave Sutton (not in this episode)
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger
James Drury as The Virginian

Guest stars:
James Daly [Dan Sheppard]
Bob Random [Jeremy Sheppard]
Special Guest Star
Geraldine Brooks [Della Price]
Complete Ending Credits:
William Smith as Spector
Donald Barry as Carstairs
Ross Elliott as Sheriff Abbott (recurring character)
Harry Harvey, Sr. as Lester
Red Morgan as Cliff
Harper Flaherty as Harper (recurring character)
Dick Shane as Dick (recurring character)
Tim Graham as Bystander
Music Score Leonard Rosenman
(nice use of the main theme as the Virginian is riding into town at
the beginning and soft music during the romantic scenes) [rho]
Theme Percy Faith
Director of Photography Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director ... George Patrick
Film Editor ... Edward Haire, A.C.E.
Unit Manager ... Willard H. Sheldon
Assistant Director ... Mel A. Bishop
Set Decorations ... John McCarthy and Perry Murdock
Sound ... David H. Moriarty
Color Coordinator ... Robert Brower
Editorial Supervision ... Richard Belding
Music Supervision ... Stanley Wilson
Costumes by ... Helen Colvig
Makeup ... Bud Westmore
Hairstylist ... Larry Germain
The title "The Virginian" by permission of EMKA LTD.

Series regular characters appearing in this episode:
featuring the Virginian, with Elizabeth, Sheriff Mark Abbott, Harper, Dick
and stock footage of Trampas

Detailed Synopsis:
The Virginian is riding into town in a buggy to pick up a visitor when he
passes by a creek. He notices the creek contains oil sludge. When he
arrives in town he runs into ranchwoman Della Price. Della is widowed
but is thinking of selling her property to an oil speculator named Carstairs.
The Virginian informs her that he met with a group of local cattlemen and
they are prepared to make an offer for her property. The ranchers are
concerned that oil wells might ruin the land. He says there's room for
cattle and oil "if it's develped right," but he isn't sure about this fellow
Carstairs. She says he "seems like a reasonable man" and her foreman,
Jim Spector, trusts him. Just then a fight from the saloon spills out into
the street. Spector and Shiloh hand Harper are the antagonists. The
Virginian breaks it up and Spector walks away, but not before having a
few more words to say. After he leaves, Harper explains that he drove
some strays back to the Price Ranch and Spector "liked to chew my head off!
Told me to keep off Price land!" The Virginian surmises that he probably
didn't want anyone "tampering with that oil well." "It's not too popular,
that's for sure!" says Harper. Harper asks if Mrs. Price "was still thinking
of selling out." The Virginian replies, "Spector's doing her thinking these
days." The Virginian tells him to finish his errands, ride back the long
way and "stay out of trouble." Meanwhile, he has a train to meet.

The scene shifts to the train nearing Medicine Bow. In a private car are
famed photographer Dan Sheppard, his son Jeremy and their grumpy cook, Lester.
Dan has been corresponding with Clay Grainger and is coming to Medicine Bow
to shoot some pictures of a "working ranch." Back in Medicine Bow, the
Virginian is commiserating with Sheriff Mark Abbott about Della Price possibly
selling out to oil speculators; "All you have to say is 'oil' and before
you know it, the scum and the riffraff from everywhere come pouring in, a
tent city pops up on the outside of town and everyone who thinks he isn't
getting his share of the quick money turns to stealing or worse!" Sheriff
Abbott asks how they can stop it and the Virginian says that they'll have
to learn to live with it "if it's legitimate." The sheriff says he'll check
on Carstairs as the whistle blows and the Virginian goes out to meet the
Sheppards' train.

When they get back to Shiloh, Dan starts right in taking pictures. Liz
apologizes for not meeting them at the train but Dan assures her that the
"last thing he wants to do is interfere with their work." Liz takes Jeremy
aside and says that it must be exciting to travel to all those places taking
pictures. Jeremy tells her, "It's fun, but it can be lonely, too. It's hard
to make friends when you're traveling around so much." "Well, you've already
made some right here," she tells him. "I like your father," she adds, "I feel
like I've known him for years." "Yeah, he's easy to like!" answers Jeremy.
While taking more pictures, Dan tells the Virginian that most people in the
East don't know what it's like in the West. He supplies the railroad with
photographs and they provide him transportation. In addition to the photos
he takes for the railroad, he also wants to take pictures of things that
interest him, hence his visit to Shiloh. "I want to show the men working.
When people look at my photographs, I want them to be able to smell the smoke
of a branding fire, taste the grit of the dust in their teeth. I want to
photograph the feel of things like those 40-below mornings you get out here!"
he says with a smile.

That night, over at Della Price's ranch, Carstairs is making a sales pitch for
her ranch, abetted by her foreman, Spector. She is unsure about selling
because of what it may mean to the other ranches in the area. Spector tells
her that her first obligation is to herself and that the other ranchers aren't
really interested in her welfare. She asks Carstairs to leave the papers
with her and she'll look at them in the morning. Outside, Carstairs complains
to Spector that Della is a stubborn woman. Spector tries to ease his concerns
by explaining that she's taken a shine to him and will ultimately do what he
says. After all, he got her to let Carstairs drill a test well. Carstairs
is impatient, however, and is anxious for "a return on his investment."

Over the next few days we see Dan taking numerous pictures of the activities
around Shiloh. Harper and Dick are even able to persuade him to join in with
the chores. One day he mistakenly wanders over to the Price land to take more
pictures. While he's in his portable dark room, Spector and another Price
hand, Cliff Barber, ride by. They demand to know what's "going on in there."
Dan calls out that he can't come out because he's "washing a plate." Cliff
lassos the portable dark room and pulls it over. Dan responds by grabbing
the rope and pulling Cliff off his horse. Spector draws his gun and tells
him they will "escort him back to the property line." Just then, the Virginian
rides up and orders the two men to let him go. After they ride away, Dan
wryly says, "Nice neighbors!" "Well, they used to be till Sam Price died
and the Widow Price got some notion about going into the oil business,"
answers the Virginian, "Since then, they've kind of dislocated themselves
from the community." "Well, it looks like a long way to go for a cup of
sugar anyway," quips Dan.

In town, Jeremy is trying to drum up some side business by urging the townspeople
to have their pictures taken. One customer is Della Price, who tells him her
dressmaker suggested she give it a try. Later, Jeremy is showing the proofs
to his father and Dan recognizes Della as someone he used to know; "Her name
was Evans then, Della Evans." The next day he asks the Virginian about her.
Dan tells him that "if I hadn't taken a job as a deckhand on a riverboat one
year, we might have been married. I was young and restless. I wanted to see
everything, do everything...I guess Della just got tired of waiting." The
Virginian says, "Being a woman is one thing. Doing business like a man is
another." Dan says that it would seem to him that if the oil speculator is
offering a fair price, she has the right to accept it. "Maybe it is, but it's
just not that simple," replies the Virginian; "He's just one man. You get a
hundred men camping out there and all competing with each other and..." "And
pretty soon everyone's walking around ankle deep in the stuff, huh?" says Dan.
"If there is a field," says the Virginian, "If not the damage is done anyhow
...I'll tell you this. I know these ranchers around here. They're not going
to let some stranger come along and spoil something they've spent a lifetime
building up." Dan says he'd like to see Della again, but the Virginian advises
against it, saying "with Spector around, I doubt you'd get within shouting
distance of the house!"

Despite the Virginain's warning, Dan decides to call on Della. Sure enough,
he's stopped by Spector and his men, who proceed to beat him up. Della sees
this, however, and stops the assault because she "doesn't want to start a range
war." She tells Spector to bring him inside, but then is startled when she
recognizes him. She tells Spector that Dan is an old friend. Spector mutters
an apology and walks away. When alone, the two former sweethearts catch up
on their pasts. Della reveals that her late husband, Sam, was older than she,
rather quiet and unexciting. He had courted her for a long time and finally,
when her father died and Sam "took care of everything," her resistance had worn
down to where she agreed to become his bride. She hints that maybe one of the
reasons she married Sam was to "show" Dan. Dan scoffs at this notion and says,
"You can't take a man like that lightly. He knew what he wanted and went after
it." Dan tells her that in the nineteen years since they've seen each other
he's been quite happy with his work and life with his son. When asked, he
also says he loved his late wife very much. There's a knock at the door and
it's none other than Jeremy, who has come to deliver the photographs and is
surprised to see his father there. That evening back at Shiloh, Jeremy
confesses to Liz that it was a jolt to see his father with another woman.
Liz tells him, "It's hard to imagine a father having any interests that don't
include his children, but I guess they do. I mean, well, they're people, too!"

The next day, Dan, Jeremy, Liz and the Virginian all ride into town so Dan can
give them a tour of his train-car rolling studio. The Virginian seems preoccupied
with his other troubles. Dan tells him, "I'll talk to Della if you think it
will do any good." The Virginian tells him he doesn't want him "taking on our
problems." Dan says it's no problem at all and he'll ride out there in the next
day or two. Jeremy overhears this and says he thought they were leaving for
Colorado in two days. He agrees with the Virginian that maybe he shouldn't get
mixed up in this. Dan tells him, "The folks at Shiloh have gone out of their
way to help me in my work. They've given us the run of the ranch. I consider
them our good friends. If there's anything I can do to help, I want to do it.
I'm sorry you don't feel the same way."

We next see Dan and Della having a picnic in a meadow. Della is consumed with
happiness. "I'd feel like an awful fool if you didn't kiss me," she says.
They embrace and kiss. "I've been so lonely," says Della. Dan replies, "Well,
you're not expected to wear widow's weeds more than a year, Della. Sam's been
dead longer than that." "I wasn't talking about one year of loneliness," she
replies, "I was talking about nineteen years. You know that Sam and I never
spent one day like this in the time we were married? I'd almost forgotten what
it was like to tease, laugh out loud and kiss like that. It was as if I'd been
cheated!" "There are plenty of days ahead, Della," says Dan. "For both of us,"
she adds. Dan, feeling a bit uneasy, tries to change the subject by looking at
his watch and saying he has to get back to work. Della notices a picture of
Dan's wife in the watch locket and says she'd like him to take a picture of her
some time. "I'd like to very much," he replies. He then brings up the subject
of selling her ranch. He promised the Virginian that he would do so. "Is that
why you came out to see me?" she asks. "No," he answers. "What would you
advise me to do?" she asks. "Well, I'm in no position to advise you, Della, but
the ranchers deserve a straight answer. I've only known the Virginian for a
few days, but he seems like a very nice fellow. If he represents the others,
I'm sure no one will take advantage of you," says Dan. As they pack up and
leave, Spector emerges from the bushes. He's been eavesdropping on all of this.

Spector rides over to Carstairs at the oil well to tell him that the job will
take longer than expected, so he'll need his money in advance. When Carstairs
refuses, Spector confesses that Della gave him a $5000 bank draft to buy some
breeding stock, but he and Cliff had a few drinks and gambled it away. She'll
be expecting that stock or else he'll wind up in jail. Carstairs still won't
budge, telling him, "The minute she signs that bill of sale, you'll get yours,
and not a minute before!"

Back at Shiloh, Dan is showing some of his pictures to the Virginian, when he
notices Liz and Jeremy saddling up for a trail ride. Jeremy invites him to come
along, but Dan declines, saying he's going to Della's to take some pictures of
her. Jeremy asks when he'll be back and does little to hide his chagrin when
Dan answers, "I have no idea. I've been invited to stay for supper."

We next see Dan snapping various pictures of Della in idyllic settings around her
ranch, such as the arbor, the rose garden and the swing. All of this is being
observed by Spector and Cliff. Cliff remarks, "It don't look like she's in any
hurry to sell to Carstairs or anybody else." "It better be Carstairs!" snaps
Spector. He then tells Cliff to get a couple of sticks of dynamite and "blow
the cap off that well." He figures that will "give her a shove in the right
direction." He adds, "If I know Della Price, she's not going to sell out to a
bunch of night riding ranchers and that's who we'll get to blame. We haven't
been keeping the pot boiling for nothing, Cliff!" Cliff points out that Carstairs
isn't going to want to pay $5000 to see his well blown up and they could end up
in jail. "Well, that's where we're gonna wind up if she finds out we lost her
money!" says Spector.

That night after supper, Della launches into a prepared speech of how when she
sells the ranch she's going to be rich and would like to help Dan out with his
dream of settling down and doing his work of developing lenses for smaller
cameras that everyone can use. She says, "We're good for each other, Dan. We
laugh at the same things. We're each interested in what the other has to say
and even when there isn't anything to say, then the silences are warm." "I
can't argue with you on a single count," replies Dan, "but it wouldn't work."
"Why wouldn't it work? Because of Jeremy?" she asks. "It has nothing to do
with Jer...I don't love you, Della. Not that way, anyway. And that's the
way it would have to be," he says. Taken aback, she asks, "You did love me
once, didn't you?" "Yes," he replies, "But we couldn't have loved each other
enough or things wouldn't have turned out the way they did. Now, we're
different people." She stands up and says, "Goodbye, Dan." He hesitates and
then leaves.

After his exit, she goes over to Spector's quarters and tells him she's decided
to sell to Carstairs. The delighted Spector pours drinks for the two of them
in celebration and tells her, "When this thing is over, you're going to want
to get as far away from here as you possibly can. You'll want to keep on
going and not look back, get everything out of life that you've got coming to
you. You can't do that alone. Don't tell me the thought never occurred to
you!" He suddenly remembers Cliff and the dynamite and hastily excuses himself,
leaving her alone in the room. She at first laughs in irony and then bursts
into tears. She puts down the glass and leaves.

Spector fails to arrive in time and Cliff blows up the well, starting a huge
conflagration. While trying to get away, Cliff is hit by a gunshot from Carstairs.
Spector meets up with the wounded and fleeing Cliff and asks him if anyone saw
him. Before he can answer, Cliff falls off his horse. Meanwhile the oil well
blaze has started a huge brushfire. Harper can see the fire from Shiloh, so
he alerts the others. The Shiloh hands ride out to battle the raging inferno,
joined by Dan and Jeremy. The next morning, after the blaze has been extinguished,
the Virginian tells Dan that there has been a fair amount of damage to several
ranches. Dan asks if he knows how it started. The Virginian answers, "Not for
sure, but one thing is sure. There's oil on the creek all the way to Flat Rock."

The scene shifts to Sheriff Abbott's office where the sheriff tells the Virginian
that Carstairs thinks he or one of the other cattlemen dynamited the well.
Carstairs said he shot at a man and thinks he hit him. Mark says he's going to
have to find that rider "before this thing spreads into a full blown range war."
Mark adds that the sheriff in Elkhorn sent him information about Carstairs.
He's a wildcatter. He drills a test well and if it has oil, buys the land and
sells it out in small parcels. He doesn't wait around afterwards to see if it
proves out. "Does Mrs. Price know this about him?" asks the Virginian. Mark
replies, "She says she can't be responsible for what happens after she leaves.
Apparently, she wants out. She feels that her neighbors dynamited that well.
Carstairs' offer still stands." Just then Dan enters with a picture he took
during the fire. A riderless horse appears in the distance. He says it looks
like one of the horses he saw the day he strayed onto the Price Ranch. "Cliff
Barber. Could be that light sorrell horse of his, but what would it be doing
up there without a rider?" muses the Virginian. "The fire could have driven
it up there, if it lost its rider," says the sheriff.

We next see Sheriff Abbott and the Virginian at the Price Ranch. They have found
Cliff's horse. Spector had apparently told the sheriff that he fired Cliff
several days earlier "for not pulling his weight" but this conflicts with what
he has heard from some of the other Price hands who told him he was a good worker.
"On this ranch I do the hiring and firing!" snaps Spector. The Virginian says
that Cliff's gear is still in the bunkhouse. "Maybe he was going to send for it.
I don't know. I told him I wanted him off the place and that's what I meant!"
says Spector. "Was that before the fire?" asks the sheriff. "Yeah, why?" asks
Spector. "Well, for a man in such a hurry, he didn't get very far. There's
burns on his horse's shanks," says the Virginian. Mark adds that the people
at the oil well said that Cliff's horse "could easily have been the one they
saw that night." He says that he is accusing his "recently discharged hand" of
blowing up the well. "It's possible," concedes Spector, "But it wouldn't be
the first time a fired hand ever tried to burn down a barn or something, would
it? I'd sure asks him about it when I caught up with him!" "We already have,"
says the Virginian, "in a fresh dug grave where you left him!" Spector asks
how he's going to back that up. The sheriff says, "If Carstairs shot Cliff,
maybe he had a reason. (But) why would anyone want to bury him like that?
Now, you rode with Cliff. Anyone finding him dead would want to ask you a
couple of questions, like where were you when that fire broke out!" "Right here
with Mrs. Price the whole time," smirks Spector. "No, he wasn't!" says Della,
who has just walked up, "We were together for a few minutes, Suddenly he
remembered he had something to do that was terribly important." Spector
stammers that he tried to stop him, but Sheriff Abbott isn't convinced and
arrests him.

We next see the Virginian and Liz seeing Dan and Jeremy off at the train.
The Virginian thanks him again for helping out during the fire. Dan says
he wishes that he could have been more help with Della and asks if he's heard
anything more. The Virginian says that he hasn't but "it doesn't look good."
Just then Della rides up. "I wanted to thank you for sending me the photographs,"
she says, "They made it so clear to me! The house, the arbor, the flowers and
the swing. They were all expressions of Sam's love. I'm sorry I realized it so
late. I was loved. Sam just never knew how to say it, but it was you, Dan,
those wonderful photographs that made me understand. I will cherish what he gave
me." Lester calls out that it's time to leave. Dan and Della say goodbye.
Dan starts to leave but Della runs back up and says, "I got up at five o'clock
this morning. It took me two hours to get dressed and two hours more to come
here and I'm going to feel like an awful fool if you don't ..." With that, they
embrace and share one final kiss. Della ruefully watches the train leave.
The Virginian walks over to gingerly bring up the subject of selling her ranch.
She says she's not selling the ranch to the other ranchers or Carstairs. "What
about the oil?" asks the Virginian. "They say it's been there for a million
years or more. I guess it can wait a little longer until we can develop it
properly," she says. "Then you're staying?" asks Liz. "I will for a while,"
answers Della, "Who knows? I may even learn to run the ranch the way Sam did!"
Liz points out that it's almost lunch time. The Virginian asks her to join
them and the three walk off arm in arm.


This episode makes frequent use of stop-action black and white shots to simulate
a photographer taking pictures. One of the stop-action shots is of Trampas, who
otherwise doesn't appear in this episode.

Starting with season 7, new footage was used in the opening "ride-in" credits.
The "ride-in" footage of the Virginian looks like it came from this episode.

James Daly can also be seen in episode 5.24[144] "Nightmare at Fort Killman," where
he plays a cruel Army sergeant, a far cry from the pleasant, affable fellow he
plays here.

Geraldine Brooks is also in episode 1.15[015] "Duel at Shiloh," where, curiously,
she also plays a neighboring ranchwoman whose surname is "Price" although it is a
completely different character.

Bob Random can also be seen in episode 4.08[098] "Nobility of Kings."[rho]

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