The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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Original NBC Broadcast - 2 October 1968
Executive Producer Norman Macdonnell
Produced by James Duff McAdams
Teleplay by Andy Lewis / Story by Ken Finlay
Directed by James Sheldon
(Shown in the Ride in)
John McIntire as Clay Grainger (IN this episode)
Doug McClure as Trampas (IN this episode)
David Hartman as David Sutton (NOT IN this episode)
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger (NOT IN this episode)
and James Drury as The Virginian (IN this episode)
Burgess Meredith [Tim Bradbury]
William Windom [Chick Mead]
Brandon de Wilde [Walt Bradbury]
Ben Murphy [Mike Bradbury]
Jeanette Nolan as Holly Grainger
Tyne Daly as Faith Bradbury
Ross Elliott as Sheriff Abbott
Music Score Leonard Rosenman
Theme Percy Faith
Director of Photography
Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director...George Patrick
Film Editor...J. Howard Terrill
Unit Manager...Willard H. Sheldon
Assistant Director...Mel A. Bishop
Set Decorators...John McCarthy
and Perry Murdock
Sound...David H. Moriarty
Color Co-ordinator...Robert Brower
Editorial Supervision...Richard Belding
Musical Supervision...Stanley Wilson
Costumes by...Helen Colvig
Hair Stylist...Larry Germaine
The title "The Virginian" by permission of EMKA LTD
Regulars appearing in this episode;
The Virginian, Clay, Trampas, Holly, Jean and Sheriff Abbott
Clay can't refuse help to an old friend, Tim Bradbury, to whom he
believes he owes everything, but when Tim's dreams for the future become
unrealistic, circumstances lead to a tragedy. [bg]
"The Orchard" is a subtle drama dealing with shattered dreams, pride,
guilt and the conflict between unealistic hopes and reality.
Many years earlier,Tim Bradbury had been Clay's mentor,then his business partner
in a successful Texas ranch. During a lengthy drought Clay had sold his share of
the cattle to Tim, so he could move north and take his chances there. Tim
gambled that the drought would end and he would become even richer. Things
worked out for Clay, but Tim lost everything.
Now, twenty years on, Tim is living on land neighbouring Shiloh, with his two
sons and pregnant daughter-in-law, scratching the most meagre living and heavily
in debt. He is determined to fight back, however, but dreams of recreating his
past with unrealistic plans of building a prime herd of cattle.
Over at Shiloh a former hand, Chick Mead, and his cronies have been rustling
small numbers of cattle for some time, from nearby the Bradbury's. When Jean
investigates the latest incident he is shot by Mead,receiving a flesh wound.
Clay believes the way in which the cattle are being skimmed a few at a time
indicates that it is their "friends and neighbours" who are responsible, and so
does not wish to take the matter to the sheriff.
Meanwhile Tim's younger son Walt, a taciturn man with a slight limp,is cutting
down trees in his father's treasured orchard. Unknown to the rest of the family,
Walt wants to replace the trees, many of which are dead, with crops that could
provide a decent living for all of them in a few short months. Tim is angered
when he discovers the trees being felled, the orchard symbolises for him the one
he owned in Texas when he "had it all".
Tim's plan for the future involves deferring payments owed to Clay on a second
mortgage, in order to buy a neighbour's bull to found a high quality herd.
When Tim and Walt go over to Shiloh, Clay finds Walt examining a damaged seeding
machine that had belonged toJohn Grainger and offers Walt the use of it anytime
if he's willing to repair it. To Clay's puzzlement Walt asks him not to grant
his father's request this time. Clay agrees to the payments being delayed for a
year anyway, despite this. Holly understands Walt's view that Clay may have
moved from helping Tim to dispensing charity, but she also understands why Clay
feels he owes Tim everything.
Mike,the fiery-tempered elder Bradbury son, is working as a hand at Shiloh (to
provide some extra income for the family) but he has a weakness for poker, and
has already lost most of his pay to Chick Mead,in town. When Trampas discovers
Mike trying to borrow ten dollars from another hand and pointedly reminds him of
the twenty five dollars already owed to him, Mike lashes out and they have to be
Clay coldly tells Trampas that he always has the choice between settling his
differences on his own time, or drawing his pay, but says nothing to Mike about
the incident. Stung by this injustice the Virginian points out to Clay that he
has been harsh with Trampas, and that the ranch would be better off without
Mike, who is bad-tempered, unpopular and not a good worker. Clay replies that he
wants to keep Mike on because he is Tim Bradbury's son. The Virginian suggests a
compromise, having Mike go out to re-stock the line shacks, but Clay
objects,"That's old man's work. It's a waste of a good hand". "Yes," replies the
Virginian ,"It would be a waste of a GOOD hand".
In Medicine Bow next day, while loading the wagon for Mike's month-long trip,
the Virginian comments on an unusual diamond logo on a crate of supplies. Mead
passes by and appears to casually invite Mike to a game of poker, but Mike
confesses that he is broke and, in any case, is visiting his family that
Mike takes some of the line shack supplies with him to his family, claiming they
are "a gift from the Graingers". Tim outlines his plan to spend three hundred
dollars of their savings on Mr. McCabe's bull. Walt argues that their lack of
money, and the lengthy time required to build up a herd, make this idea far too
risky. Mike snaps back that as Walt's wife, Faith, is a part of the family they
should be able to call on her two hundred dollars savings if need be.
Walt is adamant that Faith's money will not be touched and describes his own
ideas for the farm. He has spent time working out how the fertile soil of the
orchard can be used most effectively, the costs involved, including the Shiloh
seeder and the prices they will get, estimating they can show a profit in three
months. Mike only scoffs and Tim is stunned - the Bradburys are cattlemen, not
farmers peddling vegetables. So Tim's vague dreams win out over Walt's careful
planning and it is arranged that Mike will drop the three hundred dollars off at
McCabe's, and Walt will collect the bull later.
Back in town Mead manipulates Mike into losing his father's money at poker then
persuades him to take part in the rustling scheme, by returning some of the
money, playing on the idea that he is Mike's "friend", and that by rustling he
can help his family set up again.
When Walt goes to collect the bull, it becomes clear to him what has happened.
So he waits to confront Mike at one of the line shacks, but instead he is burst
in on by Trampas, who's suspicions have been aroused by the unfamiliar wagon
outside the shack. Walt sullenly explains who he is and why he is there.
Long after Trampas has left, Mike arrives and confesses about the money. They
argue and Walt warns Mike he will square things for him this time, but if it
happens again he'll kill him.
On arriving with the bull, Walt takes Faith into the house to tell her he needs
to use her two hundred dollars, she gives him the money but while they talk Tim
impatiently tries to unload the bull by himself, getting his leg caught in the
rope as it breaks free. The only way he can be saved is for Faith to shoot and
kill the animal. Tim is uninjured, but his dreams are dead.
At Shiloh Trampas reports back to Clay and the Virginian, explaining about fresh
evidence of rustlers, Walt, the empty line shack and the fact that Mike was
nowhere to be found. When Trampas describes the diamond logo on a crate in
Walt's wagon the Virginian suggests it's time to go to the sheriff.
Walt is already in Medicine Bow trying to pay off Mike's gambling debts and
telling Mead never to play poker with his brother again. However Mead remarks
contemptuously that Walt should save his money and "buy a straight leg". The
Virginian, Clay and Sheriff Abbott arrive just in time to see Walt scattering
the money over the unconscious figure of Mead. Abbott heads Walt off to jail for
Holly goes to the Bradbury's as Faith is near to labour. Next day, Mike arrives
unexpectedly at Shiloh, cut, bruised and minus the supplies, claiming he was
bushwacked as he entered the first shack.
Clay turns up at the jail to inform Walt that Mike has returned and Faith has
had a baby girl. Despite his misgivings over Walt's connection with the rustling
incidents Clay refuses to take the matter further and a delighted Walt rushes
Meanwhile, Mead hatches a plan to clear the whole section of cattle. This will
be done as Mike leads the Shiloh crew in the opposite direction, looking for the
non-existent bushwackers - having conveniently "remembered" overhearing them
discuss taking cattle to an abandoned corral.
Walt figures out what is really going on when Tim tells him details of Mike's
story;He knows they can't be true, so rides out to find him.
By this time Mike has already led the Shiloh crew off on the false trail for
several hours. At nightfall he takes the midnight watch so that he can take off
to join Mead and his two companions. Mike reaches them in the early hours, and,
thinking that he will not be missed until dawn, they set off to round-up the
Walt ambushes them and tries to prevent them from stealing the Shiloh cattle. In
the ensuing fight Mike intervenes, killing Mead, but is killed himself, by the
bullet Mead intended for Walt. The Virginian and Trampas followed Mike at a
distance, but are unable to reach the scene in time to prevent the tragedy.
Following Mike's funeral Clay vows that he'll do anything on Earth to ensure
that things now run smoothly for Tim and his family. But Holly challenges Clay
to think again, suggesting that he had already done everything on Earth for Tim,
and that in his desire to be kind, and not go after the truth when he suspected
Walt, Clay is partially responsible for how things turned out. Not only that,
but perhaps each favour has not only appeased Clay's conscience for having
succeeded, while Tim failed, but has reminded Clay that, after all, he is now
the big man.
Clay: "I don't know anyone else in the world who'd say that to me."
Holly:"You are the world to me."
Later when Tim and Walt visit Clay, Tim asks for the loan of some cattle to
build a herd, but instead Clay suggests that he give them the seeder, the loan
of some hands to clear the old orchard and a guaranteed market for the first
year's produce. Tim responds bitterly that Clay has forgotten about Texas. Clay
replies that Tim bought the cattle at a fair price and took a fair gamble which
didn't pay off, he will no longer accept responsibility for Tim's bad luck and
Tim:"You can't enjoy seeing me brought down like this, can you?"
Clay:"I can't answer for everything in my soul, Tim, but I do know there's
gratitude, there's respect, there's the feeling that the best favour I can do
you is no favour at all - just the things that work - that are real."
Tim turns to walk out, but is stopped by Walt who reminds him that he said
they'd fight back, they wouldn't be licked, and asks him to at least talk it
over. Tim's attitude softens when he recognises his own voice in tht of his son.
The final scene shows the Bradbury's and the Graingers together in the orchard.
Work is beginning on tearing down the trees and preparing the ground. Tim is
outlining the family's plans for the new farm to Clay, taking things carefully
for the first year, "but then, just watch us go!" He admits wistfully, that
he'll miss the old trees, with their lovely, fragrant blossom year after year,
"But you're right, and Walter's right, everybody's right. They gotta go 'cause
they're old - just old." [bg]
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Main Contributor for this episode - Brendan Gardiner [bg]