CTVA - The Virginian  6.15 [164] "The Fortress" 27-Dec-1967 NBC

The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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6.15 [164]
"The Fortress"

Original NBC Broadcast - 27 December 1967

Universal TV Production
Produced By Norman MacDonnell
Teleplay By Sy Salkowitz
Story By Sy Salkowitz and W.R. Burnett
Directed By Abner Biberman
(Shown in the ride-in)
Charles Bickford (not in this episode)
(Bickford had died but remained on ride-in upto and including ep 6.16)
Doug McClure (not in this episode)
Clu Gulager
Don Quine (not in this episode)
Sara Lane
James Drury as The Virginian
Special Guest Star:  John McIntire
V164_LeslieNielsen.jpg (61431 bytes)
(pictured above -  H.M.Wynant and Leslie Nielsen)
Guest Stars Leslie Nielsen [as Winthrop]
Barbara Bouchet [as Francoise]
Kipp Hamilton [Gloria]

Complete ending credits:
Willard Sage as Clete
Paul Picerni as Parks
Don Wilbanks as Appleby
And H.M. Wynant as The Man
Shug Fisher as The Hotel Manager
Gregg Palmer......Sheriff
True Boardman.....Bank Manager
John Mitchum......Bartender
Ted H. Jordan.....Bank Teller
Associate Producer David Levinson
Theme Percy Faith
Director of Photography Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director.........George Patrick
Film Editor..........Richard G. Wray A.C.E.
Unit Manager.........Abby Singer
Assistant Director...Donald White
Set Decorations......John McCarthy
and Perry Murdock
Sound................Melvin M. 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 regulars appearing in this episode:
The Virginian, with brief appearances by Clay Grainger, Emmett Ryker
and Elizabeth Grainger.

Brief Synopsis:
The Virginian delivers the combined herds of several cattlemen to a small
town on the US-Canadian border, where he is paid $100,000 in cash by a
buyer named Winthrop. But two of Winthrop's men steal the money from the
bank and bring it back to their boss in Canada. When the foreman is told
there is nothing the U.S. law can do about it, he formulates an elaborate
scheme to retrieve the stolen loot, with the reluctant help of a beautiful,
but greedy, French girl. [apm]

Detailed Synopsis:
The Virginian delivers a herd of beef to Clarksville, Montana, on the Canadian
border, and is paid $100,000 cash by the buyer, Mr. Winthrop. They transact
the sale in the bank, and as soon as they both leave for a drink at the saloon,
two men emerge from the back room of the bank and steal the money. After they
escape, the bank manager tells the Virginian his bank draft is worthless, and
the sheriff tells him it's pointless organizing a posse since the thieves would
have fled to Canada where he has no jurisdiction. The Virginian has no choice
but to track them himself.

While stocking up on ammunition and supplies at the general store, the pretty
shopkeeper sympathizes with his loss, telling him how uncivilized the country
is and how much she desires to return to Paris. She wishes him 'bon chance',
which means good luck in French, and he thanks her.

The Virginian tracks the thieves to Winthrop City in Canada. He rides out to Mr.
Winthrop's ranch to warn him that the thieves are nearby, then returns to town
to check into the hotel. Winthrop's girlfriend, Gloria, asks him what the Virginian
is after and Winthrop answers "Some money I stole from him." He then brags to her
that there's "no way that he can win" and sends his bodyguard to keep an eye on
the foreman.

At the hotel, the Virginian is told by the desk clerk that he'll have to get
Winthrop's approval before he can allow him to check in. The Virginian tells him
to "ask the man who followed me here", alluding to Winthrop's bodyguard in the
doorway behind him. The gunman gives a nod to the desk clerk, who then offers the
Virginian some friendly advice: "Don't try to buck Mr. Winthrop because you won't
get any help."

At the saloon, the two thieves are celebrating when the Virginian stops in for a
drink, followed by Winthrop's bodyguard, of course. One of the thieves, named Parks,
comments that the Virginian is new in town and when he asks "When did you get in?"
the Virginian answers "Right behind you, all the way." The robber turns to his
friend, Appleby, and invites him to say "howdy" to the man who tracked them up from
the States. He tells the Virginian "We couldn't lose you at all, mister, you track
like an Indian." He offers to buy the Virginian a drink, and explains that he was
just doing his job when he stole the money. He tells the foreman to accept his loss
and be friendly. The Virginian tells them it wasn't a poker game, and it wasn't his
money to lose, and turns away. Parks tries to force the Virginian to face him, and
a fight ensues among the three men. Appleby grabs hold of the Virginian and Parks
prepares to pistol whip him. But Winthrop's bodyguard draws his gun and signals
them to let go of the Southerner.

The bodyguard brings the Virginian back to Winthrop's ranch, where the foreman
explains his fight with Parks and Appleby, and that he is sure they are the ones
who stole the money from the bank. Winthrop admits they work for him, and expresses
his surprise that they are the thieves. Just then Winthrop's accountant, Clete,
comes out of his office at the back of the house and is introduced. Winthrop invites
the Virginian to settle in the area if he's can't return to Wyoming and face his
employer without the money from the cattle sale. While he's talking, Winthrop's
girlfriend Gloria and Clete exchange meaningful glances.

The Virginian returns to the saloon where he finds the bartender counting out the
day's receipts, which will be collected by Winthrop. The bartender suspects the
Virginian is up to no good and warns him that "Nobody steals, especially from Winthrop."
Just then Clete comes in to pick up the money, with Winthrop's silent bodyguard.
Clete asks the Virginian if everything's all right and is told "Not yet." When they
leave, the bartender further warns the Virginian that Winthrop's gunhand, "the one
who never says anything," would "just as soon kill you as look at you."

Clete and the silent man return to Winthrop's house. Parks catches the Virginian
spying on them through the window and brings him into the house at gunpoint. Winthrop
dismisses everyone so he can talk to the Virginian alone. "You came here for your
money, you're not gonna get it, that's the end of it. Now you can ride out of here
in the morning or you can be dead, you take your pick." The Virginian tells him it's
not much of a choice, saying that Winthrop owes him something for depriving him of
his money and his job. He bargains with Winthrop to be allowed to stay and is told
he'll be watched the entire time.

The following day, Gloria and the Virginian are having a picnic by a stream. She
wonders aloud why he would stay there, and guesses that he's still trying to get
back his money, not really looking for ranchland as he claims. He asks if Winthrop
put her up to finding out the truth, and when she says "of course" he replies
"then I guess I'm looking for ranchland." Gloria expresses her liking for the
Virginian and asks him not to do anything that will get him hurt. He tries to
enlist her help in getting the money back, but she tells him there's no reason
for her to do so since she has everything she wants. Then the foreman brings
some food over to their watchdog, Winthrop's silent gunman, who has obviously
heard their entire conversation.

Later, Winthrop is asked to approve two telegrams the Virginian tried to send,
and he gives his ok. The telegrams arrive in Medicine Bow and are hand-delivered
by Emmett Ryker to Clay Grainger out at Shiloh. One is a request to the bank
manager in Medicine Bow to close out the Virginian's personal account and wire
the $4000 balance to Canada. But the Virginian only has $212.42 in his bank account!
While Clay is trying to figure out what it could mean, Ryker shows him the second
telegram. It's to the Virginian's "fiancee", a woman named Francoise Biret, asking
her to join him in Canada, but no one, including Elizabeth, seems to know who she
is. Ryker surmises the Virginian is in some kind of trouble, and recommends that
Clay send the Virginian $4000. They also decide to send a telegram from "Francoise"
saying she will come, hoping it's what the Virginian wanted them to do.

When the Virginian gets his money from Medicine Bow, he asks Winthrop if he can keep
some of it in the ranch safe. He's sent to Clete's office, and the accountant tries
to make sure the Virginian isn't watching when he enters the combination. But the
clever foreman sees the first number, 7, and interrupts Clete before he locks it again,
in order to get a look at the final number entered on the dial, 56.

The Virginian then rides out on a mysterious errand and is followed by Parks and the
silent bodyguard. But he ambushes them and makes them remove their gunbelts and boots.
When Parks tries to resist, the Virginian knocks him down with his rifle butt. The
bodyguard simply smiles and comments "Nice...real nice."

Back at Shiloh, Ryker and Clay are pondering another telegram they've received from
the Virginian, this one uncensored by Winthrop and a little more informative: "Middle
of swindle. Trying to get your money. Nothing you can do except wish me luck." Ryker
is anxious to go to Canada to help him out because he's "an old friend, a good friend."
But Clay suggests that it might be more helpful to play along with the scheme and
publish a story in the local paper saying that the foreman is overdue and the cattlemen
are concerned.

The Virginian arrives back in Winthrop with his "fiancee" who is really the French
girl he met in the general store in Clarksville. He's met first by Parks who is angry
about being ambushed, but the bodyguard steps in between the two, and Winthrop sends
Parks away. The Virginian introduces "Francoise" to Winthrop who invites them both
to dinner, and then the foreman tells her about the bodyguard who follows him to protect
him, or, depending on the circumstances, to kill him.

At dinner, Winthrop is a gracious host, and is obviously charmed by "Francoise". She is
equally impressed by the amenities in his home, including a piano that no one knows
how to play. When she remarks how much she misses having a piano, Winthrop gives her an
open invitation to use his anytime she wants. The two of them go for a walk in the
garden, and the Virginian, getting up for a second cup of coffee, spills some on Gloria's
dress. When she runs upstairs to change, he quickly heads for the office and tries to
crack the safe. But he's caught and sent out of the office by the bodyguard, who,
curiously, doesn't report the incident to Winthrop.

In the garden, Winthrop confides in "Francoise" that he isn't proud of having stolen
the Virginian's cattle money, but that he needed it to keep his ranch. He then boasts,
while looking at her intently, that he takes anything that he wants, and assures her
that he will help her adjust to life in Winthrop City. On the buggy ride back to town,
the Virginian is pleased to learn that Winthrop has become interested in "Francoise"
- it's obviously part of his plan - but she tells him she is afraid of the powerful man.

The following day, "Francoise" is playing the piano and Winthrop takes her hand. At
first she resists, saying she needs to think about what is happening between them.
"Why, because you only planned to help your fiance get back his money?" She seems
shocked when Winthrop tells her he knows she's not from Medicine Bow, and she's not
engaged to the Virginian. "Your name is Marianne, but I like Francoise better." She
tries to explain but he stops her with a kiss. Just then Gloria comes in, sees them
embracing, and hurries from the room.

At the hotel, Marianne shows the Virginian a gift of jewelry she received from Winthrop.
The Virginian brings it back to Winthrop and makes a show of angrily throwing the
gift on the table and storming out of the house, while Gloria looks on in shock.
She argues with Winthrop about his attentions to Marianne, and he fires back that
it doesn't mean anything. But Gloria doesn't believe him, and that night, when the
Virginian and his "fiancee" are visiting again, she approaches the foreman in the
garden to warn him that Winthrop is aware of his plan to get back his money. She then
proposes that she'll get Clete to open the safe, if the Virginian will take Marianne
away with him.

The Virginian goes into the house to bid his host goodnight, admitting what Winthrop
already knows, that "Francoise" and he are not engaged. He apologizes for interrupting
them and goes back outside to wait. Once they are alone again, Winthrop and Marianne
both profess their love for each other before parting for the night. Back at the hotel,
Marianne tells the Virginian she wants out of his plan, and that she is going to marry
Winthrop. The foreman tries to convince her of her foolishness, saying she's in love
with his money and his power, and that he'll never marry her, but she insists it is
what she wants.

The next day, the Virginian returns to Winthrop's and searches out Clete to tell him
he figured out the combination to the safe from having seen the first and last numbers,
7 and 56, and using Winthrop's success formula- "double everything." The combination
is 7-14-28-56! The foreman then blackmails Clete into keeping quiet about his plan
with Gloria, by threatening to say the accountant told him the combination to the safe.

While Marianne is at the hotel packing to move in with Winthrop, the Virginian makes
a last-ditch effort to talk her out of it, warning her that Gloria once felt the same
as she. But Marianne gets angry and tells him that with her it will be different, and
that she will see to it that Gloria is gone soon. "I'll bet" the Virginian answers.

Marianne arrives back at Winthrop's with her luggage and tries to take charge of the
house, demanding that Gloria leave immediately. Gloria tries to be gracious to the
naive young woman, and Marianne relaxes slightly, giving her until the end of the
week to move out.

Gloria then goes to see Clete, who says he knows of her plan to help the Virginian
get back his $100,000. Upset by the events that are unfolding with Marianne, however,
and knowing Clete has feelings for her, Gloria tells him that the two of THEM should
take the money and run away. They embrace, and Clete reveals his love for her, wishing
that he "were as important to her as that money."

Later, the Virginian returns to Winthrop's and enters Clete's office to finally retrieve
his stolen money. As he's opening the safe, Clete tries to hit him over the head with
a statue, but the Virginian wards off the blow, knocking Clete to the floor with a
punch. Meanwhile, Winthrop is lecturing Marianne about her attempt to take over the house,
making it clear to her that HE runs things. As they come in from the garden, they're
surprised to see the Virginian in the parlor, waiting to say good-bye. He teases them
about having a "lover's quarrel," as Clete awakens and sneaks out the office window.
Suddenly Gloria comes into the parlor and announces HER departure to Winthrop. She
provokes him into raising his hand to her, but he stops himself just in time, and she
marches out. The Virginian, seeing his opportunity, expresses his surprise that Winthrop
would let Gloria go, considering she and Clete probably have the $100,000. Winthrop
rushes to the office to check the safe and, finding it empty, and Clete missing, runs
out of the house in hot pursuit.

The Virginian turns to Marianne to wish her 'bon chance' and nonchalantly leaves the
house as well. But he's stopped on the porch by Winthrop, who figured out - too quickly
- that Gloria couldn't have taken the money since the Virginian was calm in announcing it.
"Hand it over" Winthrop orders him. "Not this time" the foreman answers and he mounts up
to go, telling Winthrop "You want that money, come and get it." Winthrop orders his
bodyguard to kill the Virginian. But the man hesitates, telling the foreman "You're a
man I wouldn't want to have to murder." "You don't have to," the Virginian tells him.
"You know, you're the kind of man I might have been able to talk to," the bodyguard
observes while Winthrop looks on in shock. Winthrop begins shouting at him to kill
the Virginian, but the man lowers his gun, with a quiet and emphatic "No." Suddenly
Winthrop snatches the gun away, and the Virginian shoots it out of his hand. "Why?"
Winthrop asks his bodyguard, clutching his wounded hand, "Didn't I pay you enough?"
"Only money" the gunman replies, and walks away.

As the Virginian is leaving, Marianne comes out of the house and learns that he has
recovered the $100,000. He's met at the gate by Winthrop's bodyguard, and the two ride
off together.

Marianne turns to Winthrop, asking him coldly, "And you -- what do you have?" "You"
he callously answers. [apm]

Additional comments:
True Boardman, who wrote several episodes of The Virginian, was also an actor and appears
in this episode as the bank manager.

This is one of several episodes mentioning the Virginian's remarkable tracking skills
(when Parks tells him "You track like an Indian.") In "Echo of Another Day" Trampas tells
an old friend that the Virginian can track a rabbit all the way from St. Louis. [apm]

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Main Contributor for this episode:   A.P.Munzo [apm] aaypee@optonline.net