The High Chaparral

Previous Episode

First Season
Plot and Character Highlights

Next Episode

John and Annalee settle in at
the new High Chaparral.

Henry Wills as Lt. Ellis warns the 
Cannons not to stay

Buck introduces the new Foreman,
Sam Butler
1.01  Destination Tucson and 1.02 The Arrangement   All

Mano meets John when he steals
his horse.

Mano introduces Victoria at
Rancho Montoya.

John and Blue argue about John's
new marriage

These two episodes were the pilot and they tell a single story in two parts.

Produced by William F. Claxton
Directed by: William F. Claxton

Teleplay by: Denne Bart Petticlerc       Story by: David Dortort and Denne Bart Petticlerc 
Originally broadcast:  September 10, 1967    

Story Line: The Cannons, John, Buck, Blue, and Annalee arrive from the East at Rancho Rivera, a ranch left by the previous owners due to trouble with the Apache. Despite warnings from the Army the Cannons announce their intention to stay. Blue and Buck hire the bunk house boys in Tucson. Annalee re-names the ranch High Chaparral, but is killed during an Apache raid.

While Apache raids continue, Mexican bandits are rustling cattle from the south. Unable to fight on two fronts -- against Mexican marauders and the Indians -- John arranges a defense agreement with his neighbor in Mexico, Don Sebastian Montoya. The Mexican insists that John seal the agreement by marrying Victoria, his daughter, thus solidifying an alliance against the Apache. Don Sebastian demands that Victoria's brother, Manolito, come along to guarantee her safety.

Guest Stars: 

Joan Caulfield 
as John's wife, Annalee

Mike de Anda 
as Chavez

Nino Cochise 
as Cochise

Jorge Moreno 
as Chico

Evelyn King 
as Mabel

Henry Wills 
as Lt. Ellis

Erin O'Donnell 
as Jo

Rico Alaniz
as Ricardo

X. Brands 
as Nock-ay-del

Character Highlights: As the pilot episodes these set up all the main and supporting characters’ relationships, characterizations, and basic background. As such all the characters play important roles. Annalee’s role in shaping the relationship between John and Blue is clear, as well as Buck’s as intervener. The recruitment of Sam, Joe, Pedro, Reno, and Ira at the bar is important in setting up the bunk house boys. Vaquero is introduced as still there from Rancho Rivera. The first half demonstrates how closed-off John is to Blue with what appears to be indifference toward Blue after his mother’s death. Buck is torn between them, unable to help either one.

The second half introduces Manolito, Don Sebastian, and Victoria. We get to see Mano transform from an itinerant drifter to the aristocrat that he is and we see some hints of Victoria’s strong will and independence as she allows herself to be a bargaining chip in the arrangement she has had a hand in. Her arrival at High Chaparral sets off problems with Blue that result in an angry confrontation between father and son where John tells Blue he is free to go anytime. Blue leaves the ranch and it takes Buck a couple days to locate him. Important confrontation occurs between Buck and Blue where Buck makes it clear that he is in charge and has no intention of returning to the ranch without him. When Blue is later injured in an Apache raid John finally expresses his love and concern for him.

Square Table in "Destination Tucson"

Side note: Because it is a pilot, a lot of details seem to still be working themselves out. Buck is in a short black vest rather than his signature long leather vest which appears by the next episode. Blue is in a dark vest instead of the lighter vest he wears for seasons one and two.  John is usually seen in the pilot with no vest at all instead of the medium brown one he wears for most of the series.  

The dining room table is rectangular here but for the rest of the series it is round.  The sideboard is short, not the tall hutch we see after the pilot. No one yet has the horse that will be theirs for most of the series.

Complete Episode Synopses
Destination Tucson:  Welcome to the Arizona territory of the 1870's ... after a period of tentative peace between the white man and the Apaches, new violence breaks out following the murder of Mangus Coloradus, Cochise's blood brother.  Cochise, one of the most powerful chiefs in the Chiricahua nation, swears there will be vengeance. 
At the same time Cochise is vowing that no white man will remain alive on Apache land, a new family is moving into the area.  Rancher John Cannon (an ex-Union officer and head of the family), has purchased a ranch 35 miles from Tucson and has traveled over 1,000 miles with his younger brother, Buck; his wife, Annalee; and his twenty-year-old son, Blue, to settle in the new territory.  On the way to their new home, the Cannons rest their wagon and horses at the home of the Ward family, their soon-to-be new neighbors. 

Our first view of the High Chaparral lands.

Blue strikes up a quick friendship with pretty Sarah Ward, and tells Sarah how he came by the odd name of "Billy Blue".  His mother wanted to name him Billy, but his father wanted to name him after a hunting dog he had.  Sarah asks Blue to come visit her once they're settled, and he readily agrees. The Cannons say farewell to the Wards, including Sarah and the younger children, and resume their journey. The Cannons don't travel more than a few miles before they are halted by the sound of Apache war-cries and gunshots.

"Destination Tucson"

  John, Buck and Blue climb up into the rocks and look down upon what's left of the Ward ranch -- a house in flames, the adults dead, the children taken prisoner.  Blue wants to rush to the family's defense, but John and Buck hold him back, knowing that they are outnumbered and could do nothing but "fill three more graves." 

"Destination Tucson"

Later that evening, Buck tries to console Blue, but the headstrong, emotional boy is still unaccepting of his father's decision and voices his resentment of him.  Annalee, overhearing her son, cautions John to be more understanding with Blue, warning him that "he'll lose him" if he doesn't.  Nevertheless, John will not be swayed. He believes that Annalee's job is to shower the boy with love and affection, while his duty toward his son is to toughen him up so he can survive in their hostile world.  

"Destination Tucson"

Some of the new hands - Sam, Reno and Pedro

The Cannons reach their new home, formerly known as the Rancho Rivera, the next day.  There they are greeted by the army, who ran the Apaches off before they could burn the house to the ground.   The yard is riddled with arrows, and the army lieutenant urges the Cannons to desert the ranch and head to Tucson for safety.  John refuses to go.  After the army departs, John sends Buck and Blue to Tucson to recruit new ranch hands, warning Blue to keep an eye on his rambunctious uncle. Amidst a typical Tucson scenario of gambling, drinking and fighting, Buck and Blue hire several new ranch hands and return home . . .
. . . where, as it turns out, John has discovered a new problem.  A former employee of Senor Rivera, a Mexican named Vaquero, is wounded and shows up at John's door.  As Annalee tends to him, Vaquero tells John that he used to work there, but escaped to the hills when the Apaches came.  John offers him a job, but Vaquero warns John to leave, informing him of an even greater enemy than the Apaches ... a wealthy rancher to the south, Don Sebastian Montoya, whose men have stolen John's cattle.  When Buck, Blue and the new ranch hands arrive, John tells them to get ready to ride - he wants his cattle back.  

Vaquero warns the Cannons to leave.

Annalee christens The High Chaparral.

Sam Butler, John's new foreman, is impressed by John's moxie and tells Blue, "Someday, if they don't kill him, your old man is going to own this land."  They ambush Montoya's men and take their cattle back, but John is warned that Montoya will kill him. Now the Cannons have everything they need for the ranch except a name -- which is spontaneously provided by Annalee when she rides out to greet the men.  She asks John what the vegetation surrounding the ranch is called, and he explains, "It's chaparral.  This is chaparral country." Annalee then christens the ranch "The High Chaparral - the greatest ranch in the whole world." 
Still, the dangers continue.  John is out on the range and comes across a calf seemingly needing assistance, not realizing it's part of a trap.  Before the Apache can shoot him, however, John's would-be-killer is gunned down by a third party.  John thanks the man - a Mexican - for saving his life and offers him a job, but the stranger prefers to take John's horse instead.  Humiliated, John walks back to the ranch and relays the story to his family at the dinner table. 

Mano prepares to steal John's horse.

Buck is amused, but it's apparent that the Apaches are continuing to raid so the men will need to go on patrol that night.  Blue begs his father to let him go with the men.  John initially refuses, but Annalee and Buck persuade him to reconsider.  Before they leave, John -- who is terribly worried -- warns Annalee, "you have to go - it's not safe here anymore!"  His wife, however, will not desert him.  John reaffirms his love for her and finally rides off with his men, leaving Vaquero and Ira to guard the house while Annalee gets ready for bed. 

Annalee is mortally wounded as Vaquero comes to her aid.

She cannot sleep, however, as she is disturbed by an eerie sound carried on the wind -- the sound of children crying in the desert.  Wondering if they could be the Ward children taken in the raid, she rushes to the window and draws back the drape to look out into the night.  Vaquero, having heard the same sounds, rushes to her room to tell her, but finds her standing at the window with an arrow in her chest.  She slumps to the floor, lifeless, and Vaquero is now faced with the task of telling John Cannon that his wife is dead.

Buck reads the Bible over at
Annalee's service.

The next day, Buck reads from the Bible over her grave, and watches in misery as John and Blue, both grief-stricken, are unable to turn to each other for comfort.  Shortly thereafter, one of the Chaparral ranch hands is attacked by Montoya's men, and John decides he can't go on fighting two enemies. 

John and Blue, unable to help
each other.

He announces to his brother that the two of them are going to Mexico to meet with Don Sebastian Montoya and bargain for peace.                    (Synopsis by Brenda Meskunas)
The Arrangement:  John and Buck Cannon, on a mission to meet with Don Sebastian Montoya, stop at a cantina south of the border in Sonora, Mexico.  After ordering tequila to wash the dust from their throats, John is shocked to be reunited with an old "friend" . . . the same bandit who earlier saved his life and then stole his horse!
John and Buck quickly learn that the man is on the run from a handful of rurales and that they will hang him if he's caught.  Seeing these men approaching the cantina, the bandit hides upstairs in his room, but John, playing the role of the informer, tells the men exactly where to find their quarry.  Buck is puzzled -- betrayal isn't something he is used to seeing in his brother -- but quickly sees John has other ideas. 

The horse bandit meets the Cannons.

Lulling the rurales into a feeling of false trust, John offers to buy them drinks and then turns on them.  John, Buck and the bandit quickly knock out the men and John, now facing the man he had pretended to betray, announces, "Now we're even - except for the horse!"  They all laugh heartily and the bandit, learning that John and Buck are hoping to find Don Sebastian, agrees to take them "to the old lion's den" personally. 

The bandit introduces the Old Lion.

Puzzled that they are given easy admittance at the gates of the splendid estate, John, Buck, and the bandit arrive at the Rancho Montoya.  The three men walk into the house, uncontested, and meet Don Sebastian sitting behind his desk.  John and Buck are then introduced to Don Sebastian by the bandit who, it turns out, is Don Sebastian's son, Manolito.  Mano is pleased with the joke his hidden identity has created, but Don Sebastian is annoyed.  Asking how John met Mano, John tells him, "He stole my horse."  Don Sebastian now has no choice but to invite the brothers Cannon to dinner to begin to repay the debt of honor owed by his son. 
At dinner, Don Sebastian tells John of his frustrations with Apache raids.  John suggests that they form an alliance, each covering the other's flanks, but Don Sebastian doubts John's trustworthiness.  During this discussion, Manolito enters the room with his beautiful sister, Victoria, and introduces her to the party.  Mano cautions the men to "be nice to her, senores ... she is the old lion's daughter ... and my old maid sister."  Victoria breaks the ice by telling John that she has learned the horse her brother gave her as a gift was the horse stolen from John.

Victoria listens to John's dreams
for the future.

She offers to return the horse, but John graciously tells her to keep it.  She is impressed by his gallantry, and even more impressed by John when he tells her of his dreams for The High Chaparral and for the territory, including his lofty ambitions of living in peace with the Apaches. Don Sebastian is impressed by John as well, but tells him his decision (regarding the proposed alliance) will have to wait until morning. 
The next day John is greeted with the decision he has hoped for, but a condition he never bargained for. Don Sebastian tells him that he is willing to form an alliance with John, but only on the condition that John marries Victoria to seal the pact.  Don Sebastian is desperate to marry her off, and he feels the presence of his daughter is the only way to secure John's loyalty.  John, so recently widowed, has no desire to marry Victoria or anyone, but quickly realizes he has no choice and agrees to the arrangement. 

Blue is shocked at the news of his father's marriage.

After John and Victoria marry, they all return to the ranch where Blue is happily awaiting the return of his father and uncle.  Buck arrives ahead of the caravan containing Victoria and her property and warmly greets his nephew, but finds there just isn't enough time to prepare him for the news. 

John returns from Rancho Montoya to introduce his new wife.

When John introduces Blue to his new wife, his son is stunned and walks away without another word.  
Victoria, troubled by Blue's icy reception, tells John that she doesn't want to come between him and his son and suggests that perhaps she should return to her father.  John assures her that Blue will honor her appropriately.  John confronts Blue in the bunkhouse and upbraids his son for his rudeness. John demands that Blue respect Victoria and an argument ensues, with John finally snapping at Blue that "there is nothing holding you here.  You are free to go -- ANYTIME."  Blue, angry and hurt, rides off from the ranch. 

Blue is told he can go anytime.

Buck persuades Blue to return to the ranch.

Uncle Buck finds his nephew a few days later and tries to reason with him.  He tells Blue that there would be no High Chaparral without the alliance, and no alliance without the marriage.  When Blue whines that his father cares more for the ranch than he does for him, Buck loses his temper, trying to make Blue understand that John is building High Chaparral for his son. The argument turns physical, but it is shortened by the sight of Apaches up on the rocks.  Facing imminent attack, Buck and Blue race back to the ranch to prepare for battle.
The men barricade the front gate and the first of many skirmishes begins.  After the initial attack, Blue and Mano find a wounded Apache in the brush.  Blue is tempted to shoot him, but Mano stops him, reminding Blue that this is a wounded man who "fought us bravely".  John agrees, telling Blue to help Mano carry the man into the house.
Victoria, who has quickly adapted to her new role as a settler's wife, has turned the living room into a makeshift hospital and issues orders to the men.   Victoria works to save the life of the Apache Blue found and they are all amazed when the wounded man, by the name of Nock-Ay-Del, asks Victoria if she is "one of the angels the Christian fathers talk of."  She assures him that she is only a woman, but Blue is shocked to hear an Apache speak so humanely.  Mano tells Blue that Nock-Ay-Del is a mystic, a holy man - a warrior priest. 

Victoria assists Nock-Ay-Del.

John and Blue reconcile.

During the next round of fighting, Blue is hit in the back with an arrow, but his hat hanging down partially obstructs the arrow from penetrating too deeply.  Injured, Blue is carried inside and is startled to awaken to the sight of his father crying over him out of relief that his son is not going to die.  Blue now fully realizes how much his father loves him and tells Buck of this discovery -- but Buck only smiles, because he knew it all along and can realistically hope that the terrible breach between father and son can now begin to heal. 

But for The High Chaparral to survive, the healing has to go deeper.  Nock-Ay-Del, now recovered, prepares to return to the hills and deliver a message of peace to Cochise. John, Victoria, Buck, Blue and Mano are now hopeful that their dream of living in harmony with the Apaches will someday be realized.                                   (Synopsis by Brenda Meskunas)

Production Manager:  Kent McCray
Music by David Rose
Director of Photography:  Haskell Boggs, A.S.C.
Color Consultant:  Edward P. Ancona
Assistant Director: Don Daves
Stunt Co-ordinator:  Henry Wills
Art Direction:  Hal Pereira & Earl Hedrick
Edited by John Woodcock, A.C.E.
Set Decoration:  Robert Benton & Ray Moyer
Post Production Co-ordinator:  Bill Wistrom
Casting:  William Maybery
Sound Recording:  Joe Edmondson & Joel Moss
Makeup Supervision:  Wally Westmore, S.M.A.
Hair Style Supervision:  Nelly Manley, C.H.S.
Titles by CINEFX
Location scenes filmed at Old Tucson, Tucson, Arizona and
   Coronado National Forest, Forest Service, U.S. Dept. of 
   Agriculture, Saguaro National Monument, National Park
   Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Filmed at Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California

Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

Return to Season One Directory

Return to Home/Contents