|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.
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.
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
|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.
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
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
|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
|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
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)
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
The horse bandit meets the Cannons.
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
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
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