The High Chaparral

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Blue making adobe bricks

Blue in "Best Man for the Job"

Sam is held hostage.

1.04  Best Man for the Job                         John, Blue, Sam
John Cannon must decide whether to send his son to possible death to save their besieged ranch.

Produced by Buck Houghton
Directed by William F. Claxton
Written by  Richard Carr  
Originally Broadcast:  September 24, 1967 

Story Line: Three army deserters, who have murdered Apaches on Cannon land, are taken prisoner by Indians. Captain Dabney fails in an effort to rescue the men, but gains Apache hostages, including a female relative of Cochise. When Captain Dabney refuses to trade prisoners, and as the Apaches prepare to execute the deserters (as well as Sam, who is also an Apache hostage), Cannon must decide whether to hand son, Billy Blue, the perilous job of secretly returning Dabney's hostages to Cochise.

Guest Stars:   

Warren Stevens 
as Captain Dabney

Nino Cochise, grandson 
of Cochise, as Cochise

Lane Bradford 
as Gilcher

Steve Raines (right)
as Jess, 1st Cowboy

Rush Williams (left)
as 2nd Cowboy

Ron Haggerty 
as Morgan

Character Highlights: One of the episodes where Blue gets his reputation for being whiny, although he redeems himself by saving the day in the end. The episode focuses strongly on John and how his abilities as a strategic thinker enable him to carry the responsibility for a large operation and many people. Manoís character is still being fleshed out and he is aligned here with Blue, John referring to them as "two wild kids". When Buck finds them safe after following the deserters he embraces and scolds the two of them in a parental way. Ira has a good dead pan line when decisions are being made as to who will go after the deserters and who will tend the cattle, "I know, Iíll go watch the herd." Blue has a similar line about job assignments with John and Buck, "I know, Iíll guard the fireplace." John and Victoria are still calling each other "Mr. and Mrs. Cannon", though with some hint of acceptance and even affection. Sam has a strong role as the one who impulsively (uncharacteristic of him in the rest of the series) goes to rescue an injured soldier and ends up being taken hostage. Sam to Blue after his rescue, "Blue, youíre a pistol, kid."     

Complete Episode Synopsis: 
In the desert outside Tucson, three army deserters rescue a small band of miners from a raiding Apache war party, only to then kill the men and steal their wagon and clothes. While all this is going on, Buck and Sam are back at their favorite Tucson saloon, trying to get the locals drunk enough to sign on as Chaparral ranch hands. They make a very honest go of it, but even thirty dollars worth of whiskey isn't enough to make the men of Tucson willing to risk Cochise and his Apaches.
 Buck is forlorn at his failure, but Sam cheers him with the news that they've still got a full bottle of whiskey left. Their spirits considerably lifted, the boys are further delighted when they find the three deserters driving into town, mistake them for hungry drifters - "good prospects" Sam calls them, and recruit them as Chaparral ranch hands. Buck is especially impressed that they have already survived an encounter with the Apaches - for the stolen wagon is full of arrows.

Buck finds three new recruits.

Back at the ranch, Blue is busy in the mud making adobe bricks, a task he would very much like to be rid of. When Buck and Sam return with the new hands, Blue sees an opportunity to get out of the mud brick business, but John wants the new men on night herd.

Captain Dabney waiting to interview the "miners".

When Blue protests, much to the amusement of the others, that he wants to rotate tasks like the other men, John reminds him that he's not like the other hands who work for wages. Blue works for the ranch - he works for himself, and therefore is obligated to take the unpleasant jobs. Blue is not impressed. Still sulking at dinner, he goes outside to discover a troop of cavalry looking for his father. Their leader, a Captain Dabney, wants to interview the miners who were attacked, not realizing they are deserters from his own troop.
John is not happy to have the men on his land - but the "miners" won't return before midday. Grasping at his chance, Blue offers to ride out and change places with one of them, sending him back to answer the captain's questions, and getting himself out of the mud - if only for a little while. John agrees, but the "miners" have other plans when Blue gets to them. They tie him up, instead, and light out for the border.

Blue discovers the new hands are not what they appeared.

Sam orders Ira to go watch the herd.

Sam, Ira and Manolito find Blue in the morning. Ira is ordered to stay with the herd while Sam heads back to the ranch to apprise Big John of the situation, and Mano and Blue head out after the deserters.  

Buck is relieved to find Mano and Blue safe.

John is appalled when he finds out, telling Buck and Captain Dabney to never mind about the deserters or his stock, he wants those "two wild kids" back before the Apache get them. Blue and Mano find one of the deserters, staked out dead by the Apache, just before the army and Buck find the boys.

Dabney's prisoners include relatives
of Cochise.

They also capture a few Apache prisoners, including a woman and child who are relatives of Cochise's. Buck has no luck getting Dabney, who does not understand the real danger, to let the woman and boy go, and John is  furious when he finds out. Dabney agrees to leave immediately, but the Apache attack before he can.

Sam prepares to rescue the downed soldier.

During the melee, a soldier is caught, dragged and then left struggling, crippled, in the desert. Unable to stand by and watch the suffering, Sam goes after him, and is also captured.

Sam impulsively rides to the rescue.

The hostages are strung up in the sun.

As the Chaparral crew and the army watch helplessly, Sam, the two surviving deserters, and the crippled soldier are strung out between several saguaro in the hot sun. Cochise sends in an ultimatum - free his people, or the prisoners die. Dabney refuses. Bringing his own prisoners out on display, he has one of the Apaches shot. The Apache kill the man next to Sam in retaliation - and Dabney begins to realize that the stakes of the game are very high. 
He still refuses to release his prisoners, however, and when John fights him, he places Cannon under house arrest. John goes quietly, realizing, as Buck later explains to Blue and the boys, that fighting the army would just give Cochise the perfect chance to ride right over all of them, and would not save Sam. John, however, is formulating a plan.

John explains his plan for having Buck create a diversion while Blue frees the Apache hostages.

Blue agrees to take on the job of freeing the hostages.

The plan is simple. While he and Buck create diversions, someone can sneak out to the adobe building where the Apache prisoners are being held, break through the still raw bricks Blue has just replaced, and sneak the prisoners back to Cochise. The person who will carry this out, says John, is Blue - the best man for the job.
Though he admits he is afraid, Blue agrees. The plan works. While Sam and the others languish in the sun at day break, John and Buck create their diversions. Blue gets into the adobe, gets the prisoners out, and then runs them across the desert to Cochise. 

Blue prepares to destroy is brickwork to release the Apache prisoners while Reno stands guard.

Tension gives way to relief as John, Victoria, and Buck watch Blue rescue the hostages.

Dabney, when he understands what is happening, cannot believe John would risk his own son. But John trusts Cochise to keep his word. There are a few tense moments, as Blue frees Sam, and the men still living, and they begin to walk back to the ranch, but Cochise makes no move to stop them, and soon Sam, Blue and the others are back within the safety of the ranch and the arms of their friends and families. There is much praise for Blue, especially from Captain Dabney, and then John sends him off to the next job he is the best man for - back to making adobe! 

(Synopsis by Sheryl Clay)

Supervisory Producer:  Irving Elman
Production Manager:  Kent McCray
Music by Harry Sukman; Theme by David Rose      
Director of Photography:  Harkness Smith, A.S.C.
Color Consultant:  Edward P. Ancona
Unit Production Manager:  Andrew J. Durkus
Assistant Director: Ray de Camp
Stunt Coordinator:  Henry Wills
Art Direction:  Hal Pereira, McClure Capps
Edited by Archie Marshek, A.C.E.
Set Decoration:  Robert Benton, Bill F. Calvert
Post Production Co-ordinator:  Bill Wistrom
Casting:  Russell Trost
Sound Recording: Joe Edmondson, Joel Moss
Make-up 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
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


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