The High Chaparral

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John and Buck strategize about how to get Blue out of his predicament.

Blue, discouraged about his prospects.

Buck and John confront the army major.

1.13  A Hanging Offense           John
Billy Blue Cannon faces possible hanging when he is court-martialed on the charge of killing an army general's son.

Produced by William F. Claxton
Directed by Leon Benson

Written by Mel Goldberg      
Originally Broadcast:  November 12, 1967

Story Line: Billy Blue saves an Indian girl from advances by a drunken army lieutenant, who is killed in the fight. When the girl flees to the Apache stronghold, Buck and Manolito risk their lives to persuade Cochise to release Blue's only eyewitness. Her testimony is discarded when the court learns her release was obtained by a bribe. It becomes obvious to John Cannon that the court-appointed defense is incapable of saving Billy Blue, and John personally takes over his son's defense.

Guest Stars: 

Denver Pyle 
as General Warren,
the dead boy's father

Alan Bergmann 
as Major Anderson, 
the prosecutor

Ken Drake 
as the lieutenant colonel

Don Eitner 
as Capt. Purdy

Anna Navarro 
as the Indian girl

Paul Fix 
as Cochise

Character Highlights: While Blue, Buck, and Mano have significant roles, this episode is mostly owned by John, who does everything in his power to save his son, while still staying within the law. In an intense scene that is well done by all three characters, John and Buck initially meet with Blue in his prison cell and are both equally worried and supportive. Buck makes it clear to Blue that he will stop at nothing to get him out "one way or other". John simply gives him his solemn promise to win his freedom. John and Buck speak with one voice when they meet with the commander, with Buck saying, "You can tell us how we can get our boy out." Buck is prepared from the outset to simply "bust him out of there", but John keeps doggedly working at solutions to win his freedom legitimately. It is John who sends the telegram to Washington and it is John who asks Buck and Mano to go find the Indian girl to testify. John takes on Blue’s legal defense when he appears to have none, and does an excellent job of portraying a lay person trying to act as an attorney. It is also John who talks Blue into surrender rather than face certain death as a fugitive. None of the bunk house boys or other supporting characters are present in this episode.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  While chasing a "dogie," (a stray calf,) Billy Blue Cannon interrupts an attempted rape in progress, and accidentally kills the assailant, an army officer. The victim, a young Indian woman, flees in fear. Blue brings the body to the fort, where he is arrested for murder. The dead man is also the son of the commanding officer, General Warren. Bent more on revenge than on justice, General Warren demands that his Judge Advocate General, Major Anderson, initiate a court martial, rather than risking Blue's being tried and freed by an anti-military civilian court.

After traveling to the fort, and reassuring Blue, John Cannon tries to reason with the military, to no avail. He learns that the man put in charge of Blue's defense, a Captain Purdy, is not even a lawyer. He threatens to telegraph Washington for a ruling, and later tells Victoria that he will defend his son himself - that even though he had no legal training he is sure he can do no worse that Purdy, who does not have a reason to look out for Blue's interests. In the mean time, Buck and Manolito have risked their lives tracking the Indian girl to Cochise's camp. The Apache chieftain refuses to let the girl go, however.

The trial begins, and it is apparent that the prosecution's strategy is to convince the court that it was Blue who attacked the girl, and that it was the dead lieutenant who was trying to defend her when Blue murdered him. John's inexperience shows and he is obviously out of his depth. Blue panics and breaks out of the military jail. The soldiers corner him in the foothills, but it is John who convinces him to return to face his trial. Buck and Manolito go back to Cochise, this time with a number of horses to trade for the girl. This time, the Apache is more amenable to a bargain, and after some tough trading, he gives them the girl. In the mean time, a ruling has arrived from Washington ordering that Blue should be tried as a civilian. Major Anderson tears it up in the presence of the only other person who knows of its existence, Captain Purdy, ordering him to keep silent.

The Indian girl testifies truthfully, but it doesn't take long for Anderson to find out that her presence there has been purchased, and her testimony is thrown out. Things look very grim for Blue Boy at this point; without a witness to his actions he doesn't seem to stand a chance. Captain Purdy is having trouble with is conscience, however. Although he can't bring himself to disobey orders, he recommends that John call the General, himself, to the stand. John asks General Warren about his son's character. After much questioning, he finally uncovers that the General's son, David, had had a history of abusing women. John presses, and the General agrees that, in fact, it is more likely that it was his son who attacked the girl, just as Blue said, and that his death was an accident that occurred when Blue tried to stop him. The military court dismisses the charges against Blue.  (Synopsis by Sheryl Clay)


Supervisory Producer:  Irving Elman
Production Manager:  Kent McCray
Music by Harry Sukman; Theme by David Rose      
Director of Photography:  Harold Stine, A.S.C.
Color Consultant:  Edward P. Ancona
Unit Production Manager:  Andrew J. Durkus
Assistant Director: Sherry Shourds
Stunt Coordinator:  Henry Wills
Story Editor: Ward Hawkins
Art Direction:  Hal Pereira, McClure Capps
Edited by Sidney Levin, A.C.E.
Set Decoration:  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
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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