The High Chaparral

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Mano and Buck in "Ride the Savage Land"

Olive, held captive by the Apache

Mano in "Ride the Savage Land"

1.24   Ride the Savage Land              Mano, Buck
Buck and Manolito invade the Apache stronghold to rescue a captive white girl.

Produced by William F. Claxton
Directed by Richard Benedict
Written by Tim Kelly      
Original Broadcast:  February 11, 1968

Story Line: Ann, an Apache slave for five years, is rescued by Buck and Manolito as she flees from her captors, but her frail sister Olive is recaptured. John asks a passing Army detachment for aid, but the unit is massacred before it can help. Buck and Manolito ride unarmed into the Apache stronghold prepared to buy the girl's freedom, but the Apache chief and the medicine man offer to let them go free with the girl if Manolito can survive a test of courage.

Guest Stars: 

Mary Jo Kennedy 
as Ann

Claire Wilcox 
as Olive

  Michael Keep 
as the Apache chief  

George Keymas 
as the medicine man

Gregg Palmer 
as the colonel

Rockne Tarkington 
as the sergeant

Character Highlights: This is a very intense episode for Mano and Buck that clearly cements their bond for the remainder of the series. From the beginning it is Buck’s soft heart that will not let him leave Olive behind despite Mano and John’s practical approach that views Olive’s release as futile. He doesn’t argue with John when he is told he is on a fool’s errand, and doesn’t even ask Mano to accompany him. There is good dialogue between John and Buck before he goes after her, but none between Mano and Buck even though it is clear Mano sees how tormented Buck is. When Mano rides after him uninvited to offer his money and assistance the following dialogue occurs when Mano offers to buy the girl from her slavery:

Mano: "It is money I have saved from my father for – how do you say? – a rainy day. And when you decided to get yourself killed – well, for me that is a rainy day."
Buck: "But Mano that’s awful chancy. It was my idea. Let me go alone."
Mano: "With my money? Never, Compadre.  First of all, you are not to be trusted. Second of all, I’m going with you to protect my interest."
Buck: "Mano . . . Idioto."

When they are asked to draw for who will endure the test of courage, Buck volunteers but Mano will not allow it. When Mano loses and Buck asks to trade with him, Mano responds, "No, gracias. I have always wondered how much courage I really have. This is my chance to find out."

The inverted crucifixion whipping scene with a shirtless Manolito is difficult to watch, especially for Buck. Mano never complains, during or after, even though he can barely stay on his horse, before finally collapsing into Buck’s arms as the High Chaparral crew comes to their rescue.

Horse Notes: Buck (Cameron’s stunt double?) makes a rather amazing running one-footed stirrup mount in the opening sequence. This occurs a couple other times in the series with other riders but nowhere as spectacularly as here.

Mano is riding Mackadoo in the opening sequence, but when he follows Buck to help him retrieve Olive he takes another horse that has similar coloring to Buck’s horse, Rebel, but lacks Rebel’s distinctive map of South America on his face. After they are attacked by Indians on the way Mano says, "Not so lucky – they shot my horse." The camera clearly shows Rebel lying on the ground - South America and all – not the horse Mano was on. When they ride off together doubled up on Buck’s horse, it is Rebel again.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  While Buck and Manolito are riding the range, they discover two little girls trying to escape from the Apache ... white girls, captured by the Apache and kept as slaves. While Mano and Buck are able to rescue the older girl, Ann, her younger sister is too weak to escape and the Apaches reclaim her. Buck, knowing he and Mano are outnumbered, make their escape knowing "we'd better keep what we got." When Ann begs Buck to go back for Olive, Buck promises her that they will go back for her, but Ann doubts him.

Buck soon realizes that he and Mano only got their job half-done. Each time he looks at Ann, he is reminded that he made a promise that is increasingly more difficult to fulfill. When Buck realizes that the army intends to do nothing to recover the girl, he takes matters into his own hands and desperately rides toward Tucson, hoping to find enough men to ride with him to the mountains ... but Mano, overtaking him, offers to give Buck enough money with which he can possibly buy her. After all, she is only a slave, right? Convinced that Mano's strategy could work, Buck rides off toward the mountains and Mano accompanies him.

Unfortunately, their timing couldn't be worse ... while on their journey, Mano and Buck pass an army regiment setting up telegraph poles ... only to realize, when they hear shots in the distance, that the entire regiment has been butchered by the Apaches, who fear that the poles will bring more soldiers. By the time Mano and Buck reach the settlement where Olive is held captive, the Apaches are in no pleasant mood and take them as prisoners. They only earn a reprieve when it is discovered that Manolito is the brother of Victoria, the woman who nursed their holy man, Nock-Ay-Del (in a previous episode).

It is then decided that one of the men -- Buck or Mano -- must pass the "Test of Courage." By the luck of the draw, Mano is selected and tied to a wooden cross, similar to the biblical crucifixion, but hung upside down while riders strike his body with whips. If he screams out in pain, both he and Buck will die. But, as Mano is brave enough to withstand the torture without showing signs of fear, he and Buck are released, and are given Olive to take back with them. Buck, however, bleeds as much on the inside as Mano is bleeding on the outside ... he knows what price Mano has paid for their friendship.

In the meantime, John, Blue and the rest of the Chaparral crew are searching for the two men, and during their search they discover -- and bury -- the slaughtered army regiment. Fearing the worst, they press on, only to joyfully see Mano, Buck and Olive off in the distance ... by some miracle, alive. Olive is reunited with her sister, and both sisters leave with the army with the intention of returning to relatives back east. As the family watches the girls -- and the army -- ride off, Mano reminds Buck, "The Apache have a saying ... when you ride the savage land, you are a part of it, and it is a part of you."  (Synopsis by Brenda Meskunas)

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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