The High Chaparral

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Buck in pursuit up the mountain

Victoria and John held captive

Pat Hingle as Finley Carr

1.28  Threshold of Courage               John, Victoria
John Cannon is forced to relive his final days in the Civil War by a man he disfigured in combat.

Produced by William F. Claxton
Directed by by William F. Claxton      
Written by William F. Leicester
Originally Broadcast: March 31, 1968

Story Line: Vengeful Finley Carr and his brother Stacy kidnap Victoria and head for high country, certain John will follow. Carr captures John and subjects him to physical exhaustion and hunger for three days as he prepares to reverse the roles of their first meeting. Buck, Billy Blue and Manolito force one of Carr's men to help plan a rescue.

Guest Stars: 

Pat Hingle 
as Finley Carr

Ron Hayes 
  as Stacy Carr  

  Rex Holman 
as Jube 


   Charles Maxwell 
as Hank 

Frank Puglia 
as Miguel


Character Highlights: This powerful closing episode of the first season demonstrates the depth of John and Victoriaís love for each other beginning with her visit to the Lady of Guadalupe to pray for children to bless their marriage. Both John and Victoria have very strong roles here. The plot premise is a bit contrived, but the scenery filmed in the San Bernadino Forest is a nice break from the usual desert settings and the full cast is involved in the episode. Victoria believes Mano has been killed and later John believes Victoria may have been killed. When John and Victoria are held captive, it is clear that each is more concerned for the other than for themselves. Victoria says to John that he must hate her for getting into this fix and he replies that he has never loved her more. John tries to sacrifice himself in exchange for Victoriaís freedom but Victoria tells him, "What touches you touches me. If you die, I die." As usual Victoria is passionate and strong without being hysterical.

Buck leads Blue, the Bunkhouse boys and an injured Manolito in an effort to find John and Victoria. While they donít get much screen time, Buck does get the opportunity to demonstrate his cunning when he recognizes that they are being led on a wild goose chase by someone who is moving Johnís markers. When he catches the responsible party Buck makes a deal with him to let him go if he shows them where John is. In classic Buck fashion, when he later refuses to let him go and the gang member demands to know, "What about that deal we had?", Buck replies, "Oh, that. Well, Iíll tell you, I lie a lot."

Complete Episode Synopsis
Outside a chapel in the middle of the desert, an old peon is talking to his burro about how nice it will be to work at the chapel once there is enough money to pay for a padre to be there every day, and once there is a new bell in the chapel tower. Into this scene drive Victoria and Manolito. Victoria asks her brother not to tell John that she is making a novena to the Lady of Guadalupe to help her conceive a child - an idea that delights Manolito.

Victoria asks Mano to keep the mission
of her visit a secret.

Mano is held at gunpoint by Stacy Carr.

But while she is praying, a man with a hook for an arm approaches her from behind, introducing himself as Finley Carr, and asking if she is John Cannon's wife. Carr tells Victoria that John had taken something from him, and that she will help him to get it back. Outside the chapel, Carr's brother Stacy is holding Mano at gunpoint. Carr instructs another man, Hank, to set the rig's horse free. Mano tries to escape, but Jube shoots him. Victoria is sure her brother is dead, but she can do nothing. Carr orders everyone to move out.
Out on the range, Sam and Buck find Victoria's horse, Irene, running loose and take it back to the Chaparral. John is unconcerned at first, believing Victoria is in the house, but Vaquero explains that Victoria and Mano went to the chapel. Buck asks if he shouldn't assemble some of the men for a search. John agrees, and says he will ride over to the chapel with Sam. They find Mano and the old peon at the chapel. Mano is alive but dazed, as the bullet only creased him.

John discovers Mano is still alive.

The peon tells how he offered the men the money being saved for the chapel bell, but that they wanted only to take Victoria away. John tells Sam to stay and take care of Mano, and to wait for Buck and the others, while he follows the rig's tracks. He promises to mark a trail once the wheel tracks run out.

Carr shows Victoria where he intends to ambush John at the the bottom of the cliff.

Meanwhile, Victoria and the four have camped, and Victoria is keeping her distance from the three men around the campfire. Stacy is respectful, but Jube tries to assault her, causing Carr to intervene. This is not what they are there for. Carr explains to Victoria that her rig will be pushed off the edge to fall and break below. Carr knows John will descend and discover that Victoria is not dead, but also knows that John will leave a piece of himself down among the debris.
Victoria asks Carr what did John do to him, and he indicates his hook and his scar - a battle, just nine days before the war ended. Victoria tries to comfort him, but he rejects her pity, saying it only makes him hate John more. He promises her he'll kill John in a very special way.
With the Chaparral men somewhere behind him, following the broken trail Carr has left, John arrives on horseback at the edge of the bluff and sees the broken rig below him. Hidden from view above him, Carr yells to John that he has Victoria. Then they all hear a shot and John climbs up the rocks to find his horse shot and his hat gone. Retrieving his rifle and canteen from the dead horse's saddle, he continues climbing until he discovers a fire with warmed coffee and beans. But both are heavily laden with salt, and he spits them out.

John discovers the crashed rig at the bottom of the cliff and fears for
Victoria's safety.

Climbing until darkness falls, he lays down by a fire he's built, but is awake enough to level his pistol at Carr and Stacy as they approach him. Carr, calling John "Captain Cannon", asks John if he remembers him. He brings up Petersburg, and tells how John left him without a hand. John says the war ended for him at Appomattox. When he tells Carr that his own brother Buck fought for the Confederacy, Carr tells him he should have fought for the South, too. Carr tells John that they're going to do Petersburg all over again, and that this time it will be John who runs.

The cage built on the bluff where
John is held captive.

Still following John, Buck catches up with Carr's man, Hank, as he is changing another of John's trail markers. Buck pulls Hank off of his horse, and threatens to drag him behind his own horse, giving him five seconds to tell the truth about where John is. Up in Carr's camp, John is being held in a cage made of young trees, which is padlocked shut. Stacy lets John out, telling John that Carr is allowing him ten minutes with Victoria. Victoria tearfully tells John that these men have murdered Mano, but John assures her that Mano was only hurt.
She tells John how horrible it was to see him being reeled in by Carr, while she was helpless to prevent it. She sobs that John must hate her, but he assures her that he has never loved her more and tells her that Carr has promised no harm will come to her. She cries that what touches him touches her, and that, should he die, she will die, too.
John demands that Carr let Victoria go free, offering to stay for Carr to do what he will with him. Carr refuses, saying they instead will re-enact the battle of Five Forks, the last real battle of the war. Carr says that his honor, and therefore his life, were buried there, and he intends to get them back. Carr says he'll see John run the way he, Carr, did. He promises that if John doesn't run, he and Victoria can go on home, but that if John does run, and Carr is sure he will, then John, as a dead man, has no future.

John held captive by Finley Carr.

Later that night, when Carr refuses to let him sleep, John asks him what he plans to live on once Carr has killed him. He tells Carr that most men live on things they love, like a woman, the land, or work, but that a man who lives on hate just hates himself, but is looking around for something else to direct that hate towards.

The Chaparral men question Hank.

Hank has asked Buck for a horse and a head start for Mexico, in exchange for showing them a back way into Carr's camp. He leads them to the bottom of a steep bluff, saying the camp is straight up, right over the top. They will have to climb up on foot once the sun rises. As day dawns, the men of the Chaparral climb up the rocky cliff side. Stacy is pacing in Carr's camp. Victoria pleads with him to ask Carr if she can visit John, again. Instead, Stacy tells her he'll bring John to her. Carr stops him, but Stacy tells Carr that there can be no harm in just letting her see him.
Carr tells Stacy to bring her out. Stacy opens her tent, and she runs towards the cage, but when Victoria pulls even with Carr, he restrains her, saying she only has permission to see John, nothing more, and has Stacy bring her back to the tent.

Blue, Buck, and Mano watch helplessly as Carr's re-enactment plays itself out.

As this is going on, the Chaparral men arrive at the top of the mountain and hide in the rocks behind Carr's camp. Carr emerges from his tent in his Confederate uniform. He has Jube pull Victoria from her tent, and bring her to a point where the Chaparral men can see him holding a pistol to the back of her head. Carr yells at the men that one shot, or even one move, from them will result in Victoria's death. He tells another of his men to release John and gives him a saber. Blue, horrified by his father's condition, starts to aim and fire, but Buck grabs his rifle away, telling Blue that shooting will only get John and Victoria killed. He returns Blue's rifle to him, and Blue turns his face away, trying to hide his fear and remorse.

Carr bears down on John from horseback.

Carr begins to narrate the conditions as they were at Five Forks years before. He walks proudly to this horse and theatrically holds out his hand to Stacy, waiting for his brother to hand him the reins. Instead, Stacy drops the reins to the ground and disgustedly walks away. Mounting his horse and, holding another saber in his right hand, rides down on John time and time again, each time clashing sabers with him. Finally, John is knocked to the ground. He yells to John to get up, mistaking the other man for his own past. When John points this out, Carr rides down on John again.
This time, John successfully deflects the saber out of Carr's grasp with his own saber. Carr pauses, then rides down on John again, this time aiming for John's saber with his hook, which cuts it off at the base.  A stunned Carr looks at the hookless leather base stump which covers the stump of this own arm and screams, "Kill her! Kill 'em both!" Stacy reacts and shoots Jube before he can shoot Victoria in the head, then pushes Victoria behind him as gunfire erupts between the Chaparral men and Carr's men. John jumps in the trench, and tells Stacy to get in, too. John shields Victoria's body with his own as the bullets fly.

Carr's last effort to retrieve his hook.

 Soon, the men from the Chaparral gain the upper hand, and all of Carr's men drop their weapons. Carr, who was shot from his saddle, drags himself by one arm to where his hooks lies. This pathetic scene causes Stacy to step up out of the trench, and Blue to lower his rifle slowly.

Blue realizes that Carr is no longer
a threat.

When Carr reaches his hook, he tries to re-attach it to its base, then dies face down in the dirt with the hook grasped in his hand. Victoria and John, embracing in the trench, look on, stunned.  

(Synopsis by Carol Anne Gordon)


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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