Victoria and Manolito, preparing for their father's visit to Chaparral,
are notified that Don Sebastian -- also known as "The Lion of
Sonora" -- has been shot and is not expected to live. Distraught, the
entire family hurries to Rancho Montoya where they find their father on
his deathbed, attended by a physician. The Old Lion, preparing to die, has
made two last arrangements for his family. First, he wants Manolito to
marry Anita de Santiago y Amistad, the daughter of a rich landowner who
will give the Montoyas a huge section of land as her dowry. Second, Don
Sebastian wants John to take his ranch and combine it with this new land and
Rancho Montoya, making "one grand ranch" which will be under Manolito's control.
Victoria and Mano try to
comfort their father as he lays wounded with an assassin's bullet.
While both Mano and John balk at these extreme
conditions, everyone realizes that Don Sebastian is dying and it would be
dishonorable to refuse him these requests. Mano goes off to ponder his
future, all the unhappier because Anita is already on her way to Rancho
Montoya. John, who hasn't yet signed the documents Don Sebastian has had
prepared, tries to reason with his grieving wife, who insists he should
sign them to make Don Sebastian happy, and then tear up the papers once her
father is dead.
Anita explains to
Mano what she expects
from their alliance.
|While the Cannons
still don't know what to do, Mano's struggle is temporarily
eased when he meets his intended bride. Anita is all beauty and
grace, and Mano mistakenly thinks she is attracted to him as
well. The next morning, however, Mano is given a glimpse of the
real Anita: A vain, heartless, shrew of a woman who has no
fondness for Mano and has only agreed to marry him because she
is convinced the marriage will be profitable. She
envisions a life for them on the social circuit in Europe, far
from his friends, whom she considers undesirable to associate
|Mano, angry at the predicament he finds himself in, goes
off to town with the Chaparral boys, where they find that the townspeople
have caught his father's "murderer" and are preparing to hang
him. Mano sees that this man, Armando, who claims to be a humble wood
cutter, is wearing his father's gold and diamond ring, claiming
that he traded his burros for it. Mano takes the ring back, and, in response to the
man's pleadings, sets
him free. While Mano doesn't believe his story, he reasons with Buck that
he can be followed back to the
hideout where the rest of the bandidos are. So Buck and the boys
follow Armando while Mano goes back to the ranch.
Mano examines his father's
stolen ring after recovering it from one of the bandits.
Don Sebastian swears
the doctor to
secrecy in order to maintain his ruse.
Meanwhile, Don Sebastian, who has been drowning his final moments in
the comfort of the wine bottle, is discovered by the physician, who tries
to take it out of the old man's hands. Don Sebastian fights with him and, in
the ensuing struggle, he falls out of bed. The doctor checks him over,
then informs Don Sebastian of an incredible bit of luck ... the
bullet has moved and the Old Lion of Sonora will NOT die after
all. Don Sebastian, always ready to pounce upon any opportunity
for personal gain, threatens the doctor to keep silent about
this discovery. He wants Mano to marry Anita and he wants
Chaparral, and he now sees a way that he can accomplish both.
|When Mano returns to the ranch,
however, he walks into his father's room and sees that Don
Sebastian is not in his bed! He immediately thinks the worst,
but then sees that his father is up on his feet, eating and
drinking and reading a newspaper. Mano steps out of view before
his father discovers him.
|He then informs his
sister of their father's treachery. Victoria, enraged, threatens
to tell John, but Mano persuades her not to do this, as it will
end their "father's game" too quickly. Victoria agrees, and then
she and Mano plot to torture their father by playing along with
him, yet not giving in to him.
Victoria is furious when Mano explains
their father's trickery.
|When they go to visit Don Sebastian, Mano and Victoria inform him that
they have a small, simple funeral planned for him, and Mano tells him that
the funeral director is unhappy because "the ice is melting"
(it's taking D.S. too long to die). Don Sebastian, not realizing his
children are taking him for a ride, is angered by their lack of
sensitivity, but he is mostly frustrated because John has not signed the
papers, which now state that the land will be governed by "the head
of the house of Montoya" (which would be, of course, Don Sebastian if
Now it's Victoria and
Mano's turn to pretend as they plan their father's funeral.
El Coyote orders
Armondo to go back
and finish off Don Sebastian.
|With all of this
plotting going on, however, Don Sebastian doesn't realize that
his life is again in danger. Armando has returned to the
where their leader, El Coyote, is very unhappy that Armando
has led the Chaparral men to their hideout. He orders
Armando back to Rancho Montoya to make sure the Old Lion is
dead, and to hurry him along a little if he takes too long in
his dying. That night El Coyote and his bandits try to kill
the Chaparral men in their sleep, but instead they fall into
Buck's trap and are captured. When the rest of the
bandits' plan becomes clear, they race back to Rancho Montoya
to stop Armando from killing Don Sebastian.
In the meantime, Mano, Anita, John,
and Victoria have gathered once more at Don Sebastian's
"deathbed." Victoria weeps crocodile tears and prays with her
rosary beads. John, unaware of the ruse, can't bear to
see Victoria suffer and agrees to sign the papers, but Victoria
stops him. Just outside the door, however, Armando is waiting
to kill Don Sebastian. Just as he begins to make his
move he is stopped and captured by Buck and Blue.
pretends to be dying while
Victoria pretends to be grief-stricken.
Blue is stunned when Don Sebastian leaps
from his deathbed to attack Armando.
|Buck and Blue drag
Armando into the room and show Don Sebastian his "killer". The
Old Lion, forgetting to feign illness, jumps out of bed and
tries to strangle the man. Everyone now realizes that Don
Sebastian has been using his injury to coerce the family into
cooperating with his schemes. Victoria is especially
hurt, asking him, "How could you?" after he has allowed her to
weep over his deathbed in order to serve his own selfish
Don Sebastian swears his quick
recovery is "a miracle"!
Sebastian pleads for understanding ("A miracle, I swear it!")
as everyone proceeds with plans to depart the ranch
immediately. Mano bids farewell to Anita, but decides to keep
the famous lion's ring as a reminder that the Lion of Sonora
is really a Fox.
Mano bids a not-very-fond farewell to Anita de
Santiago y Amistad.
(Synopsis by Brenda