The Rifleman (1958–1963)
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The three Malakie boys comes to town and bust up the saloon. Lucas McCain and Marshal Micah Torrance stop them, but in the course of doing so, one of the boys shoots and kills his own ... See full summary »


Arthur Hiller




Episode complete credited cast:
Chuck Connors ... Lucas McCain
Johnny Crawford ... Mark McCain
Paul Fix ... Micah Torrance
Buddy Hackett ... Daniel Malakie
Christopher Dark Christopher Dark ... Ben Malakie
Warren Oates ... Jud Malakie
Denver Pyle ... Henry Trumble
John Durren ... Stump Malakie
Bill Quinn ... Frank Sweeney
Rhys Williams ... Doc Burrage


The three Malakie boys comes to town and bust up the saloon. Lucas McCain and Marshal Micah Torrance stop them, but in the course of doing so, one of the boys shoots and kills his own brother. That doesn't stop them from blaming Lucas however and when their father Daniel Malakie arrives, he breaks his two surviving sons out of jail intent on getting even. They ambush someone they think is Lucas but get it wrong and Lucas and Micah hunt them down. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rifle | See All (1) »


Family | Western







Release Date:

6 October 1959 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Buddy Hackett appears later in the series as Millie's Mop Boy in The Rifleman: The Clarence Bibs Story (1961). See more »


During the closing credits, Rhys Williams is listed as playing Dac Burrage instead of Doc Burrage. See more »

Crazy Credits

Chuck Connors breaks the 4th wall in the opening credits after he shoots his rifle and then stares into the camera. See more »

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User Reviews

Great Buddy Hackett performance. Otherwise...
27 March 2013 | by grizzledgeezerSee all my reviews

I haven't seen every "Rifleman" episode, but this one would have to be in the running for "absolute worst". Indeed, it is surely among the worst episodes of any Western TV series ever made.

TV Westerns often had episodes in which bad guys show up and cause all sorts of trouble, which is (usually) resolved by gunning them down. "Gunsmoke" was a generally thoughtful and well-written show, and when it did this sort of thing, it did it well. "The Rifleman" too-often did it poorly.

This episode is an atrocity. Three brothers arrive in North Fork, get drunk, and tear up the saloon. When Micah and Lucas arrive to stop them, one of them fires his gun at Lucas, but accidentally kills his brother. (Naturally, he blames Lucas for the death.) Thrown into jail, they warn Micah and Lucas they'll be sorry when their father shows up.

Which he does, and they are. The father, an utterly unrecognizable Buddy Hackett, at first appears to be disturbed by his sons' behavior and tries to make things right. But, as they, he's no more than a "psycho on a spree". The story ends with the survivors thrown in jail. And that's it -- nothing else.

This is the cheapest, sleaziest, most-pandering sort of writing. There is no point whatever to the story, except violence, violence, violence. Contrast this with a similar "Gunsmoke" episode, "Matt Dillon Must Die!", in which a crazed old man and his sons seek revenge for the death of his belovéd wife. Yes, it's dark, violent, and nasty, but the characters have some degree of complexity, and we're interested in why they act the way they do and what happens to them.

"Bloodlines" stands in stark contrast to the immediately preceding episode (2.1, "The Patsy"), in which the town barber (Whit Bissell) is forced to decide between his own life and his son's, and Lucas has to decide whether he's willing to look cowardly to prevent a killing or two. This is "The Rifleman" at its best, when its characters have to make tough moral and ethical decisions.

I would normally give this episode 1 star (and even that is generous), but it gets 4 stars for Hackett's outstanding performance.

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