Schlitz Playhouse (1951–1959)

Delay at Fort Bess 

A small army garrison is surrounded by Apaches who threaten to wipe out the entire command unless an Indian prisoner is set free.


Roy Kellino


Richard Paul Stenger (story), Richard Paul Stenger (teleplay)


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Episode cast overview:
Sterling Hayden ... Maj. Jim Curtis
Barbara Billingsley ... Ruth Curtis
James Seay ... Lt. Rawlings
Walter Coy ... Capt. Phillips
James Brown ... Lt. Fox
Gayle Kellogg Gayle Kellogg ... Lt. King
Robert Nash Robert Nash ... Sgt. Blake
Frank Gerstle ... Cpl. Williams
Lorna Thayer ... Irene Williams


A small army garrison is surrounded by Apaches who threaten to wipe out the entire command unless an Indian prisoner is set free.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama





Release Date:

3 September 1954 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Meridian Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Writer Richard Paul Stenger used the basics of this story for his only other western script ,an episode of 'MacKenzie's Raiders' called 'Mutiny' in 1959. See more »


[referring to Lt. Rawlings]
Lt. Fox: Listen to the Old Man's shadow... a chip off the old book - the Army book!
See more »

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User Reviews

Lackluster mini-western, but Hayden stalwart as always
29 June 2019 | by fredcdobbs5See all my reviews

Sterling Hayden plays the commander of a fort in Apache country with a major problem on his hands: he has captured the son of an Apache war chief, but the Apaches have attacked a wagon transporting the wives f the fort's garrison to another post, and the chief says that if Hayden doesn't return his son and give the Apaches 50,000 rounds of ammunition by 6:00 a.m. the next morning, he will kill all the women. Hayden, for his part, threatens to hang the chief's son if the women aren't returned by that same time. A battle of wills ensues.

This episode of "Schlitz Playhouse" is not one of its better ones, despite a good cast--in addition to Hayden, there's Walter Coy,James Seay and Jim Brown, all veterans of numerous western films. If you're looking for "action", there isn't any. There's tension between Hayden and the hostages' husbands, but that's about it. The production values are minimal, and--at least in the print I saw--the photography is so poor you often can't see who's talking; you only know by recognizing their voice.

Hayden is authoritative and no-nonsense, as usual, but he's done this kind of thing 1000 times before and really doesn't put anything new or different into it. The cast tries hard, but the script is trite hackwork and the "direction" by Roy Kellino is mechanical and by-the-numbers, and the show ends pretty much the way you thought it would.

Worth a look maybe if you're a Sterling Hayden fan, but otherwise it's nothing special.

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