Dave shoots Frank Ritchie just after he has killed a schoolteacher. But then he takes the dying Ritchie to the nearest house---where his two brothers live. They plan to pass of Dave as the killer of the teacher and their brother.
Dave has been meeting evenings with the local schoolmarm, Miss Larson, to learn how to write his name. On this night, after he leaves, she is attacked by local no-count Frank Ritchie, who tries to rape her. Screaming for help, Ritchie kills her just as Dave returns and guns him down. Not yet dead, Frank is taken to the closest house by Dave, which happens to be the other two Ritchie brothers, Leth and Doug. They capture Dave and concoct a story that Dave killed the schoolmarm and Frank was murdered trying to stop him. However, Dave escapes before the law and the angry townsfolk can arrive -- thus the man hunt begins!Written by
[instead of chewing on the ropes that hogtie Dave, his dog Brown climbs on a table to eat a steak]
I sure hope you enjoyed that, Brown, 'cause it's gonna be your last meal off me. You're gonna make a beautiful saddle blanket for somebody. You go ahead and eat it - every bit of it - 'cause you ain't gonna live long enough to digest it. Man's best friend...
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Perhaps the most powerful drama of the series. Dave's desire to learn to write lands him in a mountain of trouble. Unusually strong cast lends credibility to lynch mob plot-- especially, RG Armstrong whose forceful personality and hulking presence could command a screen like no other. Just the thought of him leading a posse is enough send an audience running for cover. Also featured is that very fine actor John Anderson, an authoritative presence in his own right-- appearing here as a no-account local scum.
Can't help but notice the episode was directed by Andre de Toth, the perfect overseer for a story that emphasizes rivalry, treachery, and shifting alliances. I expect Peckinpah went out of his way to hire him for this episode, the success of which is largely due to the director's unflinchingly sardonic view of human nature. My one complaint: did they have to make the schoolmarm so sweet and pretty. She just doesn't fit.
Best line-- "Arf! Arf!", Brown's friendly comment on the passing posse, just enough to get their attention and send Dave to the hangman's noose. Thanks a lot, Brown. Also notable for apparent jape at Lassie series. Brown dives through window to save Dave, only to find the uneaten dinners on the table more inviting. Dave's response, "You better enjoy it, cause it's your last meal." Yup, man's best friend.
Particularly effective entry, with very fitting conclusion.
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