Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 3 Episode 17

Day of the Badman

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Jan 09, 1960 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Richard Boone clearly has a marvelous time with this one. It actually has a good message--but it's nearly invisible under the hilarity.

    It has a lot of similarities with "Charley Red Dog", but the humor is much more broad in this one.

    Paladin is on his way to meet with a cattle rancher, C. Palmer. Reaching his destination, he is menaced by an armed...arm, poking out the door. A low, dangerous voice orders him inside, and Paladin comes face to face with Roy Rogers--oops, wrong show. A perfectly splendid example of a Western hero (that you'd never see outside a Wild West show or a parade). Tall, clean-limbed, a noble countenance. "Laredo" is dressed in spotless chaps, with a big, shiny belt and holster, topped off with a hat placed just so. Beside him, the craggy-faced Paladin, in his sinister black attire, looks like something that would come slinking up to the back door.

    "Laredo's" aunt bursts in, and during her ensuing tirade, Paladin nearly gets shot when the gun goes off by accident. Travis Perkins, chastened, slouches out the door. Cynthia Palmer is about as fed up with her Eastern nephew and his Wild West fantasies as she is with the nearby town of Cedar Wells. The town, like Santa Maria in "Charley Red Dog", is lawless and dangerous to conduct business in, but unlike the former episode, the citizens of Cedar Wells (a significant majority, at least), like their town the way it is and drive off any attempts to establish law and order. Cynthia has managed to send in yet another potential sheriff, and she wants Paladin there to back him up--at least until she can get her cattle sent in for sale. One other little thing--she wants him to stick her nephew on a train back East. Paladin agrees, if only for the sake of the people who might get in the way of Laredo's stray bullets.

    Paladin's attitude undergoes a rapid change. The shy, inept young man--formerly a teacher in a girls' school (must have had all the pupils swooning over him) has some good ideas about making learning fun--Shakespeare, for instance. Paladin's attention is caught immediately. "Laredo" wants to be treated like a somebody--if only for one day. Paladin, who commands respect almost without effort, is sympathetic, although there's not much he can do.

    Or can he? Reaching the stage coach station, they discover that Cedar Wells' main lawless element, Amos Saint and his gang, have broken up the stage line and there's no telling when things might get patched up. They also find Cynthia's erstwhile sheriff, who has already been beaten up and run out. He'd sooner go back to jail than back to Cedar Wells. Apparently Cynthia Palmer felt that an ex-con would have what it took to take on the sheriff's job, but Bart Reynolds feels that what is needed is someone who can scare the devil out of everyone, someone so mean that the town will beg for a sheriff's protection. Paladin looks thoughtfully at Laredo, who looks back with an utterly guileless expression. Laredo certainly looks the part, when he holds still. Bart offers them his gun, which he says is of no use to anyone. Examining it, Paladin finds that it will suit his purpose perfectly.

    Paladin rides into town alone. At first glance, it seems like any sort of town--although the Mortician's office seems rather prominent. There's also a subtle little touch in the background. There are women of all sorts in the Wild West, on this show and others, although at the time this was filmed, women of a certain sort were never alluded to in direct terms--they're just presented and the audience is allowed to draw their own conclusions. One of the buildings houses "Mamie's Rooms For Rent" and we see a young woman step out the door. She is modestly dressed--but she is also buttoning up her bodice, which a lady would have seen to before coming out into the light of day. When the ruckus starts a few moments later, a rather furtive-looking man comes out the door and exchanges looks with her. Draw what you will from that.

    A young woman hauls a boy out of the general store--we'll later realize that he was probably playing truant from school. Catching sight of Paladin, the boy immediately stops and stares. Clearly he sees Paladin as a "bad guy" and, equally clearly, he's absolutely thrilled. Paladin blows a kiss to the woman, and she hustles the boy off, to the boy's frustrated disappointment.

    Paladin took on the role of sidekick to Charley Red Dog, but here, "sidekick" isn't the word. As he puts it himself, he is a flunkey, and he throws himself into the role with relish, whooping it up and firing his gun. The mortician rushes out, delighted at the prospect of business--until he realizes that he himself might be the customer. Paladin plays a drunk very well. Warned that this is Amos Saint's town to play in, Paladin brushes this aside. After all, he's one of Laredo Perkins' men, so what is there to fear? Paladin's scene in the saloon alone is worth the price of admission.

    As Paladin no doubt anticipated, in just a matter of minutes the legend of Laredo Perkins is up and running. When the lanky young man slowly saunters into town (slowly, so he won't lose control of the horse) everyone panics. Paladin herds everyone outside to show the badman proper respect. He himself waits inside, with bated breath, until Laredo manages (slowly) to dismount his horse without falling over himself. (Phew!)

    Like any good flunkey, Paladin is willing to turn against his boss--but he won't draw against him. Instead, he will fetch the sheriff that the town had driven out. Laredo quickly finds a hero-worshiper in the young boy, who has again skipped out of school. Laredo is taken aback at the boy's bloodthirstiness, the more so when the young schoolmarm confronts him. She's frightened, but faces him gamely, worried about the children growing up in this lawless environment. Momentarily forgetting his role, Laredo begins earnestly discussing her teaching methods. Learning that the school is in an old warehouse, it suddenly occurs to Laredo to make use of his temporary authority to do something about it, and he sends the boy to fetch the townspeople and tools to fix up the school.

    In the midst of all the renovating, Amos Saint and two of his men return to the town. Word has apparently already spread. The townspeople dive for cover. Here is where Travis Perkins shows what he's made of--knowing that Paladin is out of town, knowing that he's inexperienced and carrying a useless gun, the Eastern tenderfoot, without hesitation, steps out to confront the real bad guys. It doesn't take Amos long to find that "Laredo" is carrying a gun without a firing pin, and prepares to kill him...slowly. Laredo stands his ground.

    Fortunately, Paladin and Bart turn up at this point. The disillusioned would-be sheriff takes one look at what's happening and springs to the attack, Paladin right beside him. They quickly take out the two henchmen (Bart has presumably gotten a working gun) while Amos flees into the schoolhouse, Laredo and Ruth, the schoolmarm, ahead of him. Paladin swings up to the second floor of the building and slips in. Laredo and Ruth stand helplessly by, until Amos starts to use Ruth's bookcase as a shield. Laredo instantly leaps to the defense of "the only set of Shakespeare north of Santa Fe" and gets himself clobbered in the process. This, however, gives Paladin time to position himself, and he takes out Amos Saint in a spectacular mid-air shot.

    Shakespeare is saved, the town is saved, the sheriff is saved, and Laredo himself is saved, with Ruth deciding his future for him as a second schoolteacher for the town. Having gotten the respect he was looking for--and a great deal more besides--Laredo agrees to hang up his gun. Paladin is dumbfounded at his boss "going straight" and meekly accedes to Ruth's demand that he get out of town--"his kind" will no longer be tolerated.

    The comedy may have you nearly rolling on the ground--but it has its other points, too.