Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 5 Episode 30

Hobson's Choice

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Apr 07, 1962 on CBS



  • Trivia

    • The problem with this episode is the timing. The series is generally held to take place in the mid-1870's. Nitroglycerin was first synthesized in 1847. Alfred Nobel began experimenting to stabilize it in the 1860's. In 1866, three crates were shipped to California. After one crate exploded, killing 15 people, the shipping of liquid nitroglycerin was banned in California, and other places as well. Nobel finally stablized the nitroglycerin in the form of dynamite in 1867. (And dynamite has been seen frequently on this series since the first season.)

  • Quotes

    • (A young lady walks up, seats herself beside Paladin, and begins peeking at the magazine he is reading. Paladin turns to her, smiles, and--)
      Hey Boy: Mr. Paladin.
      Paladin: Hey Boy! (Young woman gets up and walks away.) Hey Boy, do you do these things on purpose?
      Hey Boy: Oh, I didn't realize you know that lady.
      Paladin: Well, I didn't know her, and thanks to you, I probably never will.

    • (Nobel has explained how boxes of his supplies were mixed up with a shipment of mineral oil.)
      Paladin: You mean that someone has your nitroglycerin by mistake?
      Nobel: Yes, I'm afraid that that may be the case. But I've been put on to a gentleman who may be able to trace it down for me; a Mr, um, oh... (pulls out a card) ...a gentleman named Paladin.
      Paladin: I'm Paladin.
      Nobel: Oh, ho, I see. Forgive me. Oh, would you be so kind as to hold this a moment? (Hands Paladin the test tube.)
      Paladin: This, I take it, is some of your nitroglycerin?
      Nobel: Yes. But it is quite safe, as long as the chemical balances are not unduly altered. I'll show you.
      Paladin: Mr. Nobel, I would be very happy to take your word for that!

    • (A tiny sample of nitroglycerin has blown out the side of a two-inch-thick iron box.)
      Nobel: Do you realize, sir, the implication this substance of mine holds for all mankind?
      Paladin: I'm afraid I do.
      Nobel: I have calculated, that effectively placed, fewer than five hundred containers of nitroglycerin could essentially destroy the entire city of London. Think of that!
      Paladin: I would prefer not to. But I can imagine what war will be like now.
      Nobel: But there will be no more war! My invention will ensure peace! I am certain of it. Each nation will now have the means to destroy the other; no army would dare to march! When each government has supplies of nitroglycerin at it's command, a balance of terror will exist. Then, finally, there will be peace in the world, because no one would dare to begin such carnage.
      Paladin: No one but a madman with power. In the course of human history, hasn't there always been a ready supply of men like that? Hannibal ravaged Rome with swords, spears. Rome destroyed Carthage with the same weapons. Genghis Khan found bows and arrows adequate to his purposes, and Napoleon managed to slaughter half the population of Europe with flintlocks.
      Nobel: But nitroglycerin is not like bows and arrows or spears, it is entirely different! It is the ultimate weapon.
      Paladin: And human nature remains the same.

    • Thurber: Oh. Gentlemen. (Comes up to Paladin and looks at him closely.) Ah, no need to tell why you've sought me out. Nervous palpitations, brought on by a disturbance of fluids throughout the system. You came to the right place, sir, and, may I say, barely in time. Dr. Mono's Wonder Nerve Elixir.
      Paladin: I am not suffering from nervous palpitations, I am looking for a Sam Thurber.
      Thurber: You, uh... you bill collectors?

    • (After Paladin wrestles a bottle of "Dr. Mono's Tonic" away from a drunk, the man slowly collapses.)
      Nobel: We must get this man quick to a doctor. In large doses, it is poisonous.
      Paladin: And you were going to create a balance of terror? Give everybody in the world nitroglycerin? What about this, the innocent misuse, the regrettable mistake? Death by miscalculation?
      Nobel: But I will tell them.
      Paladin: And they will listen.

    • Nobel: But they do not understand!
      Paladin: There will always be men who do not understand.
      Nobel: But they do not see what it means to have that amount of nitroglycerin!
      Paladin: They see, but their vision is too narrow.
      Nobel: (Looking at his watch) Exactly one moment before. (Shortly afterwards, a massive explosion occurs.)
      Paladin: Montaigne observed that men did not invent devils, they merely looked within themselves.
      Nobel: Yes. But they also found the stuff of angels there, too. One will triumph.
      Paladin: Which one?

  • Notes

  • Allusions

    • The title of this episode is a saying that dates back to the 1600's. Thomas Hobson (1544?-1631) owned a livery stable in Cambridge, England. When men came to rent a horse from him, he did not allow them to choose their own mount. They had to take the first horse available as they entered the stable. This way every man had an equal chance of getting a good or a poor ride (and the horse had an equal chance of getting a good or poor rider). Thus, "Hobson's Choice" came to mean having no choice at all.