Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 3 Episode 5

Shot by Request

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Oct 10, 1959 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
17 votes

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Episode Summary

Shot by Request

Ainslee is a well-dressed, middle-aged gentleman and a reluctant gunfighter. He hires Paladin for a very strange task.

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  • A peculiar episode, to say the least, but it's enlivened by some good guest roles and an interesting take on the trials of being a famous gunman.

    Paladin doesn't always work for money, but the fee he accepts this time is quite unusual: a valuable edition of Keat's poetry, signed by the author. Paladin naturally has to find out why Winston Ainslee wants to hire him. Arriving in Carson City with a thoroughly drunk companion, Matt Baker, Paladin and Baker quickly discover that Baker's brother Andy had been killed by Ainslee--one of a long line of men who had attempted to knock Ainslee from his place as top gunman of Carson City. Paladin and Baker are both surprised to find that Ainslee is a rather small, dapper, soft-spoken man. Paladin is probably not surprised, however, to learn that the people (and sheriff) of Carson City, while regarding Ainslee with fear and disgust, have no interest in stopping him. Gunfights provide a lot of interest and a chance to gamble. The cultured, intellectual Ainslee reveals to Paladin that he had taught himself to be a gunman solely in order to escape the constant harrassment he had suffered as a scholarly "sissy". He's now trapped by his own skill--men keep coming to test themselves against him, and no one will allow him to quietly hang up his gun. And now Matt Baker will be coming after him to avenge his brother's death.

    Ainslee wants Paladin to shoot him in his gun hand, thereby forcing his retirement. Paladin is a little leery of the whole business--so much could go wrong. Ainslee tests his speed, not with a practice draw, but by bringing him out to a spot where rattlesnakes are known to lie up. The two men take turns kicking over rocks, ready to shoot if a rattlesnake is lurking underneath. Paladin ends up shooting a snake who no doubt would have preferred to leave well enough alone, and Ainslee is satisfied. Ainslee's daughter is not, but she can't think of a better way to get her father out of this mess. They put the word out that Paladin is in town to kill Ainslee. Matt Baker, however, is determined to kill Ainslee himself--and not by fair means.

    Paladin is disgusted to find the townspeople gleefully preparing for the big shootout--setting up sandbagged barriers behind which they can hide and watch the fun. Ainslee and Paladin step out into the street, but a sudden sound alerts Paladin, and he and Ainslee dive out of the way as Baker begins shooting. Ainslee is trapped behind a horse trough that is steadily leaking water--once it's empty, it will no longer be a safe barricade from Baker's gun. Ainslee quickly runs out of bullets and tosses his gun to Paladin, who reloads it from his gunbelt. (Ainslee, who is used to one-shot faceoffs, apparently doesn't keep spare bullets on his belt.) Preparing to toss the gun back, you can see the thought cross Paladin's mind, and he deliberately throws the gun short. It takes Ainslee a few moments to get the idea, then he stretches his hand out for the gun and promptly gets his hand shot. Paladin springs out from his hiding place and deals with Baker.

    Now that Ainslee has been reduced from feared gunfighter to helpless old man, the town is now prepared to give him their protection, and they order Paladin away. Paladin, seeing that Ainslee can no longer use his gun, is certain that the man who hired him will be satisfied.

    It's an interesting psychological story, but the whole thing is still rather...well, stupid. The whole town of Carson City now believes what Paladin has always been at pains to deny--that he is simply a killer for hire. Ainslee only needed an excuse to retire--why on Earth didn't he simply ask (or bribe) the local doctor to announce that he was suffering from arthritis or rhuematism or whatever? It certainly would have spared him a great deal of expense and pain--not to mention the fact that he might have lost the hand completely. If a bad infection set in, he could even end up dying from it. The whole situation was unnecessarily complex.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • (Nitpick) After Ainslee dives behind the horse trough, it begins streaming water when Baker shoots it. It continues streaming steadily--even when the water level is below the hole.

    • (Nitpick) Both Paladin and Ainslee, aiming carefully from their hiding places, fail to hit Baker. Watch very carefully as Paladin makes the final, killing shot. He simply points his gun in the air--while his head is facing the ground!

    • (goof) After Paladin reloads Ainslee's gun there are six empty slots on his gunbelt. They are still missing when he dives behind the hay. However, when he offers to fight Ainslee left handed, his gunbelt is full again.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • (Cortwright hands Paladin a book)
      Paladin: Well. That is interesting. Keats. 1817 edition, hmmm. It's beautiful.
      Cortwright: If anyone had told me I'd go to a gunslinger to authenticate a rare book, I'd say he was crazy.
      Paladin: It's inscribed by Keats himself. "To my friend, Joseph Severn.". (Sniffs the book) Old tannic and iron ink. Beautiful. Beautiful. Give you five hundred dollars for it.
      Cortwright: It's not mine. Ainslee gave it to me to give to you.
      Paladin: Ainsley. Now, who's Ainslee?
      Cortwright: Ainslee's a gunslinger. He reads books. He looks like he'd die of excitement at a faculty tea. And he's killed nearly a dozen men in Carson City. Where gunfights sort of cheer the people up on dull Sunday afternoons.

    • (Paladin's lady friend has given him the brush-off)
      Paladin: "Woman, I behold thee flippant and vain, inconstant, childish, proud and full of fancies".
      Hey Boy: That's very good, Mr. Paladin. Keats.

    • (Paladin is reading the note included in the book given to him)
      Paladin: "Please accept this book as a token of my sincerity in an unusual request. Winston Ainslee."
      Cortwright: You gunfighters are turning c1assic, Paladin.
      Paladin: Either that, or the bookworms are turning.

    • Matt: I'm gonna kill you, Ainslee. I'm going to kill you!
      Sheriff: Looks like we're gonna have us a show at that, don't it?
      Paladin: What's the matter, sheriff? Don't men die fast enough for you?

    • Anna: Mr. Paladin.
      Paladin: Miss Ainslee.
      Anna: Well, I didn't come here to butcher hogs.
      Paladin: Well, I didn't come here to butcher hogs.
      Anna: No?
      Paladin: No.
      Anna: Oh, of course. Paladin. Your business is, uh, is to slay dragons.
      Paladin: Well, I'm not sure I like the choice you give me.

    • Paladin: You won't help him until he begs.
      Sheriff: Ainslee's killed men without waiting for the law. And they all ain't been bad. Some of them had families and children.
      First Man: You did come to kill him.
      Paladin: If I did, I came here with a decent regard for the fact that Ainslee's worth twelve of any man in this town. And if I kill him, I won't be proud.

  • NOTES (0)


    • There a a couple references to John Keats (31 Oct 1795--23 Feb 1821), British Romantic poet.

      Paladin's quote should actually be "Woman! When I behold thee, Flippant, Vain...." The poem is untitled and is known by that opening line.

      Keat's friend Joseph Severn is the man who nursed Keats in his final days. Keats had been reminded of some lines in the 17th century play Philaster, by Beaumont and Fletcher: "All your better works/Shall be in water writ". He told Severn that he wanted no name or dates on his tombstone, only the line "Here lies one whose name was writ in water".