Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 1 Episode 14

The Yuma Treasure

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Dec 14, 1957 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Yuma Treasure

Accompanying a cavalry major on a mission to prevent a war by negotiating a treaty with an elusive Apache chief, Paladin must deal with soldiers who have caught gold fever.

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  • We pick up some background information on Paladin's relationships with various Indian tribes.

    A Ford movie about the Cavalry, this ain't. The story centers around a shabby, poorly run outpost.

    Paladin approaches with an escort of two Apache Indians. Lt. Harvey, whose position as second-in-command has no bearing whatsoever on his dress or deportment, tries running roughshod over Paladin, and tells him to have the Indians (who had held back as Paladin came to the gate) come closer. Reading him correctly, Paladin waves off the Indians, and prevents the Sergeant from shooting at them on Harvey's orders. Harvey bristles and tries to show his authority, but Paladin, who has forgotten more about military protocol than Harvey will ever know, coldly demands an audience with the commander.

    Warren Stevens does a wonderful job as Major Wilson, a sad man whose ambitions exceed his talents. A West Pointer, he hasn't done well with his previous postings, and is reduced to a backwater station keeping an eye on the Maricopas tribe. He's delegated most of his authority to Lt. Harvey, who holds him in contempt, and spends his time drinking. He met a man who had been wined and dined by Paladin in San Francisco, and his imagination had been caught by the stories the man had to tell. Paladin, perhaps feeling that he's wasted his time on this trip, demands to know just what Wilson requested him for. Basically, it would seem that Wilson wants Paladin to do his job for him in keeping order with the Indians. Two of his men had disappeared a month ago, and ever since, every patrol has been disrupted by the Maricopas. Knowing that Paladin is on friendly terms with many of the tribes, he wants Paladin to assist him in parleying with the tribe.

    Paladin is aware of the rumors of the "Maricopas Treasure"--a vein of white quartz so thick with gold that it can be picked out with a knife. Wilson seems indifferent to the story--he's concerned with avoiding an Indian uprising. Paladin agrees to try, and they set out. There is a cool scene where the Maricopas test Paladin and Wilson by leaving a rattlesnake tied to a tree branch. Paladin carefully grasps the snake and frees it from the tree, then beckons Wilson to dismount and follow him, as he walks along carrying the snake with both hands (and therefore, not touching his gun). I suspect that the snake had either been defanged or de-venomed, because Richard Boone ended up holding it very loosely. He gently sets it loose after meeting up with Gerada, chief of the Maricopas (an excellent portrayal by Henry Brandon).

    Paladin had lived with the Yuma, a related tribe, at some point, and developed a reputation for speaking "straight". Gerada complains that the patrols have become troublesome every since Wilson stopped leading them--Harvey has been attempting to find their "white blanket"--the vein of white quartz. The two missing men, allegedly hunting meat, had actually been tracking some Indians after they made the mistake of trading some of their gold where the soldiers could see. Wilson argues that the military authorities will not believe that the Indians have been defending their interests unless he sees the white blanket for himself. Paladin and Gerada are both persuaded, and Wilson is blindfolded and sent off with two of Gerada's men.

    It's a long night waiting, and in the morning, only one of the men returns, badly injured. Despite Paladin's obvious concern for the wounded man, Gerada orders him knocked out--at which point his horse promptly bolts. This is a rather irritating contrivance, because we never see this horse or any other behaving in "Trigger" fashion at any other time.

    Paladin is left staked out (a nice feast for the female eyes). The background music at this point is great--the tense string-plucking tune that they save for sticky situations, and this is certainly one of them. Paladin's horse returns, but at least this is the extent of his "Trigger" behavior--Paladin has to coax him to come close. Finally catching hold of the rein, it takes Paladin considerable effort to work it around the stake without dropping it, and he has to yell at the horse several times before it gets the idea and pulls the stake out.

    Paladin grimly sets out in search of Wilson, and finds his horse, rather heavily laden. A rifle shot sends him diving for cover. Wilson begins to call out, claiming that he didn't realize who Paladin was. This would have been hard enough to believe as it was, but then Paladin confronted him with the rifle just as he yelled out that he had put the gun down. All has become clear to Paladin, although he is curious to know if Wilson had intended to betray him all along, or only after he had seen the gold. Probably the former, although we'll never know for sure. Wilson has developed a full-blown case of gold fever, and is infuriated when Paladin proposes throwing the bags of gold away to demonstrate his good intentions to the Maricopas, who are undoubtedly watching. Paladin steps to the edge of a cliff and starts opening a bag.

    Wilson snatches up a rock and dives at Paladin, who ducks, allowing Wilson to flip over him. Wilson drops the rock and somehow snatches one of the gold bags as he goes sliding over the edge. Paladin grabs hold of a leg. I've heard of gold fever, but this is incredible. I kept thinking of Daffy Duck whenever he was in the presence of wealth. With only Paladin's frantic grip between him and certain death, Wilson kept clutching the bag (gold is extremely heavy) and screaming "IT'S MINE!" over and over. Paladin's rationality just kept bouncing off him. Wilson's weight, plus the gold, was just too much, and he slipped out of Paladin's grasp.

    Paladin quietly returned to his interrupted job of tossing the gold over the cliff, although he has a rueful look on his face while he does it. Gerada approaches and picks up the gun. As Paladin had hoped, his actions spoke for him, although he candidly admits that all white men have a great need for gold. After calmly facing down an arrow inches away from his throat, Paladin receives his gun back, and Gerada and his men ride away.

    Presumably some time passes; a Colonel arrives at the outpost, and Lt. Harvey is taken into custody. It would be interesting to know just what Paladin told the Colonel. The Colonel states that the record would show that Wilson died accidently while conferring with the Indians, but the way he says it makes it sound as if he is fully aware that it is not the real story. However, he himself does not know the real story--Paladin makes certain that the "Maricopas Treasure" is still considered a myth.

    The ending is a bit of a surprise. Paladin would not take any of the gold as it did not belong to him--but he made it clear that if the Indians were ever booted out of the territory (a quite likely prospect, if you think about it) Paladin would be the first one in there, looking for the gold.moreless
  • Paladin is sent by the Army to a fort where trouble has been cropping up with local indians.

    The story is a good one, pitting our hero against the military (a situation actors and writers seem very happy to do,always) and taking the side of the indians. Paladin apparently far surpassed both Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston in his time spent with American Indians. And the tribes with which he spent time were some of the fiercest warrier tribes, as well.

    When his motives come into question, delt with by the disgruntled Indians and staked to the ground under a hot sun. Luckily, Paladin has his wits, and an unsuspected ally at hand, and saves himself before melting into the dirt.

    He also solves the problem the Indians have with nosey Army guys popping in to help themselves to their gold. Smiles all around.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • (Nitpick) The title of this episode should be "The Maricopas Treasure". The Yuma are related to the Maricopas, but they are not actually involved in the episode.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Paladin: Major, let me set the record straight. I did not come here for old school gossip, to sing class songs, or discuss personal affairs, past or present. If you have a problem, please detail it and I'll name a price.

    • Major Wilson: You know what I risk my life for? Sixty-two dollars a month. Does that make you better than I am? Does that make your life worth more? You know that I've spent seven years in this hole eating dust? Seven years! Look here. This is what seven years represents to me. A stinking $200. That's not enough for you, is it?
      Paladin: Well, it might be.

    • Major Wilson: Oh, um, there's a full-dress retreat.
      Paladin: Major, I've had a look at this post. A half-hour ceremony won't impress me.

    • Major Wilson: What are you, doing, man?
      Paladin: This is an advance payment to get us out of here. Wilson, gold is only worth one thing to me and that's to buy what I need most. In this case it's my life!

  • NOTES (1)

    • This is the episode in which a bare-chested Richard Boone is staked out in spreadeagle fashion between four wooden stakes and left to slowly die a sweaty death under the scorching desert sun. It's one of Boone's few "beefcake" scenes and it paved the way for other "stake out" incidents: Robert Horton in Wagon Train (1-15-58), Peter Brown and William Smith in Laredo (9-16-65), and Ralph Taeger in Hondo (9-8-67). In all these cases the victims were stripped to the waist but, implausibly, their pants were left on! In Richard Boone's case, the Indians also left on his gunbelt and boots as well as allowing his horse to linger conveniently nearby. Boone is then able to call his horse over and use it to free himself from those stakes. Incidentally, Henry Brandon -- cast as the Indian chief who orders Boone to be staked out -- also plays the Indian who prepares to pour hot coals on Ralph Taeger's bare chest when Taeger's staked out in Hondo.