The Virginian

Season 1 Episode 23

The Money Cage

Aired Wednesday 7:30 PM Mar 06, 1963 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Money Cage
A con man, William Martin (Steve Forrest), and his gang come to Medicine Bow and Martin begins wooing bank teller Lydia Turner (Bethel Leslie) the daughter of the bank's owner. He plans to use the woman to get her father and Judge Garth to invest in a fake oil drilling scheme. However, complications ensue when there is a run on the bank and Martin discovers he likes Lydia.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • A league of con artists trying to persuade Medicine Bow to invest in finding oil there provides a backdrop to a story where the mastermind of the league unexpectedly, inspired by a sudden bank run, finds his true vocation.moreless

    Some episodes are “acquired taste”, and this may well be one of them for two reasons; this has nothing to do with ranching or gunning anybody down, and secondly, the regular cast are mere bystanders to the plot. This is about a bank owner and her daughter (who works as a teller in her father’s bank) and a league of bunco artists who lead all the important people of Medicine Bow to believe that there are good prospects of finding oil there. William Martin, the leader of the league, is resourceful, intelligent, good-tempered and handsome and he plays to these strengths with Lydia (the teller) and his farther as if he’s done it all his life. At the same time other members of the league pull their strings with the ordinary town folk in ways that are more obvious. While Martin and his associates succeed in spreading the news of oil prospects, no one in the town is eager to invest in oil business – a business they know nothing about. This causes some tension between the league members, and at this point also the viewers may begin to have some doubts of whether the story is going anywhere or not. But actually this has been just a long introduction to the real story here, which is the transformation that Martin goes through as circumstances provide him with an opportunity to devise a plan to save the bank and thereby benefit the whole community. The last phase of his plan, of course, involves a return operation of a huge amount of cash that would be easily redirected to the hands of the league. The plan inspires Martin’s creativity, and, encouraged by Lydia, the bank management accepts it albeit with some reluctance. As the plan proves successful and everyone gives him credit for it, Martin seems quietly pleased but deep down unsure what it is he is actually pleased with. Throughout the process Martin remains businesslike, like an expert consulting his client, like a man conversing with his equals. During the process Martin also gets to know Lydia and her father better, and to appreciate their situation. Since no meetings with the other league members are shown at this point, we have no means of assuming that Martin might be having second thoughts about the phase two of his plan. Martin’s intentions towards Lydia were to allure her to the extent of influencing her father. However, while not unfeeling, Lydia seems resigned to the part of a spinster and it is her father who is keen on marrying her to Martin. This is welcome, but unexpected and enough to make Martin’s girlfriend, Jenny, suspicious. From here on, Martin seems to be acting on intuition on all fronts. When he’s kissing Lydia, he doesn’t know if he’s putting on an act or not, but he knows what it means to Lydia whose heart is not easily moved. Martin’s inner struggle begins to show on the train (carrying the cash) as he gets irritated with his associates. Nevertheless, they proceed with phase two as planned and it is only after they have swindled the cash that Martin decides to cancel the whole job and return the money. In the cancel operation he is helped by Jenny who is the only member of the league who has noticed and understood Martin’s change of heart. In the Denver bank, Martin is asked to sit down and wait and as he does so, and as we observe him, his mind in a roller-coaster after a long sleepless night, we are witnessing an acting performance worthy of Cary Grant at his best. The support Steve Forrest (in the role of Martin) gets from Bethel Leslie (Lydia) and Joanna Moore (girlfriend) is also noteworthy. The script still has a few surprises in store before the ending – enough to merit repeated viewing.moreless

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