THE WESTERNER "School Days "1960
This is the second episode of the short run western series, THE WESTERNER. The series starred Brian Keith as a wandering cow-hand travelling the southwest United States. Of note here is the creator and producer, Sam Peckinpah. Peckinpah is of course known as the writer and director of, THE WILD BUNCH. This series only ran for 13 episodes in the fall of 1960.
Keith has been seeing a small town schoolmarm, Maggie Mahoney, for lessons on how to write his name. After leaving Mahoney at the school house after a lesson, he hears the woman screaming. He hotfoots it back to the school and finds a man, James Anderson, standing over the dead woman. Guns are pulled and Anderson collects a slug and goes down wounded.
Keith covers the dead woman with his coat and drags the wounded man out to the horses. He intends to ride the swine into town for the law. Anderson has other ideas and makes a break for it into the woods. Keith follows the man to a small ranch where Anderson expires from blood loss.
At the farm are the two brothers of the dead man. The two, John Anderson and William Tracy, now put the grab on Keith for killing their brother. They are concerned that the schoolmarm's beau, local bigwig, R.G. Armstrong might find out about their brother's over fondness for Miss Mahoney.
They rough up Keith and decide to turn him over to Armstrong. They know that Armstrong has a fierce temper and will most likely string Keith up from the first handy tree.
By this time the local law, Richard Rust, as well as R.G. Armstrong and several townsfolk have found Miss Mahoney. Now the brothers, Anderson and Tracy show with their tale of how drifter Keith killed the woman, then shot their brother when he tried to stop him. Needless to say the brothers were correct about R.G. Armstrong and his wanting to lynch Keith.
Keith gets pounded on again and told to dig his own grave. The deputy, Rust, gets a pistol butt to the head when he tries to stop the lynching. Calmer heads soon take charge and Keith explains what really happened. A quick look at the dead brother's body reveals various scratches etc that Miss Mahoney had inflicted in her defence. Keith is released.
This is a pretty intense episode. The episode was written by Sam Peckinpah and Robert Heverly.
Of note here is the episode's director, Andre De Toth. De Toth was a big screen director of some note. His western films, included, RAMROD, LAST OF THE COMMANCHES, DAY OF THE OUTLAW, THE Indian FIGHTER, SPRINGFEILD RIFLE and a string of Randolph Scott films like, MAN IN THE SADDLE, Carson CITY, THUNDER OVER THE PLAINS, RIDING SHOTGUN, THE STRANGER WORE A GUN and THE BOUNTY HUNTER. He was also the helmsman on a pair of top flight film noir, PITFALL and CRIME WAVE.
The d of p here was another well know big screen veteran, George Diskant. His films include, DESPERATE, RIFF-RAFF, PORT OF NEW YORK, BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND DAWN, THE RACKET, KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, THE NARROW MARGIN and ON DANGEROUS GROUND.