Cimarron Strip – Big Jessie – 1968 This is an episode of the Stuart Whitman western series, Cimarron Strip. This series ran for 23 episodes during 1967-68. It was one of the few series with a ninety 90 minute runtime.
U.S. Marshall, Jim Crown, played by Stuart Whitman, is taking a young prisoner, Eddie Hodges, to an out of town court date.
Several nights later, Whitman has just secured Hodges for the evening when he is jumped by a pair of gunmen. The pair, are, Hodges older brother, Donnelly Rhodes, and his partner, Tim Carey. There is a brief free for all where Hodges gets wounded and Whitman is knocked unconscious.
The next morning, Whitman finds himself without a horse, his badge or his gun. The latter problem is solved when he finds an ornate silver inlaid, shotgun. Rhodes had dropped the weapon during the fistfight the night before.
Whitman starts down the road towards the next town. He snags a lift from a freight wagon being driven by Mariette Hartley. She is not quite sure whether to believe Whitman's tale or not. After telling Whitman the next town has no Sheriff, she drops Whitman and his shotgun off and heads to her ranch.
Whitman hits the livery stable to buy a horse and saddle. He then heads over to the saloon for a beer. Everywhere he goes the town people take one look at him, and then disappear. "Strange town." Whitman mutters to the only other person in the bar. The man, Jack Elam, just looks at him and nods.
After his beer, Whitman returns to the livery stable. While saddling his just purchased horse, a dozen armed men step up with guns drawn. It seems that someone looking like Whitman had beaten the town blacksmith to death the day before. The only witness, the man's son, had described the shotgun used. And of course it is the one Whitman carried into town.
Whitman explains that he is a US Marshall etc but the mob does not believe him. A rope is soon supplied and a lynching looks in the works.
Jack Elam now steps up. He tells the mob he is a real lawman and takes charge of Whitman. The two quickly mount up and leave town.
Elam is no lawman, but a bounty hunter chasing after the $5,000 reward on Rhodes. The wanted poster Elam produces does look a lot like Whitman.
Whitman manages to get a quick punch in on Elam, grabs his handgun and escapes on foot. He heads for Hartley's ranch to ask for help. Hartley hooks up her wagon and agrees to drive Whitman the 30 miles to the next town where there is a Sheriff.
Elam meanwhile has picked up the trail and is following the pair. While this is happening, Rhodes, Carey and the badly wounded, Hodges, are holed up in an abandoned roadside cabin.
Elam now pops out of the trees in front of Hartley's wagon, his rifle levelled at Whitman. "You are bagged!" The two are going to have another "heart to heart" talk. The three take the wagon up the road to the cabin in order to water all the horses first.
Needless to say it is the same cabin Rhodes and crew are hiding. Carey comes out of cabin, grabs Hartley, and starts blasting. Elam throws Whitman a rifle and returns fire on the cabin. Carey, after pulling Hartley inside, sneaks out and heads for his horse. Time to hit the road he figures leaving Rhodes to fight it out. He does not get far as Whitman drills him.
Rhodes tells Hartley to look after Hodges in between firing at Whitman and Elam. He manages to wing Elam in the side knocking him out of the fight.
Hartley has taken a look at Hodges and finds him dead. Rhodes sees the look on her face and steps outside to face Whitman. Of course Rhodes is the loser in the exchange.
Whitman and Hartley patch up Elam and haul him off to the nearest doc for proper repairs.
A pretty good duster if you ask me. Carey is great in everything he ever did. Here, his over the top nuts in the head gunman bit is a hoot.
Also in the cast is, Jill Townsend, Randy Boone, Percy Hebert, Burt Mustin and Bob Hughes.
The director is veteran TV man, Herschel Daugherty. The d of p was, Harry Stradling. His work includes, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF, THE GOOD GUYS AND THE BAD GUYS, LITTLE BIG MAN, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER, FOOL'S PARADE, THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING and ROSTER COGBURN. He also shot one of my favorite war films, GO TELL THE SPARTANS.
Both the story and screenplay are by Daniel Mainwaring. Mainwaring, also known as Geoffery Homes, is most famous as the author of the noir classic, OUT OF THE PAST. (color)