(17) “Ella West”

Original Airdate: (January 4, 1958)

A wild west show producer hires Paladin to get a handle on a female sharpshooter, Ella West. Paladin suspects his services may be wasted when he is hired to rein in a fiery female performer’s violent, unladylike demeanor.

(Note: In this episode, Paladin gives Ella the platinum chess piece that was introduced in Episode 5: “A Matter of Ethics”

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen, Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Herb Meadow (creator)

NORMA CRANE as Ella West
WILLIAM SWAN as Tracey Calvert
EARLE HODGINS as Tomahawk Carter
MIKE MAZURKI as Mr. Breed
MASON CURRY as Fred – Manager

I promised I’d avoid a gunfight, if possible, but it looks as though it isn’t possible. I have one bullet left, Mr. Breed. You may draw when you’re ready.

EXT. TOWN OF ABALIENE, TEXAS – DAY

TITLE: ABILENE

STAGECOACH DRIVER
Whoa! Whoa.

PALADIN
Luggage is up on top-and the saddle.

Paladin stops to look at a poster outside of a hotel:

We hear several gunshots off camera

ELLA WEST
Ha-ha! Look at that old boy run! Well, that’ll learn him to jump when I yell frog!

HOTEL DESK CLERK
Ma’am, we don’t allow no gunplay in…

ELLA WEST
Shut up! You tend to your trade.

ELLA WEST
(looking at Paladin’s fine clothes) Eee-yow! Would you look at them fancy pants?
That one don’t need no room, he needs a cage!

Small group of men laugh at her remark

ELLA WEST
I bet that stinkin’ ol’ bartender’s still a-runnin’. There ain’t no bartender nowhere gonna tell me that ladies ain’t allowed. Because I ain’t no lady. I can out-ride, out-shoot, and out-cuss anyone here! I can out-spit you, out-chew you and out-drink you!

TRACEY CALVERT
Morning, Ella.

MAN IN GROUP
How about it, Tracey? She gonna take your spot?

Men laugh again.

ELLA WEST
For two cents, I’d run you out of town, Pony Boy.

TRACEY CALVERT
Don’t cut your price for me.

MR. BREED
Just say the word.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
All right, folks. Come on, now. Let’s break it up. Come on. Let’s everybody relax here. Neighbors, the drinks are on me-Tomahawk Carter-the man who offers travel, education, and top wages with the greatest and the biggest Wild West show in the whole world. Yes, sir, we’re traveling to points East, where society folks applaud with a shower of gold. Here, Brave Knife, show them, will you? Look at that! If they’ll throw $20 gold pieces to an Indian…Listen, I want to talk to you.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Well, Tracey, what was it this time? Well, rack me up in buffalo hide. Paladin!

PALADIN
Tomahawk, how are you?

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Fine, thanks. Say, Tracey, come here a minute. I want to introduce you to a fellow who knew me when I was making an honest living. Uh, Tracey Calvert, Paladin.

PALADIN
Tracey Calvert- I saw you ride in Laramie, Wyoming, in ’71, when you won the grand prize.

TRACEY CALVERT
Had a lucky day.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Oh, Fred, add the damages to my bill, and, uh, send some drinks over there, will you? We got powwow to make. That’s all, boys.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Oh, this is a real simple job. All I got to do is to tame down a little gal of mine.

PALADIN
That one?

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Mm-hmm.

PALADIN
Tom, wait a minute-there’s one wild thing that man will never civilize-woman.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Now, would you let me make smoke? That little gal over there just happens to be Ella West.

TRACEY CALVERT
No, thanks.

PALADIN
Well, I’ve heard of her.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Well, who hasn’t? Why, that little gal’s only 24, and already she’s got more of a reputation than Calamity Jane, Cimarron Rose, and Belle Starr, all lumped together. I got her, and I got damage bills to prove it.

PALADIN
Ella West is an illusion. She’s a legend. It’s a romantic illusion. People are going to expect you to bring that illusion to life, and instead, you’re going to present reality. A grimy-faced, repugnant, loudmouth little shrew.

TRACEY CALVERT
Uh… I figure she ain’t as bad as all that.

PALADIN
Oh? How long have you known her?

TRACEY CALVERT
She and I…She joined the show last month.

PALADIN
I know when she joined the show, Mr. Calvert. I asked you how long you’ve known her.

TRACEY CALVERT
If you don’t mind, I’ll look in on the stock.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Well, I thought that if you could tame a horse, you could tame that woman. Both just about as stubborn, one as the other.

PALADIN
With a horse, the odds are 12-to-1 against. With a woman…?

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Mm. I guess I knew it wouldn’t work all the time. Oh, I could’ve made an awful lot of money.

PALADIN
Yeah, I know. I know, Tom, and that’s why I want ten percent of the entire proceeds for the season, if I succeed- ah.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Well, you haven’t changed much, have you?

PALADIN
I hope that’s a compliment.

INT. HOTEL ROOM

ELLA WEST
You ain’t gonna learn me nothing!

PALADIN
That’s correct. I’m going to teach you. You’ll do the learning.

ELLA WEST
I quit.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Paladin…

PALADIN
Pay her off, Tom. She just resigned.

ELLA WEST
Now, wait just a blasted minute now. If anybody gets runned off, it’s gonna be him!

PALADIN
Thank you, Tom. Now, Miss West…wouldn’t you like to sit down?

Ella takes aim with her gun and shoots Paladin’s whiskey glass.

PALADIN
That will be two deductions from your wages: one for the cost of the glass, and the other for the bullet damage.

ELLA WEST
You ain’t gonna make no lady out of me!

PALADIN
First, you wouldn’t be worth two cents to the show as a lady, and second, it would be impossible in the first place. Now, Miss West, wouldn’t you like to sit down on the sofa?

PALADIN
Hmm? Now, Miss West…All right, we’ll discuss speaking in the Western manner without actually cursing. Now, if a reporter were to ask you how you preserved your femininity in all these years of traveling in the company of men, exclusively, what would you say to him?

[commercial break]

INT. HOTEL ROOM

Ella is purplexed and frustrated at her situation.

PALADIN
Tell us about your parents, Miss West.

ELLA WEST
My old man was a stinkin’ drunk and my old lady was worse.

PALADIN
You’re talking to reporters.

ELLA WEST
Well, then let them make it up, like they been doin’ all along. Homestead- ha! It was a stinkin’ sow pen! Ask Tracey. It was so bad, you couldn’t believe it.

PALADIN
I’m sorry.

ELLA WEST
And you wouldn’t be so blasted uppity if you got brought up like that.

PALADIN
You knew Tracey Calvert then?

ELLA WEST
Yeah… I knew him. We was kids then. He used to call me Buck. I was sort of a tomboy.

Paladin laughs

ELLA WEST
Well, girls grow up.

PALADIN
I’m sorry. I see.

ELLA WEST
Do you? You’re sort of a strange one yourself. Whopping me one minute, spoutin’ poetry to me the next. What I mean is, we ain’t doing so bad, are we?

PALADIN
Ella, I don’t know.

ELLA WEST
Well, I said we ain’t, and don’t you forget it. I can walk off any time I want to. I don’t need your blasted learnin’… ’cause I’m Ella West, twice any man and six times any woman. I joined this outfit just for one reason: to show that Tracey coward a thing or two. He thinks he’s something. Well, he ain’t! And what do you think of that?

PALADIN
I think it takes more than parlor tricks to tame a wild animal.

ELLA WEST
You mean…you think you can tame me?

PALADIN
Ella, sit down, please. We’ve got a long day ahead of us.

FADE TO

INT. BARROOM

PALADIN
Ah…!

Paladin shows Ella how to drink a glass of wine.

Cowboy shows up and witnesses Ella acting somewhat like a lady. He is not happy.

FADE TO

INT. HOTEL ROOM

PALADIN
Here’s one, ma’am, that reminds me of you- all except the hair. It’s by a poet named Keats, and the poem is called “La Belle Dame Sans Merci. I met a lady in the meads, “Full beautiful- a faery’s child, Her hair was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were wild.”

ELLA WEST
Why…makes a person feel all tingly inside, don’t it? I couldn’t hit a barn door with a ten-gauge.

PALADIN
I’ll send you some books from San Francisco.

ELLA WEST
Oh, that’s…real nice of you. I haven’t felt like this since…

PALADIN
Since Tracey.

ELLA WEST
It don’t mean nothing now, of course.

PALADIN
Of course.

ELLA WEST
He was the whole world to me. Everything I wasn’t, he was. Everything I didn’t have, he did. And then when…when I was 16, he was 18, and they were gonna move away. Maybe he wasn’t growed up, but I was. The day before he left, I went to him. I didn’t ask him to marry me, just take me with him. I’d do anything, if he would. He could cut me up in little pieces, just take me with him! I ain’t said the same thing since, Paladin… but I’m saying it to you. I ain’t what folks think. Oh…I wouldn’t be afraid of you. And… and… and…and I wouldn’t cause you no trouble. I… I could be just like you, honest. You see, I don’t want to be printed in a paper. I want… I want to be me. I want somebody to know that I’m alive.
What’s the matter?

PALADIN
You’re dirty. Find some man that wants the smell of the stables.

Ella exits the room sobbing at Paladin’s remark.

FADE TO

INT. HOTEL LOBBY

We hear gunshots off camera.

HOTEL DESK CLERK
Calvert, you better get in there in a hurry.

CUT TO

INT. SALOON

ELLA WEST
Tracey, get out of here.

TRACEY CALVERT
Ella, you’re carrying your playacting too far this time.

ELLA WEST
Playacting?! I’ve shot men for less than that.

TRACEY CALVERT
That’s kid’s talk. You ain’t Buck anymore.

ELLA WEST
Shut up! Don’t say that!

MR. BREED
You heard the lady, Calvert. Get out.

TRACEY CALVERT
I was kind of glad when you joined the show, Ella. I thought we had something to talk over. I thought there was still some woman left inside those man’s britches, but there ain’t.

ELLA WEST
Stop it!

TRACEY CALVERT
You ain’t nothing. That’s got you all scared, ain’t it?

MR. BREED
Give him your gun, Ella. You’re going to get two for the price of one.

ELLA WEST
Tracey, please. Can’t you leave me something?

MR. BREED
Give him your gun!

PALADIN
That won’t be necessary. You looking for me, Mr. Breed?

MR. BREED
Well, now…the dude’s got big boy’s clothes on.

ELLA WEST
Breed, I changed my mind. I don’t want no killing.

MR. BREED
Uh-uh, honey. We made a bargain. You’re going to keep it all the way.

ELLA WEST
No! Paladin…maybe I ain’t a real woman.

PALADIN
Tracey. Bartender, pour five whiskeys. I promised Tom Carter I’d avoid a gunfight, if I possibly could.

MR. BREED
You ain’t got no choice.

PALADIN
Pour!

MR. BREED
That’s mighty sporting of you. I could use a drink.

PALADIN
Now, Mr. Breed, I’ve got one shot left. You draw whenever you’re ready.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Paladin!

PALADIN
Tom, Mr. Breed just resigned. I suggest you give him one week’s pay. He wants to travel a long way.

MR. BREED
Suits me fine.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Come on, you.

ELLA WEST
Paladin…

PALADIN
Lessons continue at 7:00. Please be on time.

[COMMERCIAL BREAK

FADE TO

INT. HOTEL ROOM

PALADIN
Come in.

ELLA WEST
I bought myself some female clothes. They cost more than genuine buckskin. I took a bath, too. Tracey was right, Paladin. If I ain’t a woman, I ain’t nothing. I’ll go if you want me to.

PALADIN
No. You look very nice.

ELLA WEST
You don’t have to say that.

PALADIN
I know it. It happens to be the truth. You are surprisingly womanly in a dress.

ELLA WEST
The store sold me a lot of cross ropes and lashings to go underneath. Uh… I…They would’ve cinched me in like a saddle. I figured I didn’t need it.

PALADIN
Obviously, but it’s not considered polite to discuss undergarments. Wouldn’t you like to sit down?

ELLA WEST
Criminy. A man don’t know if he’s getting fooled, does he? Oh…Only thing that threw me was my top notch. Paladin, you wouldn’t…wouldn’t help me with my hair, would you? I figured you seen plenty put up. And took down.

PALADIN
“Beware her hair, touch not her locks, for in its magic, she entwines it around her lover’s neck, to never set him free.”

ELLA WEST
I… I used to read, now and then. I guess it’s about as much use as watering a mesquite bush.

PALADIN
Ella, I saw a mission garden in California once, where the padres had used only desert flowers…carefully tended. The mesquite bush had white blossoms on it. And it had a fragrance I’ll never forget.

Paladin and Ella almost kiss but Paladin remembers ediquette and gets up.

ELLA WEST
You’re just like that silver thing on your holster. It’s a knight, ain’t it?

PALADIN
It’s a chess knight.

ELLA WEST
Knights are real courteous fellows. They’re got up so pretty and they talk so fancy that a girl might think they really mean what they say. I figure they’re just being kindly.

PALADIN
You only need kindness if you have no virtues, and you have many. You have courage. A rare, honest kind of courage that lets you look in the mirror and change what you see there. And you’re a woman. You’re a very attractive woman.

ELLA WEST
Don’t say anything out of pitiness.

PALADIN
Pity is not included in the course, Ella.

EXT. TOWN STREET -DAY

INT. ELLA’S HOUSE

ELLA WEST

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody…

TRACEY CALVERT

Paladin.

ELLA WEST
Oh. I thought you were Paladin.

TRACEY CALVERT
Oh? Asked me to meet him here.

ELLA WEST
Have a seat.

TRACEY CALVERT
You first.

ELLA WEST
No, no thank you. That was nice of you to offer, though.

TRACEY CALVERT
That’s nothing. A man’s supposed to do that for a lady.

ELLA WEST
Do you think I’m a lady, Tracey?

TRACEY CALVERT
If you was to say so Ella, I’d never question your word.

ELLA WEST
Well, that’s real nice of you, considering what happened between us.

TRACEY CALVERT
Oh, that was my fault, Ella. I wasn’t grown up then. You came at me so quick. Crying, talking about things I never even thought of. Guess I was scared.

ELLA WEST
I was scared, too.

TRACEY CALVERT
Took me a long time to figure that out, Ella. I’m sorry for what I said then. I was wrong yesterday, too.

ELLA WEST
I wish we’d…I mean, too bad we didn’t talk before.

TRACEY CALVERT
Too late now, I reckon?

ELLA WEST
I reckon.

TRACEY CALVERT
Yeah, I reckon. I’m real glad, though. Not meant for it to be taken wrong, but Paladin kind of…I mean… man, you’ve changed.

ELLA WEST
Paladin!

PALADIN
Luggage is to be forwarded. Put the bedroll on my horse. Ella, Tracey. Tracey, that’s a nice horse.

ELLA WEST
Paladin, I’m going with you.

PALADIN
Sorry, Ella. You’ve graduated. You’ve graduated, and I’ve earned my fee.

TRACEY CALVERT
No gentleman treats a lady like that.

PALADIN
That so? What lady?

ELLA WEST
Tracey! Tracey! You fought for me. He made you fight for me.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
I’m not sure I like the way this turned out, Paladin.

PALADIN
Well, Tom, I think you’ll change your mind.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Hmm. You must need money awful bad.

PALADIN
Not particularly. I just like to do a job right.

TRACEY CALVERT
He says here, he figures I had first claim on you. He says I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Ella opens the envelope and discovers that Paladin gave her his platinum chess-knight!!!

ELLA WEST
I guess it’s sort of a present.

TRACEY CALVERT
I reckon that’s the way I look at it, too.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
I may never get her back into buckskin.

PALADIN
I think you will, with Tracey’s help.

TOMAHAWK CARTER
Tracey?!

PALADIN
Sure- you’re going to be billing a double attraction from now on. And don’t forget my share of the gate.