(23) “Bitter Wine”

Original Airdate:  (February 15, 1958)

Paladin is asked to help a vineyard from being destroyed by a leaking oil well.

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, Written by Ken Kolb.

Eduardo Ciannelli as Renato Donatello
Rita Lynn as Teresa Donatello
Richard Shannon as Tim Gorman
Donald Foster as Fair Chairman
James Waters as First Guard
Val Benedict as Second Guard
Abdullah Abbas as Vineyard Worker (uncredited)
Nick Borgani as Vineyard Worker (uncredited)
Earl Spainard as Vineyard Worker (uncredited)

“Go on, pull the trigger. But if you do there will be an oil fire.
You’ve never seen an oil fire have you.
It will wipe out everything you’ve worked for”

EMPRESARIO
Ladies and gentlemen, San francisco’s most respected wine connoisseur, Mr. Paladin, Has just chosen the blue-ribbon award winner. Tell us which wine you selected.

PALADIN
Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, This is a perfect Riesling. Tart, early dry, light and clean to the taste, With a slight greenish- amber cast in the color.

EMPRESARIO
Mm, let me see, I have the list right here. The Riesling is the entry of the Donatello Vineyards. Is Sr. Renato Donatello present?

RENATO DONATELLO
Sí. Sí. Grazie. Grazie. Sr. Paladin, I cannot tell you what this honor means to me. I cannot thank you enough.

PALADIN
Yes, you can, by sharing a bottle of your excellent vintage with me.

RENATO DONATELLO
Sí.

PALADIN
Well, I would’ve expected Renato Donatello to be making a Barbera or Chianti.

RENATO DONATELLO
Twenty years ago I came here from Asti in the old country. Now, I’m an American, I make many wines.

PALADIN
I drink to your continued success.

RENATO DONATELLO
Oh, no. It is all over. Next year, the poorest peasant will spit my wine upon the ground. It is for goats to drink.

PALADIN
Well, it’s a crime to let anything happen to a wine like this. Perhaps there’s some way I can help?

RENATO DONATELLO
Oh, no, sr. Paladin. You are a gentleman, an epicure. The help I need would be a regiment of carbinieri. A moor. I will need a band of sicilian cutthroats.

PALADIN
Well, sr. Donatello, I’m gonna have to go and judge the horsemanship trials. If you should change your mind, If you should find there’s some way I can help you, Will you leave word at the judge’s stand, please? Thank you. Excuse me.

INT. STAGECOACH – DAY

RENATO DONATELLO
Two things. Two things at this stage of my life That ruined what I have been. A madman, and a well. From a well, there should come life, refreshment, water. From this well, comes evil, Stink, blackness and ruin.

PALADIN
Oil…?

RENATO DONATELLO
This black slime drains onto my land. Ruins my vines. The smoke from the boilers coats my grapes, And the wine’s bitterness will crack the very bottles.

PALADIN
Well, that should just about cover the well.

RENATO DONATELLO
This madman is cunning. He is powerful. He defies me. He will not pay damages, and will not change his ways.

PALADIN
What did you say the fellow’s name was?

RENATO DONATELLO
Gorman. Tim Gorman. Irish.

PALADIN
Oh, are the Irish so bad?

RENATO DONATELLO
What kind of savages would drink whiskey made from potatoes?

INT. DONATELLO’S HOME – DAY

RENATO DONATELLO
Come in, come in.

TERESA DONATELLO
Renato! I miss you!

RENATO DONATELLO
Basta, basta, we have a guest. This is Sr. Paladin of San Francisco.
A great judge of wines. Look what he gave me, the first prize.

TERESA DONATELLO
Ah, magnifico.

RENATO DONATELLO
This is my niece, Teresa.

TERESA DONATELLO
Benvenuto, sr. Paladin. You are welcome in this house.

PALADIN
Thank you, your uncle didn’t tell me you’re a very attractive woman.

RENATO DONATELLO
Teresa is also the finest cook this side of Rome.

TERESA DONATELLO
Today, I make scaloppini. Very nice, it is waiting for you.

PALADIN
I’ll go see…

R
Oh, no, you must eat. Please sit down, sr. Paladin. I will join you in a moment.

TERESA DONATELLO

Renato. Where are you going?

R
Get some wine for the Scaloppini.

PALADIN
Signorina, you’re worried about your uncle?

TERESA DONATELLO
Sí, Sr. Paladin. Renato is so upset. It is this terrible fight with Sr. Gorman.

PALADIN
What’s your opinion of Gorman?

TERESA DONATELLO
He is a bad enemy. But he would be a good friend. Please, do not tell my uncle, But today I sent Sr. Gorman some Scaloppini. It is my finest dish.

PALADIN
That’s a very fine peace offering.

DONATELLO
The noise we heard was nothing. Just a bottle exploding. Sr. Paladin, This is last year’s Riesling that won the prize. This is this year. Taste it.

PALADIN
Tastes like the inside of a chimney.

TERESA DONATELLO
Ah, Sr. Gorman does this. He shoots my Scaloppini.

RENATO DONATELLO
What I thought. I will go up there and curse that savage.

PALADIN
No you won’t. Ah. That’s my job.

EXT. OIL RIG

TIM GORMAN
All right, give me a hand with this. What’re you doing?! Get back on your own end. Go on, move! All right, give me a hand. Well, don’t stand there staring, go get those barrels loaded.

PALADIN
Gorman?

TIM GORMAN

Yeah, that’s me. Who are you?

PALADIN
My name’s Paladin. Sorry I can’t shake hands right now.

TIM GORMAN
Well, put the casing down.

PALADIN
Oh.

TIM GORMAN
How did you get in here?

PALADIN
I walked in.

TIM GORMAN
It’s a wonder you weren’t shot. I got rifle guards all around the place.

PALADIN
I noticed. What’s the reason?

TIM GORMAN
I’ll tell you the reason. That crazy Italian’s trying to ruin me. You look like a good man in a fight. How’d you like to work for me?

PALADIN
I’d like that very much, except for one thing.

TIM GORMAN

What?

PALADIN
Well, I already work for that crazy Italian. Now, before we discuss this, There are two things I’d like to make clear. He’s not crazy, and he’s an American, all right? Why don’t you show me around? Looks like a good rig.

TIM GORMAN
What would you know about it?

PALADIN
I was in Texas when the Tavole came in. 100 barrels a day.

PALADIN
It’s a nice rig you got there. Only two things wrong with it.

TIM GORMAN
Oh? Name ’em.

PALADIN
The main drainage ditch and the smoke from that boiler. Waste drains onto Donatello’s land, the smoke drifts over and coats his vines.

TIM GORMAN
The wind takes care of my smoke, And gravity hauls away my waste. None of my business what they do with it.

PALADIN
So now it’s my business?

TIM GORMAN
And you’re business is killing?

PALADIN
Not if there’s a better way.

TIM GORMAN
Do you know any?

PALADIN
I think so. Dig a sump, right over there. Pump the waste over that rise and drain it off the opposite side. And a twenty foot stack on the boiler Would carry the smoke above a down-draft. Be carried off harmlessly.

TIM GORMAN
I could do those things you said. But it would cost money, a lot of money. I haven’t got it. Every cent I could beg or borrow went into this well. I have to run full-blast just the way things are. Otherwise, I’ll go broke. Lose everything. Understand?

PALADIN
Perfectly.

TIM GORMAN
If Donatello gets hurt in the process, so much the better. He’s fought me every step of the way, from the minute I bought the land. If I can ruin him, that’s just fine.

PALADIN
Personalities aside, it’s a crime to ruin a vineyard That produces the finest wine in the state.

TIM GORMAN
I never tasted wine. When I want a drink, I take white mule, straight. That’s a man’s drink.

PALADIN
It has its virtues. Oh, one more question, What do you think of Teresa Donatello?

TIM GORMAN
Well, she’s not a bad looking woman. I kind of liked her, until she tried to poison me. That Italian food hits me the wrong way.

PALADIN
Well, the Scaloppini was well-meant.

TIM GORMAN
I took one taste, and it bit me. So I figured I better shoot it before it got loose and ran wild.

PALADIN
Would you shoot an unarmed Scaloppini?

TIM GORMAN
I would shoot anything that gives me trouble. I like you, paladin.
But be careful. You could end up looking like that kettle.

INT. DONATELO’S WINERY CELLAR -DAY

PALADIN
Renato.

RENATO DONATELLO
You saw the oil well?

PALADIN
I did. The well, the boilers, the refinery, everything.

RENATO DONATELLO
Good, now you can lead an attack. I will pass out the guns. We will wipe out this menace.

PALADIN
Renato. I’m afraid it’s not quite that simple. The vineyards, the winery, They mean a great deal to you, don’t they?

RENATO DONATELLO
This is my whole life. I have no wife, no little ones. But I have my vines that I put in the ground with my own hands. I make them grow with water I carry on my own back.
These are not vats of wine. These are years of my life.

PALADIN
I understand, believe me. And I want you to understand. Tim Gorman feels exactly the same way about his oil well.

RENATO DONATELLO
Oh, no! You cannot compare my beautiful wine with that black slime.

PALADIN
I agree. But the principle’s the same. The oil business is here to stay and night raids won’t stop it.

RENATO DONATELLO
But why? Who needs this oil?

PALADIN
Some very useful things come from it. Oil for the lamps, benzene for cleaning, Very useful things.

RENATO DONATELLO
Well, what must I do? Let myself be ruined?

PALADIN
No, you must loan Tim Gorman $3,000. Never! I will cut my throat first. Sr. Paladin, you’re a fine judge of wines, but nothing else. Go back to San Francisco and leave me to my battle.

PALADIN
No, when I take a job, I see it through. I have to go into Stockton and see a lawyer about technical details. Will you loan me a horse?

RENATO DONATELLO
Oh, Sí, and if you do me the favor of not returning, You may keep the horse.

EXT. PALADIN IS RIDING THE HORSE -DAY

INT. SR. RENALTOS HOME – DAY

RENATO DONATELLO
You have the key?

TERESA DONATELLO
Sí,sí, tutti pronto.

RENATO DONATELLO
Open the lock. The time of choice is past. We must fight or lose everything. If I’ve been good to you, Stand by me at this moment. Now… Who will have guns?

EXT. RENALTO STALKS GORMANS PLACE – NIGHT

RENATO DONATELLO
Fire!

TIM GORMAN
All right, this is it! Take cover along the banks and start firing!

TIM GORMAN
Dirty, rotten, tight-squeezing…

RENATO DONATELLO
Attack!

EXT. RANCH HOUSE

TERESA DONATELLO
Sr. Paladin. I tried to pray, but I cannot. Not for this.

PALADIN
What’s happened?

TERESA DONATELLO
Renato will be killed. You must help!

EXT. OIL RIG

TIM GORMAN
They’re dropping back! After them!

RENATO DONATELLO
We must attack. We must attack.

TIM GORMAN
Clean out those bushwhackers and head for the wine shed. Boys, come on! We got ’em on the run!

PALADIN
Hold it. Call ’em back. Call ’em!

TIM GORMAN
Hold it, wait. It’s a trap, come back.

PALADIN
That’s fine, more of the same.

TIM GORMAN
Everybody back. It’s a trap, everybody get back to the line.
Don’t stare, get back to the rig. Go on, move! Keep going now!

TIM GORMAN
So that’s how a big-time gunman acts? Trotting up to shoot people in the back?

PALADIN
You didn’t get shot. I thought you’d listen to reason. Otherwise, I’d have had to shoot a half dozen innocent men.

TIM GORMAN
You talk big, paladin. But the next time we meet, You better be ready to back it up.

PALADIN
I’ll look forward to the occasion. ‘night, Mr. Gorman.

INT. RENATO’S WINE CELLAR – NIGHT

PALADIN
Renato, I think you know by now that your move tonight was a foolish one.

RENATO DONATELLO
Paladin, I’m a ruined man, I don’t need you to insult me. Please go away and leave us. Gorman can ruin my vineyard as he pleases, But I won’t stay here to see it. Tomorrow, teresa and I will pack. We move as soon as the wounded can be taken elsewhere.

PALADIN
Tomorrow, if you still feel like moving, I’ll help you pack. In the meantime, tonight I’d like to use a barrel of your wine.

RENATO DONATELLO
A whole barrel?

PALADIN
A keg, small barrel. Not the prize riesling, but something fairly good.

RENATO DONATELLO
Why not? Nothing matters now. Here.

PALADIN
Thank you.

TERESA DONATELLO
Where is Sr. Paladin going?

RENATO DONATELLO
To get drunk, I guess. You better get back to the men.

INT. RENATO’S HOME – EVENING

KNOCK AT DOOR

RENATO DONATELLO

Come in.

PALADIN
Good evening. Oh, I’m sorry to have missed dinner.

TERESA DONATELLO
It is not too late, Sr. Paladin. Sit down, please. Eat something. We cannot, you see.

RENATO DONATELLO
The lasagna’s delicious, but it chokes me.

PALADIN
If you’ll come with me, I think I can show you something That will help your appetite.

RENATO DONATELLO
What will you show me?

PALADIN
I will show you what the poet Omar Khayyam meant When he said, “The grape with logic absolute shall all the warring tribes confute.” Come on.

RENATO DONATELLO
This is crazy. We’ll be killed.

PALADIN
Not if you do what I tell you.

RENATO DONATELLO
We can’t get through the lines. After what happened, Gorman has every man armed and watching.

PALADIN
I know, I counted on it. Watch the rise.

RENATO DONATELLO
What’s that dark spot over there?

PALADIN
That’s your keg of wine.

RENATO DONATELLO
They steal my wine.

PALADIN
They’re supposed to.

RENATO DONATELLO
What do we do now?

PALADIN
Now we wait for the wine to lull the red-eyed anger into sleep. That’s Omar Khayyam again. Is it? Fitzgerald translation.

PALADIN
Renato!

TIM GORMAN
Come down off there! I’ll blow a hole through ya!

PALADIN
Be a big fire if you do, Gorman.

TIM GORMAN
I mean it, Paladin, I’ll give you just five seconds.

PALADIN
Time’s up. My life’s not worth that to you. Now put the gun down.

RENATO DONATELLO
Go… Go ahead, start the fire.

PALADIN
Not unless I have to. Now, first I want you both to read that. And sign it! That’s an agreement drawn up by the lawyer in Stockton. It says that you, Renato, will give Gorman $3,000 to build a new drainage set-up. Put a stack on that boiler. In return, you’ll get a share in the oil, And a say in how the well’s run.

RENATO DONATELLO
Why should I pay $3,000? Go ahead, start the fire.

PALADIN
You’ve never seen an oil fire, have you? I put this torch in there, that oil will bubble and explode. In a few minutes, your vineyard will be covered with burning oil. You’ll both be wiped out. Go ahead, gentlemen, take your choice. With that agreement, you can both operate your businesses profitably. Otherwise…

RENATO DONATELLO
Partners.

TIM GORMAN
Partner.

RENATO DONATELLO
Grazie.

PALADIN
Here’s to the new partnership.

TIM GORMAN
This wine ain’t half bad. ‘course, it don’t have the kick of white mule, But it feels all right.

TERESA DONATELLO
How do you mean?

TIM GORMAN
I don’t know. When I came in here, I hated everybody. But now…

PALADIN
I consider my job well done. I hope you won’t forget my fee, Renato.

RENATO DONATELLO
Case of Riesling, delivered to your hotel, each year, I will never forget.

TERESA DONATELLO
And the dinner is almost ready. Wait ’til you taste it.

RENATO DONATELLO
I’ll get the dinner wine. I have just the thing, a fine Porto.

PALADIN
Oh, good.

TIM GORMAN
Listen, you’ve got to get me out of here. Think of some excuse, you’re smart.

PALADIN
Why, what’s the trouble?

TIM GORMAN
Teresa’s a fine, handsome woman, But that Italian food she cooks scorches my insides.

PALADIN
Oh. Teresa. Why don’t you show Mr. Gorman your special new dish?

TERESA DONATELLO
Irish stew.

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