33-“The Silver Queen”

Season 1, Episode 33 – Original Airdate: May 3, 1958)

When a beautiful lady receives a half-ownership in a silver mine in a rather suspicious-looking will, Paladin sticks his neck out for the sake of a dead man’s true wishes.

Directed by Lamont Johnson, Written by Albert Aley.

LITA MILAN as Mlle. Annette Vargas
EARLE HODGINS as Leadhead Kane
(The Search, 1960) as Sheriff Plummer
(Juliet, 1959) as Colonel Jeremiah Pike
(Ella West, 1958) as Tomahawk Carter
(The Great Mojave Chase, 1957) as Old Timer
WHIT BISSELL as Vance Crawford
(The Burning Tree, 1963) as Fairchild
(No Visitors, 1957) as Storekeeper Jonas
STAR TREK: TOS (The Trouble with Tribbles, 1967) as Lurry
MARTIN BALK as Jess Hagen
(Gun Shy, 1958) as Rip – Thief No. 2
RALPH MOODY as Judge Howell
(Long Weekend, 1961) as Valentine Collins
(The Lady on the Wall, 1960) as Elmer Jansen
(The Monster of Moon Ridge, 1959) as Jake Kelly
ROBERT GIBBONS as Rimrock Hotel Desk Clerk
(Invasion, 1962) as Government Official
(The Uneasy Grave, 1961) as Johnsonville Hotel Manager
MASON CURRY as Hotel Carlton Doctor
(Ella West, 1958) as Fred – Manager
TOM LONDON as Juror

There it is, Hagen. You can’t get into this mine and we can’t get out. Stalemate.

PALADIN
Thank you very much, gentlemen. I hope you all have exactly the same luck tomorrow night.

GENTLEMEN
Thank you.

PALADIN
Goodnight. Leadhead. You were trying to bluff me out of that last pot.

LEADHEAD
Yeah, I had you guessing for a minute.

PALADIN
Sounds like you’re getting tired of the game.

LEADHEAD
Yeah, it passes the time. Say, you got another one of them?

PALADIN
Now you know what the doctor said.

LEADHEAD
Now, don’t you start in with that foolishness. What’s the difference between dying at 75 or 80? Ain’t many pleasures left when you get to be my age, Paladin.

PALADIN
Looks to me like you’re doing fine.

LEADHEAD
Sure, I live in a plush hotel now, instead of a lean-to. Bought me silk shirts and I eat fancy food. Yeah, I’ve done just fine since I found me a silver mine. I can have just about anything I want. Hey…You ain’t going just yet, are you?

PALADIN
Well, it’s 5:00 in the morning. We played all night.

LEADHEAD
I’ll see you tomorrow night, huh?

PALADIN
Let’s start earlier. 12:00 is a little late.

LEADHEAD
No, I’m going over to the music hall.

PALADIN
Again?

LEADHEAD
Just as long as I can keep on seeing Millie Annette.

PALADIN
Who?

LEADHEAD
Millie Annette, the singer. Well, what’s the matter with you? You’re the one that took me there the first time. I always thought you had an eye for the ladies. If you don’t remember her…What are you laughing at?

PALADIN
That’s not her name, Leadhead. Not “Millie.” this is French. Stands for mademoiselle Annette Vargas.

LEADHEAD
Oh. Well, whatever it is they call her, she’s still the prettiest thing I ever seen.

PALADIN
And you’ve been going to the music hall every night just to see her?

LEADHEAD
Why not?

PALADIN
Well, Leadhead she’s living here at the Carlton. You could have met her.

LEADHEAD
Ha! You think she’d even stop to look at an old desert rat like me?

PALADIN
Well, I understand she’s a very gracious woman. Well, at any rate, I’ll see you tonight.

LEADHEAD
Oh, sure. ‘bye leadhead.
Good night.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
“With sincere appreciation for your enchanting performance at the music hall. And in hopes that you will have supper with me tonight. L. Kane.”

INT. HOTEL CARLTON – PALADIN’S HOTEL SUITE – EVENING

LEADHEAD
I just can’t get over it. Me sitting here talking to you. I never dreamed you’d have supper with me.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Your card and the beautiful flowers were most persuasive.

LEADHEAD
Yeah, now, that’s something I can’t understand. I don’t recollect…

PALADIN
Leadhead…I believe mlle. Vargas is ready for more wine.

LEADHEAD
Well, sure. Hey boy.

HEYBOY
Yes, Mr. Kane?

LEADHEAD
Those glasses are no doggone use to us empty.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Leadhead? Forgive me. Is that really your name?

LEADHEAD
Yeah!

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I don’t believe it.

LEADHEAD
Honest injun! See, when I first started out prospectin’, I was an awful greenhorn. Then one day I was workin’ my way up through the Tuscaroras, and I hit it.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
You found your silver mine.

LEADHEAD
Now wait a minute. Wait just a minute now. Hold your horses. No, sir. You see, I got me a lot of rock samples. And I head out for the survey office, Just like there was a fire in my britches. Oh, excuse me.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I understand.

LEADHEAD
Anyway, I busted into town yelling and whooping like a comanche. Telling everybody that I’d made a big strike. Some strike. It was lead.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Not really?

LEADHEAD
Yeah, and that’s when they started calling me “Leadhead.” And it stuck to me. I’ve just been jawing away to a fare thee well, ain’t I? Gosh, somebody should have stuck a boot in my mouth.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Don’t stop, your stories are enchanting.

LEADHEAD
You sure make it easy for me to tell them. You know, it perks up an old man To have a young lady like you pay him some mind.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
But you’ve lived such a wonderfully full life.

LEADHEAD
Full? Full of looking and never finding.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I want to hear more about you. We’ll do it again soon, won’t we?

LEADHEAD
It can’t happen too soon to suit me, ma’am. You know…This is the nicest night I’ve ever spent in my whole life. Say there, just something else. It’s kinda silly, I guess. But I want to remember tonight. I wonder if you’d sign this picture?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I would rather you remember me with this.

[Annette remove her cameo necklace]

LEADHEAD
No, I couldn’t.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I want you to have it. Perhaps it’ll keep you from being lonely again. Good night. Leadhead.

PALADIN
May I see you to your room, Mademoiselle?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Thank you, Mr. Paladin. Good night.

PALADIN
Good night, leadhead.

LEADHEAD
Gosh, almighty.

INT. LEADHEAD’S HOTEL SUITE – MORNING

HEYBOY
I knock on bedroom door Like always when I bring his breakfast. This time he not answer, so I open it. And I see him there, Lying so quiet. I call doctor, and then you.

DOCTOR
It happened during the night, while he slept. He’s an old man. His heart simply gave out. Will you notify the next of kin?

PALADIN
There’s nobody to notify Doctor. He was alone.

DOCTOR
Someone has to make…

PALADIN
I’ll take care of it.

DOCTOR
Very well.

PALADIN
Thank you, doctor.

HEYBOY
Mr. Kane want you to have this. He write it last night, after you leave with lady. Also letter. Letter I mail. That he want me to give you, Say you will know what to do.

PALADIN
Well, this is Leadhead’s will.

HEYBOY
I know. He asked me to write my name on it. You see? I’m a witness.

PALADIN
Mademoiselle Annette? Hmmm.

INT. ANNETTE VARGAS’ DRESSING ROOM – EVENING

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Oh no, Mr. Paladin. I can’t accept this. The poor man had too much champagne that night. He didn’t know what he was doing.

PALADIN
Believe me, he did. Leadhead Kane was a lonely old man. In that one night, you showed him more honest affection and friendship than he’d ever known.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
No, it’s not right. There are others to think of. His friends, family. They deserve…

PALADIN
He had no family. And he considered you his close friend. His share in that mine’s worth $250,000. $250,000?

STAGE MANAGER
Ten minutes, Miss Vargas. Somebody waiting to see you.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
One minute, please.

PALADIN
Let me know what you decide. I’ll be at the Carlton.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Thank you for coming.

PALADIN
My pleasure, goodbye. Good night.

VANCE CRAWFORD
Miss Vargas?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Yes.

VANCE CRAWFORD
My name’s Vance Crawford. I’m Leadhead Kane’s partner. Or rather, I was.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Come in, won’t you? Please, sit down.

VANCE CRAWFORD
No, thank you. I’ll only be a minute. I received an unusual letter from leadhead yesterday. It was apparently written the night before he died. He stated he’d just made out a will leaving his share of the Rimrock Mine to you. Is this true?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Yes, it’s true.

VANCE CRAWFORD
You didn’t know leadhead very long, did you? Least, I never heard him speak of you.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
No, I had just met him that evening. We had supper together. I liked him.

VANCE CRAWFORD
Yes, yes, of course you did. But I’m sure that $1,000 Will make you feel a lot better.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
$1,000?

VANCE CRAWFORD
For the will. You don’t think it’s any good, do you?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Mr. Paladin said…

VANCE CRAWFORD
Believe me, it’ll never stand up in court. Especially under the circumstances.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
What do you mean “the circumstances”?

VANCE CRAWFORD
You know, ms. Vargas, you really are a talented actress.
Now I can understand why Leadhead was taken in.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
“Taken in”?

VANCE CRAWFORD
Let’s not carry this too far. You don’t have to put on a show for my benefit.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.

VANCE CRAWFORD
All right, I’ll spell it out for you. It’s $1,000 or nothing. You can’t collect on that will and you know it.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Why can’t I?

VANCE CRAWFORD
The judge’d laugh it out of court. Anyone can tell what happened that night. You picked the old man up in a saloon. Got him drunk, then you tricked him into writing that will.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I think you’ve said enough. Will you please leave?

VANCE CRAWFORD
You tried one of the oldest tricks, it just didn’t work. The estate’ll be settled when the judge hits rimrock next week. You don’t stand a chance at collecting.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I asked you to leave.

VANCE CRAWFORD
I’m not going to offer it again. $1,000 cash, right now.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Will you go?

VANCE CRAWFORD
That’s funny. I always thought women like you were sensible about money.

INT. HOTEL CARLTON

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I could hardly get through the performance.

PALADIN
You’ve made up your mind about the will.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Yes, Mr. Paladin. Not so much that I care about the money for myself. But I can’t let Crawford get what belonged to Leadhead.

PALADIN
You’re going to need some help. May I offer my assistance?

EXT. ON THE STAGE – TOWN OF RIMROCK – DAY

PALADIN
Would you check in for both of us? I want to get a buckboard.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Of course. Where are we going?

PALADIN
We should go to the mine soon. You should post a notice of the new partnership. That’s a law in the silver counties. We have to do it before the court convenes tomorrow.
See you in a few minutes.

JESS HAGEN
So that’s Leadhead’s filly? He wasn’t as old as I thought he was.

VANCE CRAWFORD
I don’t want her in court tomorrow, Jess.

CLERK
Room seven and nine. Miss Vargas and Mr. Paladin. Want me to take your bags up?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Please. I’ll wait for Mr. Paladin.

JESS HAGEN
Welcome to Rimrock.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Thank you.

JESS HAGEN
You have to leave soon, do you? I’d like to get acquainted. I’m Jess Hagen. You’ll be seeing a lot of me if you stay.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I look forward to that.

JESS HAGEN
Good. I’d like to take you to supper tonight. Okay?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Will you let me pass, please?

JESS HAGEN
Soon as you tell me about supper.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Don’t touch me.

JESS HAGEN
Look, don’t use that tone to me.

PALADIN
Apparently, the young lady’s not interested in your attentions.

[Paladin throws him out into the street. The man draws on Paladin]

PALADIN
Oh, my, you’re slow. I assume you’re mr. Crawford.
And you were expecting us, I trust.

JESS HAGEN
You take that look off your face.

VANCE CRAWFORD
There’s no look on my face. You’re just seeing things. Now listen, Paladin just ordered up a buckboard. Obviously, he and the girl are going out to the mine. They’ll have to post a new partnership notice. Now, that’s the time. Get everybody away from there-

JESS HAGEN
Why don’t you draw me a picture.

EXT. RIMROCK SILVER MINE – DAY

PALADIN
How does it feel to be a lady of property?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Is this all there is to it? This hole in the ground?

PALADIN
The mine’s only a year old, but there’s over $500,000 in that hole.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Why aren’t there people working here? At least someone should make sure no one steals any silver.

PALADIN
It’s not quite that simple, but it does seem strange, doesn’t it?

[Paladin spots a gunman up on the rock just in time. They duck behind a rock]

PALADIN
Well…now we know why there weren’t any people around. Witnesses would be embarrassing.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
I don’t understand why anyone would shoot at us.

PALADIN
It’s your friend from the hotel out there.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
The one who was so rude, Hagen.

PALADIN
That’s right. He doesn’t discourage easily, does he?

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
That can’t be. To try to kill me ’cause I wouldn’t dine with him?

PALADIN
Get back in the mine.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
You have a gun. Shoot back!

PALADIN
It’d be a waste of lead. Rifles have twice the range of this gun.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
We’re just going to stay here?

PALADIN
Looks like we don’t have a choice. What are you waiting for, Hagen? Come and get us.

JESS HAGEN
No hurry, I’m not going anywhere. Neither are you.

PALADIN
Well, that’s it. They can’t get in and we can’t get out. Stalemate.

INT. MINE SHAFT

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Paladin, you were gone so long, and that light…

PALADIN
I found the shaft.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
There’s no other way to get out of the mine.

PALADIN
Some air shafts, but they’re too small to crawl through.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
Why are they keeping us here? What can they gain?

PALADIN
Time. It’s almost dawn. Leadhead’s estate will be settled in a few hours. If we’re not there with the will…

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
To think of that man getting leadhead’s money…Paladin, why don’t we try to sneak out? Perhaps we could make it.

PALADIN
What then? Walk back to town? Besides, they’d come after us. Unless they thought we were still here.

[Paladin sneaks up on Jess and holds a gun to his head]

PALADIN
You can loose the top of your head that way.

JESS HAGEN
How’d you get out of there?

PALADIN
On my belly. It was a dirty trip, but worth it. You tell your men to get dynamite to blow us out of that cave.

JESS HAGEN
No. All right. Shauny, Joe. Go back to town.

SHAUNY & JOE
What’s going on, jess?

PALADIN
Dynamite.

JESS HAGEN
Get some dynamite. We’re going to blow them out of the cave.

SHAUNY & JOE
Ain’t there some in the shack?

JESS HAGEN
No, do what I tell you!

PALADIN
Well, jess, that was perfect. To show you how much I appreciate what you did…

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
All right, Paladin, he won’t escape now.

PALADIN
Let me have the hat. Mr. Hagen, if I were you, I’d sit still. Your friends’ll are gonna be looking for a target when they return. Come on.

JUDGE HOWELL
All right, now. Come to order, boys. First order of business before this court is to settle the estate of mr. Kane. All the interested parties present?

VANCE CRAWFORD
I believe I’m the only one, Judge.

JUDGE HOWELL
Well, I can’t see anything to settle. Leadhead didn’t leave any heirs. So I guess we’ll-

PALADIN
Your honor. If the court pleases…Before you decide this, I’d like to be heard.

JUDGE HOWELL
Who are you?

PALADIN
My name is Paladin. I represent Mlle. Vargas who, by virtue of this document, is entitled to Kane’s entire estate.

VANCE CRAWFORD
It’s a fraud. That will doesn’t mean anything.

JUDGE HOWELL
You can’t come in with a piece of paper-

PALADIN
That is a holographic will.

VANCE CRAWFORD
What?

PALADIN
A holographic will is one made out in a man’s own handwriting On a single sheet of paper and dated. As your honor knows, it’s legal Since many people here recognize Kane’s writing.

VANCE CRAWFORD
All right, so he did sign it. But he was tricked. You all know leadhead. How many of you heard him talk about mlle. Vargas? Of course you didn’t. He only knew her one night. Mlle. Vargas was nothing but a cheap entertainer. She caught poor Leadhead in a trap. That’s why I say this will is a fraud. Coercion. It ought to be thrown out.

JUDGE HOWELL
I can’t see any argument against that. So, I hereby declare-

PALADIN
Just a minute. Aren’t you going to hear my side of it?

JUDGE HOWELL
Don’t look like you’ve got one.

PALADIN
The court’s question is whether or not kane made this will. And if he did make it, Was he unduly forced, urged, coerced, bribed or even seduced into making it.

JUDGE HOWELL
It’s up to you to answer that question, Mr. Paladin, to my satisfaction.

PALADIN
I’ll be very happy to, your honor, but to a jury.

JUDGE HOWELL
Now, look here, this is not a trial. And we don’t use juries in this kind of case. It’s not a criminal case.

PALADIN
I think it is. Because, if Mr. Crawford’s charges are true, Ms. Vargas is guilty of extortion, and so am I. And extortion is a criminal offense.

VANCE CRAWFORD
Are you willing to stand on that?
A jury finds against you, you willing to admit to extortion?

PALADIN
I am.

JUDGE HOWELL
You’ll go to jail. You and the Mademoiselle, too.

PALADIN
I realize that.

MLLE. ANNETTE VARGAS
All right. It’ll take time to get the jury so-

PALADIN
Your honor, it needn’t be a full panel. Any six men. Any four men. You, sir? You, sir. You, at the bar. And you, sir.

JUDGE HOWELL
All right, all of you, come over. Stand up here. Listen smart. Go ahead, Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
Your honor. Gentlemen, I’ll be as brief as possible. I’ll simply present a set of circumstances. And I’ll ask you one question. Your answer will be your verdict. I don’t know anything about you. But in each of you, I see something of Leadhead Kane. A loneliness that comes from the dream of the big strike. You never had time for companionship, warmth, laughter. And now it’s too late. You’re too old. That same look was in Leadhead Kane’s eyes. Sure. Leadhead hit it rich. He could buy anything in the world. Anything except what he really wanted. Friendship, warmth, understanding. And then one night he went to a music hall to pass the time. There he saw a young woman, a singer. He was charmed by her. He attended every performance. Until one night, a friend arranged a supper party. And he met her for the first time. He saw her face to face. As you see her now. Mademoiselle?

[]

PALADIN
This, gentlemen, is the cheap entertainer who tricked Leadhead. Will you sit there, please? Gentlemen. I ask you to put yourself in Leadhead Kane’s place that night. You had a wonderful supper. You had someone to talk to. Someone who listened, understood you. Someone who laughed at your jokes and sympathized with your loneliness. Someone who gave you a locket to remember her by just before she said good night. A few hours later, Leadhead Kane died. But before he died, he had done something. Something to show his appreciation for the only night in his life when he didn’t feel alone. He made out a will and left his entire estate to her. Now, gentlemen, I ask each of you for one second…Be Leadhead Kane. And then tell me what would you have done.

MAN – JUROR
I’d have done the same thing, by gosh.

VANCE CRAWFORD
No, they can’t do that.

JUDGE HOWELL
Hold on a minute. This is highly irregular. A jury can’t be just four men. It’s not legal. I hereby declare the verdict to be

PALADIN
Your Honor.

PALADIN
The jury was legal when you and Crawford thought I’d be convicted of extortion.

JUDGE HOWELL
Well…

PALADIN
You can’t change a verdict. I have a room full of witnesses to prove it.

VANCE CRAWFORD
Judge!

JUDGE HOWELL
A verdict is a verdict. I hereby declare the will of Leadhead Kane to be proper and valid.

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