44-“Duel at Florence”

Season 2, Episode 5 – Original Airdate: (October 11, 1958)

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, Written by Bruce Geller.

DEAN HARENS as Ernie Teller – Barber
BONNIE BOLDING as Belle Hooper
CHARLES H. GRAY as Jeff Sunderland
(The Pledge, 1960) as Cavalry Lieutenant
JOHN ALDERSON as Max Clay
(Justice in Hell, 1962) as Rusty Doggett
HANK PATTERSON as Hank – Plainsman
(Jonah and the Trout, 1962) as Mr. Barton – Insurance Agent
(The Hunt, 1962) as Jesse – Old Man
(Blind Circle, 1961) as Jess Larker
(El Paso Stage, 1961) as Judge Robbins
(The Lady on the Wall, 1960) as Rafe Adams
(Unforgiven, 1959) as Ronson
(In an Evil Time, 1958) as Pappy French
(Twenty-Four Hours at North Fork, 1958) as Stage Driver
(Gun Shy, 1958) as Pete Gilson

I assure you, Mr. Sunderland, you’ll get what you’re paying for. And you, Mr. Clay…You’ll get what you’re asking for. Whenever you’re ready.

HEY BOY
Wire for you, Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
Hey boy, I didn’t know you read hotel guests’ mail.

HEY BOY
Not always. Only sometime. When envelope is open. Your mail easily the best in the whole hotel.

PALADIN
Thank you very much, Hey Boy. “Your presence required in Florence, California. Enclosed, money order. $82.17.” No signature.

HEY BOY
That’s not even enough money for your newspaper for one year.

PALADIN
Well, it certainly is an odd amount. Hey Boy, hold my mail for the next few days, will you? After you’re finished reading it.

HEY BOY
You’re going?

PALADIN
I am.

HEY BOY
Eighty-two Dollars and seventeen cents. Business must be very bad.

EXT. TOWN OF FLORENCE – FLORENCE HOTEL – DAY

[Paladin arrives in town only to dodge gunfire by hanging onto the eves of the Florence Hotel.  A barber comes up to him seeking a customer.]

ERNIE TELLER
Shave, Mister? Want to clean up a bit? Shave’s 15 cents. Haircut’s the same. Both for two bits. Clean-up’s free.

PALADIN
All right…I’ll take a shave.

ERNIE TELLER
Right over here.

PALADIN
Thank you.

INT. BARBER SHOP

ERNIE TELLER
You uh… Come a distance?

PALADIN
That’s right. People in this town like gunfighting in the street?

ERNIE TELLER
Oh, no. Those two been growling at each other all week. They started shooting this morning. Fixed themselves up some cover, as you can see, Then settled down to see who’d make the first mistake.

PALADIN
Why doesn’t someone try to stop it?

ERNIE TELLER
That’s Jeff Sunderland and Max Clay out there, Mister. They’re ugly men and they don’t want it stopped.

PALADIN
Is that so? What’s their quarrel?

ERNIE TELLER
Belle Hooper. They both want to marry her.

PALADIN
Well, I guess Charles Darwin would approve.

ERNIE TELLER
He want to marry Belle too?

PALADIN
No! He’s a scientist with a theory about survival of the fittest.

ERNIE TELLER
Oh. Belle put them up to it?

ERNIE TELLER
No, she don’t want to marry either one of ’em. She’s got another fella.

PALADIN
Is that so? What’s your name?

ERNIE TELLER
Ernie Teller.

PALADIN
Ernie… Where’d you get that card?

ERNIE TELLER
Oh, this woman came in awhile back. Think she must have been an actress or something. She had the nicest hair I ever did cut. Kinda red gold. Anyway, when she reached in her purse to pay me, The card slipped out. Funny, she sure was mad about something. She stamped on it when she left.

PALADIN
Red gold, huh?

ERNIE TELLER
That’s right.

PALADIN
Ernie… $82.17. That amount of money mean anything to you?

[We see Paladin’s card]

ERNIE TELLER
Reckoned you might be the one when I saw you ride in. That’d be me that sent that wire. $82 is all I had. I was hoping you’d get here before it came to guns, and headed off. I, uh… Suppose you wonder why.

PALADIN
I think I know why. That third man, the one Belle wants to marry. That’d be you.

ERNIE TELLER
That’s right.

PALADIN
Careful near the mustache, huh? You’ve got a nice touch.

ERNIE TELLER
Ain’t much I do well but barbering’s my trade. ‘course I do a little vetting and some doctoring too. Forty miles to a real doc and… I kinda like to fix folks up. Just patchwork, I don’t know much yet.

PALADIN
Seems to me if this Belle is the right sort of girl, she’d marry you now and help you while you studied medicine.

ERNIE TELLER
Well, she would if…I..

PALADIN
She wants something you won’t give her? Like a gunfight?

ERNIE TELLER
I just can’t shoot anyone, Mr. Paladin. I seen a lot of bullet holes. Little and angry going in and…Real big and ripped coming out. I hear a shot and…I see a hole through someone.

PALADIN
Well Ernie, that’s very touching. ‘course you wouldn’t mind if I made those holes for you.

ERNIE TELLER
I don’t really want that neither. Somebody’s gotta do something to stop those two. Belle thinks I’m just scared to get my head blown in.

PALADIN
You don’t need a head if you’re not going to use it.

ERNIE TELLER
Huh?

PALADIN
If I gun down Jeff and max, Belle’s gonna want you to fight me for her.

ERNIE TELLER
You wouldn’t do that, would you?

BELLE HOOPER
Wouldn’t do what, Ernie?

ERNIE TELLER
You got no business out there with that fight going on.

BELLE HOOPER
Wouldn’t do what, Ernie?

ERNIE TELLER
Nothing.

BELLE HOOPER
Nothing? Ernie, maybe next minute Jeff or Max is gonna come walking in that door saying, “Belle, I killed him for you,” And grab me. And who’s to stop him? It’ll be too late then ’cause he’ll have a right. You’ve got to stop that fight now.

PALADIN
The only way to stop that fight is to start another one.

BELLE HOOPER
I don’t care. Just so it’s stopped.

PALADIN
You want Ernie out there fighting those two men?

BELLE HOOPER
I want Ernie doing something! Where does he fit into this anyway?

PALADIN
My name is Paladin. You could say I’m one of those innocent bystanders Who might get winged. So I’ll even the odds up a little bit. Ernie and I will take on Jeff and Max. All right, Ernie?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
All right. Jeff, why are you shaving in the middle of this gunfight?

JEFF SUNDERLAND
I figure tonight’s gonna be my wedding night. I have been hacking myself to pieces. Would you give me a hand, Ernie?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Sure.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
You best have some legitimate reason For interrupting me during a fight, sir.

PALADIN
Best reason in the world. There’s no point to it. Should be stopped.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
It’s not your affair. You better get out of this Before you get shot accidentally.

PALADIN
You’re up against the wrong man, you know.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Your pardon?

PALADIN
It’s Ernie here that Belle wants to marry.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Wrong man? You’re trifling with the wrong man, sir.

PALADIN
Tell him, Ernie.

ERNIE TELLER
It’s so.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
That’s remarkably bad taste on Belle’s part. Still, Ernie here can wait til I’m done with Max.

PALADIN
You’re wrong. Way I see it, It’s you and Max shooting it out Montana style against Ernie and me.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
You’re beginning to annoy me, sir.

PALADIN
Well, that helps. Before you use this gun, I’d like to remind you about that razor scraping your throat.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
You are sorely tempting me to shoot you flush, and no nonsense about a duel.

PALADIN
Well, I’ll try the sporting man in you. I’ll be very happy to make a $1,000 side bet with you. If it’s Montana style.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Done and done. I’d admire killing you at a profit. Just who is it I’ll be killing?

PALADIN
My name is Paladin. Ernie…

JEFF SUNDERLAND
What do I owe you for the shave, Ernie?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
On the house, Jeff.

EXT. ON THE SIDE OF MAX

MAX CLAY
You’re a mealy-mouthed liar! Any word out of you is gonna be your last.

PALADIN
I repeat, Belle wants to marry Ernie. Not you or Jeff.

MAX CLAY
I’m betting now. Jeff Sunderland drew the first blood, But I’m gonna drain all of his. And Belle’ll be my woman. If Ernie wants to do anything about it, He’s welcome! Now get going, the both of you!

PALADIN
Doesn’t it make any difference to you that Belle wants Ernie, not you?

MAX CLAY
Who cares what any woman wants? Told you to get going. I fight one fight at a time.

PALADIN
No Montana duel?

MAX CLAY
No.

PALADIN
There’s no way I can convince you?

MAX CLAY
Listen you…I’ve killed plenty of men that caused me less trouble than you. Now get going down that street, and pray you don’t get a bullet in the back of your head!

PALADIN
Now Max, you were saying?

MAX CLAY
We’ll finish this with guns, Mister.

PALADIN
That’s very clever of you, Max. Suggest a Montana duel, of course?

MAX CLAY
You talk better than I do. We’ll see how you talk with a mouthful of blood.

PALADIN
Max? Jeff? Ernie and I will take your wagon.

MAX CLAY
Oh no, you won’t.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
I don’t believe you will.

PALADIN
Very well, you gentlemen take that barricade. Now, you know Montana rules. One rifle, two bullets to each man. Everyone breaks from cover at the signal.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Who gives the signal?

PALADIN
The one appropriate choice.

BELLE HOOPER
No please, Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
Methinks the Lady doth protest too much. She agreeable to you?

JEFF SUNDERLAND
She’s fine, Sir.

PALADIN
Max?

MAX CLAY
Sure.

PALADIN
Ernie?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
All right.

PALADIN
We’ll meet back here in ten minutes. That gives you time to plan whatever strategy you want.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Let’s go get a drink, Max.

PALADIN
You should find this very amusing. I wonder who it’ll be that gets killed. It’ll probably make you feel much more like a woman, Having four men shoot it out over you in the street. Excuse me.

INT. BARBER SHOP

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Why did you let ’em have Max’s wagon? It’s the best cover.

PALADIN
I want them to have it. Sun’ll be in their eyes. You have a rifle? You ever fire this?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
No. I ain’t gonna either. There’s a lot of people out there and gonna be more.
I might hit one of ’em. About the only thing I’m not going to hit, is the thing I’m aiming at.
That fella who thought up that survival of the fittest.

PALADIN
Darwin.

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Yeah, that’s him. He wouldn’t think shucks of me, would he? I’m just not very fit. Not here. Don’t know how to kill people. Don’t want to neither. And that’s no likely way to survive. Not around here. Just don’t seem fair that surviving has to mean killing somebody else. I just ain’t gonna try it.

PALADIN
Ernie, your reasoning’s fair enough. But when a man comes after you with a gun, reason becomes merely words. Survival means action.

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Somebody’s gotta start settling things without guns. Somebody just has to be the first one.

PALADIN
You’re not the only one here with a survival problem. Someday this country won’t be so hard. People like you will still be here, And the killers will be dead. But for now…Put two bullets in that. I’ll be right back.

EXT. ON THE STREET

PALADIN
Your horse?

HANK – PLAINSMAN
And my rifle.

PALADIN
Mind if I borrow it? I’ll pay for the bullets and the drinks later.

HANK – PLAINSMAN
I’ve seen Jeff and max use their rifles. Could you buy me the drink before the fight?

PALADIN
All right, let’s do it that way. I haven’t time to change my will to include a liquor request. What do you allow for the sights?

HANK – PLAINSMAN
’bout four inches to the right, every 100 yards. Hey Charlie! Get out of the way. You want to get shot?

PALADIN
It also drops about two inches. All right, I’ll buy you that drink now.

HANK – PLAINSMAN
Well, there’s no real hurry.

PALADIN
Come on.

INT. FLORENCE SALOON – DAY

PALADIN
What do you drink, Mister?

HANK – PLAINSMAN
Whiskey, and my name is Hank.

PALADIN
Whiskey. You gentlemen planned your fight?

MAX CLAY
You’ll find out soon enough.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
To your discomfort, I trust.

PALADIN
That’s a very apt toast. To the discomfort of our enemies. I suppose you’re determined to go through with this Montana shootout.

MAX CLAY
Now listen to him, crawling around.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
After all you’ve done to start this fight. Are you seriously trying to call it off?

PALADIN
Not at all. I knew that in the heat of your own battle, reason could never prevail.
But I thought now you’ve had a chance to cool out, You might possibly understand the reason of letting belle choose the man she wants to marry. Sorry, my mistake.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Maybe your last mistake. Yours and that barber’s.

MAX CLAY
Or any with a rifle. It’s gonna be something to see.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Tell the truth, sir. You’re trying to back out ’cause you realize that once the shooting starts, You’ll be out there all by yourself.

PALADIN
You choose to misunderstand me. Hank? Mr. Sunderland, I assure you You’ll get what you’re paying for. And Mr. Clay, you’ll certainly get What you’ve been asking for. Any time you’re ready. Help yourself, Hank.

BELLE HOOPER
Mister…Mister, what was it again?

PALADIN
I think I’d just as soon be plain mister to you, belle.

BELLE HOOPER
What you said before could be true.

PALADIN
A fight over a woman usually starts with a woman.

BELLE HOOPER
Yes, I did encourage Max and Jeff a little, but… Some of it’s Ernie’s fault. He’s got to show some bit of spunk. A wife would be entitled to some protection, and the children. It can be hard just to grow to be old enough To protect yourself out here. Nobody thinks Ernie can do it.

PALADIN
He agreed to fight.

BELLE HOOPER
Because you came. You’re awfully good with a gun, I saw that. Now it’s ernie needs protecting. Maybe this is all on my head and… I ain’t asking you to like me for it. But don’t let him get hurt.

PALADIN
Well, it’s late for that.

BELLE HOOPER
Please, listen to me. I want you to understand this. I had a father who didn’t believe in violence. He’d never fight. He turned the other cheek. We ran from town to town. Soon as the people saw the way he was, The bullies would be on us. They roughed him and they laughed at him. And they made free with all of us. Maybe my pa was in the right. But that didn’t make it hurt less. No, mister. Not for my kids!

PALADIN
Here. Use that to signal with. Belle, maybe this’ll turn out all right. Ernie!

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Which one do you want?

MAX CLAY
Both.

PALADIN
Well, you won’t need those. Hank!

PALADIN
All right, let’s see ’em. Here’s my $1,000.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
And mine, sir. Let her hold the stakes. I don’t care to empty a dead man’s pockets.

BELLE HOOPER
Please call it off. If I did anything or said anything to make you think that…

PALADIN
Let’s go.

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
I’m not at all a drinking man but, Right now I wish I was. I uh… I didn’t load the gun. The bullets are in the sand out there.

PALADIN
I know. We’ll have to break out of here at the signal.
Get behind that water trough. Keep your head down and stay there.

SHOOTOUT

PALADIN
Drop it, Max. Drop it! Shame, Max. Shame! Can’t you count?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
You all right?

MAX CLAY
No. Gunshot.

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Good.

JEFF SUNDERLAND
Well, stakes are yours. I’ll ride you as far as the dock.

P
Thank you.

BELLE HOOPER
Oh, Ernie!

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Belle.

BELLE HOOPER
You didn’t even fire that old rifle. Makes no difference if you didn’t hit anything,
You could have at least fired it. Oh, Ernie! You didn’t even load it!

PALADIN
You think that’s funny? How many of you would have come out from behind a barricade
Without any ammunition in that rifle? If I were you, I’d concentrate On being a good enough wife for Ernie. Unless you don’t recognize quite a man when you see one.

BELLE HOOPER
Oh, Ernie. You’re a blind fool.

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Sorry, Belle. It’s just the way I am. I guess you’ll just have to take it or leave it.

BELLE HOOPER
Oh, Ernie. I love you.

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Oh, Belle.

PALADIN
May I offer my best wishes, And trouble you for my $2,000, please?

BELLE HOOPER
Oh, yes. How’d you ever come to know a man like him?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
Uh, well…Ours was a financial relationship.

BELLE HOOPER
How much did you pay him to come here?

ERNIE TELLER – BARBER
$82.17.

BELLE HOOPER
Oh, that’s just about all you ever saved up. And it’s much too much. Besides, you won $1,000.

PALADIN
I had the size of my fee in mind, when I made the bet. See I’ll call the $82…$83, a wedding gift. Except I’ll just take out $10 for my expenses.

BELLE HOOPER
Thanks. It’s just a matter of standing up to someone. A doctor’s the last man folks pay, And you’re gonna have to learn how to collect on your bills. So you see, the next…

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