51-“The Ballad of Oscar Wilde”

Directed by Richard Whorf, Written by Irving Wallace.

JOHN O’MALLEY as Oscar Wilde
RICHARD SHANNON as Jim Rook
JACK HOGAN as Chris Rook
ROY ENGEL as Matson
DAN SHERIDAN as Stage Driver
ROBERT F. HOY as Carpenter
DAVID LEWIS as Col. Carrington
CHET STRATTON as Secretary
FELIX LOCHER as Fisherman

WILLIAM MEADER as Man in Hotel Carlton Lobby (uncredited)

Quantity, Mr. Carrington, Is never a worthy substitute for quality.
Whether it’s in the choice of a book, A play, a friend or a gun.

PALADIN
Thank you.

HEY BOY
You have good vacation?

PALADIN
Too good, Hey Boy. All play and no work makes paladin a poor boy. Well now, what’s this?

HEY BOY
Mr. Wilde very famous?

PALADIN
He’s a famous Englishman, celebrated for his wise and witty sayings. Excuse me.

HEY BOY
Like what?

PALADIN
He once said, “There are only two tragedies in this world. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

HEY BOY
Confucius also say that. You have tickets for mr. Wilde’s lecture?

PALADIN
I’m afraid not. Thank you.

HEY BOY
Maybe I get it, double price though.

PALADIN
That’s tempting, Hey Boy. But I think I’d better consider getting a job.

PALADIN
Now that’s also very tempting. “Train bridges washed out. Noted English author transfers to chartered coach. Since bridges are washed out after Gospel Gulch, according to Colonel J. L. Carrington, President of the Civic Cultural Society of San Diego, a special coach has been chartered to bring Mr. Oscar Wilde to this city. They are taking every precaution to see that he gets here in time.”

PALADIN
Hey boy.

HEY BOY
Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
Bring me a pen and ink, please.

INT. COL. CARRINGTON’S OFFICE – DAY

SECRETARY
Excuse me, sir.

PALADIN
Good morning.

SECRETARY
‘morning.

PALADIN
My name is Paladin. Col. Carrington sent for me.

SECRETARY
Yes, about the matter of the bodyguard. Please be seated. He’ll be free soon.

PALADIN
Thank you. Smoke?

MATSON
I roll my own.

PALADIN
You, sir?

CHRIS ROOK
No, thank you.

PALADIN
Are you two gentlemen members of the Civic Cultural Society?

MATSON
The what?

CHRIS ROOK
No.

PALADIN
Then you’re here for the same reason I am.

CHRIS ROOK
Depends on what you’re here for.

PALADIN
Oscar wilde.

MATSON
Oscar who?

CHRIS ROOK
The englishman. Tell the fella we’re here on personal business.

P
Yeah, personal business.
So I gather.

COL. CARRINGTON
Thank you, Mr. Rook. If it’s not imposing on you, I’d like you to wait a few minutes.

JIM ROOK
Don’t mind at all. My friends and I will be right here.

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00:03:54,683 –> 00:03:56,817
Mr. Paladin is here, sir.

COL. CARRINGTON
Come in.

PALADIN
Thank you.

COL. CARRINGTON
You are the Mr. Paladin who is armed, and enjoys travel, is that right?

PALADIN
Yes, sir.

COL. CARRINGTON
Cup of tea?

PALADIN
No, thank you.

COL. CARRINGTON
I’ll come directly to the point. Sit down.

PALADIN
Thank you.

COL. CARRINGTON
Oscar wilde is an international figure. A great cultural influence. For this reason, and because we have a fortune invested in his first appearance in California, We can’t afford to have the slightest chance of anything happen to him. He’s coming through some rough country.

PALADIN
In order to protect the civic culture of this great state and because as you say, you can’t afford to take any chances, I’m here to volunteer my services for a fee of $1,000.

COL. CARRINGTON
There are three guns out there I can hire for one half your price.

PALADIN
Oh? Colonel carrington…If you please, sir. Gentlemen, may I present Oscar Wilde? Guard him well. As you see, Colonel Carrington…Quantity is never a worthy substitute for quality. If you’re only looking for three guns, You can get three for a lot less Than these gentlemen are asking. You want something a little better, I offer two guns, And a third weapon even more important.

JIM ROOK
Where I come from, Mr. Paladin…There’s a word for a cheap trick like that. Showboatin’.

PALADIN
I have another name for it. Salesmanship. Colonel Carrington, I believe I’ll need a letter of introduction to Oscar Wilde.

COL. CARRINGTON
I’ll dictate a letter for Mr. Paladin. Thank you for coming, gentlemen. Perhaps another time. Mr. Paladin.

JIM ROOK
Mr. Paladin. There will be another time.

EXT. ON THE WHARF

JIM ROOK
Mr. Paladin. I suppose I should congratulate you.

PALADIN
That’s very gracious of you.

JIM ROOK
But I won’t. Because I’m not letting you steal this job.

INT. FISHERMAN’S BOAT

FISHERMAN
Saw two men dump something off the wharf. And right away, I got worried.

PALADIN
Ahhh!

FISHERMAN
Nasty lump there. Did they rob you?

PALADIN
Not completely. Here, old man.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

PALADIN
You all right?

STAGECOACH DRIVER
My doggone head. Feels like it had an argument with a crowbar.

PALADIN
Is this the stagecoach that was chartered to take an Englishman to San Diego?

STAGECOACH DRIVER
Yeah, you know about that?

PALADIN
I can guess the rest of it, too. A man named Rook showed up with credentials proving he was your escort.

STAGECOACH DRIVER
That was his name, that dirty…

PALADIN
Where’s your passenger now?

STAGECOACH DRIVER
They kidnapped him, I guess.

PALADIN
How?

STAGECOACH DRIVER
Two of ’em rode out from behind those boulders And blocked my way. I went for my carbine, And this fella rook clobbered me. That’s all I can remember.

PALADIN
You’d be willing to help me find the men who did this?

STAGECOACH DRIVER
I ain’t looking for more trouble.

PALADIN
Ten gold pieces change your mind?

STAGECOACH DRIVER
Maybe. Exactly what do I do for it?

PALADIN
I want you to stand watch with me along this road.

STAGECOACH DRIVER
You expect to see ’em again?

PALADIN
I think so. When you kidnap someone, there’s no profit in it unless you let someone else know with a ransom note.

PALADIN
Wake up. Hey, come on. We’ve got company.

STAGECOACH DRIVER
This is the fifth one. You gonna stop every rider that comes along?

PALADIN
This one’s in a big hurry. hey, mister!

CARPENTER
What do you want? I ain’t got no money.

PALADIN
If I wanted
money, I’d have shot you.

CARPENTER
Then what’s going on?

PALADIN
Where were you going?

CARPENTER
San diego.

PALADIN
Why?

CARPENTER
None of your business.

PALADIN
You carrying a letter?

CARPENTER
Now, look…

PALADIN
Give it to me!

CARPENTER
You’re going to get yourself in trouble and me in worse. I’ve got a job to do.

PALADIN
So have I. You won’t get in trouble unless you don’t give me the letter. Give it to me, or I’ll take it. ” J.L. Carrington, Civic Cultural Society, San diego, California” Where’d you get this?

CARPENTER
A man gave it to me a half hour ago. Asked if I wanted $50. I said sure. He had a letter that had to be in San Diego in the morning. Paid me half then, and half when I come back with the answer.

PALADIN
Recognize him?

STAGECOACH DRIVER
Yeah, name’s carpenter. Hangs around the saloon.

PALADIN
Where were you supposed to deliver the answer?

CARPENTER
Said I should wait in the saloon when I get back. What’s going on here?

PALADIN
There’s been a kidnapping. You were carrying the ransom note. “Dear colonel carrington, since Mr. Paladin Was unable to undertake the protection of Oscar Wilde, I assume you’ll be pleased to know I have taken over the task. I would suggest that you or an associate be on hand At a clearing a mile north of the city Called devil’s rock at noon, on June 7. Bring $50,000 and I’ll bring mr. Wilde. Should you be so rash as to inform the sheriff, I’ll be forced to turn Mr. Wilde over to you In parts, one piece at a time.” Signed, “jim rook.” My competition sounds very literate.

CARPENTER
Sounds like he means business. What’ll happen to me if I don’t bring an answer?

PALADIN
You’ll have an answer.

INT. HOTEL ROOM

PALADIN
Now, how does this sound? “Dear mr. Rook, you have committed a dastardly and traitorous act, but I’m forced to comply. I’m sending an associate to gospel gulch with $50,000. He’ll be at the appointed place at the appointed time. See that mr. Oscar wilde
is there, safe and sound. Sincerely, J.L. Carrington.”

STAGECOACH DRIVER
But there ain’t no society associate.

PALADIN
There wasn’t a moment ago, but there is now.

CARPENTER
Where are you going to get $50,000?

PALADIN
Same place I got the society associate. Here’s the reply you just brought from san diego. Take it to the saloon and wait until they pick it up. Should you get the notion to tell your employers Who really wrote that letter, Remember you’re a party to this kidnapping, And should I so inform the people of this town, They’ll probably give you a short trial At the end of a rope. Understand? As for you, I suggest you stand by your stagecoach. I expect to have a most literary passenger For you momentarily.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

MATSON
Are you from Colonel Carrington? Paladin?

PALADIN
You seem surprised to see me. The last time you saw me you were dropping me in San Diego Bay.

MATSON
Carrington send you?

PALADIN
I’m still in his employ.

MATSON
Turn around. Get your arms up. Higher!

PALADIN
I represent the Civic Cultural Society, not a firearms manufacturer.

MATSON
You can drop them. Turn around. Where’s the money?

PALADIN
Where’s Oscar Wilde?

MATSON
We’re keeping him until we see the money.

PALADIN
I’m keeping the money until I see Oscar Wilde.

MATSON
He’s all right.

PALADIN
I’d like to be sure.

MATSON
Well…I’ll take you to him. I’ll have to blindfold you. Turn around.

EXT. AT THE HIDEOUT – DAY

INT. HIDEOUT

MATSON
Come on, get down. In there. Go on.

INT. HIDEOUT

CHRIS ROOK
What’s he doing here?

PALADIN
Well, your concern is most touching. I don’t believe I’ve been formally introduced, except to your gun butt.

MATSON
This is Chris Rook, Jim’s brother.

CHRIS ROOK
I asked you a question. What’s he doing here?

PALADIN
I’ve got business with your brother.

MATSON
I had to bring him here. He hid the money out, And he wouldn’t get it until he sees the Englishman. He was blindfolded, he didn’t see nothing.

CHRIS ROOK
Well…You’re gonna have to wait awhile. Jim’s gone out on a little errand.
Where’s the money?

PALADIN
It’s in a safe place. Colonel Carrington insisted I talk to Oscar Wilde alone, to make certain he hasn’t been harmed before paying up.

MATSON
I couldn’t figure…

CHRIS ROOK
Shut up! All right. I’m going to let you talk to the Englishman, But you ain’t gonna leave until Jim gets back.

PALADIN
I wouldn’t think of it.

CHRIS ROOK
Just don’t try
nothing fancy.

OSCAR WILDE
Are you from Colonel Carrington?

PALADIN
I am. My name is Paladin.

OSCAR WILDE
How do you do? Have you paid the ransom?

PALADIN
In a manner of speaking. I wanted to be sure you hadn’t been harmed.

OSCAR WILDE
I’m too valuable a piece of merchandise for that. Damaged goods must be sold at a discount, you know? The gall of that man Rook. Do you know he wanted to ask only $10,000 for me? And in dollars, not even pound sterling. Imagine the insult if that got out. A measly $10,000 for Oscar Wilde. Surely, I insisted it be raised to $50,000. What idiocy are you up to, Paladin? Pay the ransom, and let’s get out of here.

PALADIN
It’s not quite that simple. I was checking for a loose board. I said I’d ransom you in a manner of speaking. Frankly, I do not have $50,000. However, I wouldn’t mention it to my captors If you value your life.

OSCAR WILDE
Oh, you mean they’d murder me?

PALADIN
I’m sure of it.

OSCAR WILDE
Murder’s such a messy business. One should never do anything which he cannot discuss after dinner.

PALADIN
I hope this affair Hasn’t prejudiced you against America, Mr. Wilde. America… Do you know I’m quite sure It was discovered before Columbus? But they kept it hushed up. I’ve always preferred other people’s problems because my own bore me. Suddenly however, I find that mine have…Snuff?

PALADIN
No, thank you.

OSCAR WILDE
A most vital importance.

P
Right now, my affair is to get you out of here.

OSCAR WILDE
This has been a most exciting drama.
An Englishman visits
america’s wild frontier.
The casting of Oscar Wilde
in the leading role, is a stroke of genius on the part of Mr. Rook. However, I hope you’ll rewrite the third act To my satisfaction, Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
I do have an idea.

OSCAR WILDE
I suggest its immediate adoption and implementation.

PALADIN
You can be a great help by keeping track of all the supporting actors at all times.

OSCAR WILDE
That will be simple.

JIM ROOK
Mr. Paladin…I just learned of your resurrection.

PALADIN
I knew you’d be delighted.

JIM ROOK
Chris said they sent the money. You can see he’s in one piece. Where’s the money?

PALADIN
In my hotel room.

JIM ROOK
Go get it.

PALADIN
I was brought here blindfolded. How do I get the money back to you?

JIM ROOK
Matson’ll go with you.

PALADIN
Matson? He’s not an interesting conversationalist. And only one escort? Mr. Rook, I’m afraid I haven’t made much of an impression on you.
Oh, well.

JIM ROOK
Just a minute. On second thought, Mr. Paladin…A man of your sales ability might require more attention Than one man can give. Chris can ride with you, too.

PALADIN
I’d be delighted. Mr. Wilde…I once read something of yours. You should think on it while I’m gone. It went, “the world is divided into two classes. Those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.” I’m afraid Mr. Rook has forced me into my proper category after all. “and those who do the improbable.”

INT. PALADIN’S HOTEL ROOM IN TOWN

CHRIS ROOK
All right, let’s have the money.

PALADIN
I’ll get it for you. Excuse me. I don’t suppose you two gentlemen Have ever seen anything like this. Here’s your ransom. One…Two…Three. Now toss the guns over here. Thank you. And I’d like a sample of your handwriting.

MATSON
I don’t write.

PALADIN
Oh? You’d be better anyway.

JIM ROOK
I can’t write neither.

PALADIN
Don’t force me to wake the rest of the people in this hotel. Sit down. When you’ve finished writing, we’ll have your illiterate friend here deliver the letter to your brother Jim.
Take this down. “Dear Mr. Rook, Although you have probably not read…The Old Testament, I think it appropriate”

…A-p-p-r-o-p-r-I-a-t-e.

“Appropriate to quote it tonight. One must fight fire with fire. Extract an eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.”

EXT. ON THE TRAIL

PALADIN
Mr. Wilde, Mr. Rook. Good morning.

OSCAR WILDE
The fact that it is morning is indisputable. As to whether it’s good or not…

JIM ROOK
You two think you’re pretty clever.

PALADIN
Mr. Rook…Be good enough to ask Mr. Wilde to step over here, and I’ll be very happy to pay his ransom. All right, Mr. Wilde. Son, if you’d just kick that horse…

OSCAR WILDE
A perfect third act, Paladin.

PALADIN
Thank you, Mr. Wilde. Where is the other supporting actor, the one who came back with the letter?

OSCAR WILDE
Somewhere in the rocks, behind you.

PALADIN
Thank you. Please. Mr. Rook, we have some unfinished business.
What do you mean?

PALADIN
You’re a menace to society and to my livelihood.

JIM ROOK
You’re no business man, mr. Paladin. You’re a lunatic.

PALADIN
We’re going back to town together.

PALADIN
Now, mr. Rook…I will serve as your bodyguard…To the marshal. And I think that will conclude Our literary competition for today.

OSCAR WILDE
Well, mr. Paladin…It looks as though our enemies are finally vanquished.

PALADIN
Finally and for good, Mr. Wilde. We can’t be too careful in the choice of our enemies.

OSCAR WILDE
You know…That sounds like something I might have said myself, Old Bean.

PALADIN
You will, Mr. Wilde.

HEY BOY
Mr. Paladin…I look everywhere for you. Compliments of Mr. Wilde. Front row to the lecture, tonight.

PALADIN
They’re all yours, Hey Boy. I’ve seen all I ever want to see of him. Tonight I’m going to take some of his advice. Mr. Oscar Wilde give you advice?

PALADIN
He once remarked, “the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” And tonight I’m yielding.

HEY BOY
Oh, boy.

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