99-“The Night the Town Died”

Paladin is hired to protect Aaron Bell from the townspeople who all may want to kill the just released convict..

Director: Richard Boone, Writers: Calvin Clements Sr., Frank Pierson

BARRY CAHILL as Aaron Bell, MARY GREGORY as Freida Howard
ROBERT STEVENSON as Sheriff Howard (as Robert J. Stevenson)
ARTHUR SPACE as Sayer, VIC PERRIN as Frazier
BARNEY PHILLIPS as Warren, SALLY SINGER as Penny

BARRY CAHILL also appeared in: (The Hanging of Aaron Gibbs, 1961) as Perrell, (A Sense of Justice, 1958) as Tom – Ranch Hand, (The Yuma Treasure, 1957) as Sgt. Combs, (The Bride, 1957) as Stagecoach Guard, (The Outlaw, 1957) as Abe Talltree.
MARY GREGORY also appeared in: (Alice, 1962) as Mrs. Briggs
ROBERT STEVENSON also appeared in: (Sweet Lady of the Moon, 1963) as Sheriff, (Be Not Forgetful of Strangers, 1962) as Jake, (A Miracle for St. Francis, 1962) as Lundeen, (Pandora’s Box, 1962) as Woody – Hannah’s Husband, (Squatter’s Rights, 1961) as Clemenceau, (The Gold Bar, 1961) as Patrolman, (The Last Judgment, 1961) as Cutler, (The Colonel and the Lady, 1957) as Steve.
*VIC PERRIN also appeared in: (Everyman, 1961) as Drunk, (The Campaign of Billy Banjo, 1960) as Sheriff Cooley, (Show of Force, 1957) as Arnold Haskins, (Winchester Quarantine, 1957) as Rheinhart.
*Trivia: (Mr. Perrin was the “Control Voice” on the original Outer Limits TV series)
BARNEY PHILLIPS also appeared in: (The Shooting of Jessie May, 1960) as Joseph Ergo (as Barnye Phillips), (The Prophet, 1960) as Major Leonard Ferber, (The Monster of Moon Ridge, 1959) as Dan Bella

Which one are you, Frazier?
Are you the one that put the rope around Aaron Bell’s neck,
Or did you just cheer and yell for the trap to fall?

PALADIN
Ah, Hey Boy. I thought you were tryin’ to starve me to death.

HEY BOY
Mr. Paladin, I’m like a wily panther. He never find me.

PALADIN
Thank you very much, Hey Boy. That’ll be all. Mr. Warren, I have warned you. I have tried to avoid this. But if you interfere with hey boy or me again…And I don’t want your money!

WARREN
This time, It’s not from me, Paladin. I wanna hire you to protect Aaron Bell from me. He’s been out of prison one week. And the first thing he did was buy a horse and gun. Well, that tells the whole story.  He’s come back to kill one of us or all of us. But, believe me, if he tries, he’s not gonna live long enough to do it.

PALADIN
Warren, Eight years ago, your town hanged Aaron Bell’s brother. A man guilty of nothing more than fighting for what he believed in. Now you tell me they’re going to murder Aaron?

WARREN
No, sir. Kill him in self-defense. I’m not gonna stand still while he tries to kill me. I know. Now, now, maybe…Maybe Aaron has a point. Maybe he should kill me. But… If he tries, I’m going to shoot first.

PALADIN
What do you want me to do?

WARREN
Protect Aaron. Keep me from killing him. Keep us all from killing him.

EXT. FRAZIER HOUSE – NIGHT

FRAZIER
Get back.

PALADIN
Put the gun away, Frazier.

FRAZIER
Sorry. I… I thought you was Aaron. I…How did you know my name?

PALADIN
Warren told me about you. And your store.

FRAZIER
You’re Paladin, man he hired to kill Aaron. Honey, pour Mr. Paladin some coffee, huh? He don’t catch me nappin’, young Aaron don’t.

PENNY
Sugar’s on the table.

PALADIN
Thank you. You’re Penelope Frazier, huh?

FRAZIER
She’s shy. She don’t get to see many strangers. How you gonna do it?

PALADIN
Now, which one are you?

FRAZIER
You just said my name.

PALADIN
Yes. I know your name. But which one are you? Are you the one that…Put the rope around his neck, Or did you cry out for the trap to be sprung, huh?

FRAZIER
There were a lot of hands on the rope that night.

PALADIN
Where’s Warren and the others?

FRAZIER
They’re comin’. Well, now, you… You got a funny kind of attitude. You come in here like…
Like you was workin’ for Aaron. “You hung him,” you says. “you put the rope around his neck.”

PALADIN
I didn’t say that.

WARREN
Stop it, frazier! You gonna get yourself killed acting like that.

FRAZIER
Warren…This fella come in here like he was accusin’ me. Like I did it myself.

WARREN
ah.

PALADIN
Where are the others?

WARREN
They’re comin’. Except sayer. I couldn’t find sayer.

SAYER
I’ve been here all along. Mm-hmm. Some gunfighter. I could’ve shot him 12 times over and you with him, Frazier. How are you gonna help us against Aaron? He’ll slide up like me, and the next thing you know is…Bang! They’re all dead.

PALADIN
You would be Sayer?

SAYER
That’s right. Warren told you about me, eh? Did he ever tell you my old man was 85 year old when I was born? And he died when I was 15 in a gunfight over a woman? Yes, sir. Hmm. You pick on Frazier…While he was back in the shadows hollerin’, fit to kill. I put the rope on Paul Bell’s neck. There weren’t a man around had stomach for it but me.

PALADIN
You must be very proud.

SAYER
Proud? He’s a traitor, weren’t he? Outta uniform? The Army’d shot him if they caught him.

PALADIN
But you couldn’t wait.

SAYER
Ah, war’s war.Your gunfighter’s got warm milk in his veins, Warren. My old man wouldn’t have let him on his place. No, sir.

WARREN
Sheriff and Mrs. Howard, Paladin from San Francisco.

SHERIFF HOWARD
How do? Not sheriff. That job died like everything else around here.

SAYER
He ain’t no good, Freida. I’ll probably have to shoot Aaron myself.

MRS. HOWARD
That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it? To kill Aaron?

PALADIN
Nope.

MRS. HOWARD
Mr. Paladin. Why are you here?

PALADIN
To try and keep aaron bell From throwing away the rest of his life.

MRS. HOWARD
It’s like a confession. Like we admitted we did something wrong.

SAYER
She’s right. She’s the only one of you’s got enough steel to strike a light.

PALADIN
Mrs. Howard, you and your friends hanged an innocent man, burned his farm, and caused his brother to spend eight years in a federal prison.

MRS. HOWARD
Aaron was a rotten boy. Spoiled rotten. He didn’t have to spend eight years. He kept trying to escape.

PALADIN
Wouldn’t you if you were in prison for something you didn’t do?

FRAZIER
Aaron was guilty of treason. He gave aid to the enemy…

PALADIN
The “enemy” he gave aid to was his brother!

MRS. HOWARD
Well, he was out of uniform!

PALADIN
He was out of uniform?

SHERIFF HOWARD
She didn’t mean that.

MRS. HOWARD
You speak for yourself.

FRAZIER
Warren, you said you was gonna get us some protection. Now, what’s he gonna do?

PALADIN
Better question, mr. Frazier…Aaron bell’s been here for a week. What’s he waiting for? Where’s he likely to go?

SHERIFF HOWARD
Likely out at the old bell farm. Be some wild stuff hangin’ on the vegetable patch. Probably sleepin’ in the storm cellar, Starin’ at a burned-out ruin, Just waitin’ to get mad enough to come for us.

WARREN
Directly out the east road, There’s an old split elm. The house is back of it.

SAYER
That’s the elm I hung him from.

MRS. HOWARD
You tell aaron, mr. Paladin… You tell him we did nothing wrong. Tell him to go away.

SAYER
Mm. Or we’ll kill ‘im.

EXT. BELL FARM – NIGHT

AARON BELL
Gun. Drop it.

PALADIN
No, Aaron. You want this gun? You take it and you keep it clean. Well, Aaron, what are you planning to do? You gonna kill all those people back there in that town, Or do you have a particular one in mind?

AARON BELL
Special one? I don’t know. Week ago I was gonna kill them all. I may still kill them all. That’s my brother. They didn’t even hang him right. They left him chokin’ and kickin’ in the air.

PALADIN
And you want Sayer.

AARON BELL
Sayer? Sayer. That old fool claimin’ he hung Paul? Just like him With his stories about his old man and how tough he was. He’s a liar.

PALADIN
Not sayer.

AARON BELL
Why not? I didn’t say he wasn’t guilty. He yelled loud enough. That mob just started with talk and holler and dare, And that’s a picture of ol’ sayer, ain’t it?

PALADIN
Warren?

AARON BELL
What’s it matter to you?

(Paladin hands Aaron his card)

PALADIN
He hired me to protect you.

AARON BELL
Protect me? You tryin’ to tell me they’re sorry?

PALADIN
No, they’re not sorry. Some of them think they were right to hang Paul.

AARON BELL
Right? When my brother was still swingin’ in that tree, The mob quieted down because they got a little sick about what they’d done. And I heard a man say, “God, forgive me.” While Paul was still swingin’ and the light was on his face, He was askin’ forgiveness. Well, if that man’s allowed to live out his days, There ain’t no god. There ain’t nothin’! Now, that’s the only way you’re gonna stop me. Reach for it. Your hand’s your livin’. I’ll blow it off.

PALADIN
Aaron. Ah! Now give it to me. Give it to me!

EXT. BACK IN TOWN -NIGHT

AARON BELL
Mr. Sayer, I hear you’ve been doin’ some braggin’.

SAYER
Smart words, boy.

WARREN
Aaron? Aaron, we know how you feel.

AARON BELL
You do? Sheriff! There’s our sheriff!

SHERIFF HOWARD
I’m not sheriff.

AARON BELL
You finally know that. Do ya? You finally know that? They burned us out last. They rode through the hills the whole night burnin’ out rebel farms before they got to us. “only three miles to town,” I kept tellin’ myself. Three miles! “Sheriff Howard’ll be here in time.” And you. You was Paul’s friend. He thought you was. Penny Frazier. She was in pigtails- ten years old- when I went to prison. Look at her now.

MRS. HOWARD
Why did he bring you here?

AARON BELL
Ask him.

PALADIN
Very simple. He’s going to kill one of you. Problem is to find out which one.

AARON BELL
Yeah. Yeah. And then what?

PALADIN
Then why you wanna kill him.

WARREN
What’ll that solve?

PALADIN
Then I decide whether or not to let him. You people asked me to protect you against Aaron. The only way I can protect you from having him kill all of you Is to stay with you day and night, year after year. And even if I were willing, not one of you Would wanna live
that kind of life Never knowing when the bullet was coming. I could kill aaron right now
Or let him satisfy himself on the one who really is guilty.

MRS. HOWARD
Well, Which one of us?

PALADIN
Mrs. Howard, I don’t think there’ll be any volunteers. Aaron, which one?

AARON BELL
Your faces looked different the night you hung paul. I didn’t know if you were laughin’ or cryin’. Warren!

WARREN
Wait a minute.

AARON BELL
I remember one time you had my pa whip me because I forgot to tip my hat and call you “sir.” Did he plan the whole thing, Mr. Frazier?

FRAZIER
Why, sure.

WARREN
That’s an out-and-out lie!

FRAZIER
It was the same. You with your talk about rebel settlers runnin’ the town if we didn’t drive ’em off.

WARREN
Did I tell you to burn ’em out? Did I tell you to hang ’em? Aaron, as god is my judge,I never said that.

SHERIFF HOWARD
You didn’t have to tell anybody anything. You had ’em all filled up with fear With your threats of pullin’ out and movin’ on. Half the town owin’ you one way or another.

WARREN
Well, I was right. The army ran the confederate towns after the war. We’d have been strangled with taxes. Is that worse than what happened? Now, you just wait a minute. You can’t do this to me. Aaron’s got no cause to hurt me. And the rest of you…You’re not gonna use me to hide behind.

PALADIN
Aaron?

AARON BELL
He’s had enough punishment just livin’ with himself. Try another.

AARON BELL
He’s not a bad candidate. They’d never miss him.

PENNY
Oh, aaron.

FRAZIER
Aaron? You know him? You’ve been out to his farm.

MRS. HOWARD
You knew he was there all this time?

PENNY
I go out there for the wild roses that grow in the garden. Aaron, Mr. Bell was there.

AARON BELL
I’m back, Mr. Frazier.

FRAZIER
Oh, no. Not her, Aaron. Me. You leave her alone.

AARON BELL
I don’t even care about you, Mr. Frazier. You haven’t got the backbone to keep up a friendship that…that started to be a trouble to you.

FRAZIER
What did Paul have to take a stand for? Principles? All right. But you believe in somethin’.
You don’t have to tear the world apart for it. I was a Confederate. Yes, I was. I…I just never told anybody about it. I minded my own business. Paul, he had to fight. Now, why did he…

AARON BELL
Cut!

FRAZIER
I had done that…Who’d taken care of penny?

AARON BELL
All right, Mr. Frazier. When I first saw her, I was on my way to kill you all. I was gonna stop by the old place and let the hate boil up in me. But she sorta changed things. She came out every afternoon. She told me what had happened to you all. Till finally I begin to realize it was only one of you that acted on his own that night, that planned the whole thing in cold blood.

PALADIN
Hold it, old man! Hold it right there.

SAYER
Don’t. Don’t shoot.

PALADIN
Shoot? You just tried to kill a man.

SAYER
Aaron…I told that story all these years, you know…I put the rope on and all. I can understand how you’d start to thinkin’ I must’ve planned. But I didn’t. It was…It was… Lies.

PALADIN
Who were you lyin’ to?

AARON BELL
His ol’ man. Sayer, everybody knows you’re still afraid of your pa even though he’s been dead 40 years. It ain’t you.

SAYER
Ah. Thank you. Thank you, Paladin.

MRS. HOWARD
You accuse him?

PALADIN
Let him speak for himself.

AARON BELL
Where was you, Sheriff?

SHERIFF HOWARD
I was in Redding serving a warrant.

AARON BELL
What was the man’s name, Sheriff?

SHERIFF HOWARD
All this time…

MRS. HOWARD
This is no court. You have no right to plague him!

SHERIFF HOWARD
No, no, Freida. Let him alone. I’ve got nothing to hide.

AARON BELL
Where did you go? It was the saloon in Redding. Wasn’t it?

SHERIFF HOWARD
That’s where they said he was. Whoever was in that warrant, that’s where they said he’d be.

MRS. HOWARD
He did have a warrant.

SHERIFF HOWARD
Let him say it! I didn’t find the man. That’s right. Then I came back.

AARON BELL
You stayed on in the saloon and you got drunk, And then you came back.

SHERIFF HOWARD
I came back and I saw the fire and…Paul was dead.

AARON BELL
You went to Redding because you knew what was gonna happen. You poured whiskey into yourself because you knew what you were gonna find when you come back. And you wanted to be drunk when you saw him.

MRS. HOWARD
No, that’s…!

AARON BELL
You stood in front of that saloon yellin’ out a man’s name that didn’t even exist!

SHERIFF HOWARD
No. That is not true. Some trail hand signed that warrant. I remember that. Never saw him because…

AARON BELL
Because what, Mr. Howard?

SHERIFF HOWARD
Freida?

PALADIN
Mrs. Howard?

MRS. HOWARD
Well…Your brother was killed by a mob who would’ve killed to get to him. My husband was just the kind of fool who would’ve tried to stop ’em. Aaron, you lost your brother. You know what it’s like. Look at me. I was like an old woman already eight years ago. How does a woman like me find another man? How do you live? Find some cousin…who lets you sleep in the attic and do the scrubbing. I love this man. I’d do it again. I’d do it again.

SHERIFF HOWARD
You… You go ahead, Aaron. You play God if you want to.

AARON BELL
Give me the gun. No. I just wanna get outta here. Roses?

PENNY
I’ll take care of them. They only need a little care.

AARON BELL
Yeah. Well… Maybe.

WARREN
Aaron. If you’re not gonna be livin’ on the place…

PENNY
No!

AARON BELL
Maybe I’ll fix the old place up…And leave that split elm out front. When you ride by, you remind yourself of it. Maybe I’ll…Grow me some wild roses.

WARREN
Well, you certainly have a peculiar way of doing things.

PALADIN
Yeah.

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