126-“The Poker Fiend”

Season 4, Episode 9 – Original Airdate: (November 12, 1960)

Directed by Byron Paul, Written by Richard DeLong Adams

JACK WESTON as John Paul Neal
(Lady with a Gun, 1960) as Rudy Rossback
PETER FALK as Mr. Waller
BRETT SOMERS as Sarah
(The Eve of St. Elmo, 1963) as Myra Draco
JIM BOLES as Billy the Hat
WARREN OATES as Harrison
(Three Sons, 1958) as John Bosworth
LEO PENN as Cavage
TONY HAIG as Sam (restaurant boy)
BETSY JONES-MORELAND as Mrs. Neal
(Brother’s Keeper, 1961) as Topaz – Saloon Girl
JOE WALLS as First Poker Player
ERIC ALDEN as Second Poker Player
STEWART EAST as Stewart – Waiter
TONY REGAN as Diner Patron

INT. HOTEL CARLTON DINING ROOM – DAY

PALADIN
Mm. Thank you, Stewart.

STEWART
Surely.

MRS. NEAL
Waiter? For Mr. Paladin, please.

STEWART – WAITER
Yes, ma’am.

PALADIN
Mm-hmm. “Aut Caesar Aut Nihil.” Either Caesar or nothing. Aut Paladin aut nihil.

MRS. NEAL
Won’t you sit down, Mr. Paladin?

PALADIN
Thank you. Now, Mrs. Neal, your note says you want me to bring your husband back to you from a poker palace in Cavinaw City?

MRS. NEAL
I’ll pay $5,000 now and $5,000 when you bring him back.

PALADIN
Well, spoiling your husband’s poker weekend sounds terribly dull.

MRS. NEAL
Poker weekend? John Paul Neal began his poker weekend five-and-a-half months ago.
And I want him back.

PALADIN
Five-and-a-half months ago, and you want him back now? I admire your restraint.
How do you know he’s still alive?

MRS. NEAL
You don’t mind?

PALADIN
Well, no, not if you don’t.

MRS. NEAL
Yesterday he withdrew $300,000 from the bank, blew a million in fine, prime timber to raise another $400,000, and then headed back for Cavinaw. $700,000.

PALADIN
Mrs. Neal…I’m beginning to catch up.

MRS. NEAL
I married John Paul Neal wealthy, and I plan to see he stays that way.

P
Well, they’ll keep him nailed to that poker table in Cavinaw City until they’re finished with him.

MRS. NEAL
There’s $50,000 at the disposal of your draft in the C.R. Overland.
Bargain with it, Mr. Paladin. Now do I interest you?

PALADIN
Mrs. Neal, you interest me, and John Paul Neal…he’ll fascinate me.
Stewart?

STEWART
Yes, Mr. Paladin?

PALADIN
Uh, bring the brandy over here, and another glass, please.

STEWART
Certainly, sir.

EXT. CAVINAW HOTEL

D
Whoa.

PALADIN
Yes, ma’am.

S
Sarah’s the name.

PALADIN
All right. Sarah what?

S
Sarah’s all you need. It’s all anyone needs.
Did you come looking for Neal?

PALADIN
Well, now, I never talk about Neals before dinner.
I do happen to have a bottle of Brown & Sturges here…

S
Well, I never drink Brown & Sturges before I talk about Neal.

PALADIN
I am looking for a game with him.

S
Well, you’ll find it quick enough if you’ve got the stakes.
Well, that’s why I came.

PALADIN
Now, “Five card stud stays to the end on king, ace…”
“A low pair, tr… ”
Neal plays poker like this?

S
Well, it’s sad, but it’s true. I’ve watched him play like that for five months.

PALADIN
Well, no, thanks. It’d spoil my fun. Now, what’s your game?

S
I want Neal, and I haven’t got a chance against his wife as long as he has his money.
It’s silly, isn’t it? He’s 40, he looks 50.
Over. But I love him. I need him. It’s the same thing, isn’t it?
Well, take it!

PALADIN
No, uh, I think if Neal plays poker like this that I very probably will never need it.
Thank you very much.

S
All right.
Come on.
John Paul’s right upstairs in the hotel.

PALADIN
Your good health.

S
Thank you.

N
You flash this, uh, fancy man a peek at your knees,
and you… you promised him
a star-spangled,
three-week honeymoon in Frisco
after you finish
trimming me, right?

S
That’s a laugh. You trim yourself better than any man I ever dealt cards to.

JOHN PAUL NEAL
Well, you blab my poker play to every high-stake gambler in town.
Why don’t you put a notice in the paper, too, huh?

S
I advertised for a man, not some punk curtseying to Waller, whining for better cards.
You make me sick to my stomach. Take your friend out of here, Sarah. I’m sick of him
and you…and the game.

PALADIN
Well, why don’t you go home? Home to your wife?

JOHN PAUL NEAL
My wife?! He’s from my wife?!

S
You said you wanted to see him about a game.

PALADIN
John Paul, she misses you. She misses you about $700,000 worth.

S
The dirtiest thing I can call you is a man.
Another lying, double-crossing man.

PALADIN
Thank you.
Mr. Neal, you have a tiger by the tail.
I am offering you a chance to let go and back away.

S
John. John, she paid him to bring you back, like an animal.
John, you’re gonna listen to him? John, she don’t love you.
Don’t you see, you’re no good to her? Don’t listen to him.

JOHN PAUL NEAL
Shoot me. Shoot me! That’s what she wants, ain’t it? That’s what Waller wants. Oh, I’d like to see her face when she hears that you killed me. She’ll laugh herself to death.
Oh…I’m no good to anybody. Let Waller have me. Let him kill me.

PALADIN
Oh, he won’t kill you yet. You still have some of your big money left.

S
Why don’t you go beat your horse and leave this man alone?

PALADIN
This man? This man? You think this wreck of self-pity, this whining, leftover of two women is a man?

JOHN PAUL NEAL
I had nothing to do with it. I’m throwing my money away, all right. All right, I made it. Whatever I want to do with it is none of Mrs. Neal’s business and none of yours.
It’s none of your blasted business!

PALADIN
All right.

JOHN PAUL NEAL
Waller wouldn’t let me leave. Even if I tried, he’d never let me out alive.

PALADIN
Well, that’s entirely up to you.

S
He’ll save you from Waller, but he’ll turn you over to your wife.
You’re better off here.

JOHN PAUL NEAL
You never know when to help yourself out by shutting up, do you?
I want to hear him talk.

PALADIN
I’m gonna say this to you just one time.
Now, it’ll take you and your gun, but I will help you.

JOHN PAUL NEAL
All right. All right, whatever you say. All right, I’ll try whatever you say. Whatever you say I’m gonna try.

S
No! No, you can’t go back!

JOHN PAUL NEAL
I’ve made up my mind. Don’t leave me.

MAN (O.S.)
Mr. Waller wants to see you, Mr. Neal. He’s in his room. Neal, you in there?

JOHN PAUL NEAL
Coming. On the way.

S
Well, Mr. Paladin, would you like to buy me that drink of Brown & Sturges now?

INT. ORIGINAL BARTHOMEW’S RESTAURANT

PALADIN
Hello? That mice, or is there somebody out there?
Suppose I could get some of those pork chops, beans on the side?

SAM – RESTAURANT BOY
All out of those. About everything else, too.
Why don’t you hit the casino for a free meal?

PALADIN
What do you eat?

SAM – RESTAURANT BOY
There’s beans on the stove. They’re pretty good. Then there’s eggs.
I can handle them, I guess. Some morning coffee’s left over. It’ll bite like a dog.

MR. WALLER
You’re pretty obvious, you know that.

SAM – RESTAURANT BOY
Anything for you, Mr. Waller?

MR. WALLER
Nope. Mr. Neal went back to San Francisco for more money, and I take it the word got around? And you show up here and cash a draft for $50,000.

PALADIN
Mrs. Neal will pay that $50,000 to get her husband off the hook.

MR. WALLER
Oh. Well, you know, Mr. Neal’s not on my payroll.
He can leave town whenever he wants.

PALADIN
It’s a sickness with him. He can’t leave, and you know that.
Now, he must be more trouble to you than he’s worth.
Why Neal? What did he do to you?

MR. WALLER
The big men stuffed the opportunity in their pockets.
Only thing they left was the desert. Railroad’s got most of that.

PALADIN
So, you take it right out of their hides. And this time it’s Neal’s hide.

MR. WALLER
When I’m done with Mr. Neal, I’ll let you know.
Then you can come and fetch him home to his wife.

PALADIN
All right, Waller. It’s a game with you, hmm? A cruel game.
Well, let’s make it a little bit more exciting.
Let’s play for him-you and me-for his soul…if that’d interest you more.

MR. WALLER
Yes. Yes. Yes, that interests me. Playing for this man’s soul.

PALADIN
That’s right, like Faustus. Play poker for his soul. And if Neal wins he can settle it
his own way.

MR. WALLER
Look, it’s not likely Mr. Neal would change the habits of a lifetime.
And if I remember my Faustus correctly, Mephistopheles wins out in the last act.

PALADIN
No, he was the junior partner. Lucifer was the commander in chief.

MR. WALLER
Yes. I won’t underestimate you, Paladin, I promise you that.

PALADIN
Thank you.

MR. WALLER
Mr. Neal likes to get started early, and, uh, you’ve certainly whetted my appetite for cards.

PALADIN
Mmm. Good eggs.

SAM – RESTAURANT BOY
They are?

PALADIN
Call.

M
Cards.

M
Deuce, a pair.

M
King, five, ten.

M
Possible straight.

M
And a six to the dealer.

M
Deuce’s bet.
250.

M
I’ll call.

PALADIN
I call. Play for 500.

M
Pass.

M
Call.

M
I’ll, uh…uh…I’ll see it.

MR. WALLER
What do you have, Mr. Paladin?

PALADIN
Tens, a pair.

MR. WALLER
Exciting evening, eh, Mr. Neal?
No money in the game.

N
Yes, Mr. Paladin’s a man of many talents.

PALADIN
Well, in a difficult game like poker, a man should use all of his talents.

N
Give me another stack. Let’s play cards!

MR. WALLER
1,200 back to you.

P
Well…
at that price…
it’s worth a look.

MR. WALLER
Speak up, gentlemen.

BLD
Not with these cards.

BH
I gotta fold.

MR. WALLER
Please, Mr. Neal,
don’t drool on the table.
Get in or get out.

N
Well, I, uh, got you beat
on the board.
I’ll call.

MR. WALLER
Three kings.

PALADIN
My two pair…will not beat those three kings.

N
We’d, uh, better get a fresh deck.

MR. WALLER
No new deck. Get me some wine-a Rhenish.
A new deck won’t improve your stupid playing, Mr. Neal.
You’re a parrot. A stupid, ridiculous parrot chattering “New deck.”
Do you understand me, Mr. Neal?

S
Here’s your wine, Mr. Waller. Chilled as you like it.

M
Your deal.

M
I, uh…

M
I knew we needed a fresh deck.

PALADIN
Pot’s right. Just the three of us.

302
00:18:45,490 –> 00:18:48,425
John Paul, a king.

303
00:18:50,228 –> 00:18:53,564
Pair of kings.

304
00:18:53,598 –> 00:18:55,599
Mr. Waller. Queen. Possible straight needs a jack, and your jack to the dealer.
Your bet, Mr. Neal.

N
15,000. Now, it’s only money, Mr. Waller.
That’s what you always keep telling me.

MR. WALLER
Thinking with your mouth as usual, Mr. Neal.
Think of your loving wife, you won’t be so happy.

N
The bet is 15,000 to you. You have a straight or don’t you?
Don’t call or bring up my wife.

MR. WALLER
That’s right, Miss Sarah’s here, I completely forgot.
You lead a complex life, Mr. Neal.

PALADIN
Well, you are bitter, Mr. Waller. You are very bitter indeed.
Sweeten up and play cards. Mr. Neal’s soul may yet belong to him.
The bet is 15,000 to you.

MR. WALLER
Yes. I… raise. Is it a good bet? Or is it a bluff?

PALADIN
Bluff or bet, Waller, many a man has died of rat bite. And they tell me the most serious,
the most deadly kind of a rat bite is that of a cornered rat.

W
Sit down, gentlemen. Sit down. Sit down, sit down.
Mr. Neal’s like an old friend of ours. We’d like to see him win this pot.

337
00:20:39,137 –> 00:20:40,003
Oh, no.

338
00:20:41,238 –> 00:20:43,874
No, you don’t fool me, Mr. Waller.

339
00:20:43,908 –> 00:20:46,076
Not this time.

340
00:20:46,110 –> 00:20:47,411
Take the pot.

PALADIN
Now, wait a minute! I’m still in this. Mr. Hat, how much money is in that pot?

H
A hundred and two thousand, three hundred and fifty.

PALADIN
And Neal. What’s he worth to you?

MR. WALLER
I didn’t think you meant it.

PALADIN
Yes, you did.

MR. WALLER
Well, no one could really win your soul, could they, Mr. Neal?
Not really.

N
What do you mean? My soul’s my own. Nobody owns me.

MR. WALLER
See, Paladin? The rat thinks his trap is a palace.

N
Paladin?

PALADIN
Too bad, John Paul. You just lost your last chance. If you’d stayed and won, you could’ve gone with me or stayed with Waller as you chose. As things now stand, Waller wins you
if he wins this pot.

N
Well, you can’t do that. That’s slavery.

PALADIN
I call.

MR. WALLER
Ace, king.

PALADIN
Jacks, a pair.

MR. WALLER
He’s yours.

N
Wait a minute. Wait a minute, look. I got a pair of kings.

PALADIN
You’re going home, John Paul Neal. You’re going home to your wife.

MR. WALLER
That’s a shame, Mr. Neal. You were just beginning to get lucky.

PALADIN
Get out there. All right, come on, put it out here. Aah! Oh, no, no.

MR. WALLER
Now there’s no need for violence. Well, Mr. Paladin, I believe you’ve won.
Congratulations. John Paul, thank you. Remember, the game’s always open.

JOHN PAUL NEAL
No. No more. I’m never coming back.

MR. WALLER
We’ll be expecting you.

S
Oh, yes, John Paul. We’ll be waiting.

MR. WALLER
I’ve lost this battle, Mr. Paladin. I don’t expect to lose the war.
Enjoy your trip to San Francisco.

PALADIN
Thank you.

PALADIN
Mr. Hat. Good morning.

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