196-“The Fifth Bullet”

“The Fifth Bullet”

Original Airdate:  (September 29, 1962)

Paladin escorts a released prisoner home to his family but five hired killers have other ideas.

Filmed on location at Bend, Oregon.

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, Written by Harry Julian Fink.
BEN JOHNSON as John Bartlett
DOROTHY DELLS as Emmy Bartlett
SHUG FISHER as Harry Kessler – Hotel Clerk
PETER BOONE as Johnny Tecumseh Bartlett
HAL NEEDHAM as Man Shot in the Fields (uncredited)

EXT. TERRITORIAL PRISON – ARIZONA – JUST BEFORE DAWN

JOHN BARTLETT
It’s still night.

PALADIN
Almost dawning.

Bartlett slugs Paladin on the jaw.

PALADIN
Now, I had a tooth pulled just six days ago, and it didn’t quit hurting till yesterday.

JOHN BARTLETT
You let me hurt for eight years, Paladin. “I promise you a fair trial.” That’s what you said, wasn’t it?

PALADIN
Bartlett, I made you a promise and I couldn’t keep it. Now, do you want to get a little as well as give some, or do you want to let the matter drop?

JOHN BARTLETT
I’ve been on good behavior for eight years.
Eight long years, and my disposition never was that good.
But now, I’m going home. I guess that saves you a beating.
All I want now is a good, hot bath. With soap.

PALADIN
Bartlett.
I promised your wife
I’d see you home alive.
When I’ve done that,
I’ve settled it.

JOHN BARTLETT
Was her mind set on me coming home? No sense being proud then, is there? If I got myself killed on the way home, Emmy never would forgive me. Or you. How is she?

PALADIN
She’s not a girl anymore. She’s a handsome woman. Anything else?

JOHN BARTLETT
My son.

PALADIN
His name is
John Tecumseh Bartlett.
And he looks like you.

JOHN BARTLETT
What does he think of me?

PALADIN
Like his mother, he thinks
you’re ten feet high.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL

PALADIN
Gotomana. Blackfoot loosely translated, that means “heavenly place.”

JOHN BARTLETT
Huh? Want to pull up while I tighten up my saddle a little? I smell death on this street.

PALADIN
Three horses down there.

JOHN BARTLETT
How many streets like this have I rolled down? I’d hoped it was all done with.

PALADIN
We could pull back, pick up the railroad about Kingstown.

JOHN BARTLETT
I’d rather not. I’d like to get that bath. I won’t think you’re a coward if you back away.
I’ll think you’re a fool if you don’t.

PALADIN
Well, it’s a cinch to be one of them in that hotel. Be another one up high. Problem’s that third one. He gonna be in an alley someplace, or is he gonna be up high, too?

GUNFIGHT ENSUES.

PALADIN
You know them?

JOHN BARTLETT
No, I’d say he hired them. Maybe gave them a hundred dollars each. Do I know you, friend?

HARRY KESSLER
You did once. But it’s been three years. Harry Kessler.

JOHN BARTLETT
Now I remember. A cup of water bring me all this help and good intention?

HARRY KESSLER
I was sure thirsty.

JOHN BARTLETT
Could a man get a good, hot bath around here anywhere?

HARRY KESSLER
You sure can.

JOHN BARTLETT
I’ll take her.

HARRY KESSLER
Let’s go.

JOHN BARTLETT
Kessler. We were in there together, all right.

The guards were having a little entertainment. A dull day.

They salted our food real good, and then didn’t give us any water for a long time.

Then put us in a cell together and told us to have at it.
With a cup of water to the winner. We fought for almost an hour. I gave him the water.
I always was a perverse contentious man. Did you know that?

PALADIN
You finish that bath, and I’ll take you on home.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL

JOHN BARTLETT
30 miles of rough country. We won’t be home before noon tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the old man’s out there somewhere.

PALADIN
Bartlett.

JOHN BARTLETT
Yeah?

PALADIN
The old man’s dead.

JOHN BARTLETT
For how long?

PALADIN
Two months.

JOHN BARTLETT
How many men did he hire to kill me?

PALADIN
Five, I think. He left all his money to his nephew in New Hampshire.
Stated that he didn’t have any living sons.
Also, in the will, he bequeathed this to you.
With the provision that I deliver it.

JOHN BARTLETT
Yeah. A Winchester Model 76. A Remington-Keene.
And a brass ten-gauge shotgun shell. That’s the three we met in town.

PALADIN
That short one’s a flat.44 for a Henry rifle.

JOHN BARTLETT
Yeah, I’ve used them. But I don’t recognize this.

PALADIN
That’s for a Walker Colt. 1838 model. Most powerful hand weapon ever built.

JOHN BARTLETT
They used that in the War of the Texas Liberation, didn’t they?

PALADIN
That’s right.

JOHN BARTLETT
40 years. Do you think that thing will still shoot?

PALADIN
Somebody thinks it will.

JOHN BARTLETT
Well, that leaves two. Do you think, uh, Emmy will be glad to see me?

PALADIN
I think so.

JOHN BARTLETT
I don’t know. I was a fairly good-looking man when I left her.
30 and not even able to grow a good beard.
But I always had a nice, pleasant smile for the ladies. Even my own wife.

PALADIN
Go to sleep.

JOHN BARTLETT
What if she don’t want me anymore?

PALADIN
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a moaning man! Now go to sleep.

JOHN BARTLETT
I used to look out, mornings like this, through barred windows and think of you, Paladin.
Moving free. “Give yourself up,” you said. “You done what you had to do. And I’ll give you a fair trial.” You did say that, didn’t you?

PALADIN
I said it. The old man’s money and influence made it a lie.

JOHN BARTLETT
The times I could’ve killed you with my bare hands. That first year was bad. I fought them real hard, and they held all the bullets. But a man’s will will just take him so far.

PALADIN
Kept you alive.

JOHN BARTLETT
I know it kept me alive, but how long? That old man owned everything between here and the Mexican border. When I come back from the war, he said I was a traitor. And tried to run me out. Did you see those two buttes to the west? That’s where him and his boys caught up with me. And that’s where I killed his two sons. Well, should we ride?

EXT. RIDING

JOHN BARTLETT
This is my land. If you laugh, today I won’t even care.

PALADIN
I don’t believe I’ll laugh.

JOHN BARTLETT
I rode with Jeb Stuart during the war. Did you know that?

PALADIN
A lot of good men rode with Jeb Stuart. Why not you?

JOHN BARTLETT
We rode. We really rode. Rode right into Custer at Gettysburg.

PALADIN
That was a bad day. Now, do you want to keep on riding or shall we just sit here and talk?

JOHN BARTLETT
I want some buckwheat cakes smothered in fresh butter and drowned in sugar syrup.
I wonder if Emmy can still cook. I think so. I swear I can smell that pot roast for supper.

PALADIN
From here?

JOHN BARTLETT
Why, sure. God gave me a good nose to smell with. A large one. He didn’t slight you none neither, come to think of it. The house is this way. You want to race, or you just use that fine-looking animal to sit on?

JOHN BARTLETT
Hello, Emmy.

EMMY BARTLETT
My husband’s ten feet tall. You want to kiss me, mister, you stand that high.

JOHN BARTLETT
I’m home, Emmy. It’s been a long time. I love you, Emmy.

EMMY BARTLETT
I love you, Mr. Bartlett.

JOHN BARTLETT

Ouch!

EMMY BARTLETT

That’s for riding in here like a wild man and scaring the chickens out of a week’s laying,
and scaring me out of my wits, and-and raising the dust all over my new wash,
and losing your temper and almost getting yourself killed, and being put away for eight years!

JOHN BARTLETT
I’m home.

P
I did say I’d bring him back,
and this time I kept my word.

EMMY BARTLETT
Thank you.
Come here, Johnny.
Johnny, this is your pa.

J
Are you really him?

JOHN BARTLETT
Your mother says so, son.

EMMY BARTLETT
John.

JOHN BARTLETT
And she don’t lie.

J
Sir, did you really kill five men in one day, and all alone?

JOHN BARTLETT
That story has been stretched some in the telling, son.
And killing a man is not a good thing, not unless you have no choice at all.
Would you shake my hand, boy?

EXT.

JOHN BARTLETT
See anything?

PALADIN
No. I did hear a hoof strike a stone a while back.

JOHN BARTLETT
Shod hoof?

PALADIN
Possibly.

205
00:17:13,546 –> 00:17:15,036
Couldn’t have been a cow?

PALADIN
It could have been a jackrabbit kicking a stone. Could have been the wind.
These nights seem colder than they used to.

JOHN BARTLETT
I’ve made up my mind about you, Paladin.

PALADIN
Well, now that is interesting.

JOHN BARTLETT
You’ll do, friend. When doomsday comes, you’ll do.
I guess that’s my way of saying thanks.
It’s just that I didn’t want to get myself killed yet and leave Emmy and the boy alone.
I’d hoped you’d stay for a while.
I never did ask a man anything before in my life, and I don’t like the feeling.

PALADIN
Bartlett…I owe you eight years. And somehow, I don’t think he’ll wait that long.

JOHN BARTLETT
You said “he” instead of “they.” Why?

PALADIN
Two men, two bullets…I don’t know.

JOHN BARTLETT
Why?

PALADIN
You lived around here for a while. You tell me why.

JOHN BARTLETT
The old man wasn’t an Apache, although he did think and act like one.
He sure had a perverse sense of humor.

PALADIN
Four mounted warriors, riding the vengeance trail, leading a fifth horse which carries only the spirit of those to be avenged, hmm? Five bullets but only four men, and you looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life, wondering about that fifth warrior.
If he’s coming, if he even exists.

JOHN BARTLETT
The old man would’ve done it that way. He was a king, and he wanted me to bend my knee and wouldn’t understand that I wouldn’t do that. That I was born free.

PALADIN
I’m going for a ride. About dawn, if you should step out of that door, they might take the bait.

JOHN BARTLETT
I’ll do that. At least they’ve kept away from Emmy and the boy until now.

EMMY BARTLETT
Come back to me, John Bartlett. There’s wheat cakes and sugar syrup for breakfast.

JOHN BARTLETT
You go back to bed, Emmy. It’s still early.

JOHN BARTLETT
Then there was two. I couldn’t tell for sure. Sounded like an army.
Did you bury them?

PALADIN
Yes. They both used Henrys. One bullet, two rifles. Same make, same caliber. That old man was a charmer. And that was some shot you made.

JOHN BARTLETT
That wasn’t my rifle. Emmy made that.

PALADIN
Well, you do have yourself a wife. There is still the fifth bullet.

JOHN BARTLETT
You better have some breakfast before you go.

PALADIN
I’ll stay on a while if you like.

JOHN BARTLETT
No, thanks. I think maybe that old man’s having the last joke on me.

PALADIN
Well, at the best, there are Indians and wolves and snow over your head a good part of the time. Hunger, loneliness, the danger of falling off a horse when you’re alone, flash floods in the spring, marauders, and all the great unknowns of living, and still, Bartlett, it isn’t as if you were alone.

JOHN BARTLETT
Emmy will have breakfast ready pretty soon, and she’ll want you to eat with us.

PALADIN
You tell Emmy no, but thank her for me.

JOHN BARTLETT
I’ll tell her.

EMMY BARTLETT
Sometime, come back.

PALADIN
Sometime, perhaps. When the name and the face no longer evoke a sting of memory,
but only the knowledge that a pledge long broken has finally been healed.

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