The Wild Wild West (1965–1969): Season 2, Episode 16 - The Night of the Tottering Tontine - full transcript

Jim and Arte must protect a key member of a wealthy investment group whose surviving member stands to inherit the group's sizable assets.

Couldn't have better
weather for traveling

if we'd planned it.

Uh, it's a short
walk down the street

to the stage depot, Dr. Raven.

Think I'll be safe, Mr. West?

I really think it
was unnecessary

for President Grant to
assign you to safeguard me.

The president feels that until
your new weapon's perfected,

that your life may be in danger.

Oh, Dr. Raven.

Well, Martin.
Hello, how are you?

Good to see you.
Good to see you.

Mr. Dexter, Jim West.

How do you do? How are you?

Dexter's going to our
reunion in Monterey.

Good, we can travel together.

Oh, are you going too, West?

Yes, I am.

Well, then welcome aboard.

Thank you.

Well, gentlemen, I have
a couple of errands to run.

I'll catch up with you later.

Oh, uh... Uh, by
the way, doctor.

Uh, was it you who
had a particular taste

for the Jamaican cheroot?

Well, as a matter of fact, yes.

Cursed difficult
to find, though.

Then I'd recommend

the tobacconist across
the street. He stocks them.



I'll be just a minute.

Yes, sir.

You all right?

I think so.


Poor Dexter. Why
would anyone kill him?

Ask yourself why Dexter
would want to kill you.

Well, that's only a guess.

He planned for you to
be in the tobacco shop.

Why? What was your
association with him?

Only this: we were both members

of a rather unique
investment group.

What's so unique about it?

Our original investment
of several thousand dollars

had increased in
value to millions.

I see.

And this trip we're about
to take to Monterey?

Our annual get-together.

Stockholders' report, just like
any other investment group.

With one important difference.

What's that?


Ah, pause a moment. Woah.

Keep the change.

Thank you.

Anything turn up
in the investigation?

Oh, a little something.

It seems that the gunpowder,
detonator and plunger

were all bought by a party
by the name of Fields...

whose description
sounds suspiciously

like one Martin Dexter.

Oh. Maybe you were
right about Dexter.

I did a little more digging too.

That group you belong to, sir...

I was just telling
West about it.

Yeah. One of the members
was drowned last year?

Yes, Emmett Banhoff.

Well, it seems that
another one of your group

fell under the wheels of
a train just the other day.

Name of Hunter.

George Hunter?

Dexter makes three.

Doctor, we're gonna make
sure you're not number four.

Hold that stage! Hold it!



Artie, can you hear me?

Perfectly. What are
you yelling about?

Ah...! Ah...! Ah. Not that one.

Oh, no. Thank you.

Are you all right, Mr. Gordon?

Oh, I'm fine, I'm fine.

That settles it, doctor.

We're not taking
any more chances.

We're going back. RAVEN: No.

Excuse me, Mr. West.

Need I remind you that
yours and Mr. Gordon's job

is to protect me.

Not to direct where I'm going.

Now, we're continuing on.

Are you sure we have
to take that from him?

Artie, that's exactly
what I wanted him to say.

Oh, of course.

Whoever's trying to
kill him isn't gonna stop

just because we turned back.

Artie, let's get our
doctor to his meeting.

Ain't you dead yet, Raven?

Yes, sir.

You look kind of
long in the tooth.

I thought for sure
you'd never make it.

Mr. Stimson... another
member of our group.

Wild Boy Harry Stimson,
that's me. Gunslinger.

If the subject ever
came up in your hearing.

Bounty hunter now...

from what I hear.

Specializing in
killing unarmed men.

For a tenderfoot
with a bad wing,

you got entirely
too good a memory,

Mr. Whatever-Your-Name-Is.


And my name's James West.

And I've got a good memory too.

And there's nothing
wrong with my wings.

Well, now, what are we
all so touchy about, hm?

Come on, let's squat.

Bounty hunter, huh?

Well, now, that's
the old Harry Stimson

you're talking about.

The Harry Stimson that used to
count his change very carefully

when he'd belly up to a bar.

Oh, you're gonna tell us

all about the new Harry
Stimson, aren't you?

Oh, well, the new
Harry Stimson...

Well, now, he's got
it made all the way.

All he's got to do is call
out if he wants a drink.

Hey, Curly...

let's have a bottle.

That one, Curly.

I, uh, don't mean to pry
into your personal affairs,

but, uh, isn't it a little
messy doing it your way?

Oh, now, Curly don't
mind... do you, Curly?

Uh, don't mind
nohow, Mr. Stimson.

There, you see?

Why, he's even
smiling, ain't he?

You know why?

Because he knows I
can buy and sell him,

his saloon, and every bottle
of rotgut he's got in here.

Ain't that right, Curly?

Uh, sure, Mr. Stimson.

No more counting
your change, Stimson,

when you're up at the bar
and you want a drink, huh?

Oh, no, sir, Mr. West.

No, sir.

No. The new Harry Stimson's
got it made all the way.

Of course, I got to concentrate

on staying alive.

If I can manage
that long enough,

why, I'm gonna
be a very rich man.

Ain't that right, Pappy?

He means the tontine.

Tontine? Oh, don't
tell me. It's, uh...

an investment group operating

on the law of survival, right?

That's right.

And nobody inherits.

The last survivor
gets all the money.

That's right.

So naturally, if you just
happen to get yourself killed,

why, that'd just mean that
there'd be one less body

between me and
all that lovely money.

Three have been
downed, six corpses to go.

Stimson, you're becoming
less and less attractive to me.

And that's with the right hand.

Now, I'm gonna
show you the left hand.

He's dead.

At this range, how
could he miss?

This gun's been
tampered with to backfire.

Stimson down.

Six corpses to go.

What's keeping Mr. Gordon?

Oh, he'll be along.

Sorry I'm late.
Mustache trouble.

Now, remember, it's
Angus MacGordon,

your secretary, traveling
companion and bodyguard.

Very clever.

Thank you, sir.

Thank you very much indeed.

At your service.

Hold it, doctor.

You hear it too?


Ah, Raven.

That's a fine way

to discourage
peddlers and thieves.

Come in, gentlemen.

Oh, good evening, Grevely.

Quite, quite, quite.

Ah, Raven, forgive an old friend

for leaving you
stand out in the cold.

Uh, and we've grown
quite anxious about you.

There's something wrong
with your door I think, sir.


Oh, Grevely, um, this
is Mr. James West,

my very good
friend. Pleasure, sir.

This is my servant and
secretary, Angus MacGordon.

A very good evening to you, sir.

Quite. Uh, shall
we join the others?

Oh, Grevely. First, I think

there's something
you ought to know.

Dexter and Stimson
have been murdered.


Banhoff and Hunter have died

under very mysterious

And an attempt has
been made on my life.


Well, I think the others
should be notified immediately.

How long have the
others been here?

Since 4 this
afternoon, to be exact.

Uh, gentlemen...

An added security precaution.

As you will see...

my collection of Egyptology

rivals that of the
national museum.

Well, Dr. Raven...

we'd just about
given you up for lost.

Yes, just because you
work for the government

doesn't give you the right to
hold up other people's business.

Time is money.

Let's get on with
the meeting, hm?

Forgive me, all of you,

but... I was detained by a
most unpleasant business.

You see...


Raven, introduce your guests.

Yes, well... I'd
like you all to know

Mr. West and Mr. MacGordon.
They're my guests.

Dr. Raven has brought word

that a calamity has
befallen our companions...

which I will impart to you now.

What? What calamity?

I go back to a night.

A stormy night off
Cape Hatteras...

when we all joined arms

in the face of certain death

and pledged, "All for
one and one for all."


That was the principle
of the tontine, was it not?

Grevely, what's this all about?

We all know that.

A good and noble principle.

However, we all forgot that
the tontine invites man's...

Uh, or woman's...

scurrilous nature
to come to the fore.

He takes a while to
warm up, doesn't he?

Uh, one of us has succumbed
to his or her basest nature.

Dexter and Stimson
have been murdered.

Banhoff and Hunter died
under mysterious circumstances.

And now one of
us is trying to...

knock off Dr. Raven.

And now let me introduce you

to the survivors of
the tontine, gentlemen.

He better hurry. There
won't be any of them left.

The first lady of the
theater, Amelia Mateland.

Hardly the first, Charles,
but I'll settle for second.

When do we get down
to business, Grevely?

I didn't trek out in this
wilderness to make friends.

I want to know what
our profits came to.

Mr. Applegate is only a banker.

He doesn't appreciate the
harmony of the spheres...

the rhythms between
certain people.

For us... no
introduction is necessary.

Do you know Gunther Pearse?

Pearse? Oh, I had
an old aunt in Glasgow

that married one of
the Edinburgh Pearses.

Uh, this Mr. Pearse

is the leading
heavyweight contender.

A pugilist?

That's, uh, very interesting.

Another member of our company...

And here we have the
Archduke Maurice of Valdofia.

Uh, abdicated.

At the time there was 17
feet of snow in my country,

but they still managed
to make it hot for me.

If you're wondering why I
still wear the, uh, uniform

of my former rank, it
is, uh... sheer nostalgia.

Uh, sheer vanity, he means.

Edward Baring.

Ah. Ah.

Mr. Baring... I've
read your books.

Aye, so have I.

Mr. Baring, here,

specializes in murder mysteries.

Ah, very nicely
phrased, MacGordon.

All right, let's go. How about
getting down to business, hm?

All right, shall we get started?

Amelia, gentlemen, be seated.

Uh, Mr. West, MacGordon,
and you too, Pearse,

I'm afraid I must
ask you to leave now.

We never allow
non-members at our meetings.

Oh, under the circumstances,

don't you think you ought
to make an exception?

I think not, Mr. West. Hm-hm.

Now, if you don't mind...

I do mind, sir.

Listen to what he has to say.

Why? I don't see why.

Confound it, Grevely,

let the fellow speak his peace,
then give him walking papers,

and maybe, just maybe,

we'll get down to
business at long last.

You're on, Mr. West.

Thank you, Miss Mateland.

The point I'm trying
to make is this:

Dexter and Stimson
were murdered.

That could happen to
everyone else here in this room.


You're right, sir.

I should have said
everyone here...

minus one.


Are you suggesting that one
of us in this house is greedy?

One of us?

My dear Baring, all of us are.

And don't you agree, Amelia?

Really, Maurice, I don't
think that's particularly...

All right, all right.

The young man has
spoken his peace.

We've all been
properly frightened.

Where's that mineral water?

So now may I suggest
that we bid him adieu,

so that the rest of us
can get down to b...

I don't know who is
responsible for this,

but now that we have
all had our little laugh...

suppose we get back to business.

Hold it.

Mr. Applegate?


I think you've proved
your point, Mr. West.

One of us in this house is
very probably a murderer.



Was it not you, Mr. Baring,

who passed Mr. Applegate
that carafe of mineral water?

Of course.

I came here in the
middle of last night

and arranged all of this.

Rigged the carafe and,
uh, the knife in the chair.

Well, I'm not going to
worry about it anymore.

I no longer want to have
a meeting in my house.

I move we adjourn... right now.

It won't work. The
mechanism's jammed.

- Where are your other exits?
- There are no other.

There's no other
way to the outside,

and that door is all metal.

It's impervious to
explosives or acids.

We're trapped.

Well, there must be
some other way out of here.

You can always jump
out the window, Amelia.

It's only 1,200 feet
down to the surf.

How can you say
a thing like that?


Can't we at least
get him out of here?

Uh, Pearse...

bring the body over here.

Put it in the wine cellar.

What now, Mr. West?

I discover who the murderer is.

The only problem is you
all have the same motive.


My job is to keep
you alive, sir...

even if it is to
face a murder trial.

An interesting group of
suspects, huh, Mr. West?

Martin Grevely, cattle baron...

fortune founded on slaughter.


Edward Baring...

a man who, in a
sense, lives by murder...

on paper.

Robert Raven...

an inventor of munitions,
a dealer in death.

Oh, a useful
friend to presidents.

And myself...

accustomed to a life of leisure

and now, um,
indubitably impoverished.

And, uh, why did
you leave me out?

Because, my dear Amelia,
your impressive protector

has just returned from
Applegate's vintage tomb.

And how do I rate in this
cast of characters, Mr. West?

Oh, even you could
be guilty of murder.


Hm. I, for one, am glad

you showed up here
tonight, Mr. West.

That does it.

I have seen enough for
one evening, thank you.

Think everyone should go
to their rooms. Good night.

Uh, Mr. West...

we really picked the funny farm

this time, didn't we?

Not so funny.

He didn't walk up here alone.

I'm going down there.

Fine, I'll go with you.

No. Stay close to Raven.


I'm going to lie down.

All right. I'll be here.

Welcome to
Subterranea, Mr. West...

the end of the line for you.

I think you'll appreciate

the appropriateness
of your situation.

That cart is on rails.

At the end of the rails

is an opening in
the face of the cliff.

From there, all you
have to do is step down

a mere 1,200 feet.

Look down, Mr. West.

Get the idea?

Pyrotechnic propulsion.

Destination: oblivion.

Oh, I've also insured against

even the remotest possibility
that you can escape.

Once the rocket
sends you into flight,

I've arranged a secondary
explosive device,

which will blow you to bits
before you even reach the ocean.

You shouldn't have
gone to all this trouble

for such a short trip.

Oh, no trouble, Mr. West.

Uh, no trouble at all.

Farewell, Mr. West.

Raven! Dr. Raven!

What was all that noise?

Come with me.

Uh, what are all
the fireworks about?

Is, uh, someone
celebrating something?

What was that light?

I heard a terrible noise.

Yes, what was it?

I don't know...

but I intend to find out.

Why, Mr. MacGordon...

The name is Gordon,
not MacGordon.

Artemus Gordon.

My partner.


Well, I'm glad you're alive.

What happened?

I've been working
on the railroad, Artie.

Mr. Grevely knows
what I'm talking about.

What railroad?

The railroad beneath your house.

I gave one of this
country's foremost architects

a completely free hand
in designing this house.

And if anything puzzles you,
Mr. West, I suggest you ask him.

Go on, ask him.

Ask Martin Dexter.

But he's dead.

Uh, try to use this bit of irony
in your new novel, huh, Baring?

There is one dead
person who can tell us:

King Rafakhanan
of Ancient Egypt.

In moments of
sorrow and stress...

I ask him for guidance.

Ask him what?

Ask him to name...

who is the murderer among us.


Well, I'd have no objection.

It certainly is more
amusing than sitting around

staring at each other.

I'd ask anyone at this point.
What do we have to do?

Dim the lights...

sit around the table...

and join hands.

Uh, Baring.

Uh, won't you be seated?

Uh, no, no, no, no,
my dear archduke.

Nobility before talent.

Hands, please.

O great King Rafakhanan

of the ancient world

and beyond the
barrier of death...

speak of that which
only you may truly know

without being destroyed
by the terrible knowledge

of the sights that only you

may glimpse
without being seared.

Of the sounds that
only you may hear

without being deafened.

Summon for us the spirits
of our murdered friends.

Only they...

through the barrier of death...

can identify the killer.

Tell us. Oh, tell us.

Grant us this
terrible knowledge.

Tell us.

Tell us.

O great King Rafakhanan,

let us be blinded if necessary,

that the corporeal scales
may fall from your eyes

and the vision of darkest
night be granted us.

Speak. Speak.

Tell us. Oh, tell us.



What is wrong, o great king?

I cry.

I cry for you, Amelia.


Because you...

are the next to die.

No! It's not true.

Oh, tell me it's not true.

Artie... get the lights.

Where's Amelia?




A treasure. Château Rothschild.



Careful, my friend.

Yes, I'm coming.

Who is it?


It will be most rewarding
for you to let me in.

Will you join me?

Château Rothschild,

bottled in that most
blessed of years: 1806.

Oh, yes, yes, a real find.

Oh, you're preparing
to leave, huh, Baring?

Oh, no. No, no, no.

Uh, well, let us say I am
preparing to be ready to leave.


Oh, why do I find it
necessary to make excuses?

Yes, I am preparing to leave.

As a matter of fact,
I can't wait to leave!

That's odd.

As a novelist...

I should think you would enjoy
the gothic atmosphere here.

Let me tell you
something, Maurice.

I have written a whole bookshelf
full of books about characters

whose lives are about to
be dramatically or suddenly

snuffed out...

but I do not relish
finding myself

in a position where I do
not know when or where

death is suddenly to appear.

Through the
upholstery of a chair...

or from the depths
of a crystal ball?

Or, yes, even from a wine glass.

How do you feel about
an executioner's ax,

my dear Baring?


No matter.

You are wise to
be cautious, Baring.

Maurice, what is it? What is it?

The wine.

It has gone flat. Pity.

I shall have to search for
another bottle. Bon voyage.


I try never to ask
stupid questions,

but if you could
explain, Mr. West.

How did Dexter manage to
get himself killed for your benefit

and brought back
to life for ours?

He reads a lot.

For instance...

one of Mr. Baring's lesser-known
novels, The Matching Set.

Plot: a man murders
his twin brother

to provide himself
with an alibi.

A very excellent alibi too.

Even the police investigation
failed to disclose the fact

that Martin Dexter...
had a twin brother.

To kill your own brother...

You know, if I
had thought of that,

I could still be on the throne.

Now, if Dexter was
presumed to be dead...

he could never have
collected from the tontine...

which can only mean that
he has to have an accomplice.

I was waiting for
one of you gentlemen

to come to that very
obvious conclusion.

Well done, my love.

Checkmate, Mr. West.

Oh, Amelia's not
afraid to pull the trigger.

It will only save me time.

We'll take care of Mr. Gordon
and the rest in just a minute.

First, Mr. West and I

are going to have a little...


Excuse me.

You've been very
clever, Mr. West...

and a lot of trouble to me.

Very good, Mr. West.

Oh. Very angular.

You know, Mr. West...

I built this room merely
as an intellectual device.

I never thought anyone
would be so troublesome

that I'd have to use it.

I wouldn't if I were
you, Mr. Gordon.

Another little present
for you, Mr. West.

It's no use, Mr. West.

Thank you very much.

What happened to Dexter?

He's, uh, stuck in
the rumpus room.

My friends, until we are somehow

released from this place...

may I suggest we wile away
the time with a parlor game?

You know, in this
country, there is one

which everyone seems
to know how to play:



Oh, my, I do declare.

What a glorious little parlor
car you boys have here.

Well, it isn't exactly
Buckingham Palace...

No, but we call it home.

Uh, make yourselves
comfortable, ladies.

You never got through telling us

whatever did happen
with that tontine.

Remember? Oh, uh...

Well, they decided to
make a different deal.

Now, they're turning the
money over to a scholarship fund

for deserving students.

Yes. That's not
only a noble gesture,

but it also does... wonders
for the life expectancy.

Imagine giving up all those
glorious little old millions.


Whatever do you imagine
Amelia and Dexter would have done

if they had knocked
off all those others?

Oh, gotten married and
lived happily ever after.

And speaking of Amelia...

this is one of
her crystal balls.

Remember the last
time we watched Amelia

do her crystal ball act, Artie?

Hm? Oh. Never forget it.

Not if I lived to be a million.

There was Amelia,
moaning away...

"O great King Rafakhanan...

send us a sign."

And then she started to
make passes over the ball.

It started to smoke.

And to glow.

Yes, with a kind of a...

white-hot incandescence.

Eerie, as though
ready to explode.

Great scott, look.