Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 1, Episode 24 - The Pest Hole - full transcript

When an epidemic of typhoid fever hits Dodge, some citizens want to take the law into their own hands against the person suspected as the carrier of the disease.

( uplifting theme playing)


ANNOUNCER: Gunsmoke..

Starring James
Arness as Matt Dillon.

( mellow theme playing)

DILLON: There's a
reason that I walk out here

to Boot Hill now and then...

away from the raucous
music of the deadfalls,

the saloons, the
honky-tonks of Dodge.

I'm Matt Dillon,
United States marshal.

Those lying dead here

remind me that
it's a day-to-day job

to keep people alive,

to save 'em from themselves.

It's a job that
won't let me forget.

( eerie music playing)



(whispering): Doc Adams can spout all
he wants about 'cute bellyaches, but...

That poor fellow there's
hotter than a Dutch oven

with the biscuits burnin'.

I'm gettin' skittery.

If it was somethin'
maggoty they ate,

why's Doc got 'em all
bunched-up in here like a...?

Like a pest house?

Stay here. I'll be right back.

But, Kitty, I...

This one just died.


You was callin' this
acute food poisonin', Doc.

What made you change
your mind so sudden?

Well, the symptoms,
Mr. Matthews.

I mean the first
symptoms of each patient.

Stomach cramps, slight nausea,

mild headache.

Okay, go ahead, gentlemen.


what about these symptoms
that made you change your mind?

Well, the first symptoms
changed suddenly,

to high fever,

violent nausea
and languid pulse.

Everything that
goes with typhoid.

Typhoid? Are ya sure?

No, sir.


But I will be, when
one of 'em dies.

All of 'em, maybe.

Then you shoulda
waited for it to happen,

before turnin' the
jail into a hospital,

and sneakin' them Long
Branch women in here.

(all chatter) Now just
a minute, gentlemen.

It already has happened.

Otto Richter's dead, Doc.

( somber theme playing)


Well, as near as I can tell,

Otto Richter died of typhoid.

Well, as... owner
of the Dodge House,

and head of the
merchants' association,

I... offer every
cooperation herewith.

Uh, that is... within reason.

Oh, thank you very much.

What's the next move, doctor?

Discover the common
source of infection,

something that
applies to every case.

Well, that should give you
something to, uh... To shoot at.

Hold on, Mr. Hannah.
Don't get ahead of me.

First step is to isolate

everybody who
comes down with it,

just as I've been doing here.

If that doesn't work,

well, quarantine the whole town.

BOTH: What? Yes, sir.

Even if it means the governor

callin' out the troops.

Oh, now hold on,

you can't do that,
Doc. Not to Dodge.

The trail herds are gonna
start rolling in next month.

Yes, and we need that business.

Now Doc only found out about
this typhoid bug, gentlemen.

We don't want it to sound
as though he invented it.

I've got everything I own
invested in my gamblin' house.

I need Texas cowhands
with six months' pay

in their jeans to keep goin'.

Well, now hold on, gentlemen.

Now, no use to get riled.


have you got any idea
at all how it started?

Well, flies, contaminated water,

bad food, rotten sanitation.

You name it. Who knows?

But you're a doctor. You must
have some kind of an answer.

Well, Mr. Hannah, so far,

I've only found one
small thing to work on.

Ten days ago, those five
men back there had a meeting

to discuss that... That
German picnic that they, uh...

Oh. They have
every year here, the...

"Germania Walking
in Pleasure Society."

And they all had dinner
together at Bedino's cafe.

Well, that's it, then.

Now we're gettin' someplace.

I always suspected Bedino

was poisonin' half of Dodge

with that sheep
rot he calls chili.

Not so fast, now.

Lotta people eat there very day.

Nothin's happened
to them, so far.

Keep outta this, marshal.
The Doc's got a point.

Close up Bedino's.
Run him outta town.

No typhoid.

I'll pay him a
little visit tonight

and ask him to shut
down for a while.

You're not gonna pay
anybody a visit, Matthews.

Nobody's gonna do
anything without a court order,

or unless Doc here says so.

Well, I... I dunno,
Matt. Maybe...

we oughta close down
Bedino's for a day or two

till I can look it over, and
see if there's anything wrong.

I'll have a court order drawn up

and have it all
ready for ya, marshal.

Now, gentlemen, remember this,

and not a word
about this to anyone.

The whole future of
Dodge may depend on this.



Could... Kitty or... Olive

get this bug, or
whatever ya call it,

from them men?

Well, Chester,

in the latest medical
textbooks I got from St. Louis,

there are eight scrawny
paragraphs on typhoid fever.


Though, seems that people

don't give it to each
other with contact.

Has to be a common
source of infection.

That's what we gotta find.

Well, I gotta see
about buryin' Richter.


Well, it's a good thing he
doesn't have any kin around,

askin' a lot of
questions anyway.

Yes, sir.

Nothin' in the wide
word that'll start a panic

faster than that one
little word, "plague."

Oh, my gracious, I've
never seen such a mess.


See if you can get
that lamp lit, Chester.


( dramatic theme playing)

That ain't gonna
work, Mr. Dillon.

It's busted too bad.

Never mind, Chester.

I can see all I need
to see, right from here.

Who is it?


Well, I guess Matthews
meant what he said.


Let's go.

I'm tellin' you again, marshal.

You're wastin' your time.

You killed a man, and
you're gonna stand trial for it.

You won't find no jury in
these parts to convict me.

Not when they know the truth.

Bedino shouldn't have stood
up against me and my boys.


Be... You k... Why,
you murderin' Jack fool.

Matt, I had questions
to ask Bedino:

what those men ate,
where he got the food,

and a lot of other
things, and now...

I'll... I'll never know.

All right, Matthews.


You can't put me
back there with them.

Get movin'.

Lock this up.

(knocking on door)

Oh, Mrs. Saur.

Mrs. Saur.

Mrs. Saur.

I... I came all the way
from... From Log Creek.

He stopped the wagon.


Somebody said
you... You was here.

Yes. Here.

Maybe you'd better
lie down over here.


There you are.



I... I feel so weak.


What's wrong with me, Doctor?

Well, you, uh...

You have a little
fever, Mrs. Saur.

You... Uh, get my bag, Chester.

In the back?

Yeah, yes.

Now, listen to me,
Mrs. Saur, and tell me:

Have you eaten any food lately

at Bedino's Restaurant
on Front Street?

I... I ain't been to
Dodge for two months.


You... You rest there.

I'll... I'll get you
some medicine.

What about her, Doc?

Matt, looks like it
was just a coincidence

that those men had
dinner together at Bedino's.

Well, Matthews did
a good night's work.

Killed a man for
no reason at all.


MAN (slurring): ♪ He
had seven days raw ♪

♪ But he was slow ♪

♪ On the draw ♪

♪ And we laid him out under ♪

♪ The daisies ♪

♪ The daisies ♪

♪ We laid him out un... ♪


♪ We laid him out under ♪


You're drunk.

You are an excellent

Now, this isn't like you, Doc.

Oh, Matt.

Don't you preach to me.


Why don't you
hook that on old...


little usual.


Bugs got two more today.

And I gotta cut two more
notches on my stethoscope.

That's all the more reason
for you to stay sober.

And you know what else?

Just two more
death certificates due.

And do you know
what my brilliant

diagnostic appraisal will be?

"Intestinal complications,"
if you please.

All right. Easy, Doc.

You wanna know
something else, Matt?

I just came from a meeting.

Mr. Bradley, and
a very select group

of civic-minded, public-spirited

citizens of this town.

And you know what they said?!

Tell me inside, Doc.

Do you know what
they said to me?!

Do you know what those
worthy gentlemen said, Matt?

Well, I'll tell ya
what they said!

They threatened to lynch me.

Called me a liar
in public print.

Threatened to run me outta town

if I so much as mention
the typhoid epidemic.


And I forgot to tell ya,

Mr. Bradley sent his
wife and family to Topeka.

Now, Doc, I want
you to listen to me.

I want you to listen to
somethin' I'm gonna tell you.

I'll read you what one
eminent British authority

had to say on the
subject of typhoid fever.

"It seems that the
sewers of London

were leaking into the Thames."

Bugs in the water
caused the typhoid,

so they blew up the sewer.


We haven't got any sewers.

But we could blow up a cesspool.

We could blow up the whole town!

Now, Doc, get a
hold of yourself.

Now, sit down here,
and straighten up.

Straighten up?

All right.

You should be
able to... understand

better than anybody, Matt.

You couldn't live with
yourself either, doin'...half a job.


I know, Doc.


Look, now I want you to
listen to an idea that struck me.

Now, I've made
a list of everybody

down with the fever, so far.

So have I!

German settlers, all of 'em,

or of German descent.

Well, so are my two
new ones, today: Linlard,

Kiln. All right.
The first five men

who had dinner down
there at Bedino's.

They were making arrangements

for that annual
German picnic of theirs.

I know about the pic...

There's a chance that
all of 'em were there,

from all around Dodge.

Matt, maybe that's...

Maybe that's the common factor.

Maybe you've hit it.

All right. Where do
we go from here?

To your jail, and fast.

Come on.

Mm. What kind of, uh, food did
ya have there, Mr. Burkleman?



What's that?

German for "pork feast."

Every year, we eat nothing
but pork at the picnic.

Cooked all kinds of ways.

Well, who did the
cooking for you, this year?

Franz Pelzer.

Fran... The blacksmith?

(heavy breathing)


Well, thank you very
much, Mr. Burkleman.

Thank you.


(German accent):
What is this, doctor?

What is he saying
to me, marshal?

Well, you heard him, Pelzer.

Ja, I heard,
und I don't like it!

Now, hold on.

Just a minute.

Let's try bei" neighborly, huh?

Nobody can say that my
cooking makes people sick.


Back in Pilsen, I was a chef.

No woman can cook so good as me.

Is that pork? Ja.

Where'd you get it?

At, uh, Peter Schraf's hog farm.

Freshly killed. I was there.

With my own hands I dressed it.

You haven't been feeling

a little feverish,
lately. Have you?

I know what you think.

Never before
have I felt so good.

Ha. I eat more sausage

than everybody
else put together.

(chuckles): Sir,
you... probably did.

Sure, sure.

Und I spiced
everything just right,

und taste it.

Do I look sick?

Maybe you'd like to overlook me.

DOC: Heh. No.

No, you look fine, and, uh...

that suggests a very
interesting possibility.

What do you mean by that?

Let's be friends.

Everybody is Franz
Pelzer's friend.

All right. Let's show you
what I think of your cookin'.

Franz, how would
you like to cook me

a batch of that
sausage tomorrow.

Right there on your own stove.

This is a joke, ja?

No, dead serious. I'll
even go out to Schraf's farm

and get the pork myself.

Sure, sure.

But I don't understand.

Well, I'm not sure I do either.


I'll be here tomorrow
around noon.

Eh. Oh, you, uh...
You won't mind, I know,

if Marshal Dillon brings a
young lady along as guest.

If you're interested in
knowin' if Kitty can cook,

you can find out tomorrow.

Well, I was under the impression

that Pelzer was
gonna do the cookin'.

He is. For me.

Kitty's gonna cook for you.


I, uh... I don't suppose
you would tell me

what you got in mind, would you?

When you go out
after a gunslinger,

you keep your plans
to yourself, don't ya?

That way you don't have
anyone questionin' your methods.

( ominous theme playing)


You ready, Mr. Pelzer?

Ja, ja, sure, sure.

All right. Kitty?



Thank you.

Well, I'm sorry, folks,

but this has to be kind
of a private schlachtfest.

Eh, you ready, Matt?

Now, hold on, Doc.

We're not gonna
go through with this.

The matter? You
afraid of Kitty's cookin'?


I'm afraid that whatever
you've got planned

is liable to cost us a doctor.

And we can't afford to lose one.

Gentlemen, won't
you please explain?

Yeah, I don't know
what all the fuss is about.

This sausage of
Mr. Pelzer's is the best...

Here, what're you doin'?

W-well, Doc, ya had enough
there for the whole of Dodge.

Oh, shut up!

Why did y...? Oh...

Kitty, would you
take him for a walk?

Get outta here, Chester.

Well, wish I knew what it
was that I did was wrong.

DOC: Mr. Pelzer, you
too. I'm sorry. I want to talk

to Mr. Dillon alone.

But, doctor, would you please...

Come on, Mr. Pelzer.

(door closes)

All right, Doc.

Isn't it about time
you let me in on this?

Well, till you interfered,

I was conductin' a
scientific experiment.

Well, what are you gonna do now?


I'm gonna eat that food
Kitty cooked for you,

as long as Chester had
to go and help himself

to the food Mr. Pelzer cooked.

Now, wait a minute.

You mean to tell me
that whatever you thought

was gonna happen to you is
gonna happen to Chester now?

If I'm right, Matt, nothin'
gonna happen to me at all.

Chester's gonna come
down with typhoid.

Mm-hm. Tsk.

I thought it was
somethin' like that.

First I thought it was the food
those people ate at that picnic.

But when that big hunk
of a blacksmith said he ate

more than anybody else,
and still walkin' around,

well, I just hit
on a wild hunch.

Go on.

Nothin' like it in
medical literature

that I know of, but..

Maybe Pelzer carries
that bug around with him.


Yeah. People eat
the food he prepares...


Why doesn't he get it then?

I don't know.

Maybe he's immune or somethin'.

I see.

So if, uh, Chester
comes down with it,

why, you'll know what caused
the epidemic, then, huh?

Simple as that.


Chester has to get sick,
maybe die, to prove my point.

You sure your throat
isn't sore, Chester?



I said it feels fine.

Never felt better in
my life, Doc. Honest.

Well... (sighs)

You're sound as a new dollar.

Do you hear that, Mr. Dillon?

Now maybe you'll stop
drivin' me over here, every day.

Well, I just don't want to see
anything happen to you, Chester,

for some reason.

Well, I don't know,
but it seems to me

that you both are
pretty darned sure

that somethin's gonna happen.

Well, want to have another
look at you, tomorrow.


'Cause Doc says so.

( melancholy theme playing)

Mr. Dillon.

Mr. Dillon, come here, quick.

Chris Dawson and his family.

He said that anybody stayed in
Dodge with this plague goin' on

didn't have the
sense of a goose.

Looks like the panic's on.

How'd anybody'd get
ahold of Mr. Bradley, Doc?

Tell him to make some kind
of a public announcement.

Is there anything that I can do?

Nah, you've done more than
your share already, Chester.

Well, yeah.

I have?

Well, I...

I'm thinkin' I'll go in and
have a glass of water.

I don't know why I've been
feelin' so thirsty all mornin'.

Look at 'em run.

Like a bunch of sheep.

Well, that... Looks
like that puts me

right back where I started.

Hey, wait a minute.

Did you hear what
Chester just said?


What'd he say?

That he was thirsty!

By golly, Matt.

Ohhh, Mr. Dillon,

I guess you fellas are
gonna be right, after all.

I, heh, feel so dizzy I'm...
I'm plumb swimming here.

Enjoy me, heaven.

(heavy breathing)


There's that public
announcement you wanted.

Special edition.

Well, says there,

and I'm quoting an
ignorant, bumbling,

cow-town doctor, name of Adams.

That's me.

The epidemic in Dodge is over.

Anybody who leaves town
on account of it is a darned fool.

What about Pelzer?

Well, as long as he doesn't
touch any food that people

put in their mouths, we haven't
got anything to worry about.

Did you make that clear to him?

Threw such a scare into
him, he swore off cookin'

for himself.

Can you tell anything yet, Doc?

No. No, not yet.

(Chester groans)

(sheets rustle)


Welcome back, Chester.

You, uh... You left
us kinda sudden.

(chuckling): Well...

I tell ya, it's sure
good to be back.


You better lie down.

You bet.

You're gonna be pretty
weak for the next couple days.

Well, I can't understand it.

I... I was feelin'
fine this mornin',

and then, just, all
of a sudden, it...


What happened, anyway?


Lotta things happened, Chester.

And it wasn't this mornin'.
It was five days ago.

(laughs) Five?

Well, I need a drink.

And, Kitty, I'm prescribin'
the same thing for you.


No, I don't think so, Doc.

I've been waitin' for this.

All right.

Doc. Kitty.



Thank Chester.

( dramatic theme playing)


( pleasant theme playing)