Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 13, Episode 17 - Deadman's Law - full transcript

Matt's horse shows up riderless in Dodge City, and there is blood on the saddle. While Festus and Newly search for Matt, ruthless vigilantes take over.

Gunsmoke, starring
James Arness as Matt Dillon.


You waiting for an
invitation to get down?

Here! Here!

You just simmer down! I'll
take care of this feller myself.

The only way to take care of
rustlers is to hang every one you find.

The way I heard
it, this here feller

wasn't even close to
where them rustlers was.

Any man caught with a
running iron in one hand

and a pigging string in the other
is guilty, as far as I'm concerned.

I told you, we were
buying cattle along the way.

The running iron
was to brand them.

It's just a lucky
thing for this feller

that Judge Brooker's
a-judging him, ain't it?

Cattlemen here have been losing enough
beef out there to pay their overhead.

You got some quarrel

with the way Matthew's
a-handling things, have you?

No, I'm just in favor of making Dodge
City an unhealthy place for rustlers.

Let me tell you something,

if you have got some squawking
to do, you can chew Matthew's ear.

I'll stand first watch
for you, Festus.

Much obliged, Burke.
Let's get him inside.

Who do I see about
getting a grazing permit?

Where you from?

El Paso.

Got almost 2,000 head following
me in, been trailing near three months.

Well, you swing wide, mister, and graze
them in the flats north of the county.

Who the devil are you?

The name is Eriksson,
if that says anything.

I'm with the
Cattlemen's Cooperative.

We take care of our own up here.

There's just so much
grass for grazing land.

Way I understand, it all still
belongs to the government.

Well, mister, between rustlers
and you grass grabbers from Texas,

we're just about
filled up to here.

You naming me with rustlers?

Hold on there. Hold it. Hold
it. What's going on here?

I was telling this Texan there isn't
enough grazing land open for his herd.

Well now, that's kind of up
to Matthew to decide, ain't it?

Marshal Dillon will be
back directly, mister,

and he'll tell you where
you can bed down your beef.

Much obliged.

Yes, sir.

We get organized around here
we'll be having some changes.

Whoa. The way I got it
figured out, and I'll tell you,

it’s going to take a heap of doing by
you and your Cattlemen's Cooperative,

or whatever it is you call it.

All you and the rest of them yahoos
is doing is a-grabbing something

that ought to
belong to everybody.

That's all you're doing.

The way I figure see, that young
cow puncher's a-telling the truth

about that running iron.

Now when Matthew seen
he had some daylight left,

he just decided he'd ride over in them
east canyons and take a little look see.

And I would have went with him
myself, but he had to leave somebody

with some gumption
in charge of that posse,

and he just said flat out, he
said, Festus, you are in charge.

Just like you've been telling us
now for three or four or five times.

Yes, and the fact that
Matthew ain't back yet,

makes me think that he just could have
stumbled on to something over yonder.

If he ain't back here directly,
I'm thinking of taking a ride

out there myself and
seeking to give him a hand.

Of course, he did leave
me in charge of the town,

and you know, when
a feller's in charge,

it's pretty hard to go two
or three different directions

- at the same once...
- Of course it is.

Especially when you have to try to
figure out if you've talked long enough,

you think we'll overlook the fact that
you owe for the next round of beer.

Oh. I was thinking it
was your turn, Doc.

Well, just to show you that
my heart's in the right place,

I'll flip you for
it, loser buys.

Oh, well that's fair.

That... that gives me a
50/50 chance, you see.

And that's at least a 50
percent better chance than I had

when I came in here to
get a beer in the first place.


What is it, Newly?

A man just brought in
Marshal Dillon's horse.

- What?
- Matthew's horse?

Yes, sir. He picked it
up in the east canyons.

What about Matt?

Well, the way he's saying
it, he buried Mr. Dillon.

All I can say is, he was
a big man, oh, very big.

You see a badge? He
would've had a badge on.

Well, he was wearing
a vest, a vest like this.

Maybe it covered the badge.
I don't look so very close.

Doc, look at this.

That's blood, all
right. Where is he?

Mister, are you saying you buried the
man that belongs to that there horse?

The horse is there.

The man is there,

dead by a bullet.

The horse with the man.

- Doc.
- Where was this?

One of the canyons,
east, in a gully.

Can you lead me out there?

We are going to California.

Some man tells us we can save
many miles if we go by the canyons.

This is the way we go.

All this country, it
is so strange to us.

So all I can tell you is,

it's one of the canyons

east in the gully.

There's more canyons out
yonder than a feller could count

and there's 100 gullies
in every one of them.

I... I find a dead man.

I bury him, I say the prayers.

I bring the horse
back here to you

because I don't think
it's right if I keep it.

I'm sorry.

I won't believe it. I
just won't believe it.

Kitty, we haven't heard
the full story here yet.

That's Dillon's
horse, all right.

You hush.

If you found a dead man, why didn't
you just bring him on in here with you?

Why didn't you do that?

We don't know how
far away your town is.

Then I... I see the vultures.

I see it's going to rain so I
think it's best to bury him, no?

Well, if they've had rain
out yonder in them canyons,

there ain't a chance in the world I can
follow these wagon tracks back there.

I'm going to ride
out to them canyons.

Newly, get us something
to ride, will you?

- I'll go with you, Festus.
- Now, Sam, you come with me.

Hold on all of you.

I appreciate your
wanting to help out,

but with that rain out
there and everything,

there just could
be a sign or two left,

and if we all get out yonder
and start to milling around,

we're going to be chasing each
other's tracks, don't you see?

This here's a better
job for one man or two.

Much obliged.

Dillon's dead.

A wagon family found his
body in a canyon and buried him.

Are you sure it was Dillon?

Well, they brought his horse back.
There was blood all over his saddle.


his time finally came.

The first thing that popped into
my mind was those grazing permits.

Who would be handling them?


Yes, and a few other
things in this town.

Well, there must be
some explanation to this.

There's got to be.

Whatever it is, we're going
to find out about it, Doc.

You can bet your
bottom dollar on that.

We'll be back before long, Doc.

We'll be back with old
Matthew, too, I'll guarantee.

Well, how about it, Major?

The marshal's office has
control over those grazing permits.

Are you still deputized,
Mr. Eriksson?

No one to say different.

You and some of the
cattlemen in that posse

might very well form
the spine of a committee

to see to law
enforcement in town.

And I know a couple of men that
will be good to have on our side.

Tread lightly, Mr. Eriksson,

and don't you make a move
without first consulting me.

If Dillon is dead, this
could be the biggest windfall

we've ever come into.

It's not true.

Now you just hang on to that. We'll
need a lot more proof than we've seen.

Here, I want you to take these.

Doctor's orders.

Take a couple of
them, help you sleep.

I don't want to sleep.

Well, I want you to sleep.

When you wake up, we
may have some answers.

Eriksson and the Committee. There's
going to be trouble. Mark my word.

Hold it right there.

Throw those men on their horses.

You better have enough in your
pocket to make good on that window.

Uh-uh. He's my lookout, mister.
They was the ones that started it.

I don't want any argument,
just the price of that window.

The blazes with what you want.

All right.

Twenty dollars
ought to cover it.

All right, break it up. Come on.

I guess them rannies
needed setting down,

but they shouldn't have
been done to them like that.


No way for a man wearing
a badge to carry on.

Just shut that
sort of talk, Louie.

You don't want to get
mixed up in all of this.

You got no right
so turn me loose.

Turn me loose, I say.

What's between me and Cal
Simmons is no concern of yours.

- Just move along.
- Wait a minute. What's going on here?

- They've arrested me, Doc.
- Well what for?

Well, Cal Simmons made some
harness for me and it was no good

and I don't
intend to pay for it.

Simmons has called
the Committee in on me.

- Step aside, Doc.
- Oh, just hold on here a minute.

A complaint is being
filed, we're just acting on it.

This man is under
arrest. Come on.

That's the craziest
thing I've ever heard of.

Are you going to stand here and
let something like that happen?

Looks to me like they
just done their duty.

Oh, Hank!

Lathrop and Simmons have
been quarreling for a year.

You can't arrest him
over something like that.

But Cal made a complaint.

Hank, you mean to tell me that you
are going to support that Committee

for Public Safety?

Well, we ain't got no
other law around town.

We've got to have
some protection.

"Got to have some protection," he
said, and looked me right in the eye.

"Got to have some protection."

They don't know what
in thunder they're doing.

And that Miller and Jacobs and
Ackerman over there at the land office,

they're talking the
same way, ridiculous!

Everything's being taken care of,
they say, just like that. Everything...

"It's a little rougher than usual," they
say, "But it's all being taken care of."

Sure is a different
town, isn't it?

Let me tell you something,
if that Wall gets jurisdiction

of that government grazing
land it'll be a different town.

Why, he'd be a power in the
cattle business around here, Kitty.

And he and that Eriksson,
well, they'd just be the first.

Lord only knows how many more'll
descend on Dodge with Matt gone.

He'll be back.

You really believe
that, don't you, Doc?

I most certainly do.

We've got to believe
that, don't we, Kitty?

What'd you find out?

Doc, we poked our noses
under half the rocks in creation.

Just not a thing.

Newly, would you put
old Ruth up for me?

- Yes, sir. You bet.
- Much obliged.

Go on Ruth.

I'll tell you one thing, Doc,
we ain't done looking yet.

There's a heap more
ground to get covered

and we're fixing
to cover it, too.


is my eyeballs
covered with trail dust

or is that Eriksson
wearing a badge?

Well, there's a few things I
got to fill you in on, Festus.

Let's go in the Long Branch.


Hey, when's a man
get fed around here?

Hey! I'm hungry!

One more word out of you, and you're
going to get fed with your own teeth.

Committee for
Public Safety, my foot.

The thought of that Eriksson
sitting over in Matthew's office,

just calling himself
marshal just galls me,

and I ain't going to
stand for it, neither.

Well, he's not exactly calling
himself marshal, Festus.

Well, I don't give a hoot
what he's calling himself.

A skunk is a skunk, and
that's all there are to it.

Now how'd this here get started?

Well, the men the Matt deputized
when he started that posse

just stayed deputized,
that's all there was to it.

Including Eriksson, and
the whole town just sat back

and accepted the fact that he
and the others represented the law.

They even threw
Mr. Lathrop in jail.

Cost him $15 to get out.

All right, that does it.

Now, Matthew left me in
charge of that there posse,

and whatever law there
is in this town, I'm it.

I'm it.

You'd better get some sleep.

Miss Kitty, all of a
sudden I ain't tired no more.

- You think there's going to be trouble?
- I wouldn't be surprised.

I wouldn't want you to tell Festus
I ever said anything like this,

but right now I wish we had about
a dozen more like him in this town.

This whole thing wouldn't have
gotten started in the first place.

Anybody ever tell
you it's bad manners

to go poking through
another man's belongings?

None of your business, whiskers.

Well, if you ain't up out of that
chair by the time I bat my eyeball,

I'm going to pitch
you out that window.

You mind saying that once again?

I don't hear so good.

I'm just a-telling you that you ain't
got no business in Matthew's office.

And if you can't understand my
words, I'll just have to show you.

Well, I just can't decide
whether to decorate the ceiling

with your little dab of brains

or whether to put this pistol
away and squash you like a bug.

I'll just bet pappy a mule you'll be
out of here before I make up my mind.

Here, here. What's all this?

I'll tell you the same thing
I've been a-telling him.

I don't cotton to the likes of
him a-hanging around here.

Matthew put me in charge.

In charge.

Oh. I'm sorry you feel
offended, Mr. Haggen.

Of course, we recognize that you
were deputized by Marshal Dillon

but you've been out of town.

I'm back in town.

Well, there's no argument there.

I don't think Mr. Eriksson
could possibly object

to being spelled for the night.

It don't make no nevermind
to me what he objects to.

And it ain't for just
tonight, neither.

Now both of you
get on out of here.

Your assistance is most welcome.


Right, that's one I owe him.

Forget it.

Festus, what's going on?

"Your assistance
is most welcome."

High-toney yahoo talks
like my foot's asleep.

I ain't assisting nobody
and ain't nobody assisting me

lessen I say so.

- What are you talking about, Festus?
- Oh, that Wall and Eriksson.

Them and their
Cattlemen's Cooperative

is acting like Dodge is
theirs just for the taking.

They're wrong.

I'll give you an oath
on that. They're wrong.

Now, Newly, I want you to sit
right down here, stay right here

because I'm fixing to ride back
out to that canyon country directly.

I'd like to go with you. I want
to help you find the marshal.

The best way you can help me now,
Newly, is just by staying right here.

Yes, sir.

Now you keep your eye peeled,

and don't be bashful if there's any
heads that need knocking together.

You do it. You understand?

Yes, sir.

Because you're the one
that's in charge here now.


- We're on our way.
- Huh?

We got our telegram.

The governor didn't
appoint you interim marshal,

so don't be looking
for words to that effect.

Major Samuel Wall,
Cattleman's Cooperative...

It expresses sympathy for the
uncertain plight of Marshal Dillon,

support for the Committee.

The only thing that's interesting
to us is that the Governor is going

to appoint an interim marshal,
a man of the town's choosing.

Puts us halfway there.

Well, we'll need the town
behind us more than it is.

Once we can nail down that we've
got the people's interest at heart,

I think we've got it all with a
pink ribbon wrapped around it.

Mr. Eriksson.

Mr. Eriksson, up at the Bull's
Head, them Texans are talking about

breaking out that rustling
kid, you'd better get up there.

They've been talking
about that for four days now.

They're really feeling their liquor
now, they're getting awful mean.

Is that so. I'd better
straighten that out then.

Thank you, Mr. Burke.
We'll attend to that.

I'd come quick if I was you.
There's trouble on the way up there.

Maybe they're drunk,

but you think they would try
to break that boy out of jail?

You can never tell about those
Texans. They kind of stand by their own.

- I'd better get up there.
- If they did try...

you'd have to enforce
the law to its limits.

That would certainly be a
good indication of the need

for stronger law
enforcement in Dodge,

a demonstration of the
value of the Committee,

a demonstration
of your own value.

- Now you just stay peaceful, mister.
- What?

We're fixing to get
Sonny out of your jail.

Hold on. You do that, you're
just going to make things worse.

The kind of law Dodge has come
to have, it couldn't be no worse.

Now, you ain't going
to hang him, mister.

Why I know'd that boy
ever since he was a tad.

'Course he ain't much more right
now but for sure he ain't no rustler.

Well, that's up to
the court to decide.

Well, he's been in
there for four days,

and he ain't no closer to a court than
he was when your posse picked him up.

It's time we was heading south.
And that boy's going with us.

Judge Brooker's going to...

Boys, looks like we've
made our last ride to Dodge.

Come on, Sonny. Move
it. It's home goin' time.

Fry, Newt, I thought you'd
all forgotten about me.

Only thing to forget
about is this town. Let's go.

Hold it. Now, when
we get outside, split up.

We'll meet back
at the Bull's Head.

Don't shoot.

Four men dead.

What happened here?

We heard those Texans tried
to break out that rustling kid.

We got here as
they were making off.

You didn't have to cut them
in half with those shotguns.

They're a dangerous
bunch of men, Doctor.

Wouldn't take chances
of them cutting us in half.

You didn't even give
them a chance to surrender.

Well, how would you have
handled it, Mr. O'Brien?

Not like this, that's for sure.

Three men push their
way into the jail at gunpoint,

break out a rustler, and
yet when a hand is raised

against this kind of scum,
there are those who say

that it shouldn't have
been done that way.

Well, I think I speak
for most of us here,

and say we owe you a debt.

Mr. Eriksson quite probably
saved your life, young man.

Now I wonder why your
sympathies are reserved for men

who have broken the law
instead of for those enforcing it.

- Now you hold on...
- Newly... go up to the office.

- I want to look at you.
- Doc, Festus said...

Never mind what Festus said. Come
on, I want to have a look at you. Come on.

With the indisposition
of Mr. O'Brien,

it seems that the full responsibility
for law enforcement in Dodge

rests with Mr. Eriksson
and the Committee.

Now these men risked
their lives to do us a service.

I think we owe them more
than just a vote of thanks.

I received a telegram
from the governor,

in which he stated that a
man of the town's own choosing

might be appointed
interim marshal.

Now Mr. Eriksson has
been functioning as such.

I vote that we
make this official.


anybody with me?

Oh, hold on here.
This is ridiculous.

No show of hands in the middle of
the street's going to be called an election

by anybody, especially when all
the hands I see belong to strangers.

Well, we've got to
have law and order, Doc.

For 12 years you've had
law and order in Dodge City

because one man
enforced the law.

Now that he's not here, you're
willing to give the town away

to the first incompetent that
comes along with a shotgun

and anxious to use it.

Well, what are we
supposed to do, Doc?

Well, let's talk for a minute about
what you're not supposed to do.

When an emergency comes up, you're
not supposed to turn your back on it.

You meet it. That's what you do.

You don't just turn away and say,
everything's being taken care of.

You don't do that. I'm going
to tell you something else.

What happened here tonight
was not law enforcement.

In my opinion it was murder.

Murder? That's a strong word.

That's what I meant.

Now you Dodge
folks listen to me.

Look around and
see what's going on

and tell your friends and
neighbors to do the same thing,

before you start
giving this town away.

Thought you would be a little
quicker shutting up that old man.

- Talk isn't going to hurt us that much.
- No?

Well supposing he stops
talking and rides up to Hays City

and starts shouting murder.

Eriksson, you don't pound a man
like Doctor Adams into submission.

We should let Adams ride to
Hays and let it blow up in our faces?

Nothing's going to blow up.

He said killing those
drovers was murder.

If he can make
people believe that...

In the exercise of law enforcement,
you were forced to use extremes.

Major, we're too close to
having this town in our pocket

to lose it to a
pill-pushing old man.

Good night, Sam, Kitty.

- Good night, Miss Kitty.
- Good night, Sam. Thank you.

Hey, what's going on there?




- Matthew!
- Festus.

You old scudder, if I
ain't tickled to see you.

Well, Festus, I tell you,
it's good to see you, too.

You're the looksomest sight
I've set eyeballs on in many a day.

What happened to you?

Oh, took a bullet
in the shoulder.

Getting along all right, is it?

Yeah. Lost a lot of blood
but it's healing up now, I think.

I got pretty weak.

How'd you ever
happen to find me here?

Well, just old Haggen
instinct, I reckon.

I've sure been looking
for you for a spell.

How long I been out
here? I lost track of time.

Well, it was five days ago we
started running them rustlers down.

How'd you ever get up here?

Indian hide-hunter found
me. Brought me here.

I wouldn't be alive
if it wasn't for him.

Where's he at?

Well, I sent him
out looking for help.

He doesn't speak any English
so I gave him my badge.

I thought maybe he might show it
to somebody if he ran across them.

Miss Kitty.

He seems to be
breathing all right.

They were trying to kill him.

There ain't no doubt about that.


You said yourself you
didn't see who did it.

Is there any doubt, Miss Kitty?

There isn't any proof either.

I'll make sure that
works both ways.

Where's it going to stop?

Well, somebody's got to do it.


I'm going to sit here with Doc. You
check on Newly before you turn in.

Yes, ma'am.

Festus, that sure tastes good.

Want a little dab more?

Well, I'm full to the brim,
but by golly, I will anyway.

This here'll grow hair on your elbows,
put muscle in your whiskers, too.

Yeah. That's plenty.

Thank you.


You know something, I...

I just can't believe what's
happened back there in Dodge.

Old Doc says that folks
just plain old let it happen.

That's all there is to it.

Festus, we've
gotta get back there.

Matthew, you hadn't ought to
try now. It's going to be all right.

That Wall and Eriksson, they ain't
going no place, the way things is going...

I gotta get up, start
moving around.

You hadn't ought to try it yet.

You see.

Listen to what
I'm telling you now.

Wait a couple of days
and then we'll... it'll wait.

It's gonna be two or three weeks before
that cattle buyer can get to your herd.

My beef'll be nothing but gristle and
bone by then without proper grazing.

Not much of a price being paid
for gristle and bone these days.

All the years I've been coming to
Dodge. I never paid for graze land before.

Nobody's telling you to pay.

Twenty-five cents a head
to join the Cooperative.

- It amounts to the same thing.
- Somebody making you a better offer.

No. Next year I'm
taking my herd to Abilene.

That's your business.

If you have any complaints,
take that up with Major Wall.

All right. I'll pay.


Where do I bed them down?

Just east of the road.

I've been holding the best piece
of land for our newest member.

You got 2,000 head.
That'll be 500 dollars.

All right, boys. Let's go.

Marshal's badge.
Could be Dillon's.

There's some
blood on this badge.

Man might just need some burying.
Tell Major Wall where we're going.

We'll leave our horses here.

Just go easy, Matthew.

Oh, it's good to be up
again, Festus. I feel fine.

Oh, sure you do.

If I was to turn my back on you,
you'd high tail it to Dodge City afoot.

I know you.

Well, I'll tell
you what I'll do.

I'll trade off and take
turns riding the old mule.

Matthew, I want to
tell you something.

When you face up to Eriksson
and them others there in Dodge City,

you'd better feel
like yourself again.

- You better...
- Festus.

I think we've got company.

You go around from that
side. You take it from that side.

Festus, there's a rifle
back here in the lean-to.

- I'll get it, Matthew.
- All right.

I don't need this belt too.

I'll cover you.

That there was Eriksson.
I recognized him.

Hold it, Festus!

I'm gonna take a look here.

Festus, those men had to be on
horseback. See if you can find them.

With Eriksson hightailing it back,
they'll be laying for us in town.

Well, good, then we won't disappoint
them. Give me a bandanna, will you?

Here's one.

Oh, thanks.

Looks like I'm going to
get to return the favor.


Be getting light before long.

What the devil is keeping him?

Anxious, Eriksson?

Yeah, I'm anxious, all right.

But I still think it's a mistake
to shoot him down in the street.

I'm sure you'll demonstrate
your usual efficiency

by having several
suspects in jail

within a matter of hours after
the unfortunate occurrence.

And if it doesn't work?

Get out there, Eriksson.

See that it does.


I told you it wouldn't work.

Hold it right there.

I had to kill him, Marshal.

He was a dangerous man,
absolutely uncontrollable.


he's lying.

It was all his... planning.

Let's go.

You're not going
to listen to him?

There isn't a jury in the world
that would believe what he said.

You want to bet?

Let's go.

Just like one of them rich Arab
pot'ates I seen a picture of once.

Old Matthew just laying
there admiring where he's at.

- In a hide-hunter's tent, no less.
- Oh yeah.

He just fat and sassy,

just like he didn't have
no worry in his head at all.

And then he had to
come along and spoil it all.


Doc, here, take my arm.

What do I want with your arm?
I've got two good ones of my own.

Well, I just thought that...

Don't think. That's
when you get dangerous.

- How are you?
- Doc.

- You look like you need a drink.
- Sure I do.

- What do you want?
- Same as you got there.

- Sam, bring Doc a whiskey.
- Yes, Miss Kitty.

- You feeling better, Doc?
- Oh, yes. A lot better.

A little stiff, but
I'm fine, I'm fine.

If you ask me, you
still look a little peeky.

I didn't ask you.

What are you doing?

Doc, you got a
hole in your head.

Don't tell me what
I've got in my...

Don't touch me!

Don't want to see
nothing leak out.

You lost enough of
your smarts as it is.

If you hadn't lost what you had,

you'd be back in bed
where you belonged at.

Oh, now you're going to
start to practice medicine.

All right, right
there's the proof

of how wrong you are
when you are wrong.

'Cause you ain't
and if you wasn't,

you would be.

It just proves how wrong
you are about being in bed,

all stove up like you are

and saying whether
you ought or hadn't ought,

but you ain't, you are.

Goodbye, everybody.

You haven't finished your drink.

Oh, no, I can't.

I'm sick.

I feel worse now than I
did when I came in here.

I'm going back to bed.

My head aches, my back
aches, I ache all over.

I'm breaking out in a sweat.

I should have known better than
to come in here in the first place.

I knew I'd run into...

Oh, that's the proof right there

that us Haggens knows a
heap more about some things

than folks gives us credit for.

Now, I could cure
him if he'd listen to me.

Stay tuned for scenes
from next week's Gunsmoke.