Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 14, Episode 2 - The Hide Cutters - full transcript

A group of cattle rustlers are determined to stop Amos McKee's cattle from reaching sale. Even to the point of placing a diseased animal among the herd.

Gunsmoke, starring
James Arness as Matt Dillon.

If I get back there without no venison,
that old Doc'll rag me clean to death.

Never have saw the lack of
game in these parts like this.

I just don't understand.


Well, no wonder.

You're slipping around
here scaring everything off.




Help me!

Man's got hisself
a problem, ain't he?

Yeah, he's trapped like
a hog on a bleeding hook.

Purely happy he fired
that shot instead of us.


Hey, Chunk. You think
that's one of them drovers?

If he is, we got us
one less to worry about.

Ain't that right, fellas?

That poor fella could starve to death
before he gets them rocks off hisself.

Let's leave him enjoy his
misery. Turn the wagon, Arlie Joe.

You're gonna ride off
and let that man die?

I swear you got yourself
a little girl there, Chunk.

Get that wagon turned.

He needs help.

You're going agin
all I taught you.

I said he needs help!


Boy's got backbone
going agin you, Chunk.

So's a snake.

You just stomp on it.

You been doing that five year
now. Ain't seen no change yet.

I didn't... didn't think
nobody heard me.

Are you hurt bad, mister?

Feels like my leg's busted. I
can't tell about the rest of me.

I'll see if I can get
any of this loose.

Just careful you don't bring the
rest of the mountain down on us.

You getting choosy
about the way you go?

Oh, that's the one there.

I'm keenly obliged to you, boy.

- We was just passing by.
- We?

Me and them.

Them fellas send you over
here to help me, did they?

Not likely.

Thanks. Festus Haggen.
I'm from Dodge City.

I guess you're alive enough
to fend for yourself now.

I reckon. Look, boy,
you done me a big favor.

I could have died right here.

- Yep, that you could, that you could.
- Well, wait a minute.

I wanna thank you by name.

No call being polite,
mister, 'cause I ain't stayin'.

Wait a minute,
boy. Wait a minute.

Wait a minute!

Now, get the wagon turned.

Well, now, if that
don't tie the pup.

Whomp him in the head
with that rock, Sugar John.

I'd feel a lot better putting
a bullet in his eyeball.

No need wasting them, we
got an easy killing like this.

- Hurry up.
- Yeah, go on, Sugar John.

Hey, wait a minute.
Somebody's coming.

Maybe it's one of them drovers
come to claim his property.

Shut up and let me do the
talking. You understand me, boy?

- Howdy, traveler.
- Howdy.

Damned if that don't look like a
marshal's badge you're wearing.

- That's right.
- Well, now, right privileged, Marshal.

Friends call me Chunk.

This here's Sugar
John, Bodiddly, Weevil.

And the boy on the
wagon's Arlie Joe.

- Just passing pilgrims, that's us.
- Uh-huh.

- That your steer?
- I don't know what...

Well, we was just wondering
who the poor orphan belonged to.

Thought maybe you might know.

Looks like he's wearing a Texas brand.
Maybe he strayed from the drive, huh?

Now, don't that bend the dust.
He do got a brand on him at that.

Learn you to be more careful about
bringing in animals don't belong to you.

- Yeah, but I didn't...
- Shut up.

Kindly glad you came
along when you did, Marshal.

Why, we might have done some
innocent rustling without even knowing it.

Uh-huh. I'm looking for a
man named Festus Haggen.

He's supposed to be out
this way on a hunting trip.

I thought you might
have seen him.

He's kind of medium build, got a
face full of whiskers, average height.

Medium height, whiskers...

Nope. Sugar John?

I ain't never seen
nobody look like that.

- Weevil?
- Recollect seeing a couple of Indians.

But that's all. Bodiddly?

I been with the
rest of you, ain't I?

How about you, son?

Anything you wanna add to
what's been said, Arlie Joe?

No, nothin'.

I tell you, Marshal,
we run into your friend,

we'll do for him
whatever's needed.

A sweet angel always wants us to
help thy neighbors where we can.

As long as nobody's claiming that steer,
maybe we'll just turn him loose, huh?

We'll send that little fella stomping
as soon as you leave, Marshal.

There's no need for that as
long as you're leaving anyway.

Oh, whatever you say, Marshal.

Well, you done all the talking
and we still lost us a steer.

Hush your mouth. That marshal got
more important business than pestering us.

We'll give him a
couple of minutes.

Then we'll see what else the sweet
angel done made available for us.

All right, get this.

Them hide cutters been
rim-walking the herd for a week now,

just waiting for their chance.

From now on I want
double guard on night hawk.

What do we do if
we catch one of 'em?

You bring him to me.
I got plans for him.

Mr. McKee. Somebody coming in.

- Evening.
- Well, well.

Name's Matt Dillon, US
marshal from Dodge City.

Amos McKee, trail boss.

I saw your herd from the
rim. Looks like a big one.

Taking 20 of us to handle it.

I'm looking for a friend of
mine name of Festus Haggen.

He's a few days overdue
from a hunting trip.

- Adds up.
- What do you mean?

One of my flank crowd
is looking for strays.

A couple of days ago
he found your friend.



Matthew! How did you get here?

- It's good to see you.
- It's good to see you too.

Never mind how I got here.
What happened to you?

Well, I got tangled up in a avalanche
a-coming down from Bare Madras.

Looks to me like you lucked
out pretty good, considering.

- How's the leg? Pretty bad?
- Well, it feels like it's busted.

But I'll tell you this.

It could have been a heap sight
worse if that boy hadn't have come along.

- What boy's that?
- He dug me out from under them rocks.

And if he hadn't, I could have
been there till yet, dead most likely.

He was with the raunchiest looking
bunch of fellas that you've ever saw.

Yeah, I know who they are. I ran
into them back up the trail aways.

They're a pretty
mean-looking bunch.

Matthew, I think they're
following this herd,

'cause that's all
them cowpunchers

has been a-talking about
since I been with them.

I think there's gonna
be some trouble.

McKee, I sure appreciate
your taking care of him.

Like beef on a hook, Marshal,
we guarantee live delivery.

What's this I hear about you having
some trouble with these hide cutters?

You're welcome to bed
down for the night, Marshal.

The hide cutters we'll tend
to, once we lay hands on 'em.


Now, this is my territory. If
there's any tending to do, I'll do it.

A good stampede at night ought to
get, oh, maybe a hundred or more.

Stampeding tears up hides, boy.

When you been
with us a bit longer,

you'll learn you don't get
top dollar for bruised hides.

Maybe we can poison
the water hole up ahead.

We used the last of the poison taking
them hides we buried over at Salt Flats.

Let's have victuals,
think on it a while.

- What do you think you're doing, boy?
- You said we was gonna make camp.

Sugar John, kick that fire out.

Why, you ought to give Arlie Joe
a kick, to fetch him some smart.

Fire sends up smoke, boy.

This close to the herd, we'd be
inviting them drovers to come join us.

Hey, look there.

Arlie Joe's getting smart already.
He's learned to rub where it hurts.

Weevil, pass that jug.

Come on, come on.


A man'd be a sorry soul without
some barley wet to settle their guts.

You know something, Arlie Joe?

I'm beginning to think you're
a plumb sorry investment.

I don't particular
care what you think.

Here your folks up
and die back in Carolina,

and I kindly offer you the
charity of my own home.

Home? Is that what you
call that stinkin' wagon?

Well, some'd think it sweet to
have a place sleeping off the ground.

Take it easy, Chunk. He ain't
learned gratitude yet, that's all.

I go adopting him for my own.

I give that preacher a dollar
and a whole jug to make it legal.

And that boy don't
even say thankee.

Mighty nice ceremony that
preacher give too, I recollect.

Made me almost tearful sorry
I don't have no kids myself.

- Want him?
- Well, I ain't that tearful sorry.

What you looking at, boy?

Nothin'. I ain't
looking at nothin'.

Stand respectful when
you talks to your elders.

That's better.


Where's that dried piece of brisket
you've been hogging for yourself?

- It's gone.
- Gone?

Now, you mean hid, don't you?

I ain't got it no more.

Well, you won't mind
I go looking for myself.

Arlie Joe, someday
you're gonna learn

what the sweet angel teaches about
charity with your kindly loving kin.

Matthew, long ways
to Dodge, ain't it?

Oh, it'll be about a
week at this rate, Festus.

Matthew, I feel plumb bad about
having you eat all this dust on my account.

Well, don't feel bad
about that. It isn't only you.

I wanna be sure that we keep
McKee and these hide cutters

- from going at each other.
- How could you do that?

There are just four of them
fellas and that ragtailed young 'un

up against 20 cowpunchers.

Well, both sides are carrying
rifles. That's all it takes for a shootout.

How's your friend?

He's getting starved to
death. That's how he is.

Glad you're enjoying
the hospitality.

What can we do for you, McKee?

I'm short a man on drag, seeing as
I'm donating room and board for him.

Glad to help you out
if it'll keep things even.

It's the only way
to keep it even.

Hey! Hey! Hey!

Water hole's got dead
strays hanging around it.

- Could be bad water. Poison.
- Poison?

Well, something killed 'em. I
didn't stick around to find out.

If the herd get a smell of that
water, we won't be able to stop 'em.

- Head 'em east.
- Turn 'em east! Bad water ahead!

- Turn them east! Hah!
- All right, Marshal, drag us that way.

Let's see what kind of
drover a badge pusher makes.

Come on! Come on!

- Go!
- Turn 'em east!

Turn 'em east! There's
bad water ahead!

Turn them east!

Bad water! Turn 'em east!

- Turn 'em east!
- Turn 'em east!

Eee! Look at all
them glove bellies.

- Poisoned water hole?
- No.

I seen cattle in
Mexico swoll like that.

They died of the
slobbering droops.

What's the slobbering droops?

I don't know for certain, but it treats
cows like they was poleaxed proper.

Now we know why that herd
changed direction so sudden fast.

Hey, maybe we can find a few
more of 'em hooked up round here

- if we look real careful.
- I ain't thinking on strays no more.

- Go fetch that calf, Sugar John.
- Right.

- What for?
- He's gonna catch us a whole herd.

- You funnin' us?
- I don't fun on business.

We're gonna stake
that calf off in the wild.

Then we're gonna sneak him into
the herd so's he can pass it around.

Makes a man proud
to know him, don't it?

Brains is power.

Ain't there some other
way 'sides that calf, Chunk?

Yeah, maybe if you was to
ask those drovers real polite, like,

they might turn their backs while
we skin out a hundred or so head.

We'll move on aways
and make camp.

Sugar John. You tie
that calf off somewheres.


Bodiddly, you and Weevil
skin out them there carcasses.

But... But, Chunk,
the stink of it.

Are you all of a
sudden persnickety?

Well, let Arlie Joe do it.

Arlie Joe's gonna set up camp
and hunt us up some water.

Oversee it directly.

Well, get it moving, boy.

Don't get it too full, now,
Matthew. It'll be slopping all over.

We can't carry it in our
pockets, you know, Festus.


Bypassing that
water hole like we did,

we're gonna need all
this water and then some.

Yah! Yah!

Whoa, whoa.

Oh, hello, Arlie Joe.

- Water's free, ain't it?
- Arlie Joe?

Matthew, that there's the
boy who saved my hide.

- That's the one, huh?
- It is, right there.

I asked about the water.

Help yourself.

Arlie Joe.

Why, I seen that big fella
a-thomping you around over yonder,

and I know he was
doing it on my account.

Lawson! You planning
to homestead this spot?

- Get that wagon back to the herd.
- On my way.

Arlie Joe, if you was to ever
get into Dodge, now, be sure...

Wait a minute! Can't you
see I'm talking to this boy?

Hold on! Wait a minute!

It's been a spell waiting to
get my hands on one of you.

- Stand up, kid.
- Leave him alone, McKee.

He's the boy that saved
Festus from that rock slide.

- He's one of them hide cutters.
- I ain't no hide cutter.

- Where's the rest of your bunch?
- I said leave him alone, McKee.

- I don't need nobody speaking for me.
- A hide cutter kid.

I've seen 'em eight years old could skin
out a steer before it stopped quivering.

Scum, all of 'em.

That fancy gun, them leather breeches,
don't make me scared of you, drover.

Let's see what does.

- Well, that says it, Marshal.
- You pushed it.

We know for sure
where you stand.

I stand right in
the middle, McKee.

Ain't nothing more I'd like
to do than to mix with you.

But I got a herd to tend to.

When we get back to Dodge,
you and me's gonna finish this.

It's up to you.

You know, he was wrong, Arlie
Joe, but so were you, dead wrong.

I didn't need no help from you.

You draw a knife on a man,
you can't expect him to like it.

Now, put that thing away.

I got rights to defend myself.

You can't carve a man
up for calling you names.

Drovers ain't no better
than hide cutters anyway.

What they can't
scare, they kick.

That's a pretty big chip
you're carrying around.

Calling me scum. There's ways of
getting even. Don't you fret about that.

Arlie Joe, I'm gonna tell you something.
I'd like to have you for a friend.

But if you start causing any trouble,
I'm gonna have to come after you.

I wouldn't wanna
have to do that.

Sugar John.


- Bodiddly.
- Huh?

Quick way to get a burying.

I believe you,
neighbor. I believe you.

No... What are you doing?
You can't do this to us.

- I take it you're in charge.
- We're peaceful folk.

Ain't no call waving
arms at us like this.

You been following my herd. I
got a keen interest to know why.

Herd? We don't know
nothin' about no herd.

It'd mean nothin'
to us if we did.

Truth to say, cows spook
me something fierce.

Yeah, amen.

We live off the leavings
of the land, we do,

taking only what the
sweet angel sees fit.

Ain't that truthful
right, fellas?

It's a poor but honest life.

The fact is, we're turning off for the
mountains, first thing, come morning.

Heard tell there's right
good trapping up there.

- Then you'll be moving east.
- Gospel truth.

As soon as we get rested.

Just passing pilgrims, that's
us. Pure, sweet-natured.

You ain't soaking up that
oil, are you, Mr. McKee?

Not today.

You, kid, pick up them rifles.
Empty the shells into this.

Yes, sir, Mr. Drover, boss.

Luke, check the wagons
for more ammunition.

Boy's been an anchor weight
on my virtuous shoulders

since the day I adopted him.

Adopted? Then he ain't
one of yours after all.

That's right. I
ain't one of theirs.

Puts our lives poorly in fear,
you go taking our shooting lead.

A fat handful of
peace and quiet.

We catch anybody
rim-walking the herd again,

I promise you'll get all
the lead you can use.

Grieves me to think there
ain't no trust left in the world.

Mister, I'm gonna show
you how much trust I got.

Get your boots off. You
boys give 'em a hand.


Well, now, what
are you about to do?

Yeah, we ain't been
messing with your herd.

I'm gonna make
sure you never do.

- Bill, pick up the horses.
- What are you gonna do to us?

Get the rags off your feet.

Davis, rake up that fire.
Spread them coals out some.

On your feet.

You hold on, now.

I'm gonna make sure you don't
follow no herd for some time to come.


You're up first.

Chick, if he needs urging,
you give him a hand.

No need. No need, brother.

Over here.

By the time you're up to it, I figure I
ought to have my herd into Dodge.

And then some,
friend, then some.

Chunk, no!

You hush.

You gotta learn, when
you take up a trade,

gotta take the risks with it.

All right, hold on.

Figured you to be
sleeping, Marshal.

What's going on here, McKee?

We just dropped by for a
friendly talk. Isn't that right, boys?

Friendly talk? He
was gonna make us...

Ain't manly to interrupt when
there's others talking, Bodiddly.

Arlie Joe, what happened here?

Now, Marshal, if'n I
could say something...

Shut up. Arlie Joe?

We was asked to leave.

It don't break my heart none.
They go their way, we go on.

- Sweet angel lighting the path.
- Hmm.

McKee, until you
can prove otherwise,

these men got a right to ride any
trail they want to, same as you have.

Now, get your men
to ride out of here.

Let's go, boys.

Now, if you got any sense,

you'll stay as far away from those
men and their herd as you can.

Next time you might
not be so lucky.

Pure, dear, peace-loving
folk, that's us, Marshal.

Hey, cousin, let's make
tracks for the tall country.

Arlie Joe.

You know, if you... if you wanna
get away from your friends here,

now's the time to say so.


Well, I figure I owe you something
for helping Festus the way you did.

I don't need no help from you.

You done good, boy, real good.

First time I seen you appreciate
the loving concern of your legal kin.

But it plumb hurts my feelings

the way you and that
marshal seems to get along.

That's just so you don't
forget whose side you're on.

We'll be in Dodge in a few
days. You will be available?

Any time, McKee.

I don't think we're gonna have any
more trouble with them hide cutters.

Well, if we do, I'll be real
interested to know who starts it.

I'm gonna have this here calf spread
them slobbering droops to that herd.

Get her moving, Sugar John.

Arlie Joe?

Since you and that marshal
seems to get along so sweetly nice,

I'm gonna let you go visit him.


Now, they're not
gonna shoot a tadboy

just for being kind enough
to bring in a poor stray.

You're gonna kill
off that whole herd.

Sweet angel gonna fill
our baskets to the brim.

I ain't gonna do it.

Oh, it's plain you got powerful
influence on that boy, Chunk.

Hush up.

You got a short
memory, Arlie Joe.

Remember back in Missouri
when you got unrespectful

and I had to lock
you in that cage?

I'll be minding.

What did I put in that
cage with you, boy?

All right. All right, I'll
do what you tell me.

Oh, I get riled,

I'm liable to whomp up a
new cage real sudden, like.

Now, get that calf
down to the herd.


How are you going to assure
Arlie Joe don't turn that calf loose?

Always like to plan
for emergencies.

If he don't do like he's told,
we're gonna have us a shootin'.

Then we're gonna tell that
marshal how tearful sad we is

because them lowdown
drovers killed our precious boy.

Let's keep an eye on him.

I swear, Matthew, the only-est
beef I wanna look at from now on

- is gonna be on a platter.
- I know what you mean.

I reckon you'll be kind of tickled
to get home yourself, won't you?

Yeah, that's the truth, Festus.

You know, I've been thinking
about that boy, that Arlie Joe.

I wonder what's ever
gonna become of him.

Chances are he'll turn out to be just
like the rest of 'em, mean, no account.

It's a shame too, Matthew,
'cause that boy's got a lot of spunk,

if we could just get him
away from them others.

I know. I offered him a chance to
get out, but he turned me down cold.

I'd better look around for some
more strays. I'll see you later.

See you directly.

Ain't that just the prettiest
bunch of hides you ever seen?

Sweet angel done
kissed our fevered brow.

Don't see no sign of Arlie Joe.

There he is.

Come on. Let's stay with him.

There he is. Still heading
straight for the herd.

Look, Chunk. He'll never
get that calf into the herd.

Wouldn't be too sure
of it. Let's get closer.

What are you doing
there, Arlie Joe?

You're looking for
strays, ain't you?

- Does that one belong to the herd?
- Don't know who else he'd belong to.

The way these drovers feel, you're
taking quite a chance coming out here.

- They might shoot you.
- Are you fixing to do that?

Now, why would I wanna do that?

Arlie Joe, you got kind of a
funny notion about people.

Tell me something. Was it your
friends sent you out here with this calf?

- They ain't my friends.
- Well, you're right about that.

If you know it, why
do you stay with them?

- I don't see as I got much choice.
- Well, that's not exactly true.

You're almost grown.

A man your size can go
into Dodge, get a full-time job

and be beholden to nobody.

You might even get lucky and
find a family you could live with.

I'm 16. I don't need
nobody looking after me.

Well, then, I feel sorry for
you. You're pretty unlucky.

You know, when I was your age,
I had a family looking out after me.

Took me out hunting with them,
helped me with my schooling.

Well, there ain't nobody gonna
wanna take me in anyway.

I don't know about that. I'll
tell you something, Arlie Joe.

There's a good streak in you
somewhere, hidden underneath all that dirt.

I'd like to see it have
a chance to come out.

- You... You ain't just talking?
- No, sir, I'm not just talking.

Can I borrow your gun, Marshal?

Calf had something
Chunk called the droops.

Would have spread it
through the whole herd.

It's no excuse, I know,

but Chunk said he'd lock me up in
that cage again if I didn't mind him.

Put you in a cage?

With rats. Used to
crawl around all over me.

Marshal! I just seen what Arlie
Joe done shooting up that calf.

Couldn't help it.
He run away on me.

You just fetch him up here
to me and I'll teach him.

How are you gonna
teach him? With rats?

Kill 'em. Kill 'em both.

They never could hit a barn.

You keep 'em busy. I'll go
round and get 'em from behind.

Oh, Chunk!

Boy, they sure got Weevil.

Well, keep shooting,
boy. They won't shoot you.

Getting caught in the
middle again, Marshal?

Makes the end of the drive
worthwhile, don't it, Marshal?

McKee, this better
be the last fight

that you or any of your
boys have in Dodge

or you'll wind up
in jail, you got it?

Got it.

Marshal... you still
make a lousy drover.

You ought to join one of them
traveling acting companies. Look at you.

- What?
- The way you're walking.

What's the matter with
the way I'm walking?

Well, you're walking
like a peg-legged sailor

pacing the deck of a
four-masted schooner

- rounding the Horn in the Cape.
- Why, you old scudder.

You just got done taking
that splint off my leg

that I've had there
for four weeks.

What do you expect
me to do? A clog dance?

I told you three weeks ago
you didn't even need the splint.

Well, I had to stove-up
a pretty near busted leg.

Wrenched knee.
Reset a wrenched knee.

Well, you charged me for a
stove-up pretty near busted leg.

Charged you?

Just like you was
a-fixin' to retire tomorrow.

- Charged you?
- And you call yourself a friend.

If you ain't a-raggin' a body,

you're a-gouging him like he
was one of them rich ray jobs.

A rich what? What
was that? A rich what?

And the thing that frets me is you ain't
gonna be able to spend all your money.

If you try taking it with you,

- your buryin' box is gonna be...
- Just hush up.

So blamed heavy, I'll
get a sprained backbone.

Just hush.

But you go on reading
them little old books

so that you can flick, flick some
of that herb medicine on sick folks

and then start
gouging them again.

You done got enough money
to burn a wet elephant with.

- I'm gonna tell you something...
- Oh, howdy, Arlie Joe.

- Hi, Festus, Dr. Adams.
- Arlie Joe.

- How's everything out at the farm?
- Oh, fine, Festus.

Oh, by the way, that tonic you
gave Mrs. Frye is working out just fine.

She's perking around
spryer than springtime.

- Well, good. I'm glad to hear that.
- You working hard, are you?

Yeah, but I'm enjoying it.

I always say, when a fella can get
enjoyment out of the work he's doing,

it's the most
envious-some thing there is.

Yeah, well, how
d'you know about that?

Of course, there's things that's
more important in life than money is.

Of course, there's some old
quack-quacks that wouldn't know that.

Well, I'd better head on out of
here before this gets any farther.

- Oh, howdy, Marshal.
- Arlie Joe.

What was that about
the quack-quack again?

- Do you want it writ down?
- You can't write.

Smart aleck.

Matthew, what would
you say about a old skinflint

that'd charge a fella three
prices for doctoring him

and then turn right
around and say

there wasn't nothin' wrong
with him in the first place?

What would you say about that?

Well, I tell you what I'd say.

I'd say that the best thing for
me to do is keep my mouth shut.

I wish... I wish
you could write.

- That's what I wish.
- I'll tell you this.

- There ought to be a law against...
- And you'd write what you set down.

- A old money-grubbing skinflint...
- I'd sue you...

That'd be ridiculous.

Stay tuned for scenes
from next week's Gunsmoke.