Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 2, Episode 25 - Bureaucrat - full transcript

A government official from Washington warns Matt that he will relieve him of his duties if he does not start using a firmer hand in Dodge.


Starring James Arness
as Matt Dillon.

Trying to enforce
the law in a town

as wild and unshod
as Dodge City

is no job for a man

who'd like to ease
out his days

sitting in the sun
counting his grandchildren.

You just don't get that far.

But you run the town anyway.

Any way you can.

There aren't any
rules out here

to being a peace officer.

You make them up
as you go along.

And usually
you do pretty well

until a man comes along

who has different ideas

and to whom
you have to listen.

Matt Dillon.

US Marshal.

Well, I never read
such nonsense.

That's just plumb crazy,
Mr. Dillon.

Well, I don't know,

That's the United States

War Department
in Washington DC.

They're not usually
given to nonsense.

But sending a man
out here to check

up on you is an insult
is what it is.

That "bad reports"
on Dodge.

What does he know?

Well, of course, Dodge
isn't exactly the most

peaceful community
in the United States.

Well, I don't like it,
Mr. Dillon.

I just don't like
any part of it.

This telegram here gives

this Rex Propter
say-so over you.

Well, that man's
my superior, Chester.

They wouldn't be
sending him out here

if they didn't
figure he knew

what he was doing,
would they?

But what I want to know is,

what does somebody
from Washington

know about
the frontiers.

That's the point.

No, sir, Mr. Dillon,

you'll be making a big mistake

if you even let him
off the train tomorrow.

Ah, Chester.

You've been in the army,
haven't you?

You know how those things go.

Yeah, that's just the point.

You're judging a man
you haven't even seen.

Well, I don't have
to see him.

He'll be wearing a beaver hat

and a starched-collar shirt

and he probably takes
a bath every single day.

Well, in that case
I think we ought to go

over to the Dodge House
and get him a room.

Wouldn't hardly do for him

to go bathing in a river,
would it?

Well, it wouldn't hurt him.

Especially if he was to drown.

Trail hands.
Must be a new herd in.

Two months on a trail
without drink

they're gonna be shooting
for the moon.

Well, I can't say
as I blame them, Chester.

As long as they don't hit it.

Hello, Marshal.


This here
is Marshal Dillon.

Just come in on the Santa Fe.

Name's Propter and he-

I'm perfectly capable
of stating

my own business, driver.

I suppose you are, mister.

Just trying to help out.

That's all right, Husk.

Don't give it any thought,

Giddy up.

How do you do,
Mr. Propter?

We didn't expect you
till tomorrow.

That's the idea, marshal.

I don't like to have
my inspections anticipated.

I see.

That's Chester Goode,


Don't think I was
informed about him.

Oh, yeah. Well, uh...

Well- Well, you'll be wanting
a place to stay

and the Dodge House
is the best hotel in town.

No, thanks, marshal.

I'll just inspect
the jail facilities first

and I would like
to wash up a bit.

Figured you would.

All right,
I can pick you up later.

Show you the town.

We may as well understand

each other from the beginning.

I prefer to look over
the town alone.

That way I can form an unbiased
opinion of the situation here.

All right.

I may as well tell you

we've had some
pretty rough

reports about Dodge City.

Yeah, I suppose
they all tell you

what a rough town
Dodge is, huh?

Well, there's nothing
personal involved here.

It's just the government wants
to make the frontier safe.

Safe for everybody.

Reports in Washington
have it that Dodge

hasn't exactly
achieved that status.

Oh, for goodness' sake.


Now, Mr. Propter,
just between you and me.

Washington is right.


These arrest sheets aren't even

arranged according
to date of entry.

Well, now.

We may not have the sheets
arranged just right

but we don't have
any trouble finding them.

Really, Marshal.

A man in your position
ought to understand

the importance of organization.

Now, I've been here, what,
two hours.

I can't make heads or tails
of this mess.

Well, Mr. Propter,
I-I keep them records

and I don't have no trouble
making heads or tails of them.

I see.

But what if there's a fire?

Where are the duplicates?

Well, Mr. Propter.

If we had a fire I'm afraid

we'd need more
than just duplicates.

Yes, but it does
make sense though,

doesn't it, marshal?

Yeah, I guess it does.

You can't keep the peace
in Dodge on paper.

If you could there
wouldn't be no need

for a man like Mr. Dillon.

That's an interesting
point of view.

I'll remember it.

Well, forever more.
Did you ever?

Chester, Chester.

Now, there's no use
getting all riled up.

He's just doing his job.

Well, I never seen such

a persnickety feller
in all my life.

He's a troublemaker,
Mr. Dillon.

That's what he is.
A troublemaker.

I'll tell you one thing
for certain, Chester.


If he's a troublemaker,

he's come to the right place.

Mr. Stroud, are going
to pay us off in Dodge?

Yeah, you young ones
is all alike.

You ride through rain
and hot sun for 800 miles,

nursing 3000 head
of stubborn cows

and all you can think of
is throwing your earnings away.


How's that, Ben?

You'd think we drove the last
cow that ever made it to Dodge.

Mr. Stroud, me and Ben
have been figuring

to make this trip

Don't we, Ben?

And as often
as the traffic will allow.


I don't know whether
it's safe to turn

you two wildcats
loose on civilized folks.

Ah, do you think there's
enough whiskey in Dodge

to wash this trail dirt
out of your throat, Ben?

More than enough,
from what I hear.

My father told me you can
get beer that's ice-cold.

Is that a pure fact,
Mr. Stroud?

It is.

But if I was you I wouldn't

figure to go out and to prod.

Mr. Stroud,
there ain't nothing

you don't know about
trail driving and cattle.

When it comes to that,
I'll listen every time.

But when it comes to fun

I'm a ring-tailed bearcat
and I got ideas of my own.

I know.

But Dodge ain't no wide

place on the Santa Fe trail.

It's a town.

If get out of line

you can wind up in jail.

Howdy, boys.

I'm Matt Dillon.

I'm the marshal
over in Dodge City.

I've heard about you,

My name's Will Stroud.

Trail boss to the TR outfit.

How do you do?

Just want to tell you boys,

you're all welcome
to come on in to Dodge

and makes yourselves at home.

As long as you
keep it within reason.

Now, marshal.

You don't look like
the stuffy kind to me.

Does he, Ben?

Sure not.

Well, I didn't mean
to make it sound

as though we play
for matches over there.

We've been good
to doggies for so long

we've kind of got an urge

to have somebody treat us
to a little kindness.

Ain't that the truth, Ben?

Yeah, maybe somebody
on the female side.


Well, now, boys.

You'll find plenty of ladies

who'll take real kindly
to you in Dodge

but, uh, just don't forget
they're ladies, huh?

Boot Hill's a little crowded

with boys who
figured different.

We ain't aiming to make
any trouble, marshal.

Well, I'm not saying
that you are, Mr. Stroud.

I, uh-
I just make it a practice

to come on out
and talk to all

of the trail hands
before they hit town.

Kind of saves trouble
all the way around.

They ain't
no different than

any other trail hands, marshal.

Maybe a might younger,
more foolish.

I'll see they stay in line.

I'm sure you will.

I'll be over
at the Long Branch tonight.

Serves the best beer in town.

Come on in and
I'll buy you the first drink.

Make mine a whiskey,

Ha, ha, ha.


Seems to me,
Marshal Dillon spends

a good deal of time
away from his office.

Yeah. Well, not much
trouble we have in Dodge

happens in this office.

And that'll be him.

He walks heavy, don't he?

Hope he's not going
to trod on me.

Mr. Propter.


Mr. Dillon.

I'll come to the point.

I've looked Dodge
over pretty carefully.

Pretty quiet out
there today, so far.

You mean,
you're expecting trouble?

Nothing out of the ordinary.

And just, uh,
what is the ordinary.

Guess you didn't get out
to Boot Hill yet, did you?

Oh, but I've heard of it.

It's got a growing

That doesn't seem
to bother you much, marshal.

It has.

I've accounted for my
share of those graves.

So I understand.

That's one of the things
that's wrong in this town.


Doesn't need
to be any shooting here.

I can't understand why you run
Dodge the way you do, marshal.

How do you mean?

Well, for one thing,
there's no deadline.

Your riffraff
should be restricted

to one part of town
where they won't endanger

the lives
of respectable people.

There was a deadline here
when I came.

I took it off.

May I ask why?

Yeah, I'll tell you why.

Because most of those riffraff

you're talking about
aren't bad people.

Most of them
are honest cowboys,

buffalo hunters or sod busters
in town on a spree.

And they don't like
to be reminded

that they're not respectable.

They don't need any deadline.

They know where it is.

we'll see about that later.

But right now I'd like
to know why it is that

I haven't seen a man
in Dodge City

who isn't wearing a gun.

Because it's an old habit
they've gotten into.

You know what
I'm getting at, marshal.


Yes, I'm afraid I do.

You want them
to check their guns.

Check their guns?

Well, that's the craziest-

If you don't mind.

Mr. Propter.

If men want to fight.

They're going to fight.

And if I make them
check their guns

they're going to think
I'm afraid of them.

And that's going
to be the end

of law and order in Dodge.

It'll be the beginning
of a stronger law.

I've made
arrangements to have

these posters printed up.

They state clearly
that's it's illegal

for a man to carry a gun
in Dodge City.

I want those posters
put up before sundown.

What, are you going
to do that, Mr. Dillon?

Chester, I am.


It's the only way I can
teach Mr. Propter a lesson.

Ah, hello, Husk.

I don't remember when
I fired this last, marshal,

but I'll still
feel naked without it.

Well, you'll get it back
all right.

Let's move on, now.

Big crowd out there.

And not one of them
is in any hurry

to get this done.

Well, I am.
Come on.

Let's move along.

Hello, boys.

Cold beer they got
but that's all.

Where's all the action?

You want action?

You'll get it
if you ram me again.

I was talking to my friend,

You're not the most popular
man in Dodge tonight, Matt.

Well, I don't recall
that I ever was, Kitty.

People are saying you're
getting to be an old maid.


All because of that
idiot Propter.

Staring at everybody
like they were freaks.

Well, he's just trying
to do his job, Kitty.

The only trouble is,
he doesn't know how.

This isn't like you, Matt.

Do you have to do
what he tells you?

Well, I'll admit
I've never run a town

any way except
on my own terms, yet.

Why start now?

You just ought to quit

and let Mr. Know-it-all
handle it.

Well, I've never run
from a fight

and it's Mr. Propter
there I'm fighting.

The only way I know how.

Well, maybe you're right.

If you left now things would

probably be worse
than they ever were.

Let's get out of here,

Hey, where's the best
place in town?

This is the best place
in town, mister.

He says this is the best
place in town, Charlie.

Yeah, well,
I'm leaving.

Oh, all right,
I told you.

Now, that's it.

Hold it, mister.

Stop right there.

All right, now,
drop the gun.

Drop it,

The boy is drunk,


And he also killed a man.

An unarmed man.

Chester, he's under arrest.
Take him.

Yes, sir.

All right, feller.
Let's go.

It's just a short piece
down the street.

I don't like to see that,

Neither do I.

You all heard.

You all saw.

The big man started it.

Charlie didn't know
he wasn't armed.

He hadn't heard
about the new rule

against carrying a gun.

Well, it's a good defense,

But he did know.

He had his gun hidden.

All right, I tried.

But I've seen this
in other towns.

You can't disarm men, marshal,
it won't work.

You better do something
about it and fast.

Got yourself another man
for Boot Hill, marshal.

Did you hear what he just said?

I heard him.

All right, then we'll
count this man as yours.

Think about it.

Hello, Doc.

Good morning, Matt.

A little early for you,
ain't it?


You got another cup
of that stuff?

Well, you bet your luck.

Here you are.

You're looking a little
tired this morning.

I am tired.

I've been up this whole night.

Just got in.

Sarah Doldger.


Yeah, her seventh.

Spindly little old
woman like that.

Seven kids.

All girls too.


Hey, you don't look
too good, either.

No, I don't exactly
feel full of cheer,

I'll tell you that.

What the matter?


You know that killing
last night

didn't even
seem to bother him.

Well, some folks
are just slow to learn.

Set in their ways, you know.

Like Sarah Doldger.

Now, she just had her
heart set on a boy.

Some darn fool woman,
a neighbor, I guess,

told her that
if she worked hard,

right up
to the last minute,

that's the way it'd happen.

Well, she did.

It brought her time on too
soon and she blame near died.

Had another girl too.

Oh, no.

Yeah, well,

some folks just
don't learn at all.

Well, I'll tell you
one thing, Doc.

That Propter is going to have
to learn sooner or later.

Well, I admire
the way you're trying.

The way people are talking.

How you're buckling
under to him,

it makes you look pretty
foolish in their eyes.


Well, they don't work
for the government, Doc.

I do.

That's what I've told them.

I've said a man with a job

like yours has to take

the good and the bad.

Eh, to a point,
I guess.

What do you mean,
"up to a point"?

things might get so bad

around here I'd have to quit.

Ho, ho.
Now, wait a minute.

Things ain't going to get
so bad in Dodge that you-

Well, I'm beginning to think
more of Chester's potential.

He said you'd be here.

What's the matter now,
Mr. Propter?

Oh, nothing much,

Not a thing.

Except there's a man
in Long Branch

who's wearing a gun
on his belt.

Well, it's probably somebody
who didn't see the posters.

I told him the new rule.
He just laughed at me.

He said to send you in.
He said you knew him.

What's his name?


Nick Fane.

What's the matter?

Is he a special friend
of yours?

I don't have any special
friends, Mr. Propter.

Nick Fane's a gunman.

Does that mean
you're afraid of him?

There's only one thing

I'm afraid of right now

and that's myself.


What do you got under that

beaver hat you're wearing?

Another beaver?

Hold on a minute, marshal.

I don't think
I like your attitude.

Mr. Propter,
you shouldn't be trying

to enforce the law
around here.

I have that authority.

On paper, maybe, yes.

But I'm telling you
for your own good.

You can get hurt.

Hello, Fane.

Hello, marshal.

Fane, we got a new rule

about carrying guns.

Yeah, I know.

Saw the posters.

Then why are you
wearing one?

Shut up.
Stay out of this, Propter.

Now, listen, marsh-
I said, shut up.

Have I ever caused any
trouble in Dodge, marshal?

No, you never have.

And I don't intend to.

As long as you keep running

this town the way you have.

You see, mister.

A man like me makes
a lot of enemies.

Every gun-crazy kid looking

for a ready-made
reputation's after me.

No, marshal.

If I take off my gun I-

I won't live very long.

No, Fane,
I don't think you would.

So I'm not taking it off.

Not even if it means
drawing against you.

Is it going to come to that?


I'm going to make
an exception.

So you are afraid of him.

Don't be stupid,

He's no more afraid of me
than I am of him.

There can be no exceptions,

You break the rule for him you
have to break it for everyone.

It's a bad rule,
can't you see that?

We've been over all that.

Are you going to take
this man's gun from him?


Then I'm sending
a telegram to Washington.

We need a new marshal
in Dodge City.

I say a man's gun is just

as much a part of him
as his horse.

Or the air he breathes.

Ain't a man among
you that doesn't feel

he's been put upon
by the marshal.

Your treeing'
the wrong cat, mister.

Mr. Fancy-Pants-Propter
is behind all this.


Yeah, and I'm getting

as tired as I can be.

You talking about
Mr. Dillon like that.

If you've got any complaints,

take them to that Mr. Propter.

Well, now.

That kind of puts
a different light on things.

Running him out of town
shouldn't be too hard.

Could be a little tar
under them nice

clean fingernails of his
would do the trick.

Where are you going?

My old woman's got
a couple of good down pillows.

You can't just feather
a big man like Propter

with just plain o''
chicken plucking.

Come on.

There's a night train
going east.

You going to be on it.

Of course you won't be dressed

so pretty but you'll be on it.

All right,
get it over with.

Later, I'll look you
all up personally.

Mr. Dillon?
You better come quick.

What's the matter?

Well, they go this Mr. Propter

out in front
of the Dodge House.

They're going
to tar and feather him.

All right,

hold on here, boys.
Just a minute.

I hate to spoil your fun.

You ain't going to spoil it,

All right, boys, now, break
it up and go on back home.

We're going to forget
about this whole thing.

No we won't.

We've got no argument
against you, marshal.

We know the story now.

Get rid of this meddler here

and things will
be all right again.

A little hot tar
ain't going to hurt him.

Nobody's going to get
tarred and feathered tonight.

You can't stop us,

You heard me, boys.

I said,
get out of here

and get on home.

See what I mean?

They ain't about to move.

What are you going to do,

Shoot us?

If I have to.

You're forgetting something.

The little signs you put up,

There ain't a man here
who's got a gun on him.

You ain't going to shoot
no unarmed man.

And you can't
take us no other way.

There's too many of us.

My God, he's right,
Mr. Dillon.

I sure am.

Let's get on with the party.

All right, hold it.

You're pretty smart,

All right, you win.



Go over and tear down

every one of those signs.

I'll do that, gladly.

All right, boys.

Come on over
and pick up your guns.



No hard feelings,


No hard feelings.

You're a man
I'd like to know better.

When you make them
reports to Washington.

Tell them we got
our own ways.

They work for us.

Well, Mr. Propter.

Go ahead and say it.

You've never been
at a loss for words before.

I know when to keep quiet,
Mr. Marshal.

I'm sorry for the way

those people treated you.

By and large
they're not bad people.

you don't scare too easy.

A man tries to face
things as they come.

You know that you've got
nothing to be ashamed of.

You acted like a man.

Thank you, marshal.

Coming from you
that's a compliment.

Coming from me?

I'd like to shake your hand.

I've learned a lesson here
than I'm never going to forget.

I'm going to include
it in my report to Washington.

Well, that's mighty
good to hear.

Just to prove
I have learned it well

I'm not even going
to bother you with a copy.


now maybe you'll let me

show you around the town,

That would be just fine.