Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 3, Episode 21 - Ma Tennis - full transcript

A strong-willed, shotgun-wielding matriarch helps her son escape from Matt's custody, but the Marshal is equally determined to see the young man tried and sentenced for killing an unarmed man.

...starring James Arness
as Matt Dillon.

I've seen a lot
of young men come West

full of big hopes and dreams,
and then break themselves

trying to work the land
that often does nothing

for them but twist their hearts

and fill them with defeat,
hatred and anger.

A lot of them turn pretty mean
as a result...

but the meanest
I ever ran into...

was a woman.

Matt Dillon, U.S. Marshal.

That calls for
another drink.

Oh, you're the one.


I'll play these.

Dealer takes two.


And raise.

Up a little.


If you can beat
that two pair.

Got them on
the deal.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Your luck's bad tonight,
young fella.

You sure you
want to go on?

Yeah, don't you
tell me what to do, huh?

Now, don't
get riled.

I was just thinking
you ought

to save yourself
a stake

and maybe have a go
at it again tomorrow.

Why don't you just
shut up and deal.

Now, Andy, that ain't
no way to talk.

He's just trying
to help you.

He'd better help me!

And dang soon.

He helped
himself enough.

I could stop the game, you know.

You ain't gonna stop
no game, mister.

Now, Andy...

You stay out
of this, Ben.

Let's get out of here.
You've had enough.

I ain't hardly.

And don't you
push me, huh?


Cut them.

Gonna have a drink.

I'll be back.

Don't hurry.

Miss Kitty?


My name is Ben
Tennis, Miss Kitty.

Yeah, I've seen you around.

Well, I don't get
into town much.

My ma keeps
a pretty tight rein on us.

Who's "us"?

Me and Andy over there.

We run a ranch
down at Crooked Creek.

I wanted to tell you who I was

so you wouldn't think
I meant nothin' bad.

About what?


fella told me once that
you brought him luck gambling.

Oh, that's the silliest thing
I ever heard.


well, maybe it is, but...

I sure wish you'd try again.

Please, Miss Kitty.

Well, do you
wanna buy me some chips?

Oh, sure, I'll buy you chips
- but it ain't me

that needs the luck-
it's my kid brother over there.

You see...
he's been losing pretty bad.

Well, he's kind
of hot-tempered.

Well, look, now, I don't want
to get involved in any fights.

Oh, no, no, no,
ain't gonna be no trouble.

Just, uh... well,
you might change his luck.

Please, Miss Kitty.


all right, I'll go.

Thank you.

I'm calling you, mister.

I hope you've got a good hand
this time, young fella.

Will you stop
calling me "young fella"?

I mean,
my name is Andy!

Okay, nobody's
crowding you, Andy.

You are- now,
what do you got?

Five little beauties,
all hearts.

Andy, I'd like you
to meet Miss...

How could you have
five hearts?

They were dumped
right out of the deck, Andy.

Oh, sure.

And you dealt 'em, now,
didn't you? Hmm?

What do you mean by that?

Well, I ain't won
but two hands all evening.

Now, what do you think
I mean by that?

You're talking
awful loose, young fella.

That's the last time
you're calling me that...

Come on, now, Andy...
Get off of me, Ben!

I'm not armed, kid.


All right, now,
everybody stand back.

Just-just keep away from me.

You killed him, Andy.

You stay back, too, Ben.

You've done enough shooting-
you put that gun away.

Well, now,
he was cheating me, wasn't he?

No, he wasn't cheating you,
and he wasn't armed, neither.

What do I care?

You better care!

I've already killed
one man, Marshal.

Put that gun down, Andy.

Go on, put it down.


You pull that trigger,

I'm gonna put a bullet
in you on the way down.

Now, don't you move there.

You're scared, Andy.

No, not scared.

All right, then
go ahead and shoot.

Put it down.

Yes, sir?

Take him over and lock
him up. Oh, now, wait...

Take him. All right, start
walking, and walk straight.


you got to lock him up.

I told you to walk-
now, go on!

You see this, Kitty?

The dealer
wasn't armed, Matt.

He told Andy he wasn't.

That's murder, Ben. No,
he was calling him "kid"

and "young fella,"
and Andy hates that.

Well, he is a kid.

Spoiled rotten, too.

It's ma, I suppose.

Always making a
baby out of him,

got me doing it, too.

Guess I got to tell
her about this.

I don't know your ma, Ben,
but don't get her hopes up.

Andy is in bad trouble.

Ma's a strong-headed
woman, Marshal.

She can be
pretty fierce.

Well, Andy's
committed a murder,

and he's gonna
stand trial for it.

Maybe so-

but I don't envy you
none, not with Ma.

You don't know it,

but you got some
trouble coming, too.

Guess I better
get riding.

Here's your breakfast.

Oh, go away
and leave me alone.

Eh, the law says that
we owe you a breakfast,

so you're gonna get
it- here it is.

Coffee and bread?

Who made that law,

some carpetbagger?

What you need is
a good thrashing.

You gonna give it to me?

Well, I could,
and I would, too,

only we just don't thrash
our prisoners here.

Another law? Huh?

All right, yeah,
you're smart.

You go ahead,
there it is!

You can either eat
it or leave it be!

How was the prisoner
this morning?

Oh, he ain't
changed none.

That coffee and bread
I took in there for him,

he won't even touch it.

Well, he won't be
around long, Chester.

I'm writing
to Judge Blaine right now.

We're gonna get him a trial
as soon as possible.

Oh. Well, I just wish he'd done
his killing somewheres else.

I don't cotton to a body that
won't eat their breakfast.

You Marshal Dillon?

Yes, ma'am.

My name's Tennis,

How do you do?

This is Chester Goode.

I didn't come
here to jaw.

What's the, uh,
shotgun for, Mrs. Tennis?

It's to put people where the
cold weather won't bother 'em.

I sleep with
this shotgun, Marshal.

Carried it ever since I was 18.

But I didn't come here
to talk about that, either.

Came here to see
your son, huh?

Ben says he killed a man.

An unarmed man,
Mrs. Tennis.

You're holding him for murder.

That's right.
Gonna try him?

He'll be tried. Then hung, I suppose?

Well, that's up
to the judge.

Andy ain't got much of a case,
from what Ben tells me.

Well, he's young
- the judge might take that into consideration.

What's the judge to care?

'Tain't his son.

There's been one too many
killings in our family already.

They took my boys' father
and hung him,

just before Andy was born.

I worked the ranch
as best I could,

and I raised them two boys
all alone.

Nobody helps me at all.

What'd they hang
your husband for?

They said he killed a man.

Did he?

What difference
does it make?

Marshal, Andy ain't gonna hang.

I got my buggy outside.

He's leaving with me.

Mrs. Tennis... Either
one of you make a move,

and I'll blow the
marshal to heaven.

I ain't afraid of dying...

and I ain't afraid
of killing, neither.

Let me tell
you something.

Shut up.

You there.
Uh, me?

Go get Andy,
bring him in here.

Well, I...
You heard me!

Mr. Dillon?

Better do what
she says, Chester.


any tricks,
and I...

shoot the marshal.

Well, I wasn't
gonna do nothin'.

This isn't gonna do you
any good, Mrs. Tennis.

It's gonna keep Andy
from hanging.

I'll find him sooner or later.

You know that.

Andy ain't gonna run, Marshal.

He's gonna stay on the ranch,
right there in the house.

And anybody comes after him,
they're gonna have to fight me.

Fight you?

You think that's gonna
make a man out of him?

You think a hangman would?

Hello, Ma.
You young fool.

What'd you have to go
and kill a man for?

Now, Ma, you ain't heard my
side of it. I'll hear it later.

The buggy's outside-
go, get in it.

Sure, Ma.

Now, don't think
you're gonna shoot him

while we're driving
out of town, Marshal.

I don't shoot unarmed men,
Mrs. Tennis.

He's just

that's all.

People oughtn't
to get him riled.


He ain't no coward, Marshal.

What do you call
hiding behind a woman's skirts?

I'm his ma, ain't I?

What difference does that make?

You come meddling,
and I'll blow you into half.

You mind, now.

Now, that woman's a real
menace, Mr. Dillon.


Marshal, ain't that young
Andy Tennis driving that buggy?


He killed a man last
night, didn't he?


Then why ain't he locked up
in jail where he belongs?

You got a job, mister?

Certainly- I work
in the printing office.


Why? What about it?

Well, I thought maybe
you were after my job.

Now I don't have to worry.

You've got no call
to talk like that.

Oh, wait'll I tell
everybody about this.

You're going to be the
laughingstock of Dodge, Marshal.

I don't see you laughing.

Well, you just wait.

Oh, you don't have
to pay him no mind, Mr. Dillon.

You know, that's
a pretty good idea,

that old woman's keeping the
boy by her side like that,

but it's not gonna
work forever.

Wha-What do you mean? Well,
he's gonna get tired of that.

We'll ride out there
in about a week.

Right now, I'm gonna
get me some breakfast.

I don't see nobody,
thank Heaven.

She's probably inside.

Well, I wish I was
inside somewhere.

That old woman's waiting
with a shotgun.

She's got a bead on me
right in my belly.

I can feel it.

That's probably what
she'd aim for, all right.


What in world is she...?

Is that a grave?

Let's go see.

Mr. Dillon, she's got that
shotgun right there by her side.

Do you see that?

Let's get our hands up.

Make it look like
we're friendly, huh?

That just makes me
a bigger target is all.

What are you doin'
here, Marshal?

Maybe you better tell her

we ain't doin' nothin',
Mr. Dillon.

We just came to talk
to you, Mrs. Tennis.

I suppose you come
to talk about Andy.


You're too late,

He's dead.
This here's his grave.

I just buried him.

Buried him?

What happened,
Mrs. Tennis?

What difference it make?
He's dead.

How he died might
make a difference.

Why don't you leave me be,

You can't hang him now.

Go on back to Dodge.

I'm sorry,
Mrs. Tennis,

I know how you must feel.

but I've got to see
that body in there

before I can
make a report.

I'll kill anyone
that touches that grave.

Maybe you better just tell me
what happened.

All right, I'll tell ya.

Ben talked Andy into giving
himself up and standing trial.

And Andy was gonna do it. So?

I told you no son of mine's
ever gonna hang, Marshal.

You trying to tell me
you killed your own son?

Better than hangin', ain't it?

Where's Ben?

I run him off
right after.

And he ain't never comin' back,
not while I'm alive.

Mrs. Tennis...

I know.

You want to arrest me.

You just confessed to a murder.

Would they hang a woman,

No, I don't think so.

All right, you can arrest me.

But I ain't comin' to town
till tomorrow.


I got things
to do here.

And I'll come in by myself.

Either you trust me, Marshal,
or I won't come in at all.

All right, you come
in tomorrow.

Come on, Chester.

Mr. Dillon, that
woman's crazy.

You can't trust her.

She'll show up.

Well, I wouldn't
bet on it.

Oh, hello, Doc.


Golly, I never saw
anything like it.

Now what's the matter?

Well, you're the only man
in town that gets paid

whether you work
for it or not.

Now wait a minute now.

This is part
of my job, you know.

What's part of your job?

Well, what
I'm doing here.

Well, what are
you doing?

I'm thinking.

Well... Oh, well.

Well, be careful
about it.

Awful careful.

Yeah? Why?

Seems to sap your
strength somehow.

I don't know. Y-You
think too much, Matt,

if you're not careful,

you'll waste away.

And then you're liable

to come up to my office

Doc, let me tell
you something.

All right, what?

Look here.

By golly, Chester
told me about that,

and I didn't believe it.

Neither did Chester.

Hello, Mrs. Tennis.

What are you doing
here, Doc?

Well, Marshal and I're
just having

a little chat here this morning,

kinda killing time.

Gossipin', huh? Sittin' around telling lies

when you ought
to be working.

That's just like
you city folk.

Well, you gonna lock
me up, Marshal?

No, Mrs. Tennis,
I'm not.


I can't take you
to trial.

What are you talking about?

I wasn't thinking

too clearly out there yesterday.

I realized that later.

See, I have no witness.

Now, you say you killed Andy,
but I have to have somebody else

to testify to that.

I never heard no such things.

That's the way the law reads,

There ain't no witness.

There's Ben,
but you ran him off.

I don't know where

to look for him.

No, he said he was goin'
all the way out to California.

Well, then there's no case.

I'd just be wasting
the court's time.

Sure of this, Marshal?

I'd arrest you
otherwise, Mrs. Tennis.

There's no case-

not as long as Ben
is gone.

Ben's gone. I told you.

As long as he is, you're free.

Why didn't you tell me
this yesterday?

Just wasn't thinking
too clearly, I guess.

If you'd get out
and do a little work

instead of sitting around jawing

with Doc Adams, you might
get to thinkin' better.



That is absolutely
the worst bunch of nonsense

I've ever heard
what you told that woman.

It doesn't matter, Doc.

Not as long as
she believes it.

What do you mean?

She didn't kill anybody.

She didn't?

But I'm sure gonna
find out who did.

What are we doing here,
Mr. Dillon?

We'll tie up
the horses here.

Tennis ranch is only
about a mile over that way.

You mean we're
gonna walk?

As soon as it gets dark.

You really think
that woman was lying

about Ben leaving
the country.

You think that he's gonna come riding in?

I don't know, Chester,
but we'll soon find out.

Where are we gonna wait?

I guess the barn's as
good a place as any.

Doggone woman is
about as reliable

as the lead steer
in a stampede.

You've been awake
all night?

Yeah, for all
the good it did.

Well, maybe the old
woman wasn't lying.

Maybe Ben did run
off to California.

Yeah, well,
it could be.

I've been wrong before.

Yeah, I know.

Well, I mean, it don't,
it don't make no difference

who's right or wrong,
though, does it?

No, not as long
as we get our prisoner

and don't go back

We'll go back
half starved

if we stay out
here much longer.

You know I ain't ate
since yesterday noon.

Must be them.

You got a bandana
or something?

Oh, yeah.

Now, listen,
you get back here

and I'll be over here.

When I grab him,
you go for the horse.

Oh, yeah.

Good, Mr. Dillon.

Why, th... that ain't Ben.
That's Andy.


I thought he was dead.

She'd never kill
him, Chester.

That's what was wrong
with the whole story.

Well, then that's, that's
Ben's grave out there.

Andy must have
killed him.

Now listen to me.

I'm gonna let you go,
but one wrong noise out of you

and I'm gonna crack your skull,
you got that?

I didn't...!

I said quiet!

I couldn't do it.

Ben tried to take you back
to jail, didn't he?

And you shot him.
Oh, no.

Your ma wanted me to think
it was you in that grave

so's you'd be free.

She was willing to go to jail
so you could be free.

Will you
listen to me?

Ma killed Ben,
not me.

Why didn't you lock
her up anyway?

'Cause I didn't believe
her story.

Andy? Andy?!


It's her.

Andy, you
hear me?

All right, now answer.
Go on.

I hear ya.

What are you
doing in there?

I see you ride up.

Tell her to
come on in.

Come on in here, Ma.
Give me a hand.

Hello, Mrs. Tennis.

What'd you have
to ride in here for?

I ran out of food
and I got hungry.

Ma, they're gonna take me
to jail.

That's right,
Mrs. Tennis.

And I'm not gonna take him
into Dodge

where you can walk in
with a shotgun either.

Where you taking him?

There are a lot
of towns.

He can be tried

And hung.

I told you that's not
up to me, Mrs. Tennis.

He'll get a fair trial.

You taking him now?

I'm gonna leave Chester here
with you

so you can't
follow us.


can I talk to him a minute
before you take him?

Please, Marshal?

All right.

In there, Andy.

Wait a minute.

Chester, check that room.

Let's make sure there's
no way out of there.

Yes, sir.

No, there ain't no way
out of there.

There ain't even a window.

All right, I'll give you
a minute, Mrs. Tennis.

What a rotten,
no-good kid he is.

He was willing
to let his own ma

go to jail for him.


Where you gonna take him?

Oh, I don't know.

Abilene, Hayes.
There's a lot of places.

Look, you're gonna have to
stay here with her till evening.

Now keep that gun
on her if you have to.

Mr. Dillon, I-I guess
I didn't look too good.

I didn't...

He killed Ben, too.

You'd have found out.

I had to do it.

I couldn't see him hang.

Mr. Dillon, you... you
gonna put her in jail?

Yeah, this time, I'm
gonna put her in jail.