Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 5, Episode 20 - The Tragedian - full transcript

Matt and his friends try to come to the aid of a has-been actor caught cheating at cards.

Starring James
Arness as Matt Dillon.

Dillon, narrating: You
know, most of the cowboys,

gamblers, and
gunfighters lying here

were admired for
their fearlessness

and their bold, rash courage.

Like animals, they had no
forethought or fear of danger.

But there are
others... a rare few...

Who possess a quiet,
thoughtful kind of courage.

And if one of these has been
made weak by time and fate,

people may laugh at him,

mock him, make
his life a torment.

But when the time comes,

he'll show that courage,

even though he knows
it could cause his death

Matt Dillon, U.S. marshal.

Here's your dinner,
Brad. Come and get it.

What is it?

It's slumgullion.

You cook it?

Oh, no. No, of course not.

I sent over to Delmonico's and
had them make it up special for ya.

You're awful smart, ain't ya?

If I was real smart, I'd
just let you starve to death.

I'll put it right
here on the floor.

Ain't you got nothin' small
enough I can it in these bars?

Well, we did have, yeah, but
you busted your bowl, remember?

Well, open the door
so's I can get it in.

Yeah, well, there's a
fat chance I'll do that.

You can just eat it the
best way that you can.

You don't care how
you treat a man, do you?

A man that's wanted
for two murders?

No, I don't care
particularly how I treat you.

You and the marshal
believe everything written

on those "Wanted"
posters, don't ya?

Well, it's true. It's true, and
I'll tell you something else.

We'll pick up your brother Vince

just the first time he
shows his face around here.

Vince'll never let me hang.

What is he gonna do, break in
here and bust you out of jail, huh?

Vince is the fastest man
I ever seen with a gun.

As soon as he finds out I'm in jail,
he'll come gunning for your marshal,

and he'll kill him.


Your dinner's gettin' cold.

You're scared,
ain't ya, Chester?

Vince'll probably
kill you, too, Chester!

Too rich for my blood.

You looking for somebody?

No. No, just tryin' to keep from
gettin' shot in the back, Kitty.

Oh. Vince Kailer.


He's wanted just about as
much as Brad is, isn't he?

Three murders so far.

You know, Brad must
know where he is.

Can't you force him to talk?

Well, he says he'll
never stand trial, Kitty.

He says his brother Vince will get
him out before the trial takes place.

Well, he'll try. You
can count on that.

I know Vince is a pretty good
shot, but he's also a coward at heart.

You mean you really think he
might try to shoot you in the back?

It's possible.

Oh hello, Doc.

What'd you do,
lose all your money?

Well, I just quit.
The game's crooked.


Ben Stoddard thinks so, too,
and he's liable to call that fella on it.

Well, who's doin' the cheatin'?

The dude in the fancy clothes.
I think he's markin' the cards.

Who is he?

Some stage actor
from back east, he says.

I think he's mostly hot
air and bad whiskey.

All right, mister, this
has gone far enough.

I beg your pardon, my dear sir.

What did I tell ya? You'd
better get over there.

Don't you high-talk
me, you fancy dude.

You're winning too
all-fire regular to suit me.

What's goin' on around
here, Ben? What's the trouble?

Cheating, and he's doing it.

May I ask, sir, if you
represent the law here?

I do. Who are you?

I have the distinction of
being Mr. Edward Vanderman...

A name with which you
are no doubt familiar.

I'm not.

Is it possible, my dear sir,

that you're not a devotee of the
works of William Shakespeare?

Not particularly.

Well, I must inform you that
I am the Edward Vanderman

who has trod the boards
Io these many years

before all the crowned
heads of Europe.

26 weeks as Hamlet
at the Covent Garden,

19 weeks in the
magnificent role of Macbeth,

32 weeks as King Lear.

Never mind about all that.
Now, what about this card game?

Ridiculous accusation.
I had the impression

I was playing with gentlemen,

not carping, haggling
creatures such as these.

Let me have him, Marshal.

Let me take him out in
back for just five minutes.

Just a minute, Ben. How do
you know he was cheating?

I know! Look...

Nicked, clipped, cornered...
Every one of them.

And he's been workin'
them over for the last hour.

And his luck has been
gettin' better all the time.

Most of that money yours?

Yeah. His and mine.

All right, you two split it
up however you figure it.

Come on, you.

- I beg your pardon, my dear fellow...
- Outside.

All right, I'm goin' make
this short, Vanderman.

I don't like
cardsharps in Dodge.

Sir, I am not a cardsharp.

You're trying to tell me you
weren't marking that deck in there?

It was out of
desperation, Marshal.

That and the whiskey
on an empty stomach.

I'm destitute, penniless.

Dodge City's the
end of the line for me.

I haven't a cent left.

When did you eat last?

24 hours ago.


All right, I'll tell you
what I'm gonna do.

Now, you go on over to the
jail. It's right up the street there.

You'll find a man
named Chester in there.

And you tell him that I said to
give you some of that stew he made.

And you can sleep there tonight,

and I'll decide what to
do with you tomorrow.

Marshal, you have not only
earned my undying gratitude,

but I swear I will never crimp
another deck of cards as long as I live.

And furthermore, you
may call me Edward.

All right, Edward.

But you'd better save your gratitude
until I figure out what to do with you.


Hello, Joe.

Well, now. What are
you doing back here?

If you're hungry, why
don't you go out in front?

No, we didn't come
here to eat, Joe.

That's just as well. I can
hardly get breakfast out today.

Yeah. I understand your
man quit on you, huh?

You comin' to fill in, Marshal?

No. But I got somebody that can.

Oh, is that so?

- Who is he?
- Just a carrot.

His name's Edward Vanderman.

Vanderman. Let me see now.

Say, I recall... Vander...

Oh, he was cheatin' at a card
game in the Long Branch last night.

That's right.

And you want me to
give him a job here?

That's right.

Well, you're clean out
of your mind, Marshal.

Why, you should've run him
out of town, throwed him into jail.

Now, just wait a minute, Joe.

This man's not really a crook.

He's just had a few bad
breaks along the line.

Why don't you give him a chance?

How do I know he can cook?

He says he can. Why
don't you give him a chance?

What do you got to lose?

Hmm. Only my restaurant, maybe,

if he takes a notion to sell
it while my back is turned.

Well, I don't think you got
a thing to worry about, Joe.

I don't think nobody'd buy it
once they see your cockroaches.

I've got no more cockroaches
here than anybody else in Dodge!

Well, they're bigger.

That's 'cause the
food here's better.

All right, what do you say, Joe?

He's right outside.
Shall I call him in?

Well, my wife is out
front at the cash box.

Now, what will she
say if I hire some crook?

Oh, Joe, I tell ya.

I thought that you was
the boss of your family.

Well, I...

So you're findin'
jobs for cardsharps.

That's kind of a funny way
of enforcing the law, ain't it?

Joe, this man was broke and hungry
when he cheated in that card game.

Now, he hadn't even had
anything to eat for a couple of days.

You ever been broke and hungry?

All right, all
right. Call him in.

I'll get him.

Edward, come on in.

Edward, this is Joe Carpy.

This is, indeed, a
pleasure, Mr. Carpy.

It's $1.00 a day and found.

And you sleep on the
cot in the storeroom.

You, sir, are overwhelming
in your generosity.

You'd better start washin'
them dishes right there.

Very well.

Unaccustomed as I am

to exercising my unique
talents in the skullery,

I nonetheless approach the task

with a high heart
and doughty courage.

Where's the soap?

Does he always talk like that?

Most of the time.

You might even learn something.

Well, Edward.

Marshal, I want you to know

that behind this mask of
frivolity I'm eternally grateful.

Your trust is not misplaced.

I shall not disappoint you.


Come, come, my good man.
The soap. Where's the soap?

What's the matter? Don't you
think he's gonna go straight?

Oh, I'm not worried about him.

It's just that Vince Kailer
ain't showed up yet.

I know. As long as
he hasn't showed up,

let's worry about
him after he gets here.

Chester, take it
easy with that stove.


If you'd treat that stove a little
better, it'd probably work better.

Well, the durned old thing, I...

We... We need a stove is
what we need, Mr. Dillon.

All the durned old thing'll
do is just smoke all the time.

Sure ain't no fun to fix
anything on it, I can tell you that,

especially for somebody that don't
even appreciate it after you get it fixed.

What do you mean?

Well, I'm talking about
Brad Kailer in there.

Just been complainin'
and a-yellin'

about the food ever
since I locked him up.

Well, what's wrong with it?

Well, nothing. It's just...

Well, the main thing is he don't
like to eat it through the bars

Well, I can't say as
I blame him for that.

Well, he broke
his bowl, Mr. Dillon.

I... I can't get the pan inside.

I have to set it
down there, and...

Well, maybe you could come
in and unlock the door for me

and I can put it inside
and stop his yellin'.

Could you do that?

All right.

Got something
to eat here for ya.

Is that the same slop he's
been bringing me every night?

You can take it or leave it.

I'll take it.

Make you too happy
if I was to starve.

Just sit where you are there.

What's the matter, Marshal?

Have I got you worried?


Just to smell that
stuff makes me sick.

Tomorrow night
I'll fix you grits.

Tomorrow night,
Chester, I may not be here.

If you still think
your brother Vince

is going to break you
out of here, forget it.

More than likely, he ain't
within 500 miles of here.

Don't fool yourself.
He's just waitin' his time.

He's around.

And before we leave town,
Marshal, one of us is gonna get you.

Is that so?

You can bank on it.

He's just about the orneriest
human being that I ever seen.

Well, he's scared, Chester.

- Scared?
- Yep.

You mean you think that
Vince ain't gonna show up?

Oh, it's possible.

Well, I sure hope he don't.

If he's anything like
his brother Brad in there,

he'd probably shoot
you right in the back.

You know, them Kailer brothers,
they act and they talk tough,

but they're just about as big
a cowards as you ever seen.

Yeah, but that's the worst kind.


Hello, Joe.

Marshal, I ought to make
you pay for it yourself.

Pay for what?

That gol-dang cardsharp
that you talked me into hirin'.

Oh, when I catch up with him,
I'm goin' to bust him wide open.

I'll tear off his rotten head.

What's he done?

What did he... What did he do?

He got in there
while my wife was out

and robbed the
cash box, that's what.

Oh, Lord knows where he is now.
But you got to find him and quick.

All right, I know just
about where he is.

I wish I didn't.

I'll be back directly.

Wait a minute,
I'm goin' with you.

No. No, you stay here. Go
on back to your restaurant.

I'll be over there
in a few minutes.

Vanderman: Then the
justice, with fair round belly,

with good capon lined,

with eyes severe and
beard of formal cut,

full of wise saws and
modern instances.

Evenin', Matt.

I've been expecting you.

He's been havin' himself
a time in there, hasn't he?

Oh, he's been playing Prince
Charming for about an hour.


Vanderman: youthful
hose, well saved,

a world too wide
for his shrunk shank,

and his big manly voice,

Turning again
toward childish treble,

pipes and whistles in his sound.

Last scene of all,

that ends this strange
eventful history,

is second childishness
and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans
eyes, sans taste,

sans everything.

Well, he's making
friends, isn't he?

That bunch would drink with
a hangman if it was for free.

He's not that bad, Kitty,

but I'm afraid I'm gonna
have to take him in.

I wondered where
he got the money.

He stole it from Joe Carpy.

Oh, no. Not after you got
him the job and everything.


Well, I guess I
should've known better,

but I don't know, I just hate
to see a man down on his luck.

Yeah, I know. I'm
sure sorry about it.

I'm overcome by noble sentiment.

Indeed, I'm warmed
to the very core

by the genial glow
of enduring fellowship.

It is my honor and pleasure
to inform you gentlemen

that you are indeed
all princes of the blood,

each and every one of you.

Okay. I guess I
might as well get him.

A toast, gentlemen,
to the royal blood

of the House of John Barleycorn.

Well, I hate to interrupt
your party, Edward,

but I'd like to have
a word with you.

Ah, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Let's go.

One moment, Marshal. This
is a perfectly natural mistake,

which I can explain quite
easily if you'd only permit me to.

Yes, let's go.

Wait a minute, Marshal.

I feel it's the least I can do

to explain it to you
and the circumstances.

Now, please listen to me.

All right.

I'm listening. I don't know why.

Marshal, I accepted my
menial role this morning

with proper humility.

And throughout the long day,

I lay but diligently
and conscientiously,

and gratefully and humbly.

But as eventide drew nigh,

I chanced upon a bottle in
Master Carpy's cupboard.

Mm-hmm. And you
just had to have a drink.

I looked. I sniffed.

I tasted. I imbibed.

Morality and ethics
were flung to the winds.

As I told you, drink
is my weakness.

On an empty stomach, you said.

Yes, I neglected to add

that a precisely similar
effect occurs on a full stomach.

I'm sorry, Marshal.

So am I, Edward.

I was quite sincere this morning
when I said I would not fail your trust,

but... I did fail it, of course.

There's no excuse.

But you should see me
on the stage, Marshal.

I'm magnificent.

Let's go, Edward.

Especially in roles
that require me to die.

Did I ever mention
to you that I've died

all over the British Isles
and the continent of Europe

to the wildest acclaim?

I die, Horatio!

The potent poison
quite o'ercrows my spirit.

Come on, Edward...
Mr. Dillon! Mr. Dillon!

Mr. Dillon, I seen him just
a couple of minutes ago,

down at the stage
office. I seen him.

You saw who?

Vince. Vince Kailer.
It was him, all right.

You see, the stage
come in real late tonight.

And I just went down there,
just kind of curious-like,

and then I seen
him get off of it.

Where is he now?

Uh, well, I don't
know where he is now.

I come to get you right away
just as soon as I seen him.

You seem to have a problem,
Marshal. Can I be of any assistance?

Chester, would you take
him over and put him in jail?

And then you'd better lock up the
place and stay inside with a shotgun.

Well, all right.

Make sure you lock both
doors, back and front.

Where are you goin'?

I'm goin' to look for Kailer.

After you, my lad.

Doctor Adams.

Marshal Dillon.
You up a little late?

Well, you makin' the curfew
laws around here now, are ya?

Well, no. I just figured as
hard as you work all the time,

you ought to be
gettin' plenty of rest.

Hmm. I notice you're
getting yours, all right.

Can't you find any better
place to loaf around?

Well, I'm not loafin'.

Lookin' for business.


Kind of figured with
you and Vince Kailer

on the prowl for
each other tonight,

I might just as well sit
here 'til one of you need me.

I'm afraid you're
wastin' your time, Doc.

Is that so? Why?

Mr. Kailer and I can't
seem to find each other.

Well, he's in town.
Chester said he saw him.

Uh-huh. Well, I haven't.

As long as you're here,
you might as well come on in.

We'll get a cup of coffee.

That's a good idea.



Oh, I was at the back door.

Doc: Chester.

Did ya... Did ya see him?

Not a sign of him, Chester.

He hasn't showed
up around here, huh?

No. Not at all.

Did you get Edward
locked up all right?

Yes, sir. Sure did.

Now, how in thunder are you gonna
get any coffee out of an empty pot?

Why don't you just go
sit down somewheres?

I'll fix the coffee just
to ease your nerves.

Hey, Chester!


Marshal back yet?

What's the matter with him?

I don't know.

He's been yellin' like
that for the last half hour.

Says he wants to see you.

He wants to see me? What for?

Well, I don't know. He just...

You know, I don't
particularly much care.

But now, that Edward,
on the other hand,

he just hasn't said a word.

He sat in there and stared at
the floor and just ain't said nothin'.

You know, Mr. Dillon, I
think he feels pretty bad

about lettin' you down
the way that he did.

Yeah. Well, he should
have thought of that

before he stole that money.

Well, he feels
considerable bad about it.

He's goin' to feel
considerable worse about it

after he spends a couple
or three nights in that jail.

Well, you sure got a nice,
soft, warm heart, don't ya?

You mean I'm not
a sentimental fool.

I mean that you got
a cold, hard heart!

Don't be twistin'
my words around.

Brad: Chester!
Chester, come here!

You want me go hit him
with a stick or somethin'?

No, don't do that, Chester.

I'll go talk to him.
Keep that coffee going.

You wanted to see me?

Well, that sure is
the truth, Marshal.

If you got somethin'
to say, say it.

Well sure, Marshal.
I know you're busy.

I don't want to
keep you waiting.

What I was wonderin' was,
did you run into my brother?

You know, if I had, he'd
be right in that cell with you.

Or dead.

Maybe. Unless he
happened to kill you first.

Now, how would he do
that, shoot me in the back?

You callin' my brother a coward?

I'm callin' your
brother a coward.

And you're no better than he is.

Oh, sure. It's easy
for you to talk like that

with me locked up in here
and you standin' out there.

Oh, you're brave.

You had plenty of chances to
use your gun when I arrested you.

I didn't see you makin'
much of a play then.

Of course not, Marshal.
I didn't want to kill you,

not over a little
thing like that.

I was saving you...

Saving you for
somethin' special.

You're wastin' my time.

Marshal, he's got a gun!

Mr. Dillon?


Chester, get the keys!

What... What happened?

Take a look at him, Doc.

Let me have the keys.

He's dead.

Where'd he get the gun?

I don't know.

Dillon: How is he, Doc?

Marshal, his brother
came outside.

Threw the gun in
through the cell window.

Brad said he'd kill
me if I warned you.

That's why I was so scared.

But I'm not scared anymore.

His brother's waiting
with two horses.

The north end of River Bridge.

Edward, you saved my life.

I want to thank you for that.

You trusted me, Marshal.

Nobody else has for a long time.

It's funny, I...

I was never much good at living.

But on the stage,
I was always...

fairly good at dying.

My best scenes were...

You know, he was right, Doc.

He was pretty good at dyin'.