Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 7, Episode 22 - The Gallows - full transcript

Footloose but honest Pruit Dover saves Matt's life while being returned to Dodge to stand trial for killing a man during a drunken argument. Matt's faith in the law and even his devotion to duty are severely shaken when vindictive Judge Henry disregards the lack of credible witnesses or hard evidence against Dover and sentences him to hang.

Starring James
Arness as Matt Dillon.

You Ax Parsons?

What do you want?

Well, don't you recognize
your own wagon?

Jim Barker hired me in Santa Fe.

Yeah, Jim is my
agent in Santa Fe.

He'd better be.

Hired me to drive
this wagon to Dodge,

said you'd pay me
on arrival... $100.

Well, that's a lot of money.

I got a note from
him right here.

Well, now...

Old Jim, now, he shouldn't have
promised you that much money.

Well, he did.

And I'm here.

And I want my money.

Well, the wagon
ain't unloaded yet.

Well, now, looky here, mister,
I'm a cowboy, not a freighter.

I only took this job
'cause I was broke.

Now, I drove your blasted
wagon to Dodge and that's enough.

Yeah, well, you
must be a cowboy,

'cause anybody knows a
driver unloads his own wagon.

Hey, wait a minute!

Look, you just, you just
take that around in the back.

That's where I store the stuff.

Pretty hard work for a
fella your age, ain't it?

I take my time.

For Ax Parsons?


Here, let me help you
with that saw, huh?

All right.

Here, I'll get
that load of wood.

I'll carry one in
for you, come on.

Wait a minute.

Thank you kindly, mister.


What are you doing?

Just helping out
that poor old bum

you got working
for you, that's all.


Yeah, he's a bum.

And a drunk, to boot.

I guess you figure I'm
not much better, huh?

I ain't arguing with you.

I just want my money;
your wagon's unloaded.

Have a drink.

I don't need no drink,
I need my money.

Man don't drink, well...

nothing in life's
worth anything.

Well, there's something
in life for me, and it's $100.

Now, come on,
Parsons, quit stalling!

I'm not stalling.

I just don't have
the money, that's all.

You listen to me, Parsons.

I didn't drive that wagonload of
goods all the way from Santa Fe

just for the scenery!

I did it for $100, and
I'm gonna get it from you

if I have to kill you for it!

You're not gonna kill anybody!



Pruit Dover.

All right, Pruit Dover,

don't you threaten me,
because I don't like it.

All I'm saying is the truth.

I-I finish.

Can I have the drink now?

All right, you'll
get your money.

First, I got to sell some of
that stuff you brought in today.

If it ain't one thing
with you, it's another.

You come back about
8:00, 9:00 tonight.

I promise you, you'll
have your money.

All right, Parsons.

But you better have that money,

or I'll take you and
this whole place apart.

Can I have the drink now?

All right.

All right, all right, all right!

I never saw such
a hog in my life.

Don't forget what
I said, Parsons!

So that's your pay, huh?

A long pull on the jug?

It keeps me going.

For awhile, anyway.

You really gonna
kill him, Mr. Dover?

Well, if he don't pay me
off, I'll sure be of a mind to.

You know why he wants
you back this evening?

Well, to give me
my money, I reckon.

He drinks heavy in the evening.

He likes somebody
to drink with him.

I used to, but he got
tired of having me around.

I guess I ain't
very entertaining.

Well, he sure better have
more than entertainment in mind

when I come back.

Oh, he'll pay you, all right.

But later, after you
been drinking with him

for a few hours.

I'll smash his ugly head in.

I ain't sure he'd really care.

He's a sad man.

He's a powerful sad man.

Poor old Ax Parsons.

He got a heavy heart, all right.

Poor fella. Poor fella.

Yeah, when I was
young, I had money and...

nice house and pretty wife.

Had all those things.

What ever happened
to your pretty wife?

She left me.

She went up north.

Can't say as I blame her.

What would a pretty woman
want with a filthy old hog like you?

Well, that is insulting!

I don't like you
to talk like that.

Oh, put that thing
away, will you?!

Well, you talk like that, and
I'm gonna open you up wide.

Shut your mouth!


Have a, have a drink.

I don't want any more of that.

I don't know how you got
me started in the first place!

Now, I came here for my money,
and I've waited long enough!

Now, give it to me!

J-Just sit down for a
few minutes, will you?

I get lonesome here.

Well, it's easy to see why!

Well, stay just a half an hour.

Half an hour, I'll
give you your money.

But sit down, Dover.

Have another drink, please.

Please sit down for
a little while, Dover.

Go ahead. Go ahead.

It's good whiskey.


Life is a mean thing.

Terrible, awful, mean thing.

You make me sick.

Got no woman, no house.

Lonesome old man.

Well, I'm a broke young man.

Parsons... please
give me my money.

Don't... don't talk
to me anymore.

Just give me my money.

Got no money.

You what?

Didn't sell anything.

I got no money.

Why, you dirty old goat.

You been leading me on.

I warned you, Parsons.

I warned you good.

You thief!

You liar!


Hey, Parsons.



Come on, hey, wake up.

I killed him.



- Hello, Doc.
- Howdy, Doc.

How are you?

Sit down.

Thank you.

Could I have some
coffee over here, Chester?

Yeah, sure.

Just sit there and make
yourself nice and comfortable.

I'll bring it right over to you.

Thank you. That'd
be very kind of you.

Well, it ain't that
it's so kind of me,

but after you get used to doing
a thing one way all the time,

it's awful hard to change.

It gets to be a habit, you know.

Well, I don't care
much what it is,

long as I get waited on
in the customary fashion.

You ain't got no
shame at all, have you?

Absolutely shameless.

You looking for
Pruit Dover, huh?

Yeah. I'm not having
much luck either, Doc.

I guess he's not
wanted anywhere.

Well, maybe Louie Pheeters
just dreamed the whole thing.

Yeah, it's possible,
the way he drinks.

Got to remember though, knowing
something nobody else knows

makes Louie an awful big man.


Except, I'll tell you
something, Doc,

I think he's telling the truth.

- Hello, Doc.
- Hello, Milt.

Hi, Chester.

Got a telegram for you, Marshal.

Thought I'd better get it
over here to you myself.

Thanks, Milt.

Kind of interesting, ain't it?

Well, say, now,
that is interesting.

What is it?

It's from the sheriff
up in Elkader.

He's got word I'm
looking for Pruit Dover,

and, by golly, he's
found him right up there.

He's holding him in jail.

All right, tell you what, Milt.

If you'll send him a
telegram... Signed by me...

And tell him I'm on my
way to pick up the prisoner.

Sure thing, Marshal. Sure thing.

Well, Marshal, he's all yours.

Well, thank you for
finding him, Sheriff.

There was nothing to it.

Wasn't even trying to hide.

I didn't think
anybody had seen me.

You should've gone
out the back door.

Well, I'll remember
that next time, Marshal.

Some joker, ain't he?

Pruit, I got to hand it to you.

For a man with a rope around
his neck, you show spirit.

Sheriff, you got the
key to those handcuffs?

Oh, sure. I plumb forgot. Here.

But, uh, I'd leave them on
until you got him to Dodge.

How about that?
You gonna run away?

All the way to Mexico if I
get the chance, Marshal.

What'd I tell you?

Turn around.

What are you doing, Marshal?

Two days in the saddle with
your hands tied behind your back

makes a pretty rough
ride out of it, Sheriff.

Well, he's just a murderer.

I'll get him there.

Thanks a lot.

Let's go.

I guess you know
what you're doing.

Have a good trip.

So long, Pruit.

See you around, Sheriff.


Meat's about ready, Marshal.


Nothing like a day in the
saddle to give a man an appetite.

You a cowboy, are you, Pruit?

Always was.

Till I drove that fool
wagon from Santa Fe.


You claim you never got
your hundred dollars, huh?

I didn't kill Parsons 'cause
he paid me off, that's for sure.

You figure a hundred dollars is
a reason to kill a man, do you?

I guess it ain't, Marshal.

Truth is, I was so danged
drunk, I hardly remember any of it.

I remember the lamp being
smashed, and that's about all.

Near as I can figure it, you
took his knife away from him

in the dark and
stabbed him with it.

Kind of looks
that way, don't it?

Did you ever kill a man before?

Not like that, Marshal.

I mean, I ain't
that kind of a killer.

Least, I never was.

Where you from?

They tell me I was born in
the Sweetwater Mountains...

Southern Arizona, down
near the Mexican border.

But you don't know?

Never did see my pa.

My ma died when I was two.

I was raised by a bear hunter.

But he run me off when I was 12.

You ever do much gambling?

With my luck?

I'm a sorry gambler, Marshal.

Sure wish we had a coffee pot.

Well, we ought to be
in Dodge tomorrow.

Better get yourself some rest.

We'll be leaving first
thing in the morning.

You gonna sleep
there? Like that?

I'm gonna rest.

I don't sleep much when
I'm out here like this.

You ain't gonna tie
me up for the night?

I wouldn't rest any
easier if you're tied up.

You done a lot
of this, ain't you?

I mean, bringing men in.

I done my share.

You always get back
with them, do you?

Well, I'll tell you, Pruit,
I can close my eyes,

but I can't close my ears.

You better just hope some animal
doesn't run in between us here.

When I come up, I
come up shooting.

Well, one thing
about being a prisoner,

I can sleep as hard as I want.


Yeah, that's your
privilege, all right.

Course, you get to
snoring and wake me up,

things might go different.

I'll remember that.

- Morning.
- Morning.

I slept hard, after all.



Yeah, I had the coffee
in my saddlebags.

I found this can
down by the stream.

- Ah.
- Here.

That's the best
coffee I ever tasted.

Well, guess I'll go and wash up.

Good idea.

Wish I had a hook and some line;

we could have some
fish for breakfast.

Oh, yeah.

Course, we could build a cabin
and stay here all summer, too.

Well, it don't hurt
a traveling man

to eat once in awhile, Marshal.

We'll eat.

We'll eat while we're riding.

Oh, I'll bet you brought
some jerky along, huh?

You win.

That's the only kind
of bet I ever win.

Drop that gun belt!

You do what I say, or
I'll blow you wide open!

How come you're
not wearing a gun?

I'm a prisoner.

Oh, I... I see it now.

You're some kind of a lawman.

What's going on around here?

What do you want?

I don't want nobody
messing around here...

Building fires and
polluting the water.

What are you talking about?

We're not doing any harm here.

Your being here's enough!

You own this land?

I've got the gun.

And I'm gonna use it.

But not for you.

You ain't here on
your own accord,

so you can saddle up and leave.

And take his horse with you.

I don't want it around!

You're not just
gonna... Get out of here!

And don't come back.

Not ever.


If you're wondering whether
I'm gonna use this on you, I am.

That bullet didn't get
through your shoulder.

Where's our friend?

It's his blood I just
washed off this knife.

You killed him?

I was lucky.

That man was half animal.


He was crazy.

He'd been living out
on this prairie too long.

Most of his life, I reckon.

Pruit... you saved my life.

I thank you.

You ought to keep
me around, Marshal.

I might make a good lawman.

Good doctor, too.

Anyway, I'm sure gonna try.

Did you ever take a
bullet out of a man?

No, had them dug
out of me though.

Kind of remember what it
was like and how it was done.

So, uh, I'll go as
easy on you as I can.

Once you start, just...

keep digging
till you get it out.

Pruit, tell me something.

Why you doing this?

You got a bullet
in your shoulder.

Somebody got to get it out.

You took a big chance
jumping that man like that.

You could've ridden off of
here and forgotten all about it.

You could've tied me
up for this ride, too.

I could've rode off, all right,

but I'd have had a hard
time forgetting about it.

All right.

Well, if I start hollering,

just hit me with a piece
of wood or something.


Now, you had a good,
long, hard sleep, Marshal.

How you feeling?

Well... I think I'm
feeling all right.

I thought you'd left.

This rabbit didn't just walk
in here and hop onto this spit.


You went hunting.

Beats jerky.


Yeah, it sure does.

You hungry?


I think right now I could...

I could just about
eat a handful of grass.

Well, this ought to
be ready in a minute.

Say, I... I think
I got some salt

in one of my saddlebags here.

Meat without salt's like whiskey
without a drinking partner.

Must be pretty
handy with a six-gun

to go out and shoot
a rabbit like that.

I'm a better shot by
rights than I should be.

What do you mean?

Since it ain't my
profession, so to speak.

There we are.

Oh, forgot to make gravy.

Doggone it, that's right.

You didn't make any
biscuits, either, huh?

Plumb slipped my mind.


Hey, you, uh, seem
to be doing pretty good

this morning, Marshal.

Yeah, I think I'm
gonna make it all right.

Make it where?

Back to Dodge.

I'd sure appreciate it

if you could get the
horses saddled, though.

Both horses, Marshal?

Yeah, both horses.

I didn't figure you'd
be up so soon.

I'd have ridden out
of here before this.

I'd have just had to
ride after you, Pruit.

Maybe I'd have stopped you.

How? Kill me in cold
blood, the way that old man...

All right, maybe
I wouldn't have!

But I'd have had a
two-day start, maybe more,

seeing as you
ain't in full strength!

Me and my dang luck!

Pruit, now, look, I
know how you feel,

and believe me,
I don't blame you.

If you wanted to ride
out of here right now

I don't know if I
could stop you.

Don't you know
that if you do that,

why, it's just a matter of time

till me or some other
lawman'll be out after you?

The only freedom you'd ever have

would be the freedom
to run and hide.

Now, that's no good; you
can do better than that.

Pruit, you've saved my life...

and don't think I'm
ever gonna forget that.

I'll tell you what
I'd like to do.

I'd like for you to ride
into Dodge with me,

and we'll go to
that trial together.

We'll get up in front
of Judge Brooking,

and I'll do everything
in the world I can

to get you out of this.

Now, believe me, Pruit.

I'll, uh...

get the horses saddled, Marshal.



Well, Pruit, it'll be
dinnertime before long.

I'll go down to Delmonico's
and get you something to eat.

- How about steak?
- Biscuits?

All the trimmings,
everything they got.

Well, if I knew you
gave this kind of service

I'd have come here before.

I'll, uh, see if I can
get some coffee going.

Well, we'll talk
about it tomorrow.

You better get back to work.

Well, I hope there's something
you can do about it, Miss Kitty.

I'll have to quit
otherwise; quit and starve.

What's the matter, you
having a little trouble

with the help, Kitty?


She's just tired of getting
her feet stomped on,

elbows jabbed into her ribs.

Last night she got
slugged with a bottle.

It was a mistake, of course.

Yeah, and when her
head stops aching

she'll take a brighter
view of things.

I hope so. She's a good girl.

How about a drink?

No, I don't think
so, Kitty. Thanks.

How's Pruit Dover?

Well, he's all right.

The trial's tomorrow, you know.

Judge Brooking
get into town yet?

Well, that's the
worst part of it, Kitty.

Judge Brooking is
sick back in Wichita,

and they sent somebody else.

- Who?
- Judge Henry.

Judge Henry?

Yeah, he used to be
the circuit judge here

about six years ago... he's
a real stickler for the law.

Oh. That's not too good, huh?

Well, let's just say that,
uh, he goes by the book

a lot more than
Brooking ever did.

He and I don't quite see
eye to eye sometimes.

He's been here all day,
and he's working on the case.

Well, I sure hope
it goes all right.


So do I.

All right, Mr. Pheeters,
you can sit down.

Thank you.

All right, Pruit
Dover, stand up.

All right, come forward.

Now, you claim you
never killed a man before?

No, sir, I said only
in self-defense.

Well, are you claiming
self-defense here?

I was drunk, Your Honor.

I'm... just not sure
how it did happen.

Well, being drunk is
no excuse in this court.

Sit down, Dover.

Well, I didn't claim
it as an excuse.

All right, sit down, Dover.

Marshal Dillon.

Marshal, you've heard
everything that's been said here.

Anything been left out?

The only thing that's
been left out, Your Honor,

is any proof that
Pruit Dover is guilty

of cold-blooded murder.

You have any
proof that he isn't?

Well, just that nobody
saw it, nobody at all.

Well, Louie Pheeters,
he just the same as saw it.

Louie Pheeters.

Your Honor, poor old Louie

has been known
to see a lot of things,

including snakes,
dragons and hellfire.

He's a pretty poor kind
of a witness, Your Honor.

And even Louie doesn't
claim to have seen any murder.

Well, I know what he
claimed; I heard his testimony.

Well, and you also
heard the testimony

about what kind of a worthless
human being Ax Parsons was.

Now, Marshal, Ax
Parsons is not on trial here.

Well, no, but the fact that
he was a worthless drunk

and he owed Pruit money
and that he was generally

an ill-tempered man, that's
got something to do with it.

No, it has nothing
to do with it, Marshal.


nobody knows what
happened in that storeroom.

I know... that Ax Parsons
was killed with his own knife.

Now, that's what happened.

Yes, but you don't know how.

Maybe he drew it on
Dover... It'd be just like him

and if he did, then Pruit
killed him in self-defense.

But Pruit won't
claim self-defense!

No, because he was drunk
and he doesn't remember.

And he's too honest to say yes
or no unless he did remember.

He was drunk and
Ax Parsons was drunk.

Well, Pruit Dover has
admitted killing before.

Yes, he admits killing before...

He said so, in self-defense,
didn't you hear him?!

Marshal, I'm gonna
have you up on contempt.

Now, this here's a court of law!

Then this court should
recognize that this whole case

is based on nothing but
circumstantial evidence,

and pretty flimsy at that.

Well, not to me, it isn't.

And I'm the judge here, not you!

Now, sit down, Marshal!

Now, Judge... I want
you to hear me out,

and I want you to listen
carefully to what I say.

Pruit Dover's not
the kind of man

who could kill anybody in
cold blood, drunk or sober.

Any man who'd offer
his life for another one

the way he did for me

is incapable of
killing intentionally,

any more than he could've
left me out on that prairie to die.

Now, I'm asking you to
temper justice with mercy.

You done real good, Marshal.

All right, I'm gonna
make this brief.

Now, I've heard the evidence
and I've heard the arguments,

and I've make up my mind.

Now, Pruit Dover, stand up.

Pruit Dover, you're accused
of the murder of Ax Parsons,

and I find you guilty.

Quiet. Quiet in the court!

Pruit Dover, I sentence you

to be hanged by
the neck until dead.


You know, it sure didn't come
as no surprise to me, Mr. Dillon.

I think Pruit would've
had a better chance

if he'd have had a,
well, a little better story,

but all he said was that
he guessed that he done it.

To me, that's just like saying

that he done it for sure.

Chester, would you
go get the horses?

We're just about ready to go.

Well, I sure don't envy you

having to take that
trip up to Hays City.


We'll camp here.

There's a stream over there...
You want to water the horses?


Kind of getting to be a habit,
us traveling together, ain't it?


Well, I... never cared
much for traveling alone.

Though I done
it most of my life.

How come you never
got married, Pruit?

Man like me, Marshal, I
never could settle down long.

I like drifting and
seeing new places

and meeting different
kinds of people.

Life's a lot of fun like that.


Well, I can't complain.

I've seen quite
a lot in my life.

It's like you said,

I guess your luck just
never ran too good, huh?

That's the dang truth.

Well, maybe a man's
luck can change.

I know, but, uh,
whoever's in charge

of changing mine must've
got awful busy someplace else.


Well, I'm getting kind of
tired, Pruit, I'm gonna turn in.

- See you in the morning.
- Good night, Marshal.


Morning, Marshal.


Have a good sleep?

Yeah, fine.

You, uh... slept pretty hard.

I told you I was
tired last night.

You're fooling, aint you?

I wasn't fooling.

You really meant it, huh?

Couldn't have
made it much plainer.

Why, Marshal?

Uh, you sure hung
on to me before.

I didn't figure things
would turn out this way.

I thought maybe they'd...

let you off with a couple
of years at the most.

Well... that's spilt
milk, Marshal.

You did everything you
could for me at the trial.

Uh... coffee's hot.

I'll... get the horse
saddled up for you.


Get on your horse and ride.

You'd lose your badge, Marshal.

They might even put you in jail.

I can't take you in.

Now, go on, I said.





Thought I'd never
catch up with you.

I changed my mind, Marshal.

I'm glad I caught up with you
before you got back to Dodge,

otherwise it would look
kind of funny, wouldn't it?

We don't have to say nothing
about what happened, do we?

What brought you back?

Well, I got to
thinking, and, uh,

I remember what you said before
about how one lawman or another

would catch up with
me someday, and...

well, just 'cause
you set me loose

don't mean I ain't been
tried and sentenced, Marshal.

I guess drifting just wouldn't
be the same for me anymore.

Uh, running and hiding
and running and hiding...

ain't no kind of
life for nobody.

You knew that when you
rode out of here this morning?

Well, yes, I did, but...

let's just say I thought
about it harder later on.

Pruit, you got
some other reason?

What other reason would I need?

You knew you could've
ridden out last night.

Well, yes, I did.

And when you left this morning

you knew you were gonna
catch up with, too, didn't you?

That's the truth, yeah.

Why, Pruit?

I've been talking about

what I've lost all
this time, and...

me saving your
life, well, that...

put me pretty heavy on
your conscience, and...

you were willing to ruin
your life to pay me back.

You let me go, Marshal.

Your debt's been paid.

Well, uh...

I guess we might as
well get on to Hays, huh?


- Sheriff Benson?
- He went to Salina.

Won't be back for ten days.

I'm the United States
Marshal from Dodge City.


I've been expecting you.

Benson said you'd be along.

So, this is the man
that's gonna swing, huh?

You Sheriff Benson's deputy?

Jud Gamer. At your
service, Marshal.

Have a drink?

I'd like to get
this man in a cell

and get him something to eat.

We've been in the
saddle a long time.

Well, I'll tell you, Marshal,

the hangman's been
here since yesterday.

Everything's all ready.

We should have him strung up

before breakfast tomorrow.

I said I'd like to get
him something to eat.

But I just told you,

why waste money feeding him?

He'll be dead in 12 hours.

Gamer, I don't like
anything about you,

particularly your mouth.

Now, suppose you
get me that cell key.

Make it quick.

Don't get mad; I
ain't done nothing'.

First cell on your right.

Well, uh, what can
I get you to eat?

Most anything.

All right, I'll scout around
and see what I can find.

All right. I would like
to get cleaned up a bit,

if I could, after the ride?

All right. All right,
I'll look around

and see if I can find a
barber and get him over here.

Thank you.

So, you're gonna get yourself
cleaned up for Mr. Peters.

He's our hangman.

And he doesn't like
to hang a dirty neck.


- Morning, Mr. Peters.
- Good morning.

Nice day for a
hanging, ain't it?

- You're Marshal Dillon?
- That's right.

Pruit, are you still sure
you don't want a preacher?

Preacher couldn't do
me no good now, Marshal.

Shall we proceed, gentlemen?

Might as well get it over with.

Have the prisoner
follow me, Marshal.

Uh, we, uh, better
tie up his hands.

I don't want my hands tied.

Now, what you want's
got nothing to do with it!

Now, come on,
you lousy murderer!

That was for both of us.

There's a lot of things
I'd like to say, Pruit.

It's all right, Marshal.

We both know what they are.

Well... so long.

So long, Pruit.


What's in your craw, Marshal?

You're the one that
brought him here!


I'm the one that brought him.