LONG WAY TO OGDEN

 

 

 

Episode First Shown: February 22nd 1970

Winter is on the way and the ranchers are preparing to drive their cattle to Ogden and get them on the railroad to Chicago. Everyone is looking forward to drive and getting a good price for the herds, as the price of cattle is high. However, Emmet J Whitney, a meat packer from Chicago, has bought all the cattle cars and is only offering a paltry price for the beeves. He says he will lower his prices by a dollar a day to force the ranchers to accept his offer.

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting episode which is Ben centred but with nice inclusions of Hoss, Joe and Candy. The story revolves around Emmett Whitney, a devious meat packer who buys the cattle car
options between Ogden and Chicago, thus preventing Ben and the other ranchers from getting their stock to
Chicago. He offers to buy their cattle for an insulting $3 per head instead. (Walter Barnes is
thoroughly nasty as Whitney and gives a fine performance. He'll remind you of every corporate fat cat that you've ever come across!)

Ben however (hooray!!), outwits him as Whitney has forgotten to allow for feed supplies to get the cattle to
Ogden. Ben risks the Ponderosa by using it as security (yes, security LOL!)for bank money. He then travels to Ogden to pay the cattle feed merchants.

When Ben returns, Whitney realises that he cannot get the cattle to
Chicago without feed and offers to return some of the money that he fleeced from the smaller ranchers. In an unexpected piece of action Ben produces a confession from one of Whitney's gunmen (Spanier who had attempted to kill and rob Ben himself) to the implication of Whitney in the murder of a rancher. Roy Coffee carts Whitney off to jail and justice is done.

High points for me:
The opening and closing cattle drives - one of the central themes of Bonanza, a nice mixture of outdoor/indoor scenes, good camera work (clear close-ups and crowd scenes alike), good continuity and a good story. Kudos to Joel Murcott as the writer and Lewis Allen (a Bonanza pro) as the director.

Nice in-character performances from:
- Joe with his short temper on the drive and good humour elsewhere.
- Hoss with his quiet dependability.
- Candy's kindness in trying to help a desperate drunken small
rancher.
- Roy Coffee "just doin' ma job".
- Kathleen Freeman as a very rare woman rancher Ma Brinker, played
with confidence and wit.

A couple of observations: I can't imagine Hoss, Joe and Candy letting Ben ride alone to
Ogden when Whitney's gunmen were on the loose. Roy Coffee manages total crowd control by words alone and no deputies! Not realistic but I do like the avuncular Roy!

Overall a really satisfying episode with the usual excellent performances from the main stars and fine performances from the guest star and supporting cast.

Hilary

 

 

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