MY FRIEND, MY ENEMY

 

 

Episode First Shown: January 12th 1969

Candy gets arrested for murder and it’s down to the Cartwrights to save him. The only witness, however, is an Indian horse thief. The defence is to be handled by an unenthusiastic lawyer and the judge is fondly known as ‘The Hanging Judge’. Things don’t look good.

 

 

I thought that My Friend, My Enemy was a very fine episode, excellent performances by John Saxon as Jacova, Gregory Walcott as the sheriff and Chick Chandler as the judge. (And, it goes without saying that Lorne, Dan, Michael and David were also excellent!).

I thought that the pace of the story, the sets, the script and the direction were extremely good. There was a vitality to the pace of the story - without any "padding" or slowness - and I kept wanting to know "what
happened next". Also a nice contrast between an outdoor scene (e.g. Candy's fight at the lake), the hotel room or the street or the courtroom.

It was nice to have the real outdoors for the horse stealing/fight scene, a realistic main street and a convincing court room. I also thought that the actual positioning of the actors made for good interaction, whether a broad shot e.g. physical action in the hotel room, or subtle expressions between the Cartwrights e.g the last scene where Jacova says farewell. I must also compliment David Canary on some really good fighting action.

Today, we would have a Native American actor to play Jacova but John Saxon does give an extremely good performance. By today's understanding some of the treatment of a Paiute would seem somewhat facetious (the food jokes for example, or not expecting Jacova to speak English) but I thought that Bonanza was way ahead of its time for the late 1960s and, in terms of those times, made some very good points about the representation of Native Americans. Even today I found Jacova's knowing choice of buffalo hump or boiled dog from the hotel menu to be very funny indeed and his comments taken in with understanding by the Cartwrights. I like Hoss's tactful suggestion of venison to suit everyone.

In terms of Joe and Hoss there is that delightful interchange between Joe and Ben early on when Joe says he has an idea (how often had Ben heard that LOL!) but he needs his Pa to lend him $200. Joe takes the money as gingerly as he did in Bank Run before Ben can change his mind LOL! I like the way that Hoss is summing the situation up as he watches them and is mulling over why Joe wants a horse.

I liked the courtroom scene with the Cartwrights sitting supportively around Candy and I also think that, with the crooked defence lawyer, it was entirely credible that Ben would take on that role himself. Ben's knowledge of life, his fairness and his authoritative style were convincing.

I loved the judge's method of holding court - thumping out his orders of "stand up", "sit down" or "shut up" and his prudent use of a rifle to protect Jacova. Chick
Chandler mixed up authority and dry humour
very well.

I thought that a good way of showing Jacova's intelligence and astuteness in the court was shown in his appearance wearing a white man's hat and jacket to show some conformity with the culture that he found himself in. I was also intrigued as to why he was cleaning his nails with a small object - the kind of inclusion in a scene that held my interest - only to discover that this was the essential item of evidence (Quinn's gold toothpick) that had been left at the scene of Leggett's murder.

Also a nice ending when Jacova comes quietly up to the Cartwrights and Candy camping. An amusing, subtle interchange when Jacova tells Joe that he is a great thief and Joe says that he is a big one. Also everyone's amusement when Jacova actually does steal the horse at the end (would he? wouldn't he?) and they recognise that Jacova is an honest man in his own way.

I found this to be an immensely satisfying episode, a very unusual story, a less than perfect hero (Jacova) but a very convincing one and the warmth of the Cartwright family and almost-family Candy.

 

Hilary

 

 

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