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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Legendary western matinée idol George Montgomery guest stars in
"Jailbreak at Junction City." This second season episode of "Alias
Smith & Jones" lacks the twists and turns of better "Alias Smith &
Alias Smith & Jones are so broke when they ride into Big Bend that they cannot pay 60 cents to send a wire to Big Mac McCreedy. They amble over to Brock's Saloon and Heyes bets a barkeeper $10.00 that he can make an egg stand up on the bar counter. The barkeeper tries to do it but the egg rolls. Smith cups the egg in his palm, covered with salt and makes the egg stand up on the counter top. Meanwhile, the local lawman Sheriff Slocum (Kenneth Tobey of "The Thing From Another World") watches the wager go down. Smith & Jones get into a poker game, and one disgruntled cowboy, Barker (William Bryant of "McQ"), loses his shirt and accuses Jones of cheating. When he challenges Jones to slap leather, Jones clears his holster before the guy can get his gun out. Slocum has never seen anybody draw as swiftly as Jones. He makes them an offer. Outlaws have robbed the bank at Junction City of $62-thousand and he needs deputies for the town while his other deputies are out scouring the countryside. Heyes and Smith explain that they are awaiting a telegram from Big Mac Creedy about a job, too. They are obligated to Big Mac already and decline Slocum's offer. Our heroes send their telegram, but McCreedy has nothing for them. Director Jeffrey Hayden and the producers induced Burl Ives to voice over the letter as Smith reads it so that we hear McCreedy reading it. Ives' voice-over cameo is a neat touch.
Anyway, after they receive this unfortunate news, they are about to quit town when Slocum halts and asks them to reconsider his proposition. The boys are about to ride when Slocum offers them a $100 dollars a piece to escort two of the bank robbers to Junction City. Smith & Jones accept and wind up pinned to deputy badges. No sooner have they hit the trail with their prisoners than the other two gang members, Ribs Johnson (James Wainwright of "Joe Kidd') and Springer (Thomas Bellin of "The Young Country") try to waylay our heroes as they are sleeping around the campfire. No such luck. They catch Hannibal, but Kid Curry has everybody covered, so our heroes have now rounded up the entire gang. Things get even sweeter when Ribs proposes to bribe our heroes with a share of the stolen $62-thousand from the Junction City bank. Heyes and Curry refuse their offer because Ribs reveals that he shot the sheriff and Junction City has hired a new lawman, Curt Clitterhouse (George Montgmery of "Toughest Gun in Tombstone"), but Curt knows both Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes by sight. This complicates matters, until Curry suggests Heyes ride into Junction City and cut a deal with Clitterhouse. Heyes offers Clitterhouse the entire gang if he will let Curry and he go free. When Heyes and Curry hand over the four prisoners, Clitterhouse welshes on the deal. He doesn't keep his word to outlaws, he explains to Heyes and Curry, while Judge Handley (Jack Albertson) stands watching.
Heyes knows how treacherous Clitterhouse is so he devises a plan for Ribs and his gang to get out of jail. He suggests that Ribs strike a bargain with Clitterhouse to give the lawman the whereabouts of the stolen loot in return for letting them escape. Clitterhouse listens with interest, but he points out he will be blamed for their escape. Following Heyes' ingenious plan, Ribs tells Clitterhouse to conceal a derringer in a balloon and immerse the balloon in their soup. Later, after the evening's meal has been served and Clitterhouse has gone for the night, Ribs will brandish the gun on the deputy. Ribs and company break out and Smith & Jones accompany them no farther than the front of the building. The outlaws reach the stable and saddle up but alert townspeople recapture them. At the same time, Curt Clitterhouse digs up the loot, but he finds himself under arrest when he returns to town.
Judge Handley is a little bewildered by Smith & Jones and palavers with them in their jail cell. They admit to the judge that they are in fact Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. They explain they are attempting to go straight and they tipped off the judge about Clitterhouse and the jailbreak through their attorney Brubaker. The judge points out that they each have 20 year stretches in prison to serve and going straight isn't going to take a single day off their sentences. Handley tells them about an outlaw, Billy Brewster, who made a deal with the governor for amnesty, stayed out of trouble for a couple of years, and then received his amnesty. In a round-about way, our heroes confide in Handley that they have a similar 'secret' deal. Handley orders the prisoners brought to his court and he frees them on bail. He informs them that sometimes the people on bail never show up for trial. Our heroes hightail it.
"Junction City" isn't the best of the "Alias Smith & Jones" episodes. Once again, our heroes must display their upstanding moral character to get out of being extradited to serve 20 years in Wyoming. They agree to act as deputies to earn a paycheck and they eventually have to pull a scam on the bad guys so they can help catch another bad guy, the evil, greedy Sheriff Clitterhouse. This is one of those rare "Alias Smith & Jones" episodes without any women.
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