Bat is hired by John Conant to discover if his daughter's fiancée cheats at cards. Bat discovers the crooked card sharp is really a powerful cattle baron who plans to kill Bat before he can tell anyone else.
In August 1881 Bat is hired to come to Cheyenne, Wyoming by John Conant. Before entering the luxurious Cheyenne club, Bat stops Jim Pate from whipping a drunk homesteader and his men from shooting the man who has stopped Pate's rig. Conant meets Bat to tell him his daughter Sarah Lou is engaged to Steven Haley who is a relative newcomer. Rumors are afloat that Haley cheats at poker. If Bat verifies the story, Conant wants to get rid of Haley. When the couple enters the room, Bat says nothing. Afterwards when the two are alone Haley thanks Bat for not saying who he was but Bat only remembers him by the name Slick from two or three years earlier. Some of Pate's men attack Bat again in a saloon adding to the tension. That afternoon at the two o'clock card game Bat plays with Haley, Pate and others. Haley bets his homestead with Pate in a hand Pate wants to win but he "misreads" his cards. Later, Bat informs Conant the game is crooked but it is Pate not Haley who is crooked. Bat confronts... Written by
In derby hat, spinning that walking cane in hand, dapper in the finest tailor suit, a devil-may-care grin always, Gene Barry smoothly inhabited the traveling professional gambler, Bat Masterson (earning a rep for being a part of civilizing the rowdy town of Dodge City), hired by the rich owner of the prestigious Cheyenne Club, Mr. John Conant (William Tannen), to determine if his (possible) future son-in-law, Steven (Dean Harens; he plays off of Barry superbly) cheats at Poker. While Bat Masterson knows Steven's past, he is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, accepting Conant's paycheck, planning to find out just who is cheating. It turns out that a cattle baron, Jim Pate (Karl Swenson), notorious for sending hired thugs to mess around with the cattle and homesteads of "nesters" (those cattle farmers who homestead in one location, fencing the cows in instead of using open land). At the beginning we get a pretty good idea of the kind of crooked scoundrel Pate is when he begins to whip a nester whose property he damaged (the nester attempting to shoot him, with Bat interfering, the rescue stopping a killing and hanging). Bat uses his cane to push away the whip and to stop the nester's gun in the nick of time. That cane of Bat's is as much a character as the actors in this show! Anyway, Bat confronts Pate (Bat interfered with Pate's pulling from the bottom of a deck of cards he was dealing, causing him to lose lots of cash to Steven during a game of Poker) about his cheating, willing to make a deal if Pate rebuilds the nester's house and allow him to be released from jail, then Bat won't spread the word about his Poker-cheating ways. Pate, instead, decides he'll get his thugs to ambush Bat but Bat has a plan in store for Pate's goons. That confidence in his smarts and cleverness, Barry imbues his Bat with a "I'm the most intelligent man in the general vicinity" sensibility that can be damned charming because he's such a class act. I don't look at this as an authentic representation of the real Bat Masterson but Barry's own playful interpretation of him to a certain extent. I can't imagine Bat did those tricks with the cane, for instance; maybe, though, the bravado and the way Barry carries himself is true to the real person. To tell you the truth, I don't really care that much regarding how real this show is with Bat; Barry is an absolute blast to watch on screen. The show's plot is decent, but it is really how Bat steps in and dominates the environment, all the attention devoted to him. Louise Fletcher's second ever role (as Conant's daughter) and she so young and stunning!
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