Bat agrees to escort a murder suspect to trial, but he escapes with the help of his girl friend. Bat decides to take the woman to Fort Smith to stand trial for jail-breaking with the hope that he might capture the suspect along the way.
In the summer of 1881 Bat arrives in Concho to pick up Luke Steiger to transport him in the "Tumbleweed Wagon" to Fort Smith to stand trial. He is alleged to have killed Bat's friend Sam Burrows. The sheriff is selling passes to see the renown Steiger plus a wedding is planned between Steiger and Julie Poe. As the ceremony starts Bat sees Steiger take a sleeve gun from the back of Julie's dress. He knocks it to the ground ending the ceremony and putting Julie in jail. Later she gives Steiger a special bullet to put in the cell lock. He fakes a suicide by hanging allowing her to call the Sheriff. The bullet blows up freeing Steiger but he is forced to leave Julie. He tells her to expect him at Ripple Creek. Bat is left with taking Julie to Fort Smith. On the way he decides to let her ride with him instead of inside the prison wagon. He learns more about her history and that she is a teacher. At Ripple Creek she asks Bat to let her take a bath to which he agrees. Steiger arrives to save... Written by
John Carradine's sheriff and Fay Spain's nude swim
Episode 23, "The Tumbleweed Wagon" presents Bat (Gene Barry) as a federal deputy, assigned to transport to trial Luke Steiger (Paul Lambert), a suspected thief and murderer, in a traveling tumbleweed wagon. The great John Carradine does well as Sheriff Vince Morgan, who also doubles as justice of the peace, informing Bat that his prisoner will put his town on the map by conducting a marriage ceremony in the jailhouse. Fay Spain plays Julie Poe, the willing bride-to-be, who doesn't believe the terrible things that her fiancée is accused of, and plots to aid his prison escape. An attempt to successfully slip her a pistol during the ceremony is foiled by the sharp-eyed Bat, who lets the sheriff lock Julie up in the cell adjoining her would-be husband. She does help Steiger escape by inserting a loaded bullet into the lock of his cell, with the unwitting sheriff blowing the lock off himself. Bat has no choice but to bait a trap for his missing quarry, transporting Julie to a local judge in the wagon, until Steiger eventually makes his deadly presence known. An early TV role for Paul Lambert, a busy character actor whose TV credits include an appearance opposite Donald Pleasence in a 1963 episode of THE OUTER LIMITS ("The Man with the Power"), plus THE TWILIGHT ZONE ("King Nine Will Not Return"), and STAR TREK:THE NEXT GENERATION. His movie credits included roles in 1960's "Spartacus," and the 1967 "Planet of the Apes" (like John Carradine, he wound up in Al Adamson sleaze). Fay Spain began her career in Roger Corman's juvenile rock feature "Teenage Doll" in 1957, but roles petered out by the 1970s, her last major part coming in "The Godfather Part Two" (she died of cancer at age 49, in 1983). This 1959 TV episode features the attractive beauty taking a nude swim, which allows the gentlemanly Masterson to avert his eyes at the moment of truth, but no doubt opened the eyes of happy male viewers of the time. Still, it's dependable scene stealer John Carradine doing his usual work, charging money for people to see the prisoner in his cell, and still hopeful as Bat reassuringly informs him that the town might still be able to profit from the failed jailbreak (unfortunately, the story leaves him on the floor of his office, possibly dead, more likely unconscious).
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