Branded: Season 2, Episode 18

This Stage of Fools (16 Jan. 1966)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Western
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 10 users  
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Jason get mixed up in the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination when he agrees to take a job to protect a man out for revenge against those who 'helped' his brother, John Wilkes Booth, kill the President of the United States.

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Title: This Stage of Fools (16 Jan 1966)

This Stage of Fools (16 Jan 1966) on IMDb 7.8/10

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Hannibal
Chris Alcaide ...
John F. Parker
...
Vinnie Stamp
Hagen Smith ...
Ginger
...
Donegan (as William Hickman)
William Harlow ...
Townsman
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Storyline

Jason get mixed up in the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination when he agrees to take a job to protect a man out for revenge against those who 'helped' his brother, John Wilkes Booth, kill the President of the United States.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Western

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Release Date:

16 January 1966 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is based on the movie Ship of Fools (1965). See more »

Quotes

Edwin Booth: John... F... Parker! You are John F. Parker, formally of the Washington Police Force. Who volunteered for White House duty in order to escape the draft. A lazy, insubordinate bully who through some devilish accident stood between Abraham Lincoln and eternity! That's right! If I had been there, he wouldn't have gotten there alive! Where were you? Where were you in that black hour? Out hoisting a tack of ale? That beer cost my brother his life... cost the President his life!
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User Reviews

 
Interesting episode on a long-ago Western
19 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The series BRANDED was the last television series that Chuck Connors starred in. Like his better remembered THE RIFLEMAN he was portraying a figure from the West. Unlike his earlier hero, Lucas McCord in BRANDED was facing a universal wave of dislike. Basically McCord is a clone of Major Marcus Reno of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Reno (to this day) is roundly condemned by many people as having been aware that Custer was trapped and not trying (or "trying harder") to get through the Indian forces that pinned him down (and his co-commander, Captain Frederick Benteen - who is not as widely condemned) and try to reach "Yellow Hair" and save him and the remnants of the 7th Cavalry. That the evidence shows Reno and Benteen were pinned down is usually overlooked. Instead the Major is a convenient whipping boy. His experiences that horrible day, and the subsequent blame he inherited, turned him into an alcoholic.

It's a little different for McCord. As the theme song of the show constantly reminded us, "All but one man died...there at Bitter Creek...and they say he ran away: Branded!" McCord looks to an angry public as a soldier who skedaddled. In actuality all he did was agree to take a final message from his commander, and nobody survived to back up his story. As simple as that.

The series lasted two years, which given the life expectancy of series on television (especially westerns) is damned good. It was gleefully spoofed in MAD MAGAZINE, wherein "Lucas McCordless" keeps getting knocked down and spat on every three or four panels by someone (including a newsboy) who lost a relative at this massacre.

The thing in the series was that McCord is aware that there may be proof that he was not a coward but doing his duty...but for reasons he can't find out nobody is willing to release it. So each episode he is trying to prove his innocence, and also runs across other people in the West...some of them famous. One episode had Pat O'Brien playing P. T. Barnum, trying to interest McCord in working in his circus. Another had Burgess Meredith as Horace Greeley. A third one had McCord doing a survey for Secretary of State Seward to prove Alaska was worth purchasing for $7.2 million dollars.

The current episode I recall because of my interest in the Lincoln Assassination. Martin Landau was the guest star in the episode - he played the great 19th Century thespian, Edwin Booth. The plot of the story was how Edwin is acting in a town that McCord is currently visiting, and is quite jittery when he meets people. This is understandable, for ever since that scamp brother of his pulled off that dumb prank at Ford's Theater most Americans (while not blaming Edwin or the others of his family for Wilkes' peccadilloes) still look at him somewhat fish-eyed.

As McCord is in a similar less-than-popular situation, he does gravitate into Edwin's social swirl. And then McCord discovers that Edwin is interested in another party in the town - one John F. Parker (Chris Alcaide). Who he? A rival theatrical talent? A writer of 19th Century mystery stories about a man named "Spencer"? No...not really. Mr. Parker was a policeman once. In fact, he worked on the police force of a large, important Eastern city. He remains famous to students of criminal history, but not for what he did - but for what he did not do! On April 14, 1865, Parker (whose record as a policeman was quite bad) was assigned to guard President and Mrs. Lincoln and their party at Ford's Theater. A man with a history of drinking and brawling (he'd eventually be kicked off the force for this) Parker spent part of the evening of April 14th at Tartival's saloon next to the theater, figuring that the President was safe enough. After the shooting he vanished, until the next morning when he showed up at headquarters with a derelict he arrested on a vagrancy charge! Incredibly he was on the Washington Police force for another year.

SPOILER COMING UP:

McCord is tipped off by Edwin's servant Hannibal (the always splendid Rex Ingram) that Edwin is planning to kill Parker. McCord confronts Edwin, who has the quivering (drunk?) Parker in front of his pistol if he wants to go down in history as the second Booth brother to be a murderer. He eventually talks Edwin out of it. The motive for Edwin's action: if Parker had done his job (if he hadn't decided to abandon Honest Abe for a libation or two or three) "Johnnie" (why not Wilkes - which is what his family called him) would not have shot Lincoln that night.

It was a well performed episode, but the story is of whole-cloth. Edwin Booth spent every day of his life after April 14, 1865 regretting his brother's criminal act, and proving to a very supportive nation he was not like Wilkes. He probably heard of Parker's dereliction of duty, and despised him for it, but he would hardly have gone out of his way to kill the idiot. His only action tied to the assassination in later years was to visit Atlanta to see a popular minister there who resembled Wilkes. He was impressed and spent a few hours talking to the Rev. Armstrong, but it was not Wilkes in hiding there.

As for Parker - after he was fired from the Washington Police Force, he drifted off into obscurity. Probably he drank himself to death...like Marcus Reno did for another tragedy.


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