Cheyenne takes a stage to transfer an outlaw to the brig at Fort Bridger. One of the passengers shoots a Shoshone and the rest bury him. When they reach the Relay Station, they find plenty of surprises waiting besides the angry Indians.
Cheyenne is assigned the job of transferring outlaw Johnny Eldorado to Fort Bridger for trial. He killed a man while stealing and hiding $10,000 which he refuses to give up for leniency. Because the Shoshone Powder Face is on the warpath in the area the Sheriff suggests Cheyenne take him by stage to have better protection to which Cheyenne agrees. There are four other passengers on the stage including two women, a man and a Russian tourist Count Nicholas Potosi who says he is a brave Cossack who can take on anyone. The passengers are given the option to wait for a later stage but none do so. The Count feels he is being derided so he decides to ride on the top of the stage. When he sees a friendly Shoshone brave, he decides to shoot him as they pass. Cheyenne and the others are furious as they bury him. They drive fast as possible to the relay station but Powder Face and his braves trap them with the station manager, his reluctant wife and her Indian friend who came to visit her. The ... Written by
Indians lay siege to relay station in exciting Cheyenne episode
"Massacre at Gunsight Pass" (1961), a Season Five episode of the Warner Bros. western series, "Cheyenne," is packed with drama and action as Cheyenne Bodie (Clint Walker) and a group of stage passengers hole up at a stage relay station after one of the passengers has shot and killed a random Shoshone, arousing the ire of angry warrior Powder Face (X Brands) and his band. With only the guns they have in their possession, half a bucket of water, and a day's supply of food, the eleven occupants of the station have to keep the Indians at bay while also engaging in considerable squabbles among themselves. Cheyenne's prisoner, Johnny Eldorado (Sherwood Price), convicted of robbery and murder, has two confederates among the passengers posing as a married couple, but their efforts to free him and get the money he's hidden are delayed by the Indian attack. The station master (Robert Foulk) is a mean, bigoted drunk who routinely smacks his beautiful young wife (Kathie Browne) around, especially after an Indian friend of hers (Paul Mantee) returns from a white man's school and comes to see her, getting trapped there with the others when the shooting starts. One of the women on the stage is a spinster who has come out west as a self-styled do-gooder to help civilize the Indians. The most colorful character in the bunch is a battle-hungry Russian count (Jack Elam), a proud Cossack, who fired the shot that killed the Indian, thinking he was a threat. He may be the best fighter in the group (after Cheyenne, of course), but he's despised for provoking the trouble and getting them all in this mess. The Indians bide their time and pick off the station occupants one at a time until Cheyenne finds a way to resolve the whole mess.
It's quite exciting and suspenseful and the characters are interesting enough to keep the talk scenes between Indian attacks from dragging the narrative down too much. I liked the way Cheyenne's relationship with his prisoner grows deeper during the siege as Johnny comes to respect him ("I like Bodie's cut") and realize that his confederates are only interested in learning the location of the stolen money. Elam, as the Russian braggart who claims to be a captain of the Czar's army, gives quite a lively performance and plays it with enough inflection and style to cover up the occasional trailing off of his Russian accent. I was especially impressed with Kathie Browne as the gorgeous young blonde who married the abusive station master as part of a deal to keep her father out of jail and is now forced to live up to her part of the bargain even though she really loves Jimmy, the college-educated Indian. Even the scenes with the spinster who, upon facing death, laments the fact that she's never been kissed, offer an unusual layer of self-reflection as the character (played by Dee Carroll) finds reserves of strength and courage she didn't know she had, playing a crucial role in the action and earning a kiss from Cheyenne in the process.
There are slight similarities between this episode and Quentin Tarantino's latest film, THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015), which also has a cabin full of stage passengers whose numbers include a bounty hunter transporting a prisoner and the prisoner's confederates hidden among the passengers. As such, it's worthy viewing for Tarantino fans eager to see THE HATEFUL EIGHT's varied antecedents, although the 1960 "Rebel" episode, "Fair Game," which I've also reviewed here, is much, much closer to Tarantino's film. In any event, Tarantino aside, fans of classic TV westerns have much to savor in this episode, which aired on the Encore Western Channel on January 19, 2016.
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