Walt Douglas stops at the ranch on the way to Laramie. He is looking for his run away daughter. Later, Jess tells Slim she is now a saloon girl. Slim decides to intervene but she is involved with nasty outlaws who want to rob.the stage.

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Dennis Holmes ...
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Walt Douglas
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Alicia Douglas / Leona
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Willard
Ron Hayes ...
Cass
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Walt Douglas is an executive of the stage line who comes to Laramie looking for his estranged daughter Alicia and stops off at Sherman Ranch and Relay Station to ask Slim Sherman, Daisy Cooper and Jess Harper if they've seen her. Slim and Daisy haven't but Jess has and only admits it to Slim after Walt leaves. Jess knows Alicia at Leora, a saloon hostess he's met in town. What neither of them knows is that Leora/Alicia is involved with Cass and Willard, a couple saddle tramps looking to steal the mining payroll that's coming in. Slim rides to Laramie hoping to convince Leora/Alicia to speak to her father and makes an enemy of Cass. All Leora/Alicia wants to do is shoot him and does. Walt Douglas won't press charges but Mort Cory will so Slim offers to keep Walt and Alicia out at the ranch until a hearing can be arranged. Cass and Willard decide that it would be easier to steal the payroll from the relay station and take Slim, Daisy, Alicia and Walt hostage until the stage come in the ... Written by DarSpi

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Western

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15 January 1963 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Father-daughter drama mixed with tense hostage situation in above-average episode
20 May 2016 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

The main plot line in "Protective Custody," the 15th episode in Season 4 of "Laramie," involves a father, Walt Douglas (David Brian), head of the stage line that employs Slim and Jess, trying to make amends with a daughter, Alicia (Anne Helm), who has run away from home, renamed herself Leona and become a "saloon girl" (a Hollywood western euphemism for prostitute), partly in anger at the father who divorced her mother and, she thinks, may have caused her death. This kind of family drama could really slow down a one-hour TV western (see "Wagon Train" for tons of examples), but it's handled very deftly here because it's incorporated into more traditional western action with outlaws taking over the stage relay station and holding Slim Sherman (John Smith) and Daisy Cooper (Spring Byington) hostage, along with Douglas, who has come to appeal to his daughter, who is being held by Slim in protective custody after she shot and wounded Douglas, to forgive him and come home. (Jess, played by Robert Fuller, is off on a hunting trip and is missing from the bulk of the episode.) One of the outlaws, Cass (Ron Hayes), is in a relationship with Alicia and has persuaded her to help him and Willard (Gregory Walcott) as they wait for a stage carrying the mining payroll, which they plan to rob. A dramatic question arises as to whether Willard will allow Cass to take Alicia along once they get the payroll.

The plot line owes a lot to Budd Boetticher's THE TALL T (1957), which was based on Elmore Leonard's short story, "The Captives," but there are enough variations to keep it interesting for fans of the earlier film. What I especially liked here was the role that Mrs. Cooper, the elderly widow who functions as housekeeper at the relay station, plays in the action, particularly in trying to break through Alicia's hard and bitter shell and convince her to accept her father's overtures. It is, so far, the largest part this character has had in a "Laramie" episode that I've seen and it's played with quiet but commanding strength by veteran character actress Byington, who was about 75 at the time. David Brian, who had once played power-hungry, well-dressed villains in Warner Bros. westerns in the 1950s (including the memorably named Austin McCool in SPRINGFIELD RIFLE opposite Gary Cooper), plays a sympathetic character here and gives the episode a solid emotional core. Gregory Walcott was an old hand at playing western scuzzballs and this is the second sleazy "Laramie" villain I've seen him play in ten days (thanks to the series reruns on Encore Western). Ron Hayes, as Cass, is the more ambivalent of the two outlaws and gives us hope that he might come to recognize Willard's looming treachery and turn on him. (Hayes played Lincoln Vail in the 1961-62 series, "Everglades.") In the end, the resolution comes a little too quickly and easily and I wish it could have been more intricate and drawn out, as in THE TALL T (which was 78 minutes to this program's 52 minutes), but it's still a compelling and consistently suspenseful episode.

The cinematographer on the color episodes of "Laramie" was Ray Rennahan, whose career dates back to such 3-strip Technicolor marvels of the 1930s and '40s as BECKY SHARP, WINGS OF THE MORNING, DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK, BLOOD AND SAND and BELLE STARR. His work on this series was exemplary and it's a joy to watch these color episodes in the sparkling new, restored prints that have been supplied to the Encore Western Channel.


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