The Rifleman: Season 3, Episode 22

Closer Than a Brother (21 Feb. 1961)

TV Episode  |   |  Family, Western
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 28 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 1 critic

When Micah's recurring nightmares drives him back to drunkenness, Lucas decides that the marshal must confront the source of those nightmares - a gunslinger he failed to face down sixteen years before.



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Title: Closer Than a Brother (21 Feb 1961)

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Episode cast overview:
Berry Kroeger ...
Ansel Bain
Kelly Thordsen ...
Arthur M. Truelove
Jack Wells ...
Mr. Carpenter


Marshal Micah Torrance has lost all confidence in his own abilities and is now convinced that any success he's had since he gave up drinking and became Marshal in North Fork is thanks to Lucas. He gives Lucas a hard time about it and soon starts hitting the bottle again. Lucas' attempts to convince him otherwise falls on deaf ears so when he hears that Micah's tormentor from years ago in in the area, he decides that the solution if for the Marshal to face his fears. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Family | Western




Release Date:

21 February 1961 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Joe Benson had two roles. Townsman of North Fork and bartender in Dillsville. See more »


Lucas McCain: I still want to be your friend.
Marshal Micah Torrance: Friend? Who wants friends? I don't need any friends.
[picks up a bottle of whiskey]
Marshal Micah Torrance: This-this is the best friend I got - rides the nightmares right off the range.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Chuck Connors breaks the 4th wall in the opening credits after he shoots his riffle and then stares into the camera. See more »

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User Reviews

28 April 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I take great pleasure in tearing bad TV shows to pieces. But there's even greater pleasure in praising the outstanding ones. And this episode is one of them. I haven't seen every "Rifleman" episode, but "Closer than a Brother" is one of the best, if not /the/ best. It is particularly remarkable when you consider the high percentage of truly awful "Rifleman" episodes.

One principle of screen writing is that your story should be the most-important story you can tell about your characters. Another principle is that you should put your characters through hell. This isn't difficult in a feature film, but it's uncommon in series television, if only because the program can't change much from week to week.

In "Closer than a Brother", the producers took a chance on telling an "extreme" story, and succeeded magnificently. It's notable that the story grows directly from the personalities and experiences of Lucas and Micah, which the audience is familiar with. It doesn't arrive out of left field.

When Micah learns that Ansel Bain (a man who'd publicly humiliated him) resides in a not-distant town, he starts drinking and resigns his position as marshal, condemning Lucas for always being there to back him up, making him look weak and ineffective.

While drinking, he sings the old rhyme "There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad she horrid" (pronouncing forehead "forrid"). This appears to be an apt editorial comment on the series itself.

Lucas realizes "tough love" is the only way to help Micah, and refuses help when Micah comes pleading. Lucas secretly visits Bain and encourages him to visit North Fork in the hope of further humiliating Micah -- knowing full well that Micah is likely to be killed in the encounter.

Bain (played by Berry Kroeger) is an extremely unattractive man who's nearly blind without his thick eyeglasses. The director cleverly keeps his face hidden until the final encounter. The positions the shock of seeing someone who resembles a malign slug at its most-effective point in the story.

Another remarkable thing about "Closer than a Brother" is the appearance of Rex Ingram as a black man offering his help in looking after the ranch while Lucas is away. The role could just as well have been assigned to a white actor. But it wasn't. In an era when black actors had few, if any, serious roles on TV, it appears "The Rifleman"'s producers were trying to include them. Nothing is said or even implied about "Thaddeus" being black. He's like any other character in the episode, and is accepted as if he were an ordinary human being. Which is the point, of course.

The script is by Cyril Hume, best-known for "Forbidden Planet". The dialog is economical, pointed, and intelligent.

Absolutely and unreservedly recommended. It's unfortunate "Closer Than a Brother" isn't currently available for viewing on

3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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