The Rifleman: Season 1, Episode 22

The Boarding House (24 Feb. 1959)

TV Episode  -   -  Family | Western
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 35 users  
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Sid Fallon tries to blackmail former gambler Julia Andueza into allowing him to use her boarding house as a gambling hall and saloon.

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Title: The Boarding House (24 Feb 1959)

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Alan Baxter ...
Harlan Warde ...
Sarah Selby ...
Peggy Maley ...
Liz
Kay Cousins Johnson ...
Flo (as Kay Cousins)
Charles Fredericks ...
Steve (as Charlie Fredericks)
Bill Quinn ...
...
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Storyline

Julia Andueza has recently resettled in North Fork and has made quite an impression with her new boarding house and her great cooking. Lucas recognizes her however as a card cheat who 12 years before swindled a good friend of his out of his life savings. He confronts her and she claims to have turned over a new leaf and left her old life long ago. Lucas isn't sure he's prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt but when her old 'friends' show up in North Fork aiming to turn it into a gambling town, Julia shows her resolve and gains Lucas' support. Written by garykmcd

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Genres:

Family | Western

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Release Date:

24 February 1959 (USA)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Quotes

Barney: Now, these civic leaders have decided our town can get along without any female dealers.
Liz: Ha!
Barney: Oh, we don't mind gamblers, so long as they're wearin' long pants.
Liz: We didn't cause no trouble.
Barney: Maybe you didn't rightly cause it, ma'am, but it seemed to occur 'round your vacinity regardless.
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User Reviews

 
"I'll take Five-Letter Words Starting With W, Alex."
21 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Things have changed a lot in 55 years. The Hallmark Channel calls itself "The Heart of Television" and promotes "Frasier" for its implicit "family values". That show -- along with "Cheers" and (especially) "The Golden Girls" -- are lynchpins in Hallmark's programming. Each is persistently adult in tone and content, with many episodes needing a TV-14 rating -- though I can't remember any receiving higher than TV-PG. * In all three series non-marital sex is perfectly acceptable. (Adultery is not.) Frasier constantly complains that he isn't "getting any", while Blanche Devereaux (obviously named after Blanche DuBois) is (as Dorothy calls her) a slut.

MeTV promotes "The Rifleman" as a heartwarming program the whole family should watch. ** Yet it can be extremely violent -- on some occasions pointlessly so. The Wikipedia article gives an estimate that Lucas killed more than 110 people over five seasons. Had MAD spoofed the series, it's easy to imagine Mort Drucker rendering piles of bodies lying around North Fork, with toe tags reading "McCain", followed by the date of death.

I raise these points, not because I'm in favor of censorship (I'm not), but to emphasize how writers once had to tiptoe around "delicate" issues that now are discussed without a second thought, and pre-teens are exposed to (also without a second thought).

Sam Peckinpah -- who wrote and directed this episode -- wanted "The Rifleman" to be an "edgy" program, and this episode is definitely that. It's understandable that North Fork's citizens wouldn't want their town to become known as a fun place to gamble -- but why should they object to female dealers? Of course, it's not card dealing they're worried about, but the W word. (What do you think will be going on in the new "boarding house", anyway?) Yet prostitution isn't mentioned, or even hinted at.

The trademark Peckinpah violence is present, of course, with Lucas taking part in a particularly nasty knife fight where he's obliged to wield a meat cleaver in self-defense. It's startling, and for a second, one wonders whether the Good Guy will turn the Bad Guy into mincemeat. Have no fear, kiddies -- the fight ends when Lucas slams the cleaver into the wall, right next to the bad'un's head.

One has to wonder how such programming could be broadcast during a time when children were (presumably) watching. I have no doubt that present-day practices will seem equally hypocritical 50 years from now. Heck, they do /now/.

* The TV ratings system is so poorly applied -- with programs containing significant sex and violence receiving TV-PG and even TV-G ratings -- it should be looked into. But there's no agency -- Federal or private -- enforcing accurate ratings. Neither parents nor the networks care.

** In the pilot, when Johnny Crawford -- a little blond gerbil -- runs to Chuck Connors, and Connors picks him up and kisses him -- it is difficult not to burst into tears.


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