The Rifleman: Season 1, Episode 33

The Money Gun (12 May 1959)

TV Episode  -   -  Family | Western
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 36 users  
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Lucas McCain is none too pleased to see that Tom King is in town. King is a former lawman who always took 'dead or alive' to mean dead and acted accordingly. This time around, he's in town ... See full summary »

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Title: The Money Gun (12 May 1959)

The Money Gun (12 May 1959) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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William Phipps ...
Harlan Warde ...
Jason Johnson ...
Earle Hodgins ...
Auctioneer
Frank Hagney ...
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Storyline

Lucas McCain is none too pleased to see that Tom King is in town. King is a former lawman who always took 'dead or alive' to mean dead and acted accordingly. This time around, he's in town as a contract killer however having been hired to kill Oat Jackford, a bully of a man who many in town would love to see dead. King has a reputation that sends chills down most men's spines but Jackford's approach to dealing with if nothing if not unorthodox. Written by garykmcd

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Genres:

Family | Western

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Release Date:

12 May 1959 (USA)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tom King calls Oat Jackford 'old man'. In real life John Dehner was four years older than Bert Freed. See more »

Goofs

Bystander at auction also played the bartender but with a mustache. See more »

Quotes

Tom King: If you're trying to tell me I've turned killer, you've said it before - and louder.
Lucas McCain: I'm trying to tell you you're a grave-robbin' child killer. You'd cut your own mother's throat!
Tom King: Don't forget I'm ugly and I smell bad.
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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

 
two -- yes, two -- unexpected endings
22 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The more episodes of "The Rifleman" I see, the more I believe it's one of the best Westerns, and even one of the most-interesting TV shows, ever. (Addendum: At least for the first season. Although all five seasons have outstanding episodes, their quality becomes increasingly erratic, with (on occasion) unbelievably stupid or drivelly insipid stories.)

In previous reviews I've described Lucas McCain as a man who gets his kicks out of using his tricked-out rifle, especially when it's time for "justice". (There is /some/ justification for this, especially the title sequence, which would have Sigmund Freud blushing.) But the series -- co-created by Sam Peckinpah, and with many early episodes written and/or directed by him -- is (like "Gunsmoke") not what you might expect. Lucas is a complex character -- judgmental, even biased against those he doesn't agree with; quick to anger; bluntly critical of people who won't do for themselves; "in love" with his son, whom he alternately hides the nastier parts of life from, while occasionally letting him make his own mistakes. It's easy to go between liking and hating Lucas in the same episode. This was virtually unheard-of 55 years ago.

Another strong point about "The Rifleman" is its "edginess" and moral complexity, as well as unpredictable endings. This episode -- directed and co-written by Sam Peckinpah -- is an example of all three. Oat Jackford (who first appeared in episode 1.2, there played by Harold J Stone) is a well-heeled rancher who usually gets what he wants. (He's so heavy and strong he can easily hold his own against Lucas in a fight.) No one likes him, and as the episode opens, he presses people for the money they owe. One of them decides to hire Tom King (John Dehner), a "bounty hunter" notorious for almost always killing those he's supposed to bring in "dead or alive". ("To the law, dead or alive means dead.") North Fork is torn between not wanting violence, while hoping King will kill Jackford. It's no surprise that the townsfolk refuse to help Micah chase King out of town.

How this plays out is what's called in writing class "surprising but logical". This is then topped by another "surprising but logical" event. (That's called "negating the negation".) Given the blandness and predictability of most series TV (especially of this era), "The Money Gun" is a remarkable and memorable episode.

It's definitely worth seeing, especially for aspiring screenwriters -- you /can/ tell a complex and compelling story in 25 minutes.


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