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In this episode Royal Dano delivers the absolute finest acting
performance I've ever seen in any movie or television show throughout
my 40+ years of watching both. His acting is not only heart wrenching
and raw but also believable. His body language steals the show as it is
even stronger than his superb dialogue delivery. He masterfully uses
every opportunity to play off of Mark and Lucas' movements and
expressions making his injuries, which are never seen by the viewer,
believable. Not enough accolades could ever be given to reflect upon
the quality of this fine performance. My biggest surprise is that Mr.
Dano only appeared in four episodes of the rifleman. Anyway, if you've
never seen this before, you are definitely in for a real treat.
In this sentimental Civil War story, a wounded confederate veteran,
Frank Blandon (Royal Dano,) arrives at the McCain ranch seeking water.
Lucas, having served in the Union army, feels remorse for the wounded
man and even gives him a job around the ranch doing some odd jobs. Mark
on the other hand is repulsed by Blandon's actions and even is
horrified by the wound he has received. Mark wants no where near the
It just so happens that General William Sheridan, from the Union army, is making an inspection tour in the area. His party rides near the McCain's ranch and Lucas invited them to stay for the evening. This however, is going to cause trouble for Blandon. With some Union officers right outside the barn, Blandon thinks about revenge for the wound that was inflicted and the pain suffered. But more will come out of this meeting when the General and Blandon have more in common that thought.
Royal Dano, who is a regular in western roles, does a nice job of making the story feel personal for the viewer. His acting only enhanced the episode and made for a much better watch. Even though the story had a rather 'fairy tale' ending, it still made for an entertaining show. There is much the viewer has to take for face value but the moral of the story comes though loud and clear. Another good show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is another superior Cyril Hume script, with his trademark
literate, rapid-fire dialog.
When a homeless man (Frank Blandon, played by Royal Dano) who hasn't had a bath in months shows up, Mark is repulsed, but gives him water. When Mark suggests he use the outdoor shower, the man suggests the boy is trying to insult him for his lack of cleanliness. Frank is similarly combative with Lucas, refusing to accept a few dollars' charity. Lucas hires him for $10 a month, and the man proves a hard worker, despite his handicap.
The handicap is an infected Civil War wound he's carried for over 15 years. It was not properly treated, and is not only a constant source of discomfort, but it smells. Mark (and to a lesser degree, Lucas) can't tolerate it. Mark even says "He's so ugly, I don't want to be around him." (This seems comic -- to me, anyhow -- as Royal Dano was a good-looking man.) In his anachronistic liberal fashion, Lucas suggests that their intolerance shows they have more problems than Frank does.
Another issue -- which isn't directly commented on by any of the characters -- is that Frank is at least marginally psychotic. Royal Dano gives a fine performance, striking the right balance between "cute"-crazy and threateningly loony (though leaning in the latter direction). For probably the first time in his life, Mark is faced with having to at least tolerate someone who isn't a danger, but isn't at all "likeable".
By great coincidence, General Sheridan and his entourage show up on some sort of inspection junket, and Sheridan sort-of remembers Lucas. Lucas is afraid Frank (a Rebel) is going to do something bad, which he does, pulling a Derringer on Sheridan. Sheridan defuses the situation in an intelligent and gracious fashion (which I found a little hard to believe), and no one is killed. The story ends with Frank hauled off for surgical treatment, which will presumably allow the wound to properly heal. It's not too icky (the ending, not the wound).
Definitely worth seeing, and more than once, as Hume's dialog flies by at near-optical velocity.
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