Wagon Train: Season 1, Episode 4

The Ruth Owens Story (9 Oct. 1957)

TV Episode  |   |  Western
8.1
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Ruth Owens remarries and is moving west with her new husband. When her brother comes looking for her, he stirs up trouble for her about her past and himself because he just killed a man.

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Title: The Ruth Owens Story (09 Oct 1957)

The Ruth Owens Story (09 Oct 1957) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Ruth Owens
Kent Smith ...
Prof. Paul Owens
...
Jimmy Drew
Russell Simpson ...
Mr. Carr
...
John Bixby
Ralph Moody ...
Uncle Foster Carr
...
Wagon Train Passenger
Ann Morrison ...
Wagon Train Passenger
Charles Seel ...
Wagon Train Passenger
Ross Elliott ...
Ralph Carr
Harry Tyler ...
Mr. Williams
Emerson Treacy ...
George Hankes
Terry Wilson ...
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Storyline

Jimmy Drew arrives at the train looking for his sister Ruth. He was told in St. Louis at a saloon that she was seen with the train after she left there. When he tells Lank Carr where she was from he tells Jimmy no woman with that background could be on the train. As the argument heats up, Lank pulls a knife and tries to stab Jimmy who shoots and kills him. Lank's blind uncle hears the confrontation. Jimmy is caught and saved from a lynching by the Major. Jimmy's sister Ruth who is remarried to a school teacher spots him and tells Jimmy that she did have a past she has tried to put behind her. Jimmy is so hurt he decides not to defend himself until his sister tells the truth at the trial. Jimmy then gives his defense and the uncle and brother confess about hearing the fight and hiding the knife. Ruth is relieved to learn her husband does not care about her background. Written by anonymous

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Western

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Release Date:

9 October 1957 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While riding on the wagon with Ruth, Major Adams declares, "The Bible says that each of us is born with guilt trailing us, and I believe that." Unless it was a general statement on original sin, Adams may specifically be referring to Isaiah 5:18, "Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope" (KJV). See more »

Quotes

Major Seth Adams: You can't make a man want to live that's already dead inside.
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User Reviews

 
All My Sins Remembered... And Forgiven
13 June 2015 | by (Omaha, Nebraska) – See all my reviews

Another strong entry in the annals of this iconic Western series, which even this early in its run was on a roll with outstanding guest stars and stories.

This story illustrates how one can run but can't hide from her past, how it must be confronted and resolution made. Ruth is a young widow with an eight-year-old daughter named Sarah. She has recently married Paul, a teacher who has welcomed both Ruth and Sarah into his heart. Together they're trekking west from St. Louis to Oregon.

But the past catches up to Ruth in an unexpected way. Her kid brother Jimmy appears unexpectedly looking for her. When Jimmy describes to Lank, a man of rough-hewn manners, Ruth and the wonderful palace in which she worked as a waitress, with its chandeliers and red velvet, Lank laughingly tells Jimmy his sister was no waitress, but a whore. Push comes to shove and suddenly Jimmy has gunned down the knife-wielding Lank.

Lank's hot-tempered brother Ralph is soon on the scene, and once their aging father learns of his son's death he demands an eye for an eye. In moments, the wagon train is galvanized and ready to hang hapless Jimmy. Only Major Adams' arrival saves the lad from a lynching. But for how long? A trial is scheduled for the next evening.

Family honor is a prevailing theme here, with Pa Carr believing his family has suffered dishonor at Jimmy's hand. Jimmy, who learns the sordid truth from his sister, is distraught over the shame Ruth has brought upon their family. Each believes death is the only solution, with a grieving Pa and Ralph Carr seeking blood vengeance, and disillusioned Jimmy convinced he has nothing left to live for and welcoming death. Into this delicate situation steps Major Adams, who dispenses sage-like counsel coupled with diplomacy, keeping the powder keg from exploding and ensuring justice is served.

When at the trial the mob rallies to string up Jimmy, Ruth delivers an impassioned speech, laying bare her past sins, all but asking he who is without sin to cast the first stone. And if her persuasive words didn't pacify the mob, a smoking gun emerges--the blood-stained knife with which Lank attacked Jimmy, hidden by a father who knew his son was guilty yet would stand by and allow an innocent man to hang. Justice is blind--literally!--as blind Uncle Foster Carr speaks up and testifies that he heard Lank vow to cut up Jimmy. Case closed. In time, when cooler heads prevail, Pa and Ralph will perhaps realize it was Uncle Foster who truly preserved the family honor by acting with integrity and keeping its hands free from innocent blood.

Ward Bond enjoys this story's spotlight, serving as a mediator between Jimmy and Ruth, and between Jimmy and the noose. Robert Horton as Flint barely appears in this episode, dispatched at the beginning to locate a creek where they hope to find water in the midst of the drought plaguing this wagon train's trek across the plains.

Drought, travel to a new land, and a widow named Ruth with a faithful, new husband may stir up memories of the biblical account of Ruth. The Bible is oft-quoted and frequently alluded to in this episode (though the Bard also gets his "pound of flesh"). Ruth Owen actually has more in common with Rahab, the harlot in Jericho who aided the Hebrew spies and was spared along with her family. Rahab found redemption, as does Ruth Owens. And like Ruth of the Bible who finds a redeemer in Boaz, Ruth Owen finds a redeemer in Paul, who loves her unconditionally and with no regard given to her past. Paul's welcoming Jimmy into the family fold at the conclusion of the episode was a testimony to love, forgiveness, and fresh starts.

Fans of the 1950 John Ford film WAGON MASTER, which inspired WAGON TRAIN, will enjoy seeing Ward Bond and Russell Simpson reunited. In the film, Simpson and Bond were Mormons, with the dour Simpson frequently chastising recent convert Bond for his profanity-enhanced outbursts. Here Simpson plays Pa Carr as a man devastated to lose his land and now a son. Simpson, who was 80 years old, had a sad, wide-eyed face that evokes pathos in an audience. Ross Elliott, a few years away from a recurring role as Sheriff Mark Abbott on THE VIRGINIAN, plays Ralph Carr as a man eager for the catharsis he believes will come by hanging Jimmy, even though he knew all along about the knife. Dean Stockwell shines brightly as Jimmy, bringing a lot of feeling to a role that required he run the gamut of emotions. Shelley Winters as Ruth Owens is good, though almost a secondary character, overshadowed by Bond and Stockwell. Kent Smith was perfectly cast as the level-headed and loving Professor Paul Owens.

"The Ruth Owens Story" is about redemption and reconciling with the past. I especially liked what Ruth said about how all of them on the wagon train were leaving something behind and looking ahead to a new start in the West. And I'm confident she found it.


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