Johnny Yuma returns home one year after the war's end to find a gang of thugs have extorted a local mine and murdered his father while his father's deputy and the rest of the town live in fear and despair.
Johnny Yuma, a former Confederate soldier, returns to his hometown in Texas two years after the end of the Civil War to discover that an outlaw gang led by a ruthless businessman has killed his father, the sheriff, and taken over the town and the nearby gold mine as well. Although urged by his aunt, his father's deputy and the town's newspaper editor to leave town, Johnny is determined to exact revenge on the men responsible for his father's death.Written by
The show begins with Johnny's papers being blown in the wind, Punch holes can be seen in his papers. Punch holes also obvious in "Yellow Hair" when Santanta's daughter picks up Johnny's papers. According to Jess and Ned's tombstone, Johnny returned home a few weeks after his father's death in 1867. The first hole puncher, invented by Frederich Soennecken, was patented Nov. 14, 1886, almost 20 years after Ned Yuma's death. See more »
[spottimg Johnny walking down street wearing his Confederate cap]
Hey, Dolph, lookee there! Some stray Reb come here to roost.
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"Johnny Yuma," as sung by Johnny Cash, kicks off the two year odyssey of the title character, a survivor of the Civil War, roaming the West (mainly Texas) and writing down his thoughts as he goes. Both creator and star, 28 year old Nick Adams played Johnny, who carries his father's double barrelled sawed off shotgun (he calls it a scattergun) and brazenly continues to sport his rebel cap long after the war between the states has ended. This first episode begins in 1867, with Johnny's long awaited return to his hometown of Mason City, Texas, where his father has been the local sheriff for the past 15 years. A rather discourteous welcome lies in store however, as three villains have taken over the town and forced Ned Yuma into a losing gun battle while Johnny's aunt (Jeanette Nolan) and uncle (Harry Bartell, first of three) watched helplessly. Strother Martin scores as cowardly deputy Jess, roused from an alcoholic slumber by Johnny, informing the lad what has happened in his absence, and accompanying him to his father's gravesite. The same year he started BONANZA, Dan Blocker is so good as head villain Pierce that audiences easily forget how imposing a bad guy he could be, but it's the young Richard Bakalyan as Bart Vogan who really starts to ruffle the feathers of the returning rebel, and winds up getting dunked in a horse trough for his trouble. Also present is the legendary John Carradine as Elmer Dodson, editor of the town newspaper, the Mason City Bulletin, who looked upon Johnny's father much as his own brother, ultimately the inspiration for young Johnny yearning to become a writer himself: "for everybody there's a time to decide, that's when the brave man chooses and the coward steps aside." By the time Elmer chooses to stay rather than flee, Johnny has already made his decision to fight back against the odds. Once the villains have been defeated, Elmer again offers words of comfort for the departing Yuma, setting the tone for the series: "you've got a lot to see. I think one day you'll have a lot to say, but you can't write it unless you've lived it. Maybe that was my mistake." A wonderful introduction for a fine TV Western, as ensuing episodes continued the high standards set by this initial entry (LAWMAN was another current Western kicked off by a strong cast). John Carradine's fine, understated performance would sadly see just one repeat appearance, in the second season episode "The Bequest." The director of the pilot, and indeed nearly half the 76 episodes, was Irvin Kershner, who would graduate from small screen to big, best remembered for the second Star Wars feature, "The Empire Strikes Back." Series creator Andrew J. Fenady scripted the opener, as he would on just three other occasions: "Yellow Hair," "Gold Seeker," and second season opener "Johnny Yuma at Appomattox." Other veterans of the series appearing include Ian MacDonald (later seen in "Angry Town"), James Chandler (first of five), Phillip Mansour (later seen in "Dark Secret"), and William Harlow (first of seven). Richard Bakalyan was the only cast member to repeat his role from this episode, in the second season entry "The Threat," before playing the title character in "The Calley Kid."
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