The High Chaparral

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Mano and Don Sebastian
"The Firing Wall"

Pedro disguised as an undertaker
"The Firing Wall"

Conchita and Mano
"The Firing Wall"

1.18  The Firing Wall    Bunkhouse Boys, Mano, Don Sebastian, Blue

Fernando Lamas guest-stars as a Mexican bandit turned revolutionary who captures and prepares to execute the Cannon Ranch hands to prove his power.  

Produced by William F. Claxton
Directed by William Witney
Story by Richard Sale and Thomas Thompson            
Teleplay by Thomas Thompson 
Originally Broadcast:  December 31, 1967

Story Line: Manolito is jailed by El Caudillo, the Mexican bandit, when Conchita lures the group across the border to Nogales. Billy Blue Cannon is allowed to escape, and he returns with El Caudillo's old enemy, Don Sebastian, and the entire group, except ranch hand Pedro, then is jailed. Hope for escape fades when El Caudillo prepares to shoot the group before frightened villagers to prove his power and to force them to join his revolution to conquer Mexico.
Guest Stars: 

Fernando Lamas 
as El Caudillo

Barbara Luna 
as Conchita

Pedro Gonzales 
as the bartender

Robert Carricart 
as the undertaker

Charles Horvath 
as Pedro's cousin

Rico Alaniz 
as El Gato

Character Highlights: Excellent episode for fans of the bunkhouse boys since they all play major roles in the story, with Pedro saving the day in the end. It is also a good demonstration of the bantering relationship between Mano and his father. Blue has a strong role as well, especially in his conversations with Don Sebastian. John, Buck, and Victoria are not present. While the plot line sounds heavy the episode is mostly played on the light side with excellent dialogue throughout. Fernando Lamas does a fine job playing El Caudillo as more of a scoundrel than an evil villain. The role of Conchita, the beauty who beguiles the boys across the border and romances Mano in his jail cell, is also very well done by Barbara Luna. The best dialogue tends to involve Don Sebastian.  

When Blue rides up to enlist his help for Manolito:
Blue:  Don Sebastian, it’s me William Cannon.
Don S:  It is perfectly clear to see who you are. The reason for scattering my cattle escapes me.
Blue:  Manolito is in bad trouble.
Don S:  The sun is also shining.

In the jail cell with Manolito:
Mano:  My powerful and influential father, reduced to a jail cell in Nogales. No better off than his favorite son.
Don S.  Do not mention to me ‘favorite son’. If it were not for you I would not be here in this prison.
Mano:  Papa, you touch me deeply. You mean you really came to save my life?
Don S:  I came here to see you shot! There were just circumstances beyond my control.
Mano:  You know if ever you would learn to leave things to me, these circumstances would not get out of control, Papa.
Don S:  If I should leave things to you for just one day, you would be shot. Then my life would be simpler.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  A Mexican beauty lures Blue Boy, Manolito and the Cannon ranch hands over the border into Nogales, and into the trap of former bandido turned jefe, El Caudillo, (literally Spanish for a political boss.) El Caudillo has delusions of grandeur, which he believes can be forwarded by executing Manolito, who is wanted in Nogales for several crimes. Once in Nogales, Manolito is jailed, but the rest of the boys are given the run of the town - unbeknownst to them, El Caudillo hopes one of them will manage to escape.

Conchita beguiles Manolito.

Blue and Sam have a different strategy.

The jefe has plans to increase his visibility by not only executing Manolito, but by capturing and executing Don Sebastian Montoya, whom he is convinced will come to his son's aid if one of the Chaparral hands retrieves him. Manolito, wasting no time, seduces the beauty, whose name is Conchita, and who, before she met Manolito, was El Caudillo's girl. Although this does not seem like a strategy that would enhance his chances with El Caudillo, Manolito plans to use the girl to help them escape. His methods are a little too doubtful for Blue and the boys, though, who hatch their own escape plot.
They plan "a ruckus" in several parts of town, although they have only each other to fight with in the under-populated little village. Joe winds up in jail with Mano, but Blue, who has drawn the short straw, manages to escape to Don Sebastian.  The elder Montoya takes some convincing. After all, Manolito is always in trouble - "the sun is also shining" Montoya says. He does not seem inclined to leave his activities in order to mount a rescue, in spite of Blue's desperate insistence. He finally does agree, but only after he learns that El Caudillo is behind it all - apparently these men have some history between them, and Don Sebastian cannot resist political intrigue.

Joe ends up in jail with Mano.

El Caudillo out maneuvers Don Sebastian
in the cantina.

Once in Nogales, though, he completely baffles Blue Boy by acting as if he were El Caudillo's old friend. The confusion continues in the cantina as the boys listen to Don Sebastian and El Caudillo trading compliments, all the while being entertained by Conchita's dancing. The trap is finally tripped, however, when Don Sebastian tries to bribe El Caudillo into releasing the hands. He is thrown in jail with Manolito and Joe. El Caudillo then reveals the rest of his plans to them - there are eight stakes on the firing wall, and so far only three prisoners. He intends to trump up charges to justify killing all of the Cannon men.
Our boys do not go easily. When El Caudillo's henchmen try to arrest them, Sam starts a fight. They come close to winning, too, but they are eventually overpowered - all except for Pedro, who managed to escape after he is punched out of a window. Back in the jail, Manolito is trying to explain his strategy to an unimpressed Don Sebastian - he has been seducing Conchita for the express purpose of getting her to help them - even to the extent of proposing marriage. Don Sebastian is not inspired but Joe likes the idea, as long as the others stay out of trouble. No such luck, though; the henchmen drag them all in. And as if the cell wasn't crowded enough already, a few moments later, Conchita, herself, is imprisoned with them - so much for that escape plot.

Things look bleak for our crew.

The Firing Wall

Unbeknownst to the Chaparral hands, Pedro has escaped to his cousin, a maker of fireworks in the locale. Since El Caudillo is planning a fiesta to celebrate the executions - and also to announce his plans to take over the country - it is a perfect opportunity for Pedro and his cousins to infiltrate and exact an escape. The boys have no idea that help is coming however, as they are led to the firing wall. Sam tries to console Blue, by telling him to keep his chin up, his Pa would expect it, but to poor, frightened Blue Boy, who has had his problems meeting his father's expectations in the past, it is cold comfort.
However, Pedro arrives in time, driving a hijacked hearse, and towing his cousin's fireworks. Under cover of the explosions, he frees the hands, who overpower El Caudillo's men, and turn the jefe over to Don Sebastian for justice. All's well that ends well, except for Conchita, who finds out that Manolito has no intention of marrying her after all, and Manolito, who will not be allowed by the ranch hands to live any of it down. 

(Synopsis by Sheryl Clay)

Pedro is the hero of the hour.


Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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