The High Chaparral

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Second Season
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Father Sanchez describing the statue
of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Heavenly intervention

Ricardo Montalban as Father Sanchez

2.45  Our Lady of Guadalupe
Ricardo Montalban guest-stars as a priest who obtains money from the Cannon family, presumably to finance his search for a religious statue, but channels the funds to the poor.
Written by B.W. Sandefur       Directed by Harry Harris

Story Line: Father Sanchez is forced to ride to New Orleans to purchase a fake statue when Victoria persuades John Cannon to provide the needed funds. Buck and Manolito serve as escorts for the priest and his statue. They are joined by Mavis and Gillis, who plot to steal it. When Gillis starts to rob the group, Father Sanchez reveals the statue is phony.

    Guest Stars:

Ricardo Montalban
as Father Sanchez

Jan Shepard
as Mavis

Bill Fletcher
as Gillis


Uncredited actor
as Maitlan

Norbert Schiller
as Peletier

The role of Garcia has been cut in recent broadcasts of this episode so he no longer appears.

Mike De Anda
as Garcia

Character Highlights: Story is primarily focused around Father Sanchez with Buck and Mano as his protectors. Shows the influence of Victoria and Manoís Catholic upbringing which the Cannons clearly do not have but do their best to be reverent, sometimes awkwardly, out of regard for Victoria and Mano. When John offers $8,000 to help acquire the statue, Buck starts to object then thinks better of it saying "So whatís a little poverty as long as Victoriaís happy?" Mavis seems to have been added to give Mano an object of flirtation, but is otherwise not well integrated into the story line and her situation is left hanging in the end.

Complete Episode Synopsis
At a small chapel In Casa Cueva, Mexico, Father Sanchez declares that the Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe has begun. Victoria, Buck and Manolito are happy participants. Father Sanchez explains to the crowd that the statue of Our Lady, made of gold and studded with precious jewels, was stolen many years before. But now the statue has been found in New Orleans. The parishioners have only to give generously one last time to bring her home. Victoria immediately steps forward with her donation and even Buck pulls some bills out of his hat. The money being collected is watched with great interest by an unknown man. He is Gillis, currently the cook for Father Sanchez.

Buck, Victoria, and Mano are among the crowd listening to Father Sanchez.

Mano, Victoria, and Buck enjoy dinner
with Father Sanchez.

Father Sanchez dines that night with Victoria, Mano and Buck. Buck appears to have enjoyed too much liquid refreshment at the fiesta, though he declares that his discomfort is due to a bad enchilada. Victoria wants to know if her brother has also had this "bad enchilada" so Mano changes the subject by congratulating Father Sanchez on the success of the fiesta. The Father tells them that he has raised false hopes. The donations raised at the fiesta arenít enough to retrieve Our Lady from New Orleans.
Victoria invites the Father to the High Chaparral, where there will be others who havenít heard the legend of the statue. Maybe there will be more donations to gather there, and the congregation wonít have to wait so long. Father Sanchez declines; he has too much work to do.
While serving their dinner, Gillis listens to everything they say. Then he sneaks into the chapel, making sure no one is watching. He breaks into the locked money chest. Just as he discovers that it is completely empty, Father Sanchez finds him and, his anger getting the better of him, knocks Gillis to the floor with a colossal punch. Gillis asks where the money is thatís supposed to be in the box. Father Sanchez tells him that there is no money. Gillis calls him a fraud. The Father justifies his actions Ė because of the legend and donations, the people have shoes and medicine.

Gillis confronts Father Sanchez about the missing donations in the money chest.

Helping himself to the candlesticks on the alter, Gillis wonders what the people would do if they found out the good Father had dipped into the till and lied as well. Telling him he need not defile the alter, Father Sanchez hands over the money from the fiesta to buy his silence.

Victoria explains the dilemma
of the statue to John.

The Father arrives at the High Chaparral. Victoria tells Big John how sad it is that each year the effort to bring home Our Lady has failed. John tells her not to worry about it anymore. But when Father Sanchez tells John that it will cost 8,000 pesos to deliver the statue, even Victoria is shocked. John tells him the price should be high, if it means as much to the people as it does to his wife. And if the Father can deliver the statue then the money is his. The Father says it is too much but Victoria insists. Overcome, Father Sanchez rushes outside.
He prays fervently Ė God knows he canít produce the statue. How can he produce a statue he canít afford, even if he can find it? 8,000 pesos is a fortune to his people. He only asked for enough to see them through another year. He will leave the predicament to God. At that moment, a dark cloud passes over the moon. Father Sanchez takes this as a sign that God is leaving the solution up to him.


Father Sanchez tries to pass his
dilemma on to God.

Father Sanchez travels to New Orleans to get a fake gilt statue from a craftsman.

Father Sanchez picks up a fake Our Lady of Guadalupe statue from a craftsman, who is just putting the finishing touches on it. Riding home, the Father speaks to God about how hard itís going to be to fool so many people. Suddenly he grabs the statue and throws it over a cliff. But the statue lands safely in the branches of a bush just on the edge. He is just about to try it again when Mano and Buck ride up. Victoria has sent them to bring the Father safely home.  They take a little detour to a nearby town so Buck can get his horse re-shod at the local blacksmithís.
In the village, the people crowd around to see the statue. Even a saloon girl, Mavis, wants to have a look. She is Gillisís girl, and Gillis immediately has a plan. He tells her that soon sheíll have all the gold she wants.
Dressed as a respectable woman, Mavis approaches Father Sanchez and asks if she can accompany them to Casa Cueva to visit her sick sister. Manolito, taking in her blonde hair and fine figure, thinks it is a great idea.  On their travels, he guards her while she bathes in a lake. When she emerges, he moves in for a kiss. Mavis is overcome because he has called her a lady Ė something she has never heard. She kisses him whole-heartedly.  Gillis and his partner wait nearby. Gillis is confident that "my Mavis" is coming soon. He canít wait to see the Padreís face when he takes the statue away from him.

Mavis is overcome when Mano addresses
her as a lady.

Mavis, looking for redemption in the statue.

During the night, Father Sanchez discovers Mavis holding the statue. She says she canít sleep. Sheís been thinking how she hasnít led a good life. Can someone or something change a person, she asks the Father. Sheís never met anyone like Manolito. Father Sanchez says that the person who searches for gold is usually looking for respect. And itís the same with love. How happy we are depends on whether or not we know what we are looking for. What we deserve and what we get are up to us.
Now itís the Father who canít sleep. He takes his burro with the statue and leaves the camp. He buries the statue in the sand, asking God to please keep her this time. Immediately it begins to storm, complete with thunder and lightening. Father Sanchez shoos the burro away and returns to camp.  When they wake in the morning, Manolito notices the burro carrying the statue is gone. But then the donkey approaches, minus the precious cargo. They all go off in search of it, the Father protesting that it will be too difficult to find. But there is Our Lady, washed up on the bank. Father Sanchez agrees through gritted teeth that it is indeed a miracle.

Buck and Mano are forced to surrender.

On the road again, Mavis asks the Father what she can do to be deserving. Father Sanchez tells her itís by telling the truth and expounds on how difficult it is to tell it. Better to rid oneself of the lie, he says. Mavis starts to tell him something, then changes her mind.  Shots ring out. Mano falls from his horse but he is not wounded. They all run for cover. Gillis hollers out that he has the Padre right in his sights, so they drop their guns. Mavis hands Our Lady over to Gillis. "So this is your lie," Father Sanchez says. She apologizes, but Gillis declares that the Father knows all about lying. The Father agrees.
For once, he has to speak the truth.  The statue has no value. It is nothing but glass and gilt. He didnít intend to carry the lie so far. Buck realizes that when they came along with their good intentions, they upset his plan.  Mavis tells Gillis to let them go. But Gillis doesnít care that the statue is worthless because no one else knows. Heís going to get rid of those who do, but Mavis wrestles him for the gun. Buck, Mano and Father Sanchez manage to knock Gillis and his partner to the ground, even with their hands tied. Mavis shoots at Gillis when he goes for his dropped gun. Mano tells the shocked man that she knows what she is doing.

Mavis turns the gun on Gillis.

Father Sanchez confesses that the statue
is a cheap fake.

At Casa Cueva, the church bells ring. Everyone is gathered around the door while Father Sanchez holds Our Lady of Guadalupe up for all to see. He is about to take the statue into the church while the crowd kneels in prayer. But he stops. He asks God for forgiveness and prays for strength. Turning back, he tells his parishioners to stand Ė he can no longer see them kneel before a lie. The statue is a cheap copy; a lie. One heís been using to hide his failings as their priest. He apologizes. Since he has disgraced his cassock he wonít wear it any longer. He will pay back what his lies have cost and pray for forgiveness.
The crowd turns away. Victoria begs her brother to help him. Mano reminds the people of the good things Father Sanchez has done Ė feeding and clothing them, caring for them in sickness. The offerings werenít stolen Ė the Father used it for the people. Manolito then asks the Father to bless the statue anyway, and place it in the church.  Buck also speaks up Ė telling the crowd that the good things that came out of the statue have no market value unless they want to put a price on their faith and on Father Sanchez.  Victoria begs Father Sanchez to bless Our Lady of Guadalupe for the people.

The villagers realize that the missing
money has been spent to benefit them.

With everyone kneeling, he does so. He tries to give the statue to Mano but Mano motions to the crowd, who smile encouragingly at their priest. Father Sanchez takes the statue into the church, the congregation following. 

(Synopsis by Ginny Shook)


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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