The High Chaparral

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Fourth Season
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John negotiates with Ruiz

Joe confronts Sam

Mano relieved that John does not kill him.

4.89  A Good Sound Profit     John, Mano
John Cannon faces alienation of family and friends when he maintains his decision to aid a band of revolutionists.
Written by George Atkins         Directed by Corey Allen

Story Line:  John Cannon, seeing a financial windfall in the sale of guns, ammunition and horses to ill-equipped Mexican rebels, negotiates with their leader over strong objections from his Mexican-born wife, Victoria, and her brother, Manolito. Even when Manolito elects to leave the Cannon ranch for good, John continues his profit-making deals despite the reaction of his family.

Guest Stars:

Joe de Santis 
as Ruiz

Harold Gould 
as Carlyle

Edward Colmans 
as Sanchez


Character Highlights:  This is one of the more complex episodes, both in terms of plot and characterizations but is worth the effort to follow it.  John is the primary character here, but Mano is a close second as his values come directly and unavoidably up against John's.  We are led to believe that John has abandoned his principles and certainly his family is convinced that he has.  When things are resolved we find that he has been true to his principles throughout but in the interim nearly all the relationships on the ranch are thrown into turmoil.  Mano's reputation as an irresponsible slacker is betrayed here as his passion and dedication to the cause of his native country do not allow him to stand by and watch it undermined by John.  He takes his stand early and leaves the ranch.  Victoria, Buck, Sam, Joe, and Wind struggle longer trying to understand the justification for what John is doing.  

Mano and Buck's friendship is shaken in what is probably the most hurtful exchange between them in the series when Buck, even though he can't justify what John is doing, refuses to help Mano stop him.  Buck finally leaves the ranch as well to take a solo hunting trip in order to remove himself from the controversy without having to confront John directly. Victoria tells John that while she cannot leave the ranch because she is his wife, things may never be the same between them.  The relationship between Sam and Joe is tested when Joe is forced to choose between his principles and his allegiance to his brother.  Sam is more confrontational with John than in almost any other episode, but finds out what he needs to know when he asks John if this is the sort of thing he would be involved in.  When John answers that it is, Sam's trust is restored without needing further justification.  The resolution scene where Mano believes for a moment that John is considering killing him is a gripping one.  Wind is truly obnoxious in this episode, both when he challenges Buck's motives for leaving and when he gives Victoria marital advice.  John states in this episode that he was born in West Virginia, of some interest perhaps because West Virginia did not exist at the time of his birth.   

Complete Episode Synopsis:  It seems an average day in Tucson, however, it is anything but. A man has come to town looking to purchase horses, saddles and ammunition, all at premium prices, to help equip the newly forming army in Mexico bent on restoring the totalitarian regime of Maximilian in their attempt to wrest control from Mexican presidente Benito Juarez. No one in town is willing to help support these Maximilianistas - or so it seems, until John Cannon suddenly comes forward, to everyone's shock, and offers to sell them whatever they need. 

Joe de Santis as Ruiz

Mano admiring the horses before learning their intended destination.

John is as good as his word, He sends Sam after horses, and when the men return, Manolito is impressed with both the quality and the number. Both Sam and Joe are reluctant to tell him who the horses are for, since all know that John, himself, doesn't need them, but John has no hesitation.  Manolito is appalled when he learns the truth, and confronts John, begging him to understand.  The Montoyas have long been supporters of Juarez, and Manolito assumes John does not realize the impact of what he is doing. As the two men talk, however, it becomes more and more apparent that John does, in fact, know exactly what he is doing, to Manolito's great distress.  Victoria, too, has overheard the conversation and tries to sway her husband, but John insists that Mexico's politics are not his business, or his problem.

John sends Sam after more horses, but Manolito intercepts them on the way, claiming that John has changed his mind about the herd they are to buy. Instead of returning to the ranch with the same fine horses, the men return with a bunch of nags, which Manolito tells John are really the kind of horses the Maximilianistas deserve.  When John still refuses to back down from his position, Manolito leaves the High Chaparral.  That is not the end, however, for Buck has been having his own problems in town.  People no longer say hello, he tells his brother, and somebody even cut the stirrup from his saddle while he was in the saloon.  He presses John for an explanation, and when none is forthcoming, informs John that banker Carlyle has sent him a message that he will not approve the loans John has requested. 

Mano decides to leave the High Chaparral.

John prepares to leave for Tucson, but before he does, Victoria tries, again, to convince him he is wrong.  She tells him that just because the victim is on the Mexican side of the border should not make it right for John to arm the shooter, just because he is on the American side.  Still John seems bent on his course, interested only in the profit to be made. In the bunkhouse, Wind, has sensed tension among the men over what John is doing.  He is not happy with the explanation Sam has given him that the men, despite any trouble they may be having with their own consciences, do what they're told because they're paid to.  Buck overhears the conversation and tells Wind that the men follow John because they trust him, and that if Wind isn't prepared to do the same, he doesn't belong on the High Chaparral.

Harold Gould as Carlyle, the Banker

In town, John has a long discussion with the banker, Carlyle, but the outcome doesn't change - Carlyle refuses to grant him any more loans as long as he continues to deal with the Maximilianistas. John is left with no choice.  When he makes his next delivery to Colonel Ruis, he tells Ruis that from now on he will need payment in advance.  Ruis is reluctant to introduce John to the man who is funding the operation, but when John insists, he agrees.  

Ruiz and John negotiate.

While John negotiates, Buck and Manolito are having their own negotiation in the saloon in town.  Manolito tries to sway Buck to his point of view, but Buck, despite his concern, sides with his brother, infuriating his friend. 

Mano and Buck at an impasse.

Buck explaining himself to Wind.

When Buck gets back to High Chaparral, he tells John that he's "goin' huntin'" for a while, an attitude that angers Wind after what Buck had already said to him.  At first defensive, Buck admits that he doesn't understand what John is doing, and he can't stay and watch it anymore. His return had interrupted an argument between John and Victoria.  Back in the house, John apologizes, and seems on the brink of explaining something to his wife, but he holds back in the end, and Victoria turns away from him, saying she may never be able to forgive him.

Wind questioning Buck leaving.

Buck and John aren't the only ones besieged by demands for explanation.  In the bunkhouse, Joe has cornered Sam, telling his brother that he can no longer tolerate what John is doing.  Sam tries to reason with him, and when that does no good, lays it on the line - Sam's ability to control the men is dependent upon Joe's support, which he tells Joe he expects, if not for John's sake, than for his own.  Faced with this pointed call for fraternal loyalty, Joe agrees.  Sam is troubled by Joe's small rebellion, however, and decides it's time to confront John, himself. John gives him the same stonewall he has given everyone, but Sam seems to sense something, because he asks John the one question he can answer - he asks if whatever John is up to is something that he, Sam, is the kind of man to be a part of. When John says "yes", Sam is satisfied. 

Sam confronts John

Sanchez explains the operation to John.

John has finally reached the end of his rope, however, and confronts the man who is really behind everything he has been doing - a Lieutenant Sanchez, from Juarez army.  It finally comes out that John's whole purpose has been to trick the Maximillianistas into revealing who has been funding their operation.  Sanchez reminds John that the degree to which his friends and family are disgusted with him is the degree to which he is succeeding in convincing the Maximillianistas that he's the real thing.  All of that seeming authenticity, however, is still causing John grief, as Joe can't get the dynamite promised to the Maximilianistas from the owner of the local supply store.  John finally arrives, and gets it accomplished with a few not so veiled threats, and then Joe and Sam with a few of the men, take the load out to the rebel camp. 

Manolito confronts them on the road, and when they will not stop, vows to stop John, himself, even if he has to blow the entire camp to kingdom come. Unaware of Manolito's intentions, John goes to meet with Ruis, who has arranged for him to meet "the paymaster" of the operation.  John is shocked to discover that the man behind the money is none other than Carlyle - sincerely in it for the profit he can make.  But John is even more shocked to discover that Manolito has followed him, and been captured attempting to ignite the dynamite.  In an attempt to get a weapon, John agrees to shoot the stunned Manolito himself. He turns the weapon on the others instead, however, explaining to Carlyle and Ruis that the cavalry is waiting at the Mexican border for them.  He and Manolito run off the horses, then return home, where they are warmly welcomed.  Sanchez has arrived before them, and explained everything.  (Synopsis by Sheryl Clay)

Mano believes for a moment that John intends to shoot him.

John is welcome home at last.


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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