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"The Great Safe Robbery"

(Original air date 11/21/66)


Heath and Nick pursue a trio of safecrackers holding
Audra and Victoria hostage


Writer: William Norton

Director: Virgil W. Vogel

After visiting with friend Lou Johnson (Bill Quinn) in Bixby Flats, Victoria and Audra are driven to the railroad station to catch the Stockton-bound train where the station agent, Henry, (Lee Krieger) informs them of a thirty-minute delay.

They spot three strangers riding up who ask for some water before continuing their long road. Inside, they lay their greedy eyes on a sizeable safe that prompts them to threaten the station agent. When the man insists he doesn't have the proper combination, they order the group inside.


The three Barnes brothers, leader Duke (Warren Oates), henpecked Shorty (Christopher Cary) and dimwitted Elwood (Kelton Garwood) hold the men and women hostage. While Duke orders Henry to open the safe, Audra scurries outside, hoping to ride out for help. Shorty hurries after her to warn her about the loose saddle, but arrives too late to prevent her fall.


Inside, Elwood draws Duke's attention to the fact that Johnson keeps glancing at his watch. When they hear a train in the distance, Duke orders Shorty to lock Johnson and Audra in the baggage room. When the girl stomps her foot in protest, they throw a mail bag over her head to keep her quiet.

Duke sits quietly on the bench next to Victoria as the train conductor (John Harmon) enters to enquire about passengers. Henry throws him a few winks, hinting him that something's amiss but much to his dismay, the conductor doesn't see past a mere nervous facial twitch. He heads back out to signal the train to move on.


Duke is getting restless at the agent's stalling. When Henry insists he was given the wrong combination, Victoria steps forward and asks for a copy of the letter he sent to St-Louis to prove his allegation. The brothers relish the thought of stealing the three thousand dollars tucked inside the safe.


They fetch a myriad of implements to break open the safe. Elwood uses a sledgehammer that he accidentally hurls through a window a couple of inches from Victoria who is sitting undisturbed, doing her knitting. Duke decides to try the drill despite Victoria's warning that his solution is doomed to fail.


Victoria casually ambles up to the desk where she sets her picnic basket near the telegraph, and offers the brothers a sandwich and some cold lemonade.


Duke's next harebrained idea is to turn the safe upside down by hauling it with a rope attached to a ceiling beam. The results are disastrous. The safe crashes back down on the floor once the beam breaks.


Duke is relentless. He won't give up. He allows Victoria to get Audra and Lou out of the baggage room while he and his brothers tie a rope around the safe to pull it outside.

While the Barnes brothers are occupied, Victoria tries to tap out an urgent message to Stockton.

The safe is dragged out the door successfully, but not without destroying half of the station in the process.


At the Stockton railroad station, Heath and Nick enquire about their mother and sister's lateness. They learn from the conductor that no passenger was scheduled in Bixby Flats, but does remember a silver-haired woman waiting for the South-bound with a peculiar man.

When Nick asks to send a wire, the telegraph operator (Earl Green) says that the agent there hasn't answered any of their messages in the past two hours. Therefore the brothers decide to ride over there to verify their suspicions.

Shorty and Elwood start having second thoughts about their older brother's scheme, fearing that the law is bound to catch up with them eventually. After tying Lou and Henry in the station, they head down the road with the safe tethered to the back of the wagon.


At some point, Duke stops the wagon to ask Victoria to write a note to her family. He then instructs Elwood to post himself up a rocky hill in order to spot the riders when they discover the note inside her hat.


Meanwhile, Heath, Nick, the town sheriff (Mark Tapscott) and a railroad detective (Joe Higgins) arrive at Bixby Flats station. After freeing Lou and Henry, they head on down the road to pick up the trail.

Having covered enough ground, Duke decides to use some dynamite to blow up the safe. In order to avoid a disaster, Victoria offers to help him set up the charges, much to Audra's dismay who laments about living to see the day her mother was blowing up a safe.


When Victoria's good intentions fail to give positive results, Duke decides to go at it alone, using all the remaining dynamite.

For her part, Audra attempts to persuade Shorty to drop this nonsense and start anew.

Once again, Duke's plan backfires. Instead of the safe, he blows up the outhouse.


Meanwhile, Elwood spots the posse riding over to Victoria's hat sitting on a pile of rocks. After reading the note, the men discover that safe contains not only three thousand dollars, but twenty thousand and that despite the Barnes brothers' threat, the detective won't give away the combination.

Elwood takes a shot at Nick's hat to show that they mean business. The detective is desperate to get to that safe by whatever means conceivable, but the Barkleys insists on following the safecrackers' instructions, for their only concern is their mother's and sister's safety.


With the safe still intact, Victoria decides to end this joke by sending Audra to fetch the combination.

Audra meets with her brothers. The sheriff orders the detective to hand over the combination, warning him of the consequences should the women be killed.

While waiting for Audra to return, Victoria makes one last attempt at convincing Shorty to give up this foolish idea, but senses that the young man is somewhat afraid of his older brother.

She then goes to Duke to offer him a piece of cake as a diversion to whip his gun out of the holster.


Audra's shout momentarily averts her attention, long enough for Duke to smack her in the face. A gesture that outrages Shorty up to the point of denying Duke as his brother.

After Duke rides away, Victoria hands the combination over to Shorty who just throws it away and leaves.


Later, Victoria and Audra drive back to the posse where they receive a warm welcome from Heath and Nick. Victoria hands the combination back to the detective who struggles to get the damaged safe open. She rolls her eyes in exasperation at his idea to use dynamite.


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