"Hunter's Moon"

(Original air date 12/30/68)

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A jealous husband plans a dawn hanging for his wife alleged lover ~ Nick

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Writer: Don Ingalls

Director: Bernard McEveety



In the hush of night, a man shadows a woman who is seen entering a boarding house with a bag full of supplies. He irrupts in the room, expecting to find her lover but realizes that she merely brought medicine for a sick friend. The husband apologizes for his oversight but nevertheless refuses to give his wife the benefit of the doubt.

The next morning out on the range, Heath broaches the delicate subject of putting Coco out to pasture when the horse takes yet another stumble. That suggestion riles Nick as he flatly refuses to resign to the fact that his cherished horse is getting old. However he does agree to let him sit the next trip out.

           

At breakfast the next morning, Nick decides otherwise when Heath raises the subject of Cocoís retirement. He sets out to prove his brother wrong by taking his horse on the long trip instead of the newly-broken stallion.

On is way to Dawesburg, four men ambush Nick and order him to follow them into town where they shove him down a cellar with two other men: Gandy (John Crawford) and Bodkin (Bruce Glover), equally bemused as to the reason for their captivity.

           

The daunting character and founder of Dawesburg, Ben Dawes (Lawrence Dobkin) is intent on hanging his wifeís secret lover. All three suspects are riding horses with white manes, the same that was seen the night he caught his wife in the arms of another man. He urges his prisoners to compel the guilty party to confess in order to avoid the noose.

Nickís alluring features raise his cellmateís suspicions, as they believe him to be the secret lover. Ben shoves his wife Juliet (Susan O'Connell) down the stairs and orders her to identify the culprit. When she glances Nickís way, Ben instantly assumes heís the one but she categorically denies it.

Benís ranch hand and devoted friend, Tony Semper (Don Chastain), offers to orchestrate the hanging himself to prevent his bossís reputation getting soiled by a senseless killing.

           

Down in the cellar Bodkin and Gandy needle Nick into admitting his guilt but instead they succeed in getting Nickís danders up. They engage in a fistfight that ends with Tony jumping on Nick and knocking him unconscious. After Gandy and Bodkin confide that Nick is the secret lover, Ben sets them free.

Relentless, Ben makes another attempt at wringing the truth out of his wife. Her reluctance impels him to place her under surveillance until she confesses.

           

Later she escapes through the window and goes to Nick just as he regains consciousness. She agrees to help him escape if in turn he promises to bring her along on his journey back to Stockton.

She warns him about the Apache guard standing by the cellar door as Nick prepares to break out. The Indian is not so easily deterred much to Nickís exasperation. It takes Julietís gun to help Nick get the upper hand, but not before the Apache succeeds in nicking her arm with a knife.

           

Nick brings Juliet to Dr. Willis (Shepard Menken) who tries his best to advise the young couple against outwitting the mighty Ben Dawes. He describes him as a merciless man who would take pleasure at killing anyone standing in his way. However the fearing townsfolk wouldnít think twice of lynching Nick in the event he should win over Dawes in a duel and that upon his death, his crooked right-hand man Tony would inherited his entire fortune.

His resentment toward the man being as passionate as anyone in this town, Willis does promise to keep quiet about the escape and prays that Nick and Juliet make it out of town alive.

When word of his wifeís escape with her lover reaches Ben, he sets out on a manhunt. He drops by Dr. Willisís office and threatens him to reveal what he knows about his wifeís whereabouts.

           

Cocoís bouts of exhaustion impel our two fugitives to make brief halts along the way, thus allowing Ben and his men to close in on their preys.

During the breaks, Juliet reminisces about her marriage to Ben Dawes and how a sweet man abruptly turned evil. She then tries to seduce Nick who finds it hard to resist temptation.

           

At dawn, Nick and Juliet set out to cover more ground, but Ben and his men manage to catch up to them. They attempt to ride up the hill but Coco balks at the steep slope, unable to comply with his masterís request. Under the strain Julietís horse also takes a bad fall, forcing Nick to make a mercy killing.

           

When Ben orders Tony to gun Nick down, he aims for Juliet instead, but thankfully Nick is faster on the draw. In a dying breath Tony confesses to being Julietís secret lover. Juliet admits to the affair and explains that the horse with a white mane was in fact Benís own horse that Tony borrowed one night for a covert meeting in town.

Back at the ranch, Nick remains evasive about his eventful journey into Dawesburg to his mother. Cocoís retirement however is raised and Nick resigns to the fact that his cherished horse does deserve an extended break.

           


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