STREET OF HATE
Street of Hate is another episode I enjoyed much better second time around. Possibly because Charles Bronson is not my favourite actor and I never quite got the enthusiasm for him that used to be around. I like the Dirty Dozen and Magnificent Seven obviously, and really like from Noon to Three because it is quirky and unusual ( fancy me liking quirky), but all those Death Wish and vengeance movies , I donít think I have ever been able to sit through one. But second time around I was not seeing Charles Bronson but Frank Buckley and then the whole thing for this episode fell into place. So when I did get over not really liking Charles Bronson I realised this was another of those episodes with the beautiful writing that I just love about Laramie and some terrific Slim and Jess together and against and agreeing not to agree moments. And some lovely photography. The black and white on the dvdís is really good.
Charles Bronson was actually very good as a man caught between people he loved, and just how much he was prepared to pay to protect them. The scene between Frank and Jess when Frank tells Jess he feels like he is walking on a cloud is brilliant with both characters getting your sympathy. Little things in it. Jess when he understands Frankís view on not fighting, his finger moving on the table. I love how Jessís handís give away everything he is feeling. This time his finger is drawing circles, sort of unsure. Frank, who had been through the warden gloating about going back to prison telling Jess that you canít always fight your way out of it, and refusing to let Jess make him the reason he starts a fight. Frank must be the only person outside family and Mort Corey who really called Jess on his reasons to want to fight.
This episode went to some very brave places dealing with drug addiction and returned soldiers, and pacifism and guns and nicely not coming up with some trite answer, but letting it all hang. The drug addiction seems at first a ďwow fancy going thereĒ in 1960ís show, but when you think about it they were only 15 years off a war and 8 years away from Korea, I guess soldiers coming back with huge problems was actually something many people were facing then. So it was pretty topical. Also some views on using guns to settle problems. Jess wants to fight the bad guys, give them back what they were handing out (surprised about that, would never have seen that one coming J J), Slim does not, in fact he is firmly convinced that fighting will make things worse. I do love how Slimís belief in the right thing is not played as Ben Cartwright type virtue, but rather as something to challenge and test. So there is always the little whose right and whose wrong test going.
And they came up with a heroine who could be forced into prostitution if Frank failed her and she had to rely on her father not supporting her. I know they said saloon girl but we get it. I do think Frank did her a disservice saying she would leave him if he did not fight. I donít think she would have. She was a spunky lady. She deserved to get her man. And she gave Slim and Jess what for when they started making Frank getting hurt by the villains all about themselves and were ignoring how badly hurt he was.
Not sure I liked Slim waiting to kill the bad guy until Cam discovered he still had some affection for Frank. When you start shooting up a man after he has dropped a gun, surely that blows the self defence, defence. Surely you donít have to wait until heís half killed the man before acting.
I also dislike the step father in this and could find very little sympathy at all for the way he was acting. You do NOT throw away a son because they do something wrong, no matter how wrong. You donít condone it but you donít walk away from them. And Frank was a son. I think Cam got off to easily. I hope at some stage Frank had some very bitter words to say. Especially as Cam failed to notice that his other son had something seriously wrong with him. And I donít like Frank had to be proved innocent before the step father did anything about the slimy villain. Jess and Jonsey at least had the guts to say whatever Frank had done he had paid and treat him with respect, and Slim even if he had his doubts about Frank at first came around to respecting the man without him having to prove he was innocent.
The show was also about not using guns to fight and has Slim and Jess not completely at each otherís throats, Jess has his moments but keeps his attacks more or less non-fatal, but taking some very opposite view points and with a few good twists both of them being right at various time and both being wrong. Slim has done the right thing by supporting Frankís parole seems more committed to doing the right thing than supporting Frank. And Jess is seeing himself in Frank, and all for him standing up for himself. But Frank isnít Jess and as it turns out been badly burnt I like the getting burnt analogies for trying to solve a problem by fighting. Five years and banishment from your family is pretty high price to pay.
Both Jonsey and Jess let Slim really have it for his lack of support for Frank. Jonsey gives Slim a pretty good kick (metaphorically) and gets in a nasty crack about Slim not taking advice and Jessís response to Slim asking what do you want me to do ( about Frank and the villains after him) is just another good kick ďIf you have to ask you canít do itĒ.
I do love how they donít sell Jess down the road as character in this. So often when a character is set up to be not quite the undeafeated but nearly, they sell out the character from one episode to the next, one week heís invincible, next week heís beaten up by a kid with a stick. On Laramie they go to great trouble to keep Jess more or less undefeatable by getting him out of the way so he doesnít just ride in and shoot or punch everyone up. Jess would not have waited for Cam to beg for help to save Frank.
Nice little bit with Jess literally pulling his hair out in frustration when Slim sends him out of the way of starting a gunfight. I did think the Jessís gorgeous little front hair curl was in danger of getting ripped out but fortunately it was still there at the end. (Some time fudging going on there. Cheyenne isnít that far from Laramie. If Jess can ride to Mexico in a few days an episode or two away, it doesnít take him ten days to get to Cheyenne and back even when he has some of Slimís business to do.)
I do like how Jess is with Andy because even though he comes close to losing his temper, standing in close to Andy, he never overwhelms him by doing what he does to Slim and shoving his face in front, and actually listens to what Andy has to say.
Some lovely Jess and Slim moments. The pair of them playing solitaire as a team sport was cute, and not paying attention to whose turn it was to draw the card. And Slim nearly fires up despite his good intentions when the villain refers to Jess has the hired hand. Loved Slimís reaction when he sees Jess ripsnorting into Laramie on the stage horse. Does not even bother to ask what happened. Just throws his hat away and heads for the fight that he knows is coming. And Slimís grin and Jessís smile as Jess sees him behind the saloon door getting ready to join in the fight. And the last scene between them, on the porch with their feet up on the hitching rail. I think they were being a bit optimistic that the 14 years or so disparity in age between them and Andy would make a huge difference in lifetime experience. Unless both of them were thinking they were not going to see old age. I love the honesty between them when Jess asks Slim point blank if he got rid of him because he thought there would be a gunfight, and Slim saying he really believed there would not be one.
When Jess takes off on the stage horse is that one of the few times Jess actually vaults into a horse. Slim does a standing vault quite often but Jess never, but the hoppy thing is cute. Since hanging around here Iíve started noticing Jessís hat too. I think one stayed on the Cheyenne Road. They get a lot into this episode. Jessís rid e on the mustang. At least John Smith and Robert Fuller did a lot of the falls and fights themselves. I got the Big Valley recently and it makes you wonder if Lee Majors knew how to swing a punch. They kept using stuntmen that donít look anything like him. Itís very distracting.(I know they had to balance out production costs and risks, because of problems caused by accidents such as Robert Fuller breaking his leg in Wagon Train, and Robert Conrad getting badly hurt on the Wild Wild West) Robert Fuller landed in the dust himself. Itís a bit hard to stop the show and see who actually rides the horse, but it seems like a familiar face though. Slim needed to stop buying appaloosas. All his unrideable horses seem to be appaloosas.
Jess seems to have a few wardrobe malfunctions in this one. After the bronco busting, Andy is sewing up Jessís pants with Jess still in them. Have to be shallow. Given how tight those pants are around the rear view, letting Andy wield that needle looked awfully dangerous. Unfortunately when we get a back view we canít see the rip either. At the end, Jessís boots donít look as if they are faring much better than the pants, you can see the soles were half gone as he rests them on the rail.
And Jonsey at the end on Jessís eating habits. Did Jess ever lose his appetite, apart from the depression in Company man. I just saw a season 2 episode when he was half a day away from lynching and he was still shovelling food down. Which brings us back to those tight pants.
Anyway another beautifully written episode that got so much better when you took time to see the effort that went into making it work, and managed to say a great many things. And the Jess and Slim moments were pretty good too.