Accused of a murder he didn't commit, Cheyenne must act the criminal in order to join a well-organized gang and find the real killer.
A posse member bullies the witness into fingering Cheyenne as a robber and murderer.
Cheyenne looks through the war artifacts of his host, Major Ellwood.
Cheyenne faces off against Arnie Monroe.
Cheyenne gets comfortable in the Ellwood home.
|Land Beyond the Law|
|Season 2, Episode 10|
|Air date||Jan. 15, 1957|
|Written by||Harold Shumate, Howard Browne|
|Directed by||Walter Doniger|
The Iron Trail
Test of Courage
- Dan Blocker of the TV show Bonanza has a small guest role in this episode.
Real World References
- The Army captain references Lilliput, the fictional island created by Jonathan Swift in the 18th century novel Gulliver's Travels. Lilliput is an island in the South Pacific Ocean occupied by people one-twelfth the size of normal people.
- Major Elwood claims to have served under General McClellan during the American Civil War, a general who was known for being overcautious.
Errors and Continuity Nitpicks
- The actor portraying Mrs. Ellwood wears the distinctive dark-colored dress that has appeared in at least two other episodes, Decision at Gunsight and The Mutton Puncher.
But a witnesses claims Cheyenne isn't guilty; he isn't wearing the lion-headed belt buckle that the real killer wore. A deputy pressures the man into changing his mind. Cheyenne can see he’s playing against a stacked deck. The deputies are itchin’ for a lynchin’. He quickly turns the tables on the lawmen and locks them in a cell. He swears to them he'll be back to clear his name.Cheyenne gallops to the next town and puts together a plan to find the real robbers. After a trip to a local printer to make up a fake wanted poster of himself, Cheyenne recruits help from a sympathetic Army officer commanding a post outside Hatchet Valley. The valley is a lawless territory claimed by both the US and Mexico. Until the political boundaries are set, the valley is occupied by an outlaw army of 50 men as their base of operations. The Army guards the only way into the valley to try to keep the bandits holed up, but they still manage to move in and out by another, unknown trail.
The commander orders his sharpshooters to send bullets Cheyenne’s way as he rides through the pass to make it look like he’s escaping from their custody. The trick works. Guards from the gang see the ruckus and bring Bodie in to meet their leader, Major Ellwood. The fake wanted poster makes Ellwood think Cheyenne is a legitimate criminal and he welcomes him into the gang. His ultra-loyal lieutenant Joe Epic isn't impressed, even after Cheyenne smacks him around. The friendly scoundrel Pete brings Bodie to the saloon and introduces him to the other members of the gang, where he has a touch of trouble with a gunslinger named Arnie Monroe. Cheyenne watches out for the lion belt buckle, but no one is wearing the tell-tale accessory.At the Ellwood home that evening, Cheyenne meets Mrs. Ellen Ellwood and listens to the major's tales of glory serving during the Civil War. Now that the conflict is over, Ellwood is waging a new war against banks, railroads and other institutions. Bodie pledges his loyalty to the cause. In the saloon, Epic goads Monroe into challenging Cheyenne to a showdown and the tall cowboy is forced to kill the man. Looking over the body, Cheyenne sees that Monroe was wearing the distinctive belt buckle he's been looking for.
His mission is complete, but his sojourn in Hatchet Valley isn't over yet. He follows instructions on a note left for him and finds Ellen Ellwood alone in the forest. Like Monroe, she has a sense that Cheyenne isn't who he says he is. She's sick of living in seclusion with a gang of bandits. She promises Bodie a large sum of money to take her away that night using the secret route out of the valley. Cheyenne agrees and the pair ride off, but neither saw Epic hiding in the bush. He has overheard Ellen's plan.
Ellen wakes that evening, empties the major's safe and heads out, but she's not a very quiet robber. The noise wakes Ellwood and he pursues her. She and Cheyenne enter a mine shaft which leads under the hills and out of the valley. Ellwood jumps from the shadows and demands an explanation. Ellen chews him out for forcing her to live alone, away from society and under the constant surveillance of the sinister Joe Epic. She begs her husband to leave behind the criminal life and escape with her. Ellwood agrees out of love for his wife and invites Cheyenne to come along. The tall cowboy tells Ellwood of his true mission and the tell-tale belt buckle, but the major explains that the buckle originally belonged to Epic. Realizing that Epic is his true mark, Cheyenne leaves the mine and heads back to the valley.The couple continues on only to come across Epic waiting for them. The black-clothed man accuses Ellen of planning to run off with Cheyenne. Ellwood shrugs that off and offers Joe leadership of the gang. Epic demands that the couple return with him and keep things the way they are. When Ellwood refuses, Epic shoots him dead. Distraught at the death of his idol, Joe forces Ellen to dig her husband's grave at gunpoint. Alerted by Epic's gunshots, Cheyenne arrives, shoots away his gun and takes him captive.
Now that he has proof to exonerate himself, Cheyenne plans to bring Epic back to Long Butte and turn in Ellwood's money to the first sheriff they come across. Ellen doesn't like that plan at all. She pulls a gun and refuses to go with them. But her rebellion is short-lived when she rides across a pack of Mexican bandits who try to rob her. Fortunately for Ellen, Cheyenne tails her and fights them off. The trio head back to the U.S. with Cheyenne in possession of the money and the real killer.
"Some day I'm gonna nail your hide to the door for this."
"You'll have a job of skinnin' to do first."
- - Deputy Saul swears revenge and Cheyenne makes a joke about his own size.
"Aren't you going to smile?"
"Come on, please. Just a little one, eh?"
- - A photographer tries to get Cheyenne to smile for a portrait, but no luck.
"Well, welcome to Lilliput, Mr. Bodie."
- - A U.S. Army captain makes a joke about Cheyenne's height...or maybe his own.
"May I inquire how you intend to pick the right man out of fifty?"
"By the way his britches stay up."
- - Cheyenne discusses his unusual strategy to find the real killer and a U.S. Army captain seems to agree with him.
“A bullet can knock down a big man the same as a small one. It takes him longer to hit the ground is all. I know one thing, I’d rather have the job of killing him than burying him.”
- - Arnie Monroe fantasizes about killing big Cheyenne.
"Who are you? What are you?"
"There's only one kind of man on this pile of rocks."
"Don't lie to me, Mr. Bodie. My husband picks his men by a man's standards, but a woman can see past muscles and a fast gun."
- - Ellen Ellwood airs her suspicions about Cheyenne being more than he seems.