The High Chaparral
The Firing Wall
Note: A fun episode, with the bunkhouse boys taking the lead. Lots of screen time for Joe. A great, fun fight between Joe and Ira (Jerry Summers) which takes full advantage of Bob’s and Jerry’s expertise as stuntmen.
The High Chaparral ranch hands know better than to cross over the border into Mexico – Big John Cannon’s treaty with Don Sebastian Montoya forbids it. It takes a shapely woman in apparent distress, who takes care to bare her shoulders and show a lot of leg, to lure the very helpful men to her side – the Mexican side. Even Manolito falls for her trick. They find themselves in Nogales, under the stern eye of El Caudillo, former bandit and now dictator of the small town. He declares that Manolito has been tried for several unnamed crimes and found guilty. It doesn’t matter to him that Mano was not present for the trial; the sentence is to die in front of a firing squad. Joe, Sam, Ira, Pedro, Reno and Blue are free to go – as long as they don’t leave town.
Mano doesn’t seem too unhappy. He has the beautiful Conchita in his jail cell and is not interested in hearing Sam and Blue’s ideas for his escape. As the boys commiserate in the cantina, Blue brings up a similar circumstance that befell Uncle Buck, when they all created a ruckus as a distraction so he could sneak away and get help. Even though Pedro remembers landing in jail on that occasion, they decide to put this plan to good use again. But they don’t want to fetch Big John – a firing squad would be more enjoyable. It’s Mano’s father they want, the very distinguished Don Sebastian Montoya, who knows the governor, and can stop this dictator from executing their friend.
Blue draws the short straw. The boys stage various diversions to distract El Caudillo’s many armed guards. Joe and Ira are ready to fight anyone in the cantina but they are the sole occupants. “Oh well, its for Manolito,” says Joe cheerfully, as he throws a punch at his friend. The damage they cause lands Joe in the jail cell with Mano (who makes Joe turn his back so he can continue to kiss Conchita). Joe is also condemned to face the firing squad.
Blue escapes successfully. El Caudillo tells his lieutenant that this is exactly what he was hoping for. The reason why becomes apparent after he and Don Sebastian share a drink and pleasantries. The dictator manages to get Don Sebastian to offer him a bribe for Manolito’s release, and he, too, is clapped in jail. But Joe isn’t worried. He knows the bunkhouse boys will save the day. But a minute later the cell door opens again and the rest of the crew is ushered in (though they have not given up without a fight). From bribery to disturbing the peace, the sentence is death.
Only Pedro has managed to escape, when he is throw through the cantina window during their final brawl. Wandering through the desert, he flags down the undertaker, who is taking the caskets into Nogales for the execution. Pedro tells him he has one coffin too many before knocking him out and commandeering the wagon.
It's fiesta day, and El Caudillo plans to literally end the festivities with a bang. This way the townspeople will see how powerful he is. When the good people of Nogales realize that they are being forced to watch multiple executions, they attempt to flee but are stopped at every turn by the guards. Lined up and tied against the posts, the High Chaparral men and Don Sebastian face the firing squad with determination (Blue tells the guard to keep the blindfold for himself). El Caudillo has already said “ready” and “aim” when Pedro, dressed as the undertaker, drives the wagon- hearse in between his friends and the guns. His cousin, the best fireworks maker in all of Mexico, sets off his load of fireworks that he's attached to the back of the hearse. The ensuing explosions scatter the guards so that Pedro can untie his friends. With the help of the townspeople, El Caudillo and his men are captured. While Don Sebastian marches El Caudillo off to his fate, the High Chaparral men are ready to return home.