the gamble
Bonanza Western TV
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The Gamble Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #03, Episode #27

During a cattle drive, the Cartwright men make a pit stop in Alkali, only to find themselves thrown into the local jail the following day. They’re accused of robbing the town’s bank and causing the deaths of several innocent bystanders. Joe Cartwright manages to escape from his cell and seeks help before his father, Ben, along with his brothers Adam and Hoss, face the threat of being hanged. Notable actors Charles McGraw and Ben Johnson portray Sheriff Gains and Stan, respectively. The Gamble, which aired on April 1, 1962, is significant as it marked the scriptwriting debut of Bonanza star Michael Landon, who collaborated with Frank Chase on this episode.

You can read the summary or watch the full episode below for the plot and intriguing trivia.

Table of Contents

Watch the Full Episode of The Gamble

Watch the Full Episode of The Gamble:

Main Cast

In addition to the primary cast, “The Gamble,” the twenty-seventh episode of Bonanza Season 3 showcases a diverse array of recurring and guest-supporting actors. The following individuals are prominently featured in the episode:

  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Charles McGraw as Sheriff Gains
  • Ben Johnson as Deputy Sheriff Stan Mace
  • Robert Sampson as Artie Clay
  • Jan Harrison as Joyce
  • Joseph Walsh as Billy Tyler (as Joey Walsh)
  • Raymond Greenleaf as Judge Jackson
  • I. Stanford Jolley as Harry Payne
  • Robert Foulk as Deputy Sheriff Clem
  • Morris Ankrum as Mr. Mason
  • Fred Aldrich as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Emile Avery as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Bose as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Chet Brandenburg as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Breen as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Bill Clark as Deputy Sheriff / Ponderosa Ranch Hand (uncredited)
  • Frank Cordell as Ponderosa Ranch Hand (uncredited)
  • Betty Endicott as Townswoman (uncredited)
  • Joe Garcio as Bartender (uncredited)
  • Raven Grey as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Chester Hayes as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Michael Jeffers as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Pete Kellett as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Wilbur Mack as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Martha Manor as Townswoman (uncredited)
  • Bob Miles as Ponderosa Ranch Hand (uncredited)
  • Rex Moore as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Quijada as Ponderosa Ranch Hand (uncredited)
  • Victor Romito as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Danny Sands as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Ray Spiker as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Bert Stevens as Murdered Bank Clerk (uncredited)

Full Story Line for The Gamble

During a cattle drive, the Cartwrights make a stop for the night in Alkali, only to find themselves imprisoned on accusations of robbing the town’s bank and committing multiple murders. Joe manages to break free and desperately seeks assistance before Ben, Adam, and Hoss face execution by hanging.

Full Script and Dialogue of The Gamble

(fanfare plays)


It's awful late, Pa.

Don't look like nobody's up.

(yawning): Oh,
somebody better be.

I feel like I've been
glued to that saddle.


What do you want?

We'd like to bed
down our horses.


You fellows know
what time it is?

Friend, we sure do.

We've been riding
since... since sunup.

I'm sorry, I'm not taking care

of no stinking horses
this time of night.

Wait a minute now.

We'll take care of the horses.

You just provide
the four stalls.


All right.

I can light some lamps for you.


Oh, I hope we don't
have that much trouble

getting rooms for ourselves.


- BEN: Joe?

You help Hoss with the horses,
and Adam and I'll go and see

if we can get some
rooms at the hotel.

Right, Pa.

Hey, Pa, it was a
terrible long ride today.

How's about a little
drink before we turn in?

Yeah, especially after
three weeks cattle drive.

You buying, Pa?

No, I guess I am since
I'm carrying all the money.

Hey, what would $30,000
worth of beer look like, anyhow?

Well, that all depends.
You mean in one big glass,

or lots of little ones?

One great big 'un.

- (laughter)
- Look, the only thing

you boys are gonna be
drinking is water out of a pump.

Hey, come on,
let's go to the hotel.

Oh, which way is the hotel?

Uh, halfway down the street
if you can rouse anybody.

Thank you very much.

Take care of the horses, Joe.


(theme song playing)

(indistinct chatter)

(indistinct chatter)

Now, you take it easy, Billy.

We sent for the
doctor and sheriff.

There-there were three of them.

They all wore masks.

They fired a shot
at Henry there.

Yes, uh... He's dead.

All right, Billy, we've
organized a posse,

so, tell me what you can
remember about them.

Like I said, they all
wore masks and dusters.

One was a big fellow,

the other sort of medium, and...

and-and the third
one looked like a kid.

That's all? That's
all you remember?

No, it ain't.

They stuck some
money in the saddlebags.

Saddlebags... what kind?

They had a mark on them.

Looked like a pine tree.

Sheriff? Sheriff, I know
who those men are.

What do you mean, Artie?

Late last night, four men
come into my livery stable,

and I noticed that one of
them had some saddlebags

with a pine tree on it.

Well, where'd they
go and how long ago?

They didn't go no place.

Leastways, their
horses were still there

when I come running over here.

Tell you what. Let's, uh...
let's have some breakfast first,

then we'll come
back and finish up.

Ain't nothing like breakfast

to show a change in
a man, is there, Joe?

Yeah, about ten pounds, I think.

(Adam laughs)

They're the ones, Sheriff.

Good morning, gentlemen.

You going somewhere?


No, we're just... just
going out to breakfast.

You men are new in town.

What's your names?

Well, the name is Cartwright.

These are my sons.

Those your saddlebags?

They certainly are. Why?

MAN: Well, they
might be important.

Well they're very
important to us.

Why should they interest you?

They interest me just enough

to arrest you four for
robbery and murder.

Now, that's not
a very good joke.

There's nothing funny

about shooting an old
man down in cold blood.

Now wait a minute.

Now, we-we... we just
got into town late last night.

We've been at
the hotel sleeping.

We just came out.


You can tell the
whole story at your trial.

- Now, wait a minute, Sheriff...
- SHERIFF: Shut up, son.

Take off that belt.

The rest of you do the same.

Now, look, you-you
must be mistaken, Sheriff.

We'll find that out soon enough.

Stan, get their guns.

Take those saddlebags and
bring 'em along to the office.

Now, there's a lot of
money in those saddlebags.

Yeah. We know.

All right, let's go.

(crowd murmuring)

(loud crowd chatter)

What are you
going to do, Sheriff,

let 'em get away with it?

(loud, overlapping
crowd chatter)

Wait a minute! Wait a minute!


These men are murderers.

(loud, overlapping chatter)

They just murdered
an old friend of yours.

Henry Paine has lived
in this town for 20 years!

(loud, overlapping chatter)

MAN: He was a wonderful man.

All right now, you all know what
a nice old man Henry Paine was.

- One of the best.
- Well, what are you gonna do about it?

(loud, overlapping chatter)

I say jail is too good a
place for these murderers.

(loud, overlapping chatter)

Now you listen to me.

There'll be no lynching,

not in this town, as long
as I represent law and order.

These men are
gonna get a fair trial.

If they're proven guilty,
they'll be punished.

I say forget the trial.
Let's hang 'em now!

(loud, overlapping chatter)

You. How about you?

And how about you, Artie?

How would you
like the responsibility

if later, these men
are proven innocent?


All right.

There'll be a trial over
at the saloon tomorrow.

I'll talk to the judge
and have him get a jury.

If any of you try to
break into my jail,

I'll arrest you and throw you

right into a cell
along with these men.

Get on about your business.

(crowd chatter)

Come on inside.
You'll be safer in there.

Now, look, Sheriff,
I think we're entitled

to some kind of
an explanation...

Inside, inside, and I'll
explain all you want.

- Hey, Sheriff?
- SHERIFF: Yeah?

Will you come here a minute?

I'll be right back.

Now, what...?

I want you to look at something.

Look at all this
beautiful money.

(Artie laughs)

Now what did I tell you?

Just like I heard
'em say... $30,000.

He sure was right,
wasn't he, Sheriff?

Yeah. Well, take care of it.

I'm going to finish
questioning the prisoners.

We'll do that, Sheriff.

We sure will do that.

$30,000, Sheriff.

That's an awful lot
of money, ain't it?


It sure is.

Cartwright, where'd
you get all that money

we found in your saddlebags?

Well, I... I've been
telling you, Sheriff.

We-we drove our
cattle to market,

and we were on our
way back to Virginia City

to deposit the money there.

You got a bill of
sale for the cattle?

Well certainly, I've
got a bill of sale.


Well, it looks legal
enough to me.

Now, Sheriff... would
it make any sense

that anybody with that kind of
money would have to rob a bank?


No, I got to admit it
doesn't seem likely.

But I'm going to have to
check the serial numbers

of these bills against
those stolen from the bank.

Good. That'll prove exactly
what I've been telling you.

Frankly, Sheriff,

I was beginning to
worry a little about...

If you're innocent, you
got nothing to worry about.

Tomorrow we're going
to give you a fair fast trial.

If you're proven innocent,
you'll all be on your way.

Well, if you're gonna
check the serial numbers,

why have the trial?

For your own protection.

The town's pretty riled up about
the death of old Henry Paine.

Without a trial to
prove your innocence,

you still might not get
out of this town alive.

You got a real nice
town here, Sheriff.

Same as any other town, son.

Well, the sheriff's right, Joe.

Anyway, we don't seem to
have any choice about matters.

Don't worry.

By this time tomorrow,

you'll all be on
your way, probably.

(door closes)

You know, without
that bill of sale,

we would have been
pretty hard pressed

to prove we didn't
take that money.

Yeah, that's going to be the
key to open up the door for us.

Well, I think we're
gonna be all right.

That sheriff's no weakling.

Did you see the way they
handled that mob out on the street?


Come on, let's get ourselves

as comfortable as
we can be in here.

Yeah. Wake me
when breakfast... Oh!

- (Little Joe laughs)
- Dad-gummit!

(crowd chatter)

All right, clear the
way, clear the way.

Find yourself a seat somewhere.

On your feet.
Take off your hats.

Court of Alkali
is now in session.

Judge Jackson presiding.

Sit down.

Jury is ready, Sheriff.

Produce your first witness.

Billy Tyler to the stand.

No, sit down, sit down, son.

Over here.

You swear to tell the
truth, so help you God?

I do.

Tell the court what
happened in the bank.

There's not much to tell, Judge.

These three men came in
with masks on and guns out

and forced us to open the safe.

Then they tied and gagged us.

Then they went over to the safe

and started taking the money
out and putting it in a saddlebag.

Can you describe the bag, Billy?

Yeah, it was just kind of an
ordinary leather saddlebag.

Except that it kind of
had a pine tree brand

burned into the side of it.

JUDGE: Pine tree brand?

What do you mean by that?

Well, it was just kind
of a pine tree brand.

Bag like that, Billy?

Yeah, that's it.

And that's the pine tree.


(gavel banging)

JUDGE: Order!

Order, please!

I see.

Well, go ahead, Billy;
what happened then?

Well, then they
moved toward the door.

Then one of the
men turned around

and he shot Henry Paine dead.


All right, hold it!

Hold it! Order, order!

Billy... can you
describe these robbers?

Only that they were
different in heights.

One was a...

great big fella.

You see the prisoners here.

Do they fit your description
of the bank robbers?


Only, uh, only three of
them in the bank though.

Though maybe
the gray-haired fella

might have been keeping
lookout on the outside.


(gavel banging)

Well, we didn't
ask you that, Billy.

You just stick to
the things you saw.

That-that's all I saw
after they killed Henry.

Then they just ran out,
and the next thing I knew,

some people were
busting in and untying me.

All right, thank you, Billy.

You may step down.


All right, quiet, quiet, order!

Quiet, or I'll
throw you all out.

You have merely established
that the height of the robbers

might match the
height of the prisoners,

and that the prisoners
had a saddlebag

marked with a particular brand,
the same that the robbers used.

But that is not positive
nor sufficient proof.

Sheriff, have you
got another witness?

Yes. I'd like to call one of
the prisoners as a witness.

Mr. Cartwright, will
you step forward?


Do you swear to tell the
truth, so help you God?

I do.

I first met Mr. Cartwright

in the livery stable
shortly after the robbery.

How long had you been
in town, Mr. Cartwright?

Well, uh, we-we got into
town late the night before last.

We stayed in the
hotel all that night,

and we met the sheriff at
the stable yesterday morning.

And you told me you hadn't
even heard of the robbery?

That is correct.

When I arrested you, did
you have that bag with you?

Yes, of course.

My son Adam was,
uh, was carrying it.

Contained a fairly
large amount of money

which we'd received
from the sale of our cattle.

How much money would you
say was in that bag, Mr. Cartwright?

Sheriff, I can tell you exactly
how much money was in that bag...


How much was that sum that
was stolen from the bank, Sheriff?

Exactly $30,000.


Order! Order!

(gavel banging)


Order, please!

Of course, this could
be a coincidence, Judge.

If Mr. Cartwright had
$30,000 of his own,

it would seem silly
that he would try

to steal an equal amount,

risk his own life and
those of his sons.

However, I have a witness

that I think will clear
things up for us.

Thank you, Mr. Cartwright.

That's all, Mr. Cartwright.

Well, Sheriff, I...

That's all, Mr. Cartwright.


Mr. Mason of the Alkali Bank,
would you please step forward?

Do you swear to tell the
truth, so help you God?

I do.

Mr. Mason, you're the
president of the Alkali Bank?

I am.

Did my deputy bring
you a saddlebag

full of money yesterday?

He did.

Did I ask you to check
the serial numbers

of that money against
those stolen from the bank?

You did.

What were your findings?

The numbers compared exactly

with the bills stolen
from the bank.


JUDGE: Order, please!

(gavel banging)

Your Honor.

Now, Mr. Mason,
that can't possibly be.

You see, that-that
money was ours.

We got it from the
sale of our cattle...

I'm sorry, Mr. Cartwright.

I also checked
those serial numbers.

There's no doubt that
it was the stolen money.

Now, look, Sheriff... Your Honor,
I gave this man a bill of sale!

A copy of a bill of sale

that proves that-that
it was our money!

No tricks! No tricks,
Mr. Cartwright!

What tricks?!

I never saw a bill of sale.

- He gave you a bill of sale!
- (clamoring)

(gavel banging)

JUDGE: Order!

Order! Order!


Order, please!

The verdict is already
very clear to me,

but we must leave it
to the jury to decide.

We already come to a decision!

They're guilty of
robbery and murder!


(gavel banging)

Order! Order!

The defendants have
been found guilty,

and I hereby sentence
them to be hanged

tomorrow morning at sunup.

Why wait till tomorrow?

Let's do it now!



I'll get him, Sheriff.

Come on, go with me.

Don't worry, Cartwright.

Stan will get your kid.

You've had your
fast, fair trial.

Put them back in the cell.



He can't get far on foot.

Spread out!

You're the one that was
supposed to catch him.

What do you mean,
he disappeared?

Well, I'm telling you
that's what happened.

When his horse run away,
I knowed he had to be

in that clump of
trees, but he wasn't.

Me and the posse
combed that clean.

Did you look up into the trees?

You know, he just might
have climbed up into them.

Well, of course I
looked into the trees.

What do you think I am?

I think you're stupid;
that's what I think.

All right, all right,
that's enough.

Besides... there's
nothing he can do.

His family got a fair and
square trial by a judge and a jury.

If he comes back to town
and tries to make any trouble,

he'll get a rope
just like the others.

Yeah, that's right.

There's nothing he
can do, is there, Sheriff?

What did I tell you?

Didn't I rightly tell you?

And it worked.

Slicker than greased ice.

Even though you was
afraid to take the gamble.

Shut up, Artie.

Things aren't over yet.

Oh, they will be in
the morning, Sheriff.

Just a few more hours.

You're a great one for big
ideas, aren't you, Artie boy?

The only trouble is that
you forget the little details

that foul up those big ideas.


this saddlebag that we
copied... You forgot all about it.

I told you to get rid of it.

Now, go out and
bury it somewhere.

All right, Sheriff,
I'll take care of it.

You heard what the sheriff said?

Boy, he sure is a dummy.

He's too dumb to handle
all that money, Sheriff.

Maybe he should
fall down and die.

Enough of that.

We've done enough
harm to this town already.

Hey, I was just
talking out loud.

Tell you what.

How about me mixing us a drink?


Artie, I've told you to stop
counting your chickens.

I can't help that, Sheriff.

I can't help that.

This money is gonna get me
so far away from that livery stable

and the stink and the
smell of them horses.

Here... to us, Sheriff.

To me and my big ideas,

and to you and your,
uh, careful details.

Of course, you realize
that after their testimony

this morning, the Cartwrights
are onto the whole plan.

What difference does that make?

They're gonna hang
tomorrow morning!

Now, there's nothing
they can say to anybody

that's gonna change that.

Yeah, I know, but I still wish

Stan had caught
the youngest one.

Forget about it.

- Come on, have another drink.
- Nah.

It's bad luck to celebrate.

Besides, I got to
feed the prisoners.

Let me do that.

I'd sure like to
do that, Sheriff.

Why would you like to do that?

I just kind of... like
looking at men that...

know they're gonna die
in a few hours, that's all.

You're a strange one, Artie.

Okay, go ahead.


Uh, if you'll just step back
against that wall there,

I'll give you some grub.

Aren't you the, uh...

aren't you the man
who runs the livery stable

where we put up the horses?

Yes, sir.

That's me.

Uh, wait a minute.

What are you, uh,
doing around here?

Well, I earn a few extra dollars

working for the sheriff
every now and then.

Oh, yeah?

Say, uh...

how'd you like to earn
a lot of extra dollars?

What do you mean, sir?

I don't want the sheriff
out there to know, but, uh...

I got to send a telegram.


well, I-I don't, uh, I don't
know, Mr. Cartwright.

Now, that'd be aiding a
prisoner; that ain't right.

Well, it wouldn't be right if we
were guilty, but we're innocent.

Now, it's not gonna harm anybody
just to send a telegram, is it?

Well, how are you
gonna pay me any money

when the sheriff took
it all away from you?

Well, here.

You can take it
all. I... I got some...

I got about, uh... $50 here.

How does that sound?

Well, um...

why don't you go ahead
and write out the telegram,

and, uh, I'll stand
here and think about it.

All right.


Whoo! This is a...
territorial governor.


Well, this is a mighty
important message, ain't it?

Yeah, it is.

Well, I think I'd better
send this a special way.

Oh, thank you.


Oh, um... I'll, uh...

I'll send this a
little bit at a time.

- (paper rips) -That way,
I think they ought to be

getting the whole thing
in about six months or so.

Enjoy your meal,
gentlemen. (clicks tongue)

(door closes)


Ha! Little Joe!

Clem, where's Sheriff
Coffee? I need help fast.

Well, he took some prisoners
down to Carson this morning.

- What's wrong?
- I just rode in from Alkali.

My pa and brothers have
been framed for murder.

They're gonna hang
there tomorrow morning.

What are you talking about?!

There's no time to explain.

They rigged a phony
trial; we were found guilty.

I managed to get away.

Look, Clem, maybe
your badge can help.

Well, I'd sure
like to help, Joe,

but, shucks, this is
just a deputy's badge.

It hardly gives me authority
here in Virginia City.

It's my family, Clem;
somebody's got to help.

- (snaps fingers)
- The territorial governor!

Maybe he could help.
I'll send him a wire.

Uh, Joe!

You can't reach him that way.

What do you mean
I can't reach him?

Well, the lines are down;
they're checking them now.

(sighs) How long
you think it'll take?

Can't tell... It
could be an hour,

and it could take all day.

Clem, do me a favor,
send that message

to the governor as
soon as you can.

Tell him my family needs help.

Well, I'll do that, Joe.

Where are you going?

Out to the ranch to get
some men and some guns.

It's our only chance if that
message doesn't get through.


(horse neighs)

Bob! Jim! I need your help.

Pa and my brothers got
framed for murder in Alkali.

You're kidding!

If we don't get there by sunup

with some men and
guns they're gonna hang.

Don't say anymore;
we're with you!

All right. I'll need a
gun and a fresh horse.

Take mine... He's
saddled and ready to go.

Right, thanks.
Bob, you ride north.

Get as many men as
you can. I'll ride east.

I'll meet you at Carson's
Crossings in two hours.


Come on! Pa's in trouble!


Come on, Mike! We need help!


Joe, I've got more
men on the way.

- They'll be here anytime.
- Good.

Now, all you men know
what I want you to do.

But I want you to
remember that the men

that are holding my pa and
brothers prisoners are lawmen.

We may have to use guns.

If there's anybody here
that wants to turn back,

I'll understand.

I know my family will, too.

All these men feel
exactly the way I do.

Just let us know what
you want us to do.


All right, I'm gonna
ride ahead in Alkali

and see what's happening.

The rest of you wait here
until Bob's men arrive,

then follow me in.

I'll meet you on the
outskirts of town.

You wait there
until I contact you.


MAN: Good luck.


If I only knew
Joe was all right.

(wry chuckle) It's funny.

We're in here
worrying about him,

and he's out there
someplace worrying about us.

Well, I'm sure if anything
can be done, Joe'll do it.

(whispers): Sure.

He's a pretty smart kid.

I sure ribbed him a lot.

I hope he knows
I didn't mean it.

- (door opens)
- I'm sure he does, son.

Good evening, gentlemen.

How's everything?

What about my son, Joseph?

We didn't catch him, but that
doesn't make any difference.

There's nothing he can do.

Oh, yes, there is.

Even if we die, he'll be back.

May take him a week, a
month, but he'll be back.

He'll get the whole pack of you.

He's not gonna get nobody.

By tomorrow, there'll
be wanted posters

with his name on 'em
plastered all over this country.

You know, he's right.

Your boy's lucky if
he lives out the week.

Does it make you feel
better being a rich murderer?

I'm just doing
my duty as sheriff.

Tomorrow I hang
some bank robbers.

Then the town'll know
I'm still doing my duty.

How you gonna explain
your sudden wealth?

I don't have to
explain anything.

The bank got its money back,
and the town didn't lose a thing.

Now, just stop
worrying about me.

You've only got
a few hours left.

Don't waste 'em.

Strange, the things
a man thinks of

when he knows he's going to die.

HOSS: Like what, Adam?

(sighs) I was thinking
about the time that...

Joe took all those
guys hand wrestling

at the Bucket of Blood and...
you and me had bought 'em all

rounds of drinks
to let him do it.

- Never did tell him, did we?
- No.

You do think of silly things.

Mm? What?


Like how green the grass
gets in the springtime.

The snow in the winter.

All the things you take
for granted every day.

Just... silly things.


I don't think they're
so silly, Hoss.

Things that God gave us.

Not so silly.


I wonder where everybody is.

Come on, Stan, relax.

They probably went to bed early

so they could be up
in time for the hanging.

STAN: Yeah, I know,
but I still don't like it.

You heard what Cartwright said

- about that kid of his, didn't you?
- Yeah.

How do we know he's
not out there someplace

a-pointin' a gun
at us right now?

He's one kid
against a whole town.

Once those posters are
out, he won't stand a chance,

so stop your worrying,
will you, Stan?

Go out and make your
rounds, the same as always.

I don't want tonight to be
different than any other night.

(chuckles) After all, we do
have a community to protect.

(chuckles) Yeah.

I'll go ahead and make
my rounds as usual,

and then I think I'll turn in.

Good. See you bright
and early in the morning.

- STAN: Right.
- (dog barking in distance)

(door closes)


Evening, Joyce.
Mind if I sit down?

You might as well... The
room's full of empty chairs.

Ah, it's not gonna be
much longer now, Joyce.

In just a little while I'm
gonna take you out of here.

You know, Stan,

I get tired of hearing that.

What's it been now?

Three years.

And I'm still
standing in this place

eight hours a night

trying to get people
like you to buy drinks.

Oh, I know you shouldn't
have to do that, Joyce,

and you're not gonna
do it much longer.

- I'm gonna see to that.
- Oh, stop it, Stan.

You're full of talk, talk, talk.

Find someone else
and leave me alone.

Well, if you saw the money,
then would you believe me?

You show me the
money, and I'll believe you.

All right.

I'll show you the
money tomorrow.



(dog barking)

Well, there's no sign of him.

Whatever Joe does now,

he's gonna have to do it
in front of the whole town.


Unless they already caught him.

Looks like everybody's
turned out for the show.

People got to be sick
to enjoy a hanging.

You men have about ten minutes.

There anything I can do for you?


Open that door and come in
here alone for just about a minute.

I'm glad to see that you
still have a sense of humor.

You know, it's gonna be
hard to hang brave men.

I can't figure him out.

Seems proud enough
of being a sheriff,

yet he's gonna do
something like this

for a few measly
thousand dollars

he'll get after
they split it up.

Did you find him?

Nope, no sign of him anywhere.

Did you look over in the saloon?

He's always there,
mooning over that girl, Joyce.

Yeah, I looked there.

Talked to the girl,
she ain't seen him.

What's more, she don't
give a hoot if she ever does.

No, Sheriff, I
looked all over town.

He's nowheres.

Ah, he's nervous
about this whole thing.

When the Cartwrights told him

the kid would come
back and kill all of us, he...

Well, he sort of believed it.

Well, he's as scared
as he is stupid.

Never should've
dealt him in on this.

I've been telling you that.

I know what you've
been telling me.


You're sure you ain't been

doing something
more than just talking?

(chuckles) You
mean did I kill him?

No, Sheriff.

I must admit the thought did
cross my mind, but, uh, no.

I was just wondering.

- Oh, Stan will be back here.
- Yeah.

After this thing is all over,

he'll be back with his hands
reaching out for his share.

And the first thing
he's gonna do is take

and blow the whole
thing on that girl, Joyce.

What he does with it
is his own business.

He took a gamble, the
same as you and me.

I don't care what either one
of you do with the money.

That's 'cause you ain't
been running a livery stable

for the past ten years.

You don't hate horses like I do.

Boy, I'm gonna get me so
far away from this stable...

I've heard all of that before,
so shut up, will you, Artie?

Well, the sun's well up.

Better get the prisoners.

Let me help you.

Why, Artie? Why do
you want to do that?

I was standing around;
someone's got to give you a hand.

You kind of like all of
this, don't you, Artie?

Sure I do; why not?

Besides all that money, it's
gonna be fun watching them hang.

We're gonna need some help.

I'll have to go out and
deputize a few more men.

Just stay out of there, Artie.

You stay out of
there till I get back.

(door closes)


All right, let's get on with it.

Put their ropes on.


(horse whinnies)

All right, hold it.

You're not gonna
hang anybody, Sheriff,

unless you want to see
your deputy hang, too.

That won't do you
any good, Cartwright.

You've already killed one man.

You want another man's
life on your conscience?

Well, speaking of
conscience, I think your deputy

has a few things to
tell the people of Alkali.

The three of
you got a fair trial.

There's nothing you can do.

You're one man
against a whole town.

Just one man?

I think you better
count again, Sheriff.

(heavy footsteps)

For an ugly bunch,
ain't they pretty?


Now, nobody moves,
nobody gets hurt.

We're gonna have another
fast, fair trial this morning,

just like the one
you gave my family.

I'd like to call
my first witness,

your deputy, Stan Mace.

All right, Stan, tell
them who shot the teller.

Tell them who killed the teller.

Tell them, or so help
me, I'll hang you right here.

It was Artie.

Say it louder.

It was Artie.

(crowd murmuring)

Don't pay any attention to him.

You can't listen to
the word of a man

whose life is being threatened.

Shut up, Sheriff.

I'm not through
with the trial yet.

I want to show you
my first bit of evidence.

Saddle bags with
a pine tree brand.

Like the one you have
in your office, Sheriff.

Only Stan and I dug this one
up behind the blacksmith's shop.

You recognize it, Artie?

You ought to;
they belong to you.

No. No!


(woman screams)


All right, drop
the gun, Sheriff,

and stand right where you are.

(groans) Stinking horse.

(horse snorts)

(laughs, chokes)

Looks like my deputy and Artie

had a pretty good
plan worked out.

I'm certainly glad we
found out the truth in time.

All right, you
men are free to go.

And we're sorry about the
mistake that we all made.

Not yet, Sheriff.

The trial's not over just yet.

Or don't you remember
what you said about that trial?

About the serial
numbers on those bills

found in our saddle bags

matching the ones
stolen from the bank?

That's right,
that's right, I did.

But it's quite obvious that
my deputy and Artie here

were the ones that
switched the stolen money.

I never dreamed that they were
the ones that robbed the bank.

Well look, you...

You know, I've been
your sheriff for a long time.

You all know me
well enough to...

to know that I couldn't
have anything to do

with a thing like this.

Well, it's true, isn't it?

I've worked hard for this town.

Let's take a look
in your safe, Sheriff.

What are you talking about?

You heard what he said.

Let's open it and take a look.

Now, what possible reason
could there be for doing that?


If our money's in that safe,
it means you put it there,

and you knew it
was there all along.

I have nothing to hide;
I have nothing to hide.

Sheriff, if you have
nothing to hide,

you won't mind
opening your safe.

All right, we'll open the safe.

If that'll make you happy.

(crowd murmuring)

The money's in the safe,
just as they said it was.

Stan and Artie
and I, we stole it.

Then we put the blame
on the Cartwrights.

But... But why?

We don't understand.

You've been a
good sheriff for us

for a long time.

Why, if you needed money,

you could have come
to any number of us.

That's just it, Harry,
I didn't need it.

Stan and Artie,

they had their reasons
for wanting the money.

Me... (grunts)

I wouldn't have known
what to... what to do with it.

(sighs) Well, little brother,

I don't know when I
was gladder to see you.

Yeah, what took you so long?

Ugly-looking things, ain't they?

Depends on where
you're standing.

Well, they don't look
so bad from down here.

Oh, I don't know
about you fellas,

but I don't want to
hang around here.

Behind the Scenes of The Gamble

This episode featured a segment in the 1994 NBC special Back to Bonanza.

“The Gamble” marked Michael Landon’s inaugural scriptwriting endeavor, which he co-authored with Frank Cleaver.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza is a beautiful, family-friendly show for solo viewing or enjoying with loved ones. The Gamble serves as the 93rd episode out of a total of 430. Produced by NBC, Bonanza aired on their network from September 1959 to January 1973, spanning 14 seasons.

You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>

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