When Palmer, Kelly's commanding officer during the Civil War, asks for help, the old Irishman is happy to oblige - especially since one of his employees is killed by a shotgun blast meant ...
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When Palmer, Kelly's commanding officer during the Civil War, asks for help, the old Irishman is happy to oblige - especially since one of his employees is killed by a shotgun blast meant for the former general. Palmer explains that a rival railroad is trying to prevent his company, the Denver and Rio Grande, from making a successful trip to Leadville and will stop at nothing - even killing their passenger, President Ulysses S. Grant, to put him out of business.Written by
How do you manage it, Mike, to offend everyone you meet?
Oh, only the men I meet, beautiful.
My name is Jennifer Dean - Miss Dean preferably, Jennifer if you must, but not beautiful!
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[text appears over film of a modern-day train rolling down the tracks] Produced through the co-operation of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. See more »
For fans of Kelly and Flip and the ups and downs of the Overland Stage Lines, this short series draws to a close on a disappointing note. This final episode is a "backdoor pilot" for an apparently unproduced series about building the railroad. Flip has only a couple minutes of screen time at the open and close of the show (between which I suspect he slipped out to audition for CHECKMATE, which premiered only three months later). Kelly looms large, but is awkwardly shoehorned into a story that is clearly not his own.
A pre-WAGON TRAIN John McIntire guest stars as General William Palmer, once Kelly's commanding officer in the Civil War and now a railroad tycoon. He comes to Denver in 1873 seeking Kelly's help warding off a rival railroad's attacks on the fledgling Denver and Rio Grande. Taking center stage is Lang Jeffries as Mike Day, the man who, says Kelly, "practically built the Denver and Rio Grande single-handed." His sparring partner and reluctant romantic interest is Jeff Donnell as Jennifer Dean, the general's private secretary and proto-feminist.
The baddies are played by the always reliable Robert Emhardt as railroader robber baron and Ron Randell as his hired assassin and one-man monkey-wrench gang. They're determined to derail the Denver and Rio Grande's chance of landing a coveted contract to cover Colorado in railroad tracks, and to do so play dirty tricks ranging from dry gulching railroad crews to dynamiting the tracks. The producers spared no expense, and the show benefits from the location shooting, dynamite explosions, and a well-choreographed fight scene on a moving train.
On that train is none other than President Ulysses S. Grant, traveling to Leadville to endorse the Denver and Rio Grande's franchise. That puts the president in the crosshairs of would-be assassin Bill Jordan, who proves to be a formidable and indefatigable foe, and one played well by a tanned and taciturn Ron Randell.
Part of their plot is maneuvering Mike Day off the train, and that ploy is pulled off with aplomb by alluring blonde Christine White and her Babyface Finster of a kid brother. It's a small but memorable scene, and pivotal, too, because Mike's getting separated from the train allowed him to save the train and save the day.
Samuel Peeples wrote and produced this episode, and it appeared poised to become its own series. But it never did that I can tell, though the basic premise of a scrappy visionary building a railroad against all odds and adversities appeared on screens six years later as the Dale Robertson Western series IRON HORSE.
Thus ends OVERLAND TRAIL, a fine series and one I'm glad made it onto DVD thanks to Timeless Media. To be sure, William Bendix will be best remembered for playing Chester on THE LIFE OF RILEY and Doug McClure for his many years as Trampas on THE VIRGINIAN, but Kelly and Flip are also worthy of remembering fondly.
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