Top Hand

Top Hand

Air Date: January 17, 1971

Written by: John Hawkins, Arthur Heinemann

Directed by: William F. Claxton

Guest Stars: Ben Johnson (Kelly James), Roger Davis (Bert Yates), Walter Barnes (Weatherby), Jerry Gatlin (Quincy)

The Cartwrights join forces with neighboring ranchers for a cattle drive. Deciding who will be trail boss leads to a dispute.

Trivia: This was Ben Johnson’s third and final appearance in the series. He initially turned down the role of Sam the Lion in The Last Picture Show (1971) when it was first offered to him by Peter Bogdanovich because he thought the script was “dirty,” and he did not approve of swearing and nudity in motion pictures. Bogdanovich appealed to John Ford, who got Johnson to change his mind as a favor to him. With the permission of Bogdanovich, Johnson rewrote his part with the offensive words removed. Johnson went on to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing the role.