The High Chaparral
Note: Several great scenes between Joe and Sam, including a drunken fist-fight
Buck Cannon is leading a pack mule train into Tucson to stock up on supplies. While the ranch hands head to the "water hole" Buck goes to the general store to stock up on shells but finds to his dismay that two mountain men have bought out the entire supply. Manolito finds a willing lady to occupy his time within minutes. In the Saloon, Joe and Sam are already well-lubricated and having a glorious fist-fight over five dollars that Joe does not recollect Sam lending him and a girl they both covet who has already moved on. Buck informs Blue that they will be leaving the next morning at six - there is a chance of rain, which means floods. When he finds the mountain men he tries to talk them into selling even one case of shells at double the price, but they aren't interested. From the minute they laid eyes on the fine animals of the High Chaparral mule team, the pair have other ideas.
The two men return to their camp, which is the hiding place of the Mexican bandit, El Lobo. El Lobo has escaped from the prison that Manolito helped put him in. He is not very anxious to come out of hiding on the American side of the border, no matter how rich the pack train sounds, or how low on bullets the men are. But when he hears that it belongs to the High Chaparral and Manolito is with them, he perks up considerably. He wants Manolito taken alive.
The next morning, the bunkhouse boys are trying to sooth their hangovers in the nearest trough. Buck is unsympathetic both about the state of their heads and the fact that no one can find Manolito. The missing lover comes running to join them at the last minute with the boyfriend of his latest conquest hot on his heels.
It's a hot day and the mules are drying up. The first water hole they get to has been poisoned - El Lobo's way of forcing the High Chaparral men closer to his ambush. He sends some of his bandidos to chase "his covey of quail" into a canyon. He proposes to let time and the heat do the work for him, and also sends some men to the top of the gorge to make his victims "uncomfortable." But the mountain men are in a hurry. They try to convince Lobo's woman, Pilar, to kill the Jefe and let them take over. Pilar proves she is a true student of El Lobo, and shoots both schemers without blinking an eye.
The High Chaparral crew are running out of bullets and water. Sam says they can't hold out much longer. Since it might be their final hour, Joe's decides its time to square his debt with his brother - he guesses he did borrow that five dollars after all. "Give it to me later - if there is a later." Sam tells him. "'Cause where I'm going everything is free. But where you're going - you might need five dollars." They are all fading fast - but Buck has a plan. He sends Blue to get a stick from a sapling and Pedro to get some branches. Buck is going to go after the mule who is loaded down with dynamite but Mano makes him "draw twigs" for it, and makes sure he is the loser. El Lobo can't figure out what Mano is up to, but he is impressed by his bravery, and calls out a greeting while they hide behind their respective rocks. But Lobo is getting tired and he tells the High Chaparral men that their time is now up.
Buck has fashioned a sort of slingshot with the branches and guitar strings from the instrument Blue has been torturing. He uses this to fire the dynamite at Lobo's men as they ride toward them. Those of Lobo's men that aren't killed turn tail and run. Manolito faces El Lobo, but says he feels guilty for his last betrayal of the bandit, and lets him go. Pilar, however, decides to stay with Mano. He is happy with this arrangement for the length of one kiss, then joins his friends as he tells her to enjoy her walk into Tucson.