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» » Daniel Boone The Christmas Story (1964–1970)

Short summary

Just before Christmas a blizzard drives everyone from their homes to the safety of Boonesborough. Tempers are as short as food when an Indian couple, about to have a baby at any time, show up seeking shelter.

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  • comment
    • Author: Qus
    DANIEL BOONE – The First Beau -1965

    This is the 43rd episode of the long running 1964-70 series about the life of American frontiersman and explorer, Daniel Boone. The lead is played by Fess Parker. Also in the mix are, Ed Ames, Patricia Blair, Veronica Cartwright and Darby Hinton. This episode is from season two, which was the first season to be filmed in colour.

    A massive blizzard has hit the settlement at Fort Boonesborough. The locals all gather inside the fort and pool their food etc for a long stay. Hunting parties go out looking for fresh game, but they find nothing. Needless to say everyone is getting on everyone else's nerves.

    The food problem turns critical when it is discovered that diseased raccoons have been gorging themselves in the meat storeroom. The remaining meat has to be destroyed. Adding to the Fort's problems is the arrival of an Indian Chief, Valentin de Vargas and his pregnant wife, Aliza Gur.

    De Vargas and Aliza Gur are key members of a solution to a peace treaty with several warring tribes. It is the best interest of the settlers to help them. Needless to say Gur could be having the baby any moment now.

    In the mix is Jay Silverheels as a Indian who wants to kill Gur. He wants the war between the tribes to continue. De Vargas and Silverheels settle their differences with some handy sharp pieces of steel. De Vargas heads off to fetch help from the nearest tribe. The Indians return to the fort with enough provisions to see them through the blizzard.

    Sort of a feel good episode laid on for the Christmas season. It is much better than the episode broadcast for the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • comment
    • Author: Jothris
    A heartwarming episode that flirts with but never crosses the line into syrupy schmaltz. There was a real danger of that once the premise is laid out: A young Indian couple, the woman is pregnant and close to giving birth, are caught in a blizzard. When they show up at the fort, they are told there's no room at the inn--to coin a phrase--and only after Daniel's intervention are they allowed to stay in the stable. Yeah, anyone who's read Luke 2 knows what parallel is being drawn here, but, to writer Stephen Lord's credit, he never takes it over the top, and it plays out in a genuinely touching and hopeful manner.

    In that "inn" at Boonesborough are the locals, frustrated by the blizzard and the scarcity of food. Daniel, presaging Marx, says the food everyone brought will be collected and doled out according to need. That only fuels the frustration, given voice by settler Elisha Tully, who challenges Boone at every turn and even incites the settlers to leave Boonesborough and head south. Tully is played by the ubiquitous Morgan Woodward, whose imposing face and commanding voice make him a formidable opponent to the Big Man.

    It was Tully who rudely rebuffed the Indian couple's request for a ride in his wagon earlier in the story, and he's the leading voice in opposition to the Indians being given shelter in the fort, an objection seconded by settler Jeremy Cain, who was a victim of the squaw's father's raids a couple years earlier. But when the settlement is named after you, you get the final word, and Boone offers the young couple shelter. Mingo adds that this couple is the equivalent of royalty, but nobody but Boone appears impressed.

    The story of Oneha and Tawna, one a Creek and the other a Tuscarora, has brought an end to the bloodshed between the two warring tribes. If Tawna gives birth to a son, says Oneha, "it will unite our two tribes by blood and lasting peace." There's a parallel here to what the birth of God's son Jesus did between the warring "tribes" of Jew and Gentile. A nice touch.

    But just as today, there are those who don't want peace between warring tribes, races, or religions, and the fly in this story's ointment is Shashona, who strives to spark an Indian attack with the "fake news" that the white man is holding Tawna hostage. Fortunately, a fleet-footed squaw-spy slips into the fort and warns Tawna of Shashona's evil intentions.

    This being a Christmas story, a number of holiday trappings are trotted out, including little Israel's mangy Christmas tree that makes Charlie Brown's look Rockefeller Center-ready by comparison. Nary a song is sung, which is too bad because Ed "Mingo" Ames is an outstanding singer, but such would not have fit the period or the mood. There is another welcome biblical touch with the clouds clearing to reveal an especially bright star shining overhead. And the conclusion that star illuminates is a bright one.

    The Boone family and Mingo play smaller roles this time around, giving the stage to the guest cast. Morgan Woodward really shines as Elisha Tully, followed close by John Crawford, who played settler Jeremy Cain. Crawford is perhaps best known for playing Sheriff Ep Bridges on THE WALTONS, and both Woodward and Crawford have STAR TREK creds. Aliza Gur played Tawna with a bearing befitting a chief's daughter, but as evidence of her range, earlier this same month of December 1965 she appeared on Burl Ives's short-lived sitcom O.K. CRACKERBY as a spoiled brat Italian starlet given to histrionics and hysteria. And a few years earlier she was half of the famous catfight in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. She's very good here as Tawna, and so is her husband Valentin de Vargas, who went on to be a busy character actor. Ralph Moody shows up briefly to play the aged sage, channeling Psalm 23 in his prophetic pronouncement. But perhaps the most welcome guest star was Jay "Tonto" Silverheels, playing against type as the bad guy and doing a fine job, though somewhere Clayton Moore was wincing.

    A great episode of a great series, one that celebrates the season in a thoughtful and meaningful manner that underscores what Christmas is all about.
  • Episode cast overview, first billed only:
    Fess Parker Fess Parker - Daniel Boone
    Ed Ames Ed Ames - Mingo
    Patricia Blair Patricia Blair - Rebecca Boone
    Veronica Cartwright Veronica Cartwright - Jemima Boone
    Darby Hinton Darby Hinton - Israel Boone
    Dal McKennon Dal McKennon - Cincinnatus (as Dallas McKennon)
    John Crawford John Crawford - Jeremy Cain
    Sue England Sue England - Nanteen
    Eve McVeagh Eve McVeagh - Eleanor Tully
    Jay Silverheels Jay Silverheels - Sashona
    Ed Long Ed Long - Emmett Jensen
    Ralph Moody Ralph Moody - Grey Cloud
    Ted White Ted White - Yellow Eye
    Morgan Woodward Morgan Woodward - Elisha Tully
    Valentin de Vargas Valentin de Vargas - Oneha
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