Virginie is celebrating the 80th birthday of Dolores Hart on October 20th with a blogathon running on October 18th to the 20th at her site, The Wonderful World of Cinema. Click HERE to read all of the contributions.
THE VIRGINIAN: THE MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN
The Virginian ran on NBC from 1962 to 1971 with a unique 90-minute format following the adventures of the characters working on the Shiloh Ranch in Wyoming. Cast members changed through the run of the series with the constant being James Drury as Owen Wister's famous man with no name, The Virginian and Doug McClure as top hand Trampas.
The Mountain of the Sun is an episode which aired near the end of the first season on April 17, 1963. It was in this year that guest star Dolores Hart entered the Benedictine Regina Laudis Monastery beginning her vocation as a nun. The episode was written by Harry Kleiner (Carmen Jones) based on a story by Lou Morheim (The Big Valley) and directed by Bernard McEveety (Gunsmoke).
The Virginian is far from Shiloh with two goals in mind. First, he is to deliver a bull purchased from Shiloh by a local rancher. Second, he is looking for a man named Dixon played by George Wallace (The Edge of Night). The cowboy had been briefly employed at Shiloh and left the ranch after stealing money and keepsakes from his co-workers.
Jeanette Nolan, Amzie Strickland
The women are missionaries whose calling is taking them into dangerous territory to deal with an even more dangerous Yaqui tribe.
George Wallace, James Drury
The women find a guide to take them to the Yaquis, but he is the thief, Dixon. The Virginian, hearing of the dubious guide trails the travelers to discover that Dixon has robbed and stranded the women. Dixon also attempts to murder the Virginian when caught. It is Dixon who is left dead as The Virginian continues on to rescue the three missionaries.
The Virginian feels an obligation to protect these sheltered easterners. If possible, he hopes to dissuade them from their plans. His entreaties fall on deaf ears and he then attempts to frighten them by describing the horrific details of the deaths of the previous three missionaries who came this way, unaware that the women are following in the footsteps of their husbands.
Amzie Strickland, Jeanette Nolan, Dolores Hart
James Drury, Dolores Hart
The Virginian's feelings are not one-sided. After a run-in with Mexican bandits, Cathy freely admits that she returns the Virginian's love. However, she is deeply conflicted because of her calling. Although her friends try to absolve her from any feelings of guilty should she decide to return to a life with the Virginian, Cathy has great difficulty making an honest decision.
Cathy spends a night in prayer which does not bring the answer that was the Virginian's hope.
Even when the Mexican military authorities refuse to accompany the women to the stronghold of the Yaquis, the missionaries are stalwart in their plan. The Virginian cannot let them go alone and together they ride into the danger zone.
Rodolfo Acosta, Jeanette Nolan, Amzie Strickland, Dolores Hart
Rodolfo Acosta plays the leader of the Yaquis and when he hears that these women are the widows of the men he had killed he is impressed with their bravery and their honesty. Perhaps these people with their bibles and their medicines have truly come to help his people. While the Virginian is held captive, the women spend the night helping a sick child. The tribe is impressed and release the Virginian while allowing the women to stay and do the work to which they are so committed.
Dolores Hart, James Drury
The Virginian and Cathy part with the gift of a bible and "Vaya con Dios." They will remain in each other's hearts.
Cathy watches the Virginian ride out of her life. Audiences bid farewell to Dolores Hart who was entering a new life.
Jeanette Nolan who played Helen Dyer in this episode would return to the series from 1967 to 1970 with real-life husband John McIntire as owners of the Shiloh Ranch, Holly, and Clay Grainger.