Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘My Pretty Little Ellie’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Dallas, Miss Ellie Ewing, Reckoning

Poor Mama

In “The Reckoning,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, Brooks (Donald Moffat) questions Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) during her testimony at the hearing to overturn Jock’s will.

BROOKS: Mrs. Ewing, did your husband ever write you about the codicil?


BROOKS: Nothing at all?

ELLIE: Well, he told me on the phone that he had been trying to plan ahead, but it was hard. He was tired. He said that he just wanted to lie down and go to sleep for awhile. I remember that that frightened me.

BROOKS: Had you ever heard him say anything like that before?

ELLIE: Never. Jock was as strong as a bull. It must have been the fever or whatever. I don’t know, but he just wasn’t himself down there.

BROOKS: But he did write to you about how he was feeling?

ELLIE: Yes, several times.

BROOKS: Mrs. Ewing, may I ask you to read some of what he wrote to you?

Brooks pulls a letter from an envelope and hands it to Ellie. She puts on her eyeglasses and studies the letter for a moment, then begins to read it aloud.

ELLIE: “I’ve forgotten how miserable the jungle can be. Between the heat and the fatigue, I’m about done in. I’ve been running a fever lately, but I guess I’ll get over that. If Punk can survive it, so can I. We’re getting things done. It’s not like when we were young, though, Ellie. [Voice begins to break] I’m really feeling the years down here. My concentration isn’t what it used to be, either. I find myself trying to figure something out, then just drifting off somewhere. Back to younger days. Younger times. It’s funny: I stare out, and all these jungle plants just kind of dissolve — and there’s your face instead, just waiting there for me. My pretty little girl. My pretty little Ellie. Oh, how I miss you down here.” [Removes her glasses, wipes her eyes]

BROOKS: Mrs. Ewing, I won’t ask you to read any further. May we place these letters in the hands of the judge? [Hands letter to bailiff] Mrs. Ewing, I have just one more question for you: Aside from the fever and exhaustion, are you saying that at the time your husband wrote the codicil, he lacked mental competence? [She looks at J.R. and Bobby, seated across the room.] Mrs. Ewing, please answer the question: Are you saying when your husband wrote the codicil, he was mentally incompetent?

ELLIE: I’m saying that his sense of judgment not up to his usual standards.

BROOKS: That’s not what I’m asking.

ELLIE: If that’s the legal term you need to break the will, then yes, Jock was not mentally competent. [She sobs.]


  1. Dan in WI says:

    One has to wonder if Ellie didn’t screw her entire case with the way she worded that last line, especially that first phrase of the line.

  2. I wonder if Jock thought about how J.R’s dealings nearly ruined the company when he mortgaged Southfork just to get some capital to drill in the Pacific, and also if he considered how J.R. battled Bobby while recovering from Kristin’s bullet.

  3. I love this episode for so many reasons and this scene is heartbreaking. If someone can watch it and not feel sad, there is something wrong with them! Bel Geddes is amazing, obviously, but the look of regret and maybe second thoughts on Patrick Duffy’s (and most of the cast in the courtroom) also is perfect- you are left wondering if Ellie really believes that Jock wasn’t of sound mind but you are also left to wonder if the others think she may be right. In an odd way this scene works because of Jim Davis. We never heard Jock say these things or speak this intimately to his wife, but you believe he might have. Davis had such presence and could make Jock a tough guy, yet there was also something about him that always made me feel like deep down Jock was a very tender man, at least with his wife.
    On a small note, I love how the family is feuding with each other yet still eat dinner together. When Ellie’s attorney arrives she introduces her family with pride and JR still stands when his mother gets up from the table. I always wonder if that was intentional or just habit on Larry Hagman’s part.

    • Oh, missiea5! I love what you wrote here about Jim Davis. So very true. And I’m glad you noted how J.R. rises when Miss Ellie gets up from the table. I always love to see him acting like a gentleman.


  1. […] moments on “Dallas” stir as many emotions for me as Miss Ellie’s testimony at the end of “The Reckoning.” Ellie, who is trying to overturn Jock’s will because it’s […]

  2. […] — Miss Ellie predicts the future for Sue Ellen, eulogizes Jock a the Oil Baron’s Ball and testifies at the hearing to overturn his […]

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