Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘You Can’t Do It, Mama’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Shadows

The defiant one

In “Shadows,” an eighth-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie (Donna Reed) stands in the Southfork living room, where J.R. (Larry Hagman) is seated and Bobby (Patrick Duffy) stands.

ELLIE: Bobby, J.R., ever since Clayton and I returned from Greece, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. It’s not easy for him to move into this family. In spite of our faults, we’re very close together and we don’t open doors easily to outsiders.

J.R.: [Chuckles] Well, it’s no secret that at one time I was against Clayton, but I don’t think I’ve done anything to make him feel unwelcome since you two got married.

ELLIE: No, you haven’t, J.R., and I appreciate that.

BOBBY: It was a little difficult for me at first to see you with a new man, but I made my peace with that.

ELLIE: You’ve both been very good about it. But there’s something that we haven’t been able to do, and that is to put the past behind us. I’m speaking of Jock.

J.R.: Well, wait a minute. It’s one thing for Clayton to marry my mama, but he’s never going to take the place of my daddy.

BOBBY: Same goes for me.

ELLIE: Bobby, J.R., nobody could ever take the place of your daddy — and not for me either. I loved him with all my heart. [Turns, walks toward the painting of Jock hanging on the wall, touches the frame] But he’s gone, and the rest of us have to be free to go on with our lives.

J.R.: Mama, I think I know what you’re talking about, but that painting’s not hurting anyone. It’s the only thing we got left of Daddy around here.

ELLIE: That’s not true, and you know it.

J.R.: [Stands] You can’t do it, Mama. It belongs here.

ELLIE: It did once, but no more. It belongs at Ewing Oil, the company he built.

BOBBY: She’s right.

J.R.: No, she’s not right.

ELLIE: J.R., please, don’t make it any more difficult —

J.R.: You’re wrong!

ELLIE: J.R., I know how much you loved your daddy, but keeping that painting up there is not going to bring him back. Only our memories could do that, and we have a lifetime of those. I mean, your daddy is in every shadow in this house, in every place he ever walked. And nobody could take away the love we had for him. But his life with us is over, and we’ve mourned him long enough. Taking this painting down is the right thing to do. I’m sure that even Jock would agree. [Lifts the painting off the wall, holds it] It’s time for this family to start again.

Watch this scene in “Shadows,” available on DVD and at Amazon and iTunes, and share your comments below.


  1. This was a good scene and you could feel JR’s hurt that Jock’s Portrait was coming down from it’s place and out of his home. This must of felt like Jock being taken away again to JR, but Miss Ellie was and had the right to remove the picture. It is the memories that are important not some portrait. It is disrespectful and wrong to have a picture of your deceased husband on a wall in plain view when you have remarried and brought that man in your home. It did belong at Ewing Oil because that is the company he built, Southfork belonged to Miss Ellie, even though Ewing Oil saved it by paying the mortgage off when she was about to lose it. I always felt that after Jock’s death the portrait should have been hung on the wall at Ewing Oil which seem more appropriate.

  2. I also wanted to mention another thing, I found it odd to have Donna Reed take it down that BBG. I know due to circumstances it had be done this way but it would have been more significant and meaningful if BBG who played Miss Ellie from the beginning to do that than her temporary replacement!!!!

  3. Mary Bailey is 100% right to insist the painting of John Ross Ewing Sr. Or Jock Ewing be moved to Ewing Oil offices. The new Farlow/Ewing dynamic must be free from any encumbrances 4 her marriage to the very classy Clayton to work! I can’t believe it, its the 2nd time in a week that I, R.J. Koopmans, President of the Ewing Oil Co. Ltd.-Canada disagree with ol’ J.R. Gawd I wish he were alive so he could back at me with a revenge plot, which I would do my very best C.B. to countermand!

  4. Stephan says:

    Excellent scene. While reading it, I was trying to imagine Barbara Bel Geddes’s voice speaking the part, and for the life of me I could not do it… This does make me wonder if they were writing differently for Donna Reed. Or is it just that I have actually heard her voice in that scene so often?

  5. Elizabete says:

    Very good comments.News about Patrick Duffy: he attended the 55th Monte Carlo TV Festival on June13th, 2015.

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