Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘I Want You Out of My Life for Good!’

Dallas, Hush Hush Sweet Jessie, Pam Ewing, Victoria Principal

Pam o’war

In “Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, Katherine (Morgan Brittany) enters her bedroom, followed by Pam (Victoria Principal).

KATHERINE: Come on in, Pam. I was just dressing.

PAM: I want to talk to you about the letter.

KATHERINE: Letter? What letter? [Looks through her closet]

PAM: The letter that you read to Bobby. The letter from me to my attorney before we ever field for a divorce. The letter that said that I wanted to lead a different kind of life away from Bobby. The letter that I never wrote, Katherine.

KATHERINE: [Turns to face her] Now Pam, just a minute.

PAM: Did you write it? You did, didn’t you? [Katherine turns back to the closet.] Did you write it?

KATHERINE: Well, yes. J.R. forced me to. [Chooses an outfit, faces Pam] It was all his fault.

PAM: J.R. forced you? J.R. forced you to write a letter to break up me and Bobby?

KATHERINE: [Puts on a dress, smirks] That’s right.

PAM: You’re a liar.

KATHERINE: No, I’m not. You know how much he wanted the two of you divorced. And so did I. [Fastens a belt, smiles]

PAM: I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

KATHERINE: What difference does it make to you anyway? You left Bobby, didn’t you?

PAM: He was still my husband!

KATHERINE: But you walked out on him. [Walks toward her] You didn’t want him anymore, and I did. [Retrieves a scarf from the bed, drapes it around her neck] I fell in love with Bobby from the first time I saw him. And I’ve loved him ever since, Pam. And I’m going to have him too.

PAM: [Slaps her, sending a gasping Katherine onto the bed] Listen to me. You may be my sister, but I never want to see you again. I want you out of my life for good!

Katherine rubs her cheek and glares as Pam leaves.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 160 — ‘Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie’

Alexis Smith, Dallas, Hush Hush Sweet Jessie, Lady Jessica Farlow Montford

How sweet she is

What do I love about the final scene in “Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie”? Oh, pretty much everything. The Ewings stand in the Southfork driveway, panicked because no one knows the whereabouts of Miss Ellie and Jessica, whose murderous past has finally come to light. Suddenly, Donna arrives in Ray’s pickup truck. She gets out, bloodied and shaken, and explains that she’s just come from the Krebbs’ home, where Jessica knocked her out, swiped one of Ray’s handguns, took Ellie and drove who-knows-where in Donna’s car. J.R. looks stricken. “We’ve got to find them,” he says. “Jessica has killed once. Who knows what she’ll do with Mama?” Duh-duh-duh!

Is this a moment of pure camp? Yes, of course. How could any scene that requires the audience to imagine Alexis Smith abducting Barbara Bel Geddes at gunpoint not be campy? And what about the way Donna announces her news? Shouldn’t she hop out of Ray’s truck and offer the most important facts first: “Hey, everyone, Jessica has kidnapped Miss Ellie!” Instead, Donna tells the story chronologically; this allows the episode to end with the dramatic revelation that Mama has been abducted, but it isn’t very realistic. There’s also this: After Larry Hagman delivers his “We’ve got to find them” line, we get a reaction shot from Howard Keel and Patrick Duffy, who stand side by side and turn their eyes to the camera in near perfect unison. It’s priceless.

And yet despite all this, the scene is undeniably thrilling. The most valuable actors are Hagman, who makes J.R.’s concern easy to believe, and Susan Howard, whose halting, anguished delivery is pitch-perfect. She gets a big assist from the brilliant composer Richard Lewis Warren, whose underscore lends urgency to the entire sequence. I especially love how there’s no music during most of Donna’s monologue until she recalls awakening after Jessica knocked her out. Warren slowly brings in the orchestra when Donna says, “And then when I came to … they were both gone.” By the time she gets to this line — “Ray, she took one of your guns!” — the music has swelled. Can any “Dallas” fan watch this part without getting goose bumps?

The rest of “Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie” is almost as good. Smith is as over-the-top as ever when Jessica finally unravels in Ray and Donna’s kitchen, but Bel Geddes, with her believably bewildered expression, manages to keep the scene grounded. Meanwhile, Katherine proves she can wheel and deal with the best of them when she agrees to buy Cliff’s share of Wentworth Tool & Die at a bargain-basement price, and it’s great fun to see Morgan Brittany deliver lines like “Oil, oil, everywhere, and not a drop for Cliff.” Also, how can you not love the long-awaited moment when Pam confronts Katherine after learning she forged the letter that broke up her marriage to Bobby? The slap Pam delivers must be one of the most cathartic moments in “Dallas” history, and isn’t it nice to see Victoria Principal demonstrate some of the spark that once made her character so compelling?

“Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie” raises a few other questions that probably wouldn’t occur to anyone but “Dallas” devotees. Here’s one: At the beginning of the episode, Lucy speaks on the phone to Jackie, Cliff’s secretary. Is this the first, and perhaps only, time these two women interact? Here’s another: After J.R. confronts Clayton and Ray with Jessica’s diary in a Braddock parking lot, the three men hop into J.R.’s Mercedes and hightail it back to the ranch. Is this the first time we’ve seen J.R. and Ray share a ride since they palled around in the first-season episode “Winds of Vengeance”?

There’s also this: When the producers named this episode, they were surely offering a loving nod to the 1964 thriller “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” which starred Bette Davis as a wealthy spinster driven mad by her scheming cousin, played by Olivia de Havilland. (Future “Dallas” star George Kennedy has a small role too.) The film, which received seven Oscar nominations, is now regarded by some as a camp classic. Did the “Dallas” producers know this episode would achieve a similar distinction?

Grade: A

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Bobby Ewing, Charlene Tilton, Clayton Farlow, Dallas, Donna Culver Krebbs, Hush Hush Sweet Jessie, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Lucy Ewing, Patrick Duffy, Ray Krebbs, Steve Kanaly

Through the looking glass

‘HUSH, HUSH, SWEET JESSIE’

Season 7, Episode 29

Airdate: May 11, 1984

Audience: 20.4 million homes, ranking 4th in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Gwen Arner

Synopsis: Pam learns Mark knew he was dying and killed himself. Cliff reluctantly sells his share of Wentworth Tool & Die to Katherine, whom Pam slaps after she discovers Katherine’s role in ending her marriage to Bobby. Clayton tells Ray and Donna that Dusty is actually Jessica’s son. After J.R. uncovers evidence Jessica killed Clayton’s first wife, she kidnaps Miss Ellie.

Cast: Mary Armstrong (Louise), Christopher Atkins (Peter Richards), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), James L. Brown (Detective Harry McSween), Roseanna Christiansen (Teresa), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Eric Farlow (Christopher Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Bill Morey (Leo Wakefield), Charles Parks (Fred Robbins), Edmund Penney (doctor), Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (Jenna Wade), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Sherril Lynn Rettino (Jackie Dugan), Alexis Smith (Lady Jessica Montfort), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), D.J. Zacker (Louis)

“Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Dallas Parallels: Counterfeit Correspondence

In the most intense scene in “Changing of the Guard,” TNT’s first “Dallas” episode, Christopher angrily accuses Elena of exposing flaws in his methane hydrate project. She fires back by calling him out for dumping her – via e-mail! – on the day they were supposed to be married.

“I never sent you an e-mail!” Christopher exclaims. “I waited for you. For six hours! I thought you were dead, Elena. I was calling hospitals. I called Southfork. And when I finally got together with my father, he said you were in Mexico. And the next time I saw you, you had hooked up with John Ross!”

So begins one of the biggest mysteries of the new “Dallas’s” first season: Who sent the e-mail that broke up Christopher and Elena? The storyline produces more than a few twists, and as the Dallas Redone blog noted in June, it also evokes memories of another pair of star-crossed Southfork lovers who were kept apart by counterfeit correspondence.

During the classic “Dallas’s” seventh season, baby Christopher’s newly separated parents, Bobby and Pam, were on the verge of reconciling when they encountered interference from another relative: Pam’s conniving half-sister Katherine, who forged a letter in which Pam told her lawyer she no longer wanted to be married to Bobby but would return to Southfork to avoid hurting him.

Katherine, hoping to snare her sister’s husband for herself, showed Bobby the letter, knowing it would prompt him to give Pam the divorce he believe she wanted. The ploy worked and Bobby and Pam were kept apart.

In “Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie,” the penultimate episode of “Dallas’s” seventh season, the truth finally came out. In a quiet, moving performance from Victoria Principal, Pam pours out her heart and tells her ex-husband she never wanted to end their marriage. The revelation confuses Bobby, who reminds Pam what she had written in the letter to her lawyer.

“What letter?” Pam asks.

The conversation is interrupted by a ringing telephone – symbolic, perhaps, of the bells going off in Pam’s mind. At the end of the episode, she confronts Katherine (played to wicked perfection by Morgan Brittany), who brazenly confesses to her forgery – prompting Pam to smack her so hard, Katherine falls onto a nearby bed.

Flash forward three decades: In “Truth and Consequences,” TNT’s fifth “Dallas” episode, after Christopher pulls Rebecca aside at the Ewing barbecue, she tells him Tommy sent the e-mail that broke up him and Elena – which leads to Christopher striking Tommy in front of the other guests.

Like Pam’s smackdown, Christopher’s punch offered a satisfying flash of catharsis for viewers who knew Tommy was secretly plotting against the Ewings. It also reminded us: The Ewing men may have a lot in common with their daddies, but sometimes they take after their mamas.

 

‘What Letter?’

What letter?

In “Hush, Hush, Sweet Jessie,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) stands at a window in her living room while Bobby (Patrick Duffy) rests on the arm of a sofa.

PAM: I laid awake most of the night, just thinking. Thinking about how sad everything is. There have been so many tragedies in the past couple of years. Mama’s dying. Now Mark’s dying. Our marriage breaking up. Sometimes I just can’t believe that we’re divorced. I don’t know, Bobby. We should have found some way to have made it work.

BOBBY: I don’t disagree with that.

PAM: I thought a lot about our splitting up. It wasn’t just your fault or the Ewings’ fault. A lot of it was my fault too. You don’t know this, but I came to Thanksgiving Square that day to tell you that I was ready to try again.

BOBBY: Try? Try what, getting back together?

PAM: Yes.

BOBBY: Well, that’s very strange. I was sure you didn’t want to.

PAM: Oh, Bobby, I wanted to. I always wanted to. I just didn’t know if I could. [Walks toward him, they sit together on the sofa] Anyway, before I could say anything, you told me that you were letting me go.

BOBBY: But that’s because of your letter.

PAM: What letter?

BOBBY: The letter that you wrote to your lawyer. Maybe it was a first draft or something. Maybe you didn’t even send it. But Katherine found it and read it to me. It wasn’t the easiest thing I ever listened to.

PAM: Do you remember what was in it?

BOBBY: You said you wanted out of the marriage. You didn’t want to divorce me. You were afraid it would hurt me. You were hoping that I’d let you go.

In the background, a telephone rings.

PAM: Katherine read you this letter?

BOBBY: Yes. And despite how I felt at the time, it made me realize you wanted a different life.

 

‘I Never Sent You an E-mail!’

What e-mail?

In “Changing of the Guard,” the first episode of TNT’s “Dallas,” Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) angrily leads Elena (Jordana Brewster) into a room at Southfork and slams the door behind them.

CHRISTOPHER: You couldn’t wait to tell him.

ELENA: What?

CHRISTOPHER: About the methane. The earthquake. Everything I told you in confidence, you told John Ross!

ELENA: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

CHRISTOPHER: [Grips her arms] Don’t lie to me!

ELENA: [Pushes him away] Let go.

CHRISTOPHER: Don’t lie to me!

ELENA: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

CHRISTOPHER: John Ross tried to blackmail me. He said he was going to tell my father everything.

ELENA: I didn’t tell him anything.

CHRISTOPHER: And what you did? What you did was for nothing. Because he doesn’t love you. He uses people. And you want to know what’s really sick? I trusted you again.

ELENA: [Slaps him] John Ross doesn’t love anyone but himself? You look in the mirror, Christopher. You listen to your own words. I will always love you. [Crying] But we are two different people, from two different circumstances. I hope you understand. Was I really so wrong for you?

CHRISTOPHER: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

ELENA: The e-mail you sent me. The day we were supposed to get married.

CHRISTOPHER: I never sent you an e-mail! I waited for you. For six hours! I thought you were dead, Elena. [Crying] I was calling hospitals. I called Southfork. And when I finally got together with my father, he said you were in Mexico. And the next time I saw you, you had hooked up with John Ross! So what was I supposed to think?

ELENA: You sent me an e-mail saying that we were a mistake.

CHRISTOPHER: What?

ELENA: I only went to Mexico because I couldn’t stand to be here. John

Ross found me. I thought I wasn’t good enough.

CHRISTOPHER: No. [Touches her face] No. Don’t ever say that.

What do you think of Pam and Christopher’s moments of truth? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”