The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1/ Episode 14: The Horse Trader: January 9, 1961. 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
The issue in this episode is the town has an old cannon that has become an eye sore. They are having a council meeting on it and Barney is the only one against getting rid of the cannon. The council has changed since the last council meeting- Ellie Walker must have won her election because she is there and Barney is also there and two others who weren’t a part of the last meeting. Present are two men who really say nothing in the episode. Floyd and Mr. Monroe are no longer on the council? The vote goes to get rid of the cannon and Mayor Pike appoints a two man committee to sell it- the two being Andy and Barney.
Andy and Barney hook the cannon up to their police car and wheel it around trying to sell it but no one is interested. Andy even tries to sell the cannon to Barney- ‘to put in front of his house’- which is interesting because in a later episode we learn Barney lives at a boarding house. The best offer they get is from a junk dealer Charlie Ross but there is a catch- they will have to pay Charlie $15 to take it.
When all seems lost- Andy and Barney are in the drug store when a stranger comes in. Turns out he’s an antique dealer named Ralph Mason. Andy sees his opportunity. He puts on his sales pitch to Mason. He tells him how this cannon is historical- that Theodore Roosevelt had it with him at San Juan Hill. Barney can’t believe Andy is lying and ends up walking away. Opie is there taking it all in- and starts to correct Andy and Andy rushes him off. They end up settling on $175 for this junky cannon.
Meanwhile there is a back story- Opie has been trading stuff with his friends- sometimes getting the better of the deal, sometimes getting the worse end of the trades. Obviously he is learning from Andy how to stretch the truth to sell an item.
Barney and Ellie are unhappy with Andy-and when Andy comes into the drug store and is confronted by them Andy just doesn’t seem to get their point. He was just doing some ‘horse trading’ no harm done. He walks out mad and Opie runs into him while on roller skates that he had swindled a friend out of. He had told his friend that the cuff links he had were from George Washington’s coat. Andy is furious and drags Opie home for a talking to.
Andy is laying into Opie about breaking the Golden Rule, how it is wrong to be doing this to his friend. When Opie points out the obvious that he was just doing what Andy had done with the cannon ‘selling the product’- Andy tries to explain away his embellishments by saying that it was Ok- it was between adults. Finally Andy sees the light when Opie points out they were both guilty.
Barney and Ellie are in the drug store when Ralph Mason comes in to pay for the cannon. A minute later Andy comes in and says no deal- and he tells Mason that he had lied to him and starts negotiating the cannon sale down. Mason is willing to go $150 but Andy still won’t go for that. In the end it is sold for $20.
Great ending. Ralph Mason does end up selling it using the same lies the Andy had used on him– to a man who donates it back to the town advertising it as a cannon Theodore Roosevelt had used at San Juan Hill.
An entertaining episode- Opie again seems the to be the person in town with the most sense. He knew right from wrong- when Andy surely didn’t. Great interplay between Andy and Barney in this episode. Again though Andy is inconsistent-where as Barney is as he always seems to be Barney.
- In the Christmas episode Opie had received roller skates from Ben Weaver. Which brings up the question-why did he need a new pair?
- Actor Max Showalter- who plays Ralph Mason is probably a familiar face. He appeared in his career in over 1000 television shows. He also went by the name Casey Adams. He played the role of Ward Cleaver in the original pilot-but was replaced by Hugh Beaumont in the television show.
- In this episode Andy tells Barney ‘ you beat everything, you know that’- the first of many times Andy would tell Barney that in the series.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Duputy Barney Fife
Rony Howard- Opie Taylor
Max Showalter- Ralph Mason
Elinor Donahue- Ellie Walker
Dick Elliott- Mayor Pike
Pearl Cooper, Joseph Crehan and Tom Jacobs- unnamed council members.
Directed by Bob Sweeney
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart