Casey is at his campfire when three men ride up and demand to know where Paco Durando is. The owner says that he’d like to know himself, and he took off with his women while Casey was looking for firewood. The leader, Cal Soper, doesn’t believe him and they string Casey up and put him in the back of a wagon. They demand to know where Durando is, and Casey insists that he doesn’t know. Cal figures that they’ll hang him, and Casey demands his last word. He warns them that the law will hang them all for killing himself, and says that Paco would be at the railhead in Bismarck getting out of the territory. Satisfied, Cal ties Casey to a tie and leave him there, while Casey pleads with them not to leave him to die. Once they leave, Casey bursts into laughter.
Paco and his wife Maria, and Maria’s sister Tina, run up and Paco cuts Casey free. Casey assures Paco that he did fine, and Tina says that she’s grateful that Paco defended Maria’s honor. Maria complains that Tina treats her like a child, and Casey says that they have to leave and to catch up with the show. Soon, they arrive at the T n’ T Circus and goes into the office wagon to talk to Ben. Casey says that he hired a new trapeze act, and admits that they got in trouble and he straightened it out for them. When they go out, Ben recognizes the family and welcomes to the show. Paco says that he and Maria are married, and Ben hastily offers congratulations. The man says that they’ll leave the poor excuse for the circus, and Ben offers his condolences to Maria on the death of her father, the Great Durando. Paco tells them that he’s replaced the Great Durando, and says that he’ll pay Casey back for his money to get them out of jail. When Casey points out that they have a contract, Ben tells his partner to tear it up. Paco refuses to work for Ben, and Ben warns him that they’ll have trouble getting a job elsewhere. Maria tells her husband that he’s making a mistake, but Paco says that they’ll walk into town. Maria faints and Paco catches her, and Casey calls for a doctor.
Later, Casey says that Maria is suffering from a bad trip and she’s staying over until she feels better. He tells Ben that Paco has changed his show and is rehearing his trapeze act, and Ben admits that he knew Paco when his last name was Gomez before he joined the Durandos. The Durandos were the best flying act in Europe, and Ben wonders what made Paco decide to stay. He asks Casey what trouble he got the Durandos out, and Casey explains that a Soper made a grab at Maria, and Paco stepped in. Ben admits that Paco isn’t an easy man to get along with, and he’s running the act into the ground trying to fill the Great Durando’s shoes. Casey figures that Ben and Maria were together in Europe, and says that Tina told him. Ben admits that it’s true, and that they need the Durandos no matter what his personal feelings are. Casey tells his partner that he got a promise from Paco that he won’t cause any more trouble, but Ben isn’t convinced.
The Durandos give their first performance and the show goes smoothly. Afterward in the mess tent, Ben congratulates Paco. Paco says that Tina has a lot to learn, and tells Ben that since Ben left Spain, he’s not sure that Maria has gotten over him. Ben insists that it’s all over between them, but Paco isn’t convinced. He tells Ben that if he lays a hand on Maria then he’ll kill him. Ben insists that he doesn’t get involved with another man’s woman, and warns him that Paco will lose no matter what. Paco loses his temper and Ben says that if he can control himself then he’d be back to the top where he belongs. He says that Paco is stronger than the Great Durando and a better catcher, and a surprised Paco walks out. Sal and his brothers are outside, and they attack him. Casey comes out and yells for help. Ben joins in and they take out the Sopers, and the other circus people arrive and send the brothers off on their horses. Paco warns that his arm might be sprained, and Tina smiles in satisfaction as Ben takes Paco away.
Later, Tina visits Ben and Casey and says that Paco is finished. Casey figures that Paco will be ready in a couple of weeks, and Tina says that she remembers that her father asked Ben to join their act. If he had then Ben would be the catcher and they’d be the most famous act in Europe. Ben tells her to forget it, and Tina claims that Paco asked her to come over and ask them. She tells Ben that it’s better if he doesn’t talk to Paco about it for fear of offending his pride, and Ben agrees.
Tina goes back to the Durandos’ wagon and Maria tells her that Paco is working the candy stand. Her sister claims that Ben wanted to see her, and that Ben has an idea. Tina wants Maria to convince Paco to let Ben take over as catcher until Paco recovers. Maria tells her to talk to Paco and leave her out of it, and Tina says that she will do it for the act. When she tells Maria to be in the big top for rehearsal in 20 minutes, Maria tells her younger sister not to give her orders and Tina says that someone has to.
At the candy stand, Tina tells Paco that Ben is taking Paco’s place with the act. She feigns ignorance about why Ben didn’t tell Paco, and Paco vows to take care of Ben. Tina says that the Great Durando would have used Ben and when the time was right, he’d strike. Paco agrees as Tina secretly smiles.
Later, Casey introduces the new act. Paco is working the bleachers selling peanuts, and too busy watching the show to collect money. He tosses his peanuts down and runs outside, and tries to perform a chin-up using his sprained arm. Paco falls in pain and runs off from the camp in anger and frustration.
That night, Casey finds Paco drunk in jail and brings him back to the circus. They arrested Paco when he got into a fight at a saloon, but didn’t hurt anyone. Ben carries him into the wagon and then talks to Maria privately. He tells Maria that it was Paco’s idea and it isn’t working out well, and it’s time to retire the show until Paco recovers. Ben explains that Paco sent Tina, and Maria says that Tina told her that it was Ben’s idea. She says that Paco might have tried to kill Ben, and Tina deliberately lied to all of them. Maria tells Ben that Tina has trouble with men and she did it deliberately to get Paco fired from their shows and destroy the act. Ben offers to talk to Tina, and she agrees. They kiss, and Tina calls to Maria that Paco is awake and asking for his wife. Once Maria leaves, Ben tells Tina that nothing was happening. Tina agrees, but says that Paco wouldn’t agree and promises not to tell him. She realizes that Ben and Maria know that she lied, and Ben spanks her. Tina says that with Ben’s help she’ll become the most famous flyer in the world. She kisses Ben, who pushes her away and acts what she wants. Tina says that she wants the act on top and Paco isn’t part of it, and Ben figures that Tina is trying to break up the act and put it back together without Paco. The woman says that if Maria doesn’t want to come with her, then she’ll do it on her own and no one will interfere with her plans.
Ben follows Tina into her wagon and tells her that her behavior has to stop. She says that her father fought for what he wanted and got it, and Ben tells her that the Great Durando would have agreed that Tina was a naughty girl. He starts spanking her again until she promises to behave, and she breaks into tears. Ben tells her that the Great Durando was a hard man but always fail, and figures Tina is a lot like him but has forgotten what he stood for. Tina tells him that Maria and Paco didn’t want her in the act, and ever since they got married they treat her like an outsider. Ben agrees to help her if she’s willing to work harder than she ever has. Tina agrees and goes to see Casey.
Casey is getting dressed when Tina barges in and asks if he knows showman F.X. Farnum. The owner admits that he does, and Tina convinces him to wire Farnum to come and see the Durandos perform. Ben comes in as Tina leaves, and Casey tells him what Tina wanted. Casey’s partner advises him to send the wire because it will shock the Durandos back to life. If they can convince Tina then they can save the act.
Maria is tending to Paco when he wakes up. He tells her that he had to run or kill Ben, and figures that he didn’t kill him because he loves Maria. Maria says that Tina put Ben up to it, but Paco tells her that Maria was always Ben’s rather than Paco’s. He’d destroy whatever there was of the Durandos to steal, and tells Maria to go to the man she loves. Maria insists that Paco is the only man she loves, but Paco orders her out before he begs her to stay. When Maria tries to kiss him, Paco shoves her away and she collapses. Paco begs for her forgiveness, and Maria says that she loves him. Relieved, her husband hugs her and Maria says that everything will be all right. She vows that Tina won’t bother them anymore, and tells Paco to rest.
The next day, Ben works with Tina and warns that she’ll need three more years of hard work. He asks what she’s willing to do, and says that she needs Paco and Maria. Tina refuses, accusing Ben of trying to make her go back to them, and warns that honesty is the only way. She asks Ben to come with her, and he agrees. Tina apologizes to Maria, who refuses to listen to her. The younger woman storms off, and Maria tells Ben that Tina is doing what she has to so that she can sell herself to Farnum. Ben tells Maria to give Tina the feeling that she’s wanted. Maria insists that they’ve been good to Tina, but Ben tells her that Tina is a Durando and wants to prove it. Paco objects and Ben says that the trouble is on the ground, not on the trapeze. He figures that Tina will put the spurs to them, and suggests that since Paco is recovering he tries a stunt to impress Farnum. However, Ben says that he’ll need Maria and Paco to work with Tina on her timing. After a moment, the couple agree.
Maria and Paco approach Tina and Paco says that they need Tina and she needs them. Maria gently strokes her sister’s hair, and Tina breaks into tears.
Later, the Durandos rehearse their act. Farnum arrives and greets Casey, and tells him that the act had better be good. The show begins and Farnum says that it’s all right but Tina needs three more years of work. He refuses to have Paco on his lot because his lawyer wouldn’t let him, and Casey says that all of his trouble is behind him. When Farnum tries to leave, Casey convinces him to stay for the stunt and goes out to introduce it. Tina performs the Circle of Flame and it goes perfectly. Farnum is impressed and applauds with the audience, and the Durandos drop to the sawdust to take their bows.
Later, Farnum signs the Durandos to join his show in two weeks. Tina thanks Casey and Ben for their help, and Paco gently interrupts her to say that he speaks for the act. The young woman demurs and they head out.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 26, 2017