Synopsis by Bruce Eder
Danny Mitchell (Ted Donaldson) and a handful of his friends have long enjoyed the friendship of Counselor Gibson (Thuston Hall), the town patriarch of Lawtonville, Illinois, where they live. For years, the elderly man -- who owns the biggest estate in town, as well as the factory that employs a major part of the Lawtonville population -- has invited the boys to his home for dinner every Sunday, so that they may talk and exchange ideas. And he has now decided that these boys, who represent through their parents a good cross-section of the actual town -- are well on their way to achieving the maturity that will allow them to responsibly use the legacy he plans on leaving them, his home and the land around it. Danny and his friends look forward to creating a camp, or even a school, where children from all over the country -- and possibly the world, as far away as China (as Danny suggests) -- can come and get to know each other. But Counselor Gibson dies before he can sign the new will, and an earlier will leaves everything to his Chicago-raised nephew Fred (Stephen Dunne), who has little use for the town or the estate, and plans on selling the property and the factory. Danny takes an instant dislike to Fred when the latter admits he also doesn't like dogs and doesn't want Danny's German shepherd Rusty around -- the rest of the town follows suit when they learn of Fred's plans to sell the factory. The only hitch is the will, which requires Fred to live in Lawtonville for one full year or lose his inheritance. He and the rest of the town are soon in a battle of wits, with Danny and his friends (including one played by a young David Ackles) playing practical jokes that soon escalate to vandalism and, through an accident, arson. Cooler heads, including Danny's lawyer father (John Litel) and family friend Lyddy Hazard (Gloria Henry), who actually likes Fred and sees some good in him, try to get everyone to hold their respective tempers. But it falls to Rusty, through an unexpected chain of events and a near-tragedy, to get everyone talking to each other again.
prank, child, man, nephew