1955 was a busy year to launch a TV series while also releasing To Catch a Thief and The Trouble With Harry. Episode one was directed by the man himself. Vera Miles (year before The Searchers and The Wrong Man) is a sweetie living in a seaside trailer with her new husband, trying to rest after “a small breakdown,” when she’s found collapsed after an attack. “He killed me,” she says about a salesman she wouldn’t buy from. Some fun noir lighting along the way, but at this point I knew how it’d end, as husband Ralph Meeker (same year as Kiss Me Deadly) has revenge on his mind, and you can’t trust a woman with a history of breakdowns… she points out the man who attacked her… then another, and another. The kindly neighbor was in The Day the Earth Stood Still, the murdered man an FBI agent in Pickup on South Street. Was it the American writers or British Hitch who named the lead character Spann and had him kill someone with a spanner?
How to help a woman with anxiety:
“We don’t serve unescorted ladies at the bar.” Nancy Gates (Some Came Running, the crazy-sounding Suddenly) has heard local gangster Gene Barry (a Brock in a Fuller film) is out of prison, wants to confront him about her involvement in the arrest and death of his brother, is pretty sure he’s gonna kill her. Instead he sees her desperation and helps her out, bankrolls the dressmaking shop of her dreams, waits until she’s at her happiest point – then kills her. From a writer of Too Late Blues and the director of Jack Nicholson’s feature debut The Cry Baby Killer. I wasn’t trying to watch all forty episodes this season, so I chose based on particular factors, such as the presence of Elisha Cook Jr., which paid off.
Elisha, drunk and confused:
Joseph Cotten is a shithead business leader who fires a longtime employee then drives the long way home. I was expecting a Roadwork revenge scenario, but I guess there wasn’t time for the blubbering victim to plan an interception route – instead, Cotten crashes into construction equipment and we spend the rest of the movie in his head as he’s paralyzed and assumed dead by all who come to the scene. Gave me flashbacks to another anthology episode, which research suggests was Tales from the Crypt “Abra Cadaver.” The blubbering man was a silent star, notably of The Cat and the Canary, and Cotten’s only film of the year was a West German comedy that nobody has seen since.
131: The Gentleman from America
Sir Stephen (Ralph Clanton, good at being desperate and sinister) needs money, and rich Biff McGuire (The Thomas Crown Affair) is loaded, so Sir S and his less exciting sidekick John Irving bet the guy that he can’t stay the night in their haunted castle. After a flashback ghost story they win that bet, but hard, only realizing years later that the rich guy lost all of his marbles that night. Director Robert Stevens was an anthology TV heavyweight, appropriately ending his career on an episode of Amazing Stories.
Sir S shows Biff his pistol: