Monday, August 26, 2013

Julie Harris 1925 - 2013

Julie Harris passed away this week. There have been many obituaries (such as this one in People) that listed her roles in movies, television and broadway. Most, if not all, of these obituaries omitted her role in KST's Robrioz Ring in 1964.


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Clip of Julie Harris in Kraft Suspense Theatre's Robrioz Ring.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Jack Is High; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Edd Byrnes; Ralph Senensky; Larry Storch; Pat O'Brien

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #2, Episode #6

The Jack is High

Original air Date: November 19, 1964

Setting/Time:  The present - mainly on a highway between Nevada and Los Angeles.

Plot/Review/Discussion:

Five armed men stop and rob an armored car near Reno, Nevada and steal the $3,000,000 inside.  When the robbery is discovered they become the most wanted men in the region. They must elude the police, transport themselves and the cash to Los Angeles and melt into the city before the police find them. 

The main conflict of this story is, obviously, cops v. robbers.  The robbers put into place an ingenious plan to hide themselves in the belly of a gasoline tanker truck, into which a false inner tank has been inserted. The robbers will take turns driving and hiding in the inner tank (with the money) during the journey to Los Angeles. This plan is intended to fool police checkpoints that will inevitably appear on the highway as the police attempt to prevent the unknown robbers from escaping.


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Other conflicts emerge between the robbers.  Some of the robbers are portrayed as decent (even refined) men who are simply down on their luck, while one of them is a more brutal thug and career criminal. The career criminal is impatient with the plan and the miscues that inevitably occur.  Threats and fistfights result as the truck stops at various points along the highway so the robbers can switch drivers or treat an ill member of their gang. (The highway obviously predates the limited access, modern interstate.)

The audience learns about the robbers only through the police investigation, as the police learn about their backgrounds and motivations for robbing the armored truck. The robbers talk about themselves only to reveal their bad luck and their hopes for a better life with the stolen money. All of the robbers have interesting, but sad, stories, except for the career criminal. The career criminal seems to be inserted mainly to add contrast to the other characters.

There are numerous points of suspense during the epsiode, as the robbers confront police checkpoints and barely escape suspicion a couple of times.  The writer and director build the suspense effectively, as the police investigation and the robbers' plan/journey reach critical points in the climax.

I will avoid plot spoilers, but the ending scene is quite memorable. The ending was simple, chilling, believable and avoided excessive cleverness and violence.  Many of those who saw this episode in 1964 still remember this scene decades later.

One of the best sources of information about this episode is the blog of director Ralph Senensky.  Senenksy's blog includes plot spoilers (even at the beginning of the post), so be careful if you have not seen this episode. Senensky's blog is here and here. Senensky includes a great deal of information, including the story of how a man died during filming of the opening scene. 

Senensky also writes of the general difficulties involved in filming outside, including obstacles to audio recording.  Senensky writes in detail of Universal's (and other studios') policy of inserting studio-recorded dialogue to compensate when background noise ruined a take. Senensky explains how he circumvented that policy to preserve quality.  The viewer does not always fully appreciate the effort involved in filming outdoors. Senensky's blog helps us to associate better quality films with actual outdoor shots instead of indoor shots with painted backgrounds.

William Wood wrote this episode.  This was the first of five episodes he wrote for KST.  Those episodes are somewhat diverse - often (but not always) involving action.  Wood often wrote crime stories, including one 1979 tv movie (Death Car on the Freeway) involving  highway suspense. 

The idea of gangsters hiding in the belly of a tanker truck was used (very differently) in the James Cagney 1949 movie White Heat. While I have no idea if White Heat inspired the tanker scenes in this episode, White Heat is known for having inspired many movies in different ways.

Cars

This episode featured many 1964 Ford Galaxies as police cars.  The following car appeared amidst the police Galaxies several times:


1964 Dodge 880?


It appears to be a 1964 Dodge 880.

The most prominent vehicle was the tanker truck, but I could not identify the make or year.

The highway featured a number of interesting cars. The clip below shows a 1962 - 1964 Buick Riviera (that traveled in the other direction a moment earlier) and a 1954 or 1955 Cadillac convertible.


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A moment earlier, a 1959 Pontiac and a 1963 Pontiac passed in the opposite direction (if you blinked you would have missed them).

In this scene, the white car with its trunk open appears to be a 1956 Pontiac convertible.



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It was obvious that the producers/directors of this (and every other KST) episode were not concerned with the historic/classic importance of the vehicles (for which I do not blame them, given their job in getting a show on the air). The vehicle shots were brief, included only a portion of each car and were often blocked by people or other cars. 

A show produced in 2013 and set 50 years in the past would overemphasize the vehicles and use only the most memorable models.  Such shows make for nice eye candy, but sacrifice authenticity.  The cars that appear in KST are much more meaningful because there was no obvious effort to display those cars. It is much more fun to see which cars turn up randomly in an episode where there was no intention to highlight those cars.  The viewer has the feeling that he is actually looking through a window into the past.

Actors

Ralph Senensky's blog also contains a great deal of information about the casting choices in this episode, including how those choices were made and what difficulties those choices presented.

Edd Byrnes played one of the robbers.  He was the "good guy" in the disputes with the career criminal.  The major role of his career (77 Sunset Strip) had just ended a year earlier.  Byrnes would remain active through the 1990's, including as host in the pilot of Wheel of Fortune and other series work.  Senensky provides interesting thoughts on the studio's choice to cast Byrnes.

Larry Storch played another robber.  He has enjoyed a near 60 year career as a comedian and impressionist, with his most famous role (on F Troop) beginning a year after filming "Jack is High."  Storch's comedic talents played a brief, but pivotal role in the plot.  Senensky's blog comments on the importance of his own avoidance of Universal's outdoor retake policy, especially as it related to Storch's performance.

In September 2008 (almost 44 years after this episode aired) Storch and Byrnes took part in a panel discussion at a Maryland nostalgia convention.  During questioning regarding their careers and different films they had made, both Storch and Byrnes denied ever having made a film or show together.

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(Byrnes is in the middle (speaking) and Storch is on the left.)  KST received no mention during the discussion of these actors' lengthy careers. While they obviously forgot their (major) role in this episode, such forgetfulness is hard for the viewer to imagine. We watched their characters sit next to each other, interract, talk, argue and even fight.  This discussion indicates that a television episode can mean more to the audience after 4 decades than it does to the actors. 












Harry Bellaver played another of the robbers.  His film career lasted almost 50 years (interspersed with a long Broadway career).  He played Sitting Bull in Annie Get Your Gun (both on Broadway and on film). His longest television role was on The Naked City, which role ended about a year before this KST episode aired. Bellaver's role in this episode was pivotal, although no larger than the other robbers. His role was also sympathetic.

Pat O'Brien plays a police detective for the second time in KST, having played earlier in Threatening Eye. His career lasted more than 50 years. 

Henry Jones was the "brains" behind the robbery, playing the character known as "The Professor."  Jones was a constant presence in movies, television and Broadway for  years.  I recall him playing mostly smooth talking villains.  Jones' villains, by design, were not very menacing and were sometimes comical.  Jones' most famous roles were in Vertigo, Bad Seed and as a regular on Phyllis.  I remember him from the Six Million Dollar Man and Big Valley

Don Kennedy plays a policeman for the first of two times in KST, appearing later in episode 2.15.

William Boyett plays a policeman for the second time in KST, having appeared previously in episode 1.07.

Star Trek connections.

William Bramley played the career criminal in the second of his two KST episodes.  He would later play the lead policeman in Star Trek's "Bread and Circuses."  He often played authority figures (police, judges, military, etc.) during his 25 year career, including West Side Story, The Outer Limits, The Streets of San Francisco and Barnaby Jones.

This episode was the second of three KST episodes that Ralph Senensky directed. Senensky directed more than half a dozen Star Trek episodes, each of which Senensky writes of at his blog (along with many other series that he directed in his quarter century career). 

"Jack is High" was one of several television shows in which Bramley and Senensky teamed up, including KST's "A Hero for our Times," Star Trek's "Bread and Circuses," three episodes of The F.B.I. and one episode of Breaking Point.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Kamchatka Incident; Kraft Suspense Theater; John Forsythe; Roger Perry; Leslie Parrish; Malachi Throne

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #2, Episode #5

The Kamchatka Incident

Original Air Date:  November 12, 1964 

Setting/Time: The present (or some time in "the past few years") in Tokyo and the North Pacific Ocean.

Plot/Review/Discussion:

Major Livingston is the pilot of an American military transport that is scheduled to fly from Tokyo to the American West Coast during a typhoon. The flight is complicated by the presence of a flight attendant with whom he has had an affair and a Russian defector among the passengers.  Further complicating the flight are mechanical defects that become apparent after the transport plane is airborne.

The episode begins with a narrative voice-over:

For the past few years, a report has circulated in the Orient about certain events, which occurred while a typhoon named Hazel was spinning itself in the far reaches of the Pacific. The report was originally classified 'Confidential', but word has continued to spread, and more and more people have heard and passed on the story that has come to be known as The Kamchatka Incident.
There are many conflicts in this episode, the biggest of which plays out between the American flight crew and the Russian military plane that attempts to intercept them in midair when they stray into Russian air space.  As Major Livingston and his co-pilot ponder their options for dealing with the Russians just outside their cockpit window, they are informed of the Russian defector among the passengers. The defector will almost certainly be killed if the American plane is captured. This reality creates conflict between the flight crew and the defector's handler from the U.S. government (also a passenger), who demands that the crew refuse to surrender. 

The Russian conflict has pushed to the background the drama between Livinston and the flight attendant.  The two had previously suffered tense moments at the airport and during the early part of the flight when discussing the affair and its end.  
The typhoon provides the added conlfict of "man v. nature." Even though they are beyond the storm's reach, the storm has forced them to fly an unusual flight path, which path, coupled with the plane's mechanical troubles, led them into the outer reaches of Russian air space. 



Livingston and his co-pilot must decide whether to surrender or try to flee in their damaged plane, while considering the safety of all of their passengers, including the Russian defector. The resolution is primarily action based.  The romantic angle does not contribute to the resolution, although the resolution of the primary conflict helps resolve the romantic plot.


It is apparent from the conversation between Livingston and the attendant that the affair was an adulterous one, even though the writing subtly avoids making that point clear (as best I recall).

The Kamchatka Peninsula is controlled by Russia and has been on the front lines of military and political conflict over many decades, especially involving Russia and Japan.  Nineteen years after this episode aired, the Kamchatka Peninsula was near the location where Russian fighter planes shot down Korean Airlines flight 007 in September 1983.  This episode also predated Pueblo by four years and Mayaguez by 11 years. Instead of copying this episode from modern headlines, this episode predated those headlines.

In 1985, Robert KcKinney wrote a novel with the same name as this episode, based loosely on KAL 007 (with substantial changes).  The online descriptions of this book describe very different plots than this KST episode.  It is possible that McKinney had never even seen this episode.

I was pleased by the realism of this episode.  The writers did not complicate the plot with implausible twists and complicated mysteries, such as you might see in modern political thrillers.  The writers presented a basic story with the Russians as the "bad guys."  They did not see the need to create a new "bad guy" that the Americans and Russians would team up to defeat, such as the shadowy groups fighting James Bond or those that appear in such movies as Sum of All Fears.

The Russians in this KST episode appear only on the periphery of the action.  They are the largely unseen enemy that cannot be ignored.  The primary conflict appears more ominous that way as the flight crew and passengers engage in their own conflicts attempting to deal with the problem. 

This episode has much in common with the old western series, Wagon Train, in which traveling groups must contend with various dangers while traveling great distances in the western desert. Wagon Train featured characters with stories in their past that are explored and revealed over the course of the episode while the convoy deals with their primary danger and their isolation.  This type of story idea is well represented here.  (Episode 1.19 was also similar to Wagon Train, without being overly similar to this episode.)

Actors

John Forsythe played Major Livingston in the second of his two roles in KST.

Frank Maxwell played the Russian defector's American handler in the second of his three KST roles. 

Star Trek connection

Roger Perry played the co-pilot.  Two years later, he would play Captain Christopher on Star Trek's "Tomorrow is Yesterday."  Perry's career has spanned more than 50 years, with his most recent credit coming in 2010.  Perry starred in two series that lasted only one season.  He has played guest roles on many famous series, including Ironside, Barnaby Jones and Falcon Crest.

Leslie Parrish played the flight attendant with the not-completely-defined romantic link to Major Livingston.  She played Lt. Palamas in Star Trek's "Who Mourns for Adonais?"  Her careen spanned more than 20 years, beginning with uncredited roles in movies in the mid-1950's and continuing with guest roles on shows such as Perry Mason, Big Valley, Adam-12 and Police Story

Malachi Throne played the Russian defector in the third of his three KST appearances.  Little more than two weeks after this episode aired, Throne and the cast of Star Trek would begin filming the pilot episode ("The Cage") of that series.  A more detailed summary of his career appears for episode 1.07.  Throne died at age 85 on March 13, 2013.  Throne is the third actor from "The Cage" to appear in the second season, and one of eight different actors from "The Cage" to appear in KST over both seasons.

In one scene, where the defector came to the cockpit to confer with Major Livingston, the only people in the scene were the three Star Trek actors and John Forsythe.

One of the writers for this episode is Paul Schneider, who wrote episodes "The Squire of Gothos" and "Balance of Terror" from Star Trek, along with "The Terratin Incident" from Star Trek's animated series.

Cars.

The only vehicles in this episode were the American transport plane and the Russian fighter plane.  I do not know what type of airplanes the producers used.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kraft Suspense Theatre; That He Should Weep For Her; Milton Berle; Carol Lawrence; Hamlet; Alejandro Rey

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #2, Episode #4

That He Should Weep for Her

Original Air Date:  November 6, 1964 (unlike previous and subsequent episodes, this episode appears to have aired on a Friday instead of Thursday).

Setting/Time: A small California town near the Mexican border in the present.

Plot/Review/Discussion -

This episode is fairly typical of many KST episodes.  It features one or more major stars, takes place in a small town and focuses more on resolution of personal conflict than action or adventure. 

Milton Berle plays a middle aged jeweler (Sam Morris) who is fair (but firm) with his customers.  One night his store is robbed by two masked men from the Hispanic part of town.  Morris' assistant tries to fight the robbers while Morris pleads, "Give him the money!"  Morris retrieves a gun and, in a near panic, shoots to protect his assistant. He ends up killing the younger of the two robbers.  The other robber escapes. 

The major conflict revolves not around finding the robber.  The audience knows who it is (even though the other characters do not).  The conflict occurs between Morris and the dead robber's sister (Marta).  Morris is plagued by guilt for the death of the robber, while Marta is angry and bitter at Morris for shooting her brother.  Morris spends much of the episode trying to express his remorse to Marta, while Marta tries to punish Morris with her anger. 

They begin to talk and see each other more often while continuing the fight over what happened. (I am simplifying the description to avoid plot spoilers.)  Gradually Marta's anger subsides and she and Morris become close.  In addition to the tragic circumstances of how they met, Morris wrestles with the age difference between the two.

The Morris-Marta relationship is more plausible than I am making it sound.  It takes a great deal of subtlety to depict a relationship the way the writers depicted this relationship over the course of one show.  Modern shows would not be content with showing a mere relationship such as the one that evolved between Morris and Marta.  Modern writers would feel compelled to add intrigue, mystery and implausible complications.  In doing so, they water down the main story and the fictional relationship suffers.  There was a time when one simple story was enough for one episode.  Such a story, if subtle and deep enough, would be thought provoking and satisfying to the viewer.  But when too much is added, the whole product becomes superficial.  Sometimes, less is more.

Marta's friend Juano is the surviving robber (unknown to Marta).  He was older than Marta's brother and was supposed to look out for the brother while Marta was living out of town.  Juano cannot tell Marta the truth.  He remains quiet while Marta rages about the unknown man that led her brother to join the robbery. Juano becomes angry as Morris and Marta grow closer together. 

The plot proceeds to the final conflict as Morris and Marta work out their situation while Juano interferes and acts as the catalyst for the story's resolution.

The writer is Irv Pearlberg, whose writing credits include episode 1.25 and many police and law stories.  Even though the background for this story involves a crime, the main focus is on the relationship between Marta and Morris.  The crime is only a tool to get to the real story.  The same was true of episode 1.25




The title comes from Hamlet, and it contains the implicit question that the episode tries to answer.  What is Marta to Morris that he should be sympathetic to her situation and her grief?  Morris spends most of the episode asking that question.  The ultimate answer and the plot resolution is credible. 

Cars

At one point, the viewer can spot a 1964 Dodge on the street.  I am not sure of the make, because the Dodge is difficult to distinguish from the 1964 Plymouth.  Juano drives a 1955 Ford.  (This follows one of the lessons from 1.15).  Morris drives what looks like a 1961 Ford Galaxie. 

Actors

Milton Berle played Morris.  It is unusual to see him in a dramatic role, but he had more than a few of those in his career. 

Carol Lawrence played Marta.  She had recently achieved stardom on Broadway in West Side Story.  At the time this episode aired, she was married to KST actor Robert Goulet.  Her acting/broadway career continues at this time.  Her acting credits include multiple roles on KST spinoff Run For Your Life.

Alejandro Rey played Juano.  His most famous role was as a regular on The Flying Nun in the late 1960's. 

Berkeley Harris played a friend of Juano whose interference advanced the plot to its resolution. This episode was his third appearance on KST.

Norman Leavitt played a farmer buying jewelry at Morris' store.  Leavitt's transaction established Morris' fairness as a businessman.  Leavitt was playing in the second of his three KST episodes. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Kraft Suspense Theatre; A Lion Amongst Men; James Whitmore; Tommy Sands, Peter Duryea

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #2, Episode #3

A Lion Amongst Men

Original Air Date
: October 22, 1964

Setting/Time: A small rural/mountain/western town (Cedar Bay) in the present (in late October).

Plot/Review/Discussion -

James Whitmore plays "the Major," a Korean War veteran that emphasizes preparedness and physical fitness in his daily living. He and his army friends have built a training center at their mountain cabin retreat. The Major believes that the rest of society, particularly the young people in high school, have gone soft. The conflict is established early, as the Major confronts some smart-alec students who show no respect to the Major and his friends.

The writer faced some difficulty in creating a balanced conflict among the characters. Ordinarily, smart-alec teenagers do not make for sympathetic characters - especially when they confront or oppose military veterans. So the writers gave the Major some unpopular traits. He disliked ethnic students. He used sneaky methods. He spoke in favor of "real Americans" and against "their kind." The Major was Archie Bunker nearly a decade before All in the Family. These traits balanced the negatives of the teenagers.

The Major's animus toward ethnic students and use of non-PC buzzwords served no purpose in the plot, as it played no role in the final confrontation. That character trait existed just so that the writers could present a political view.

The local teenagers, led by the high school quarterback named Riccio, go on a rampage of vandalism on Halloween eve. Their last stop is the Major's house. The teens' vandalism included cherry bombs. The noise from the cherry bombs sent the Major into an episode of post traumatic stress disorder. He began suffering flashbacks to the Korean War.

The Major captured Riccio and took him prisoner in the house while the other teenagers escaped. The Major began berating Riccio for various aspects of unAmericanism, while slowly slipping into a delusion that both of them were fighting in Korea a decade earlier.

The Major then began blaming his former superiors for orders that resulted in the death of the Major's soldiers in a particular Korean War battle. The Major took Riccio to the mountain retreat where his breakdown became complete. He eventually began firing his gun into the night air while Riccio tried to run away. This confrontation took place while the other teens and the sheriff raced to the retreat to rescue Riccio.

The main point of the story appears to focus on post traumatic stress. The Major's confrontation with Riccio brings that issue to the forefront, while the prejudice issue appears to serve no purpose. The "generation gap" also looms in the background, but is overshadowed by the other issues.  At the end, Riccio gains a new appreciation for the Major and what he endured in the war.  The episode was a learning experience for both characters, but the political issues got in the way.

The story could have been much more effective and dramatic had the writers not injected the political and PC elements into the story. In 1964, Americans were not yet tired of seeing fictional bad guys made obvious with dialogue that referred to "real Americans" while criticizing "their kind." The Archie Bunkers of television were still considered controversial and had not yet become mere parodies of themselves. Today, Americans have grown weary of the "race card." It has become too easy for a writer to place a "racist" label on a character by having him insult someone's ethnicity. For this reason, this episode has not aged well.

Just as importantly, both the war on terror and recent economic troubles in the U.S. and Europe have created a new emphasis on preparedness. The Major does not seem as out of place today as he would have been in 1964. As I watched this episode, I had to remind myself from the beginning that the Major would soon emerge as the bad guy.  The Major's emphasis on preparedness probably caused the 1964 audience to peg him as the bad guy much sooner. 

The Sheriff doubled also as the high school football coach. But he did not provide sports updates or serve as an art critic.

Cars

The Sheriff drove a 1964 Ford Galaxie. There also appeared to be a 1964 Dodge or Plymouth, which was somewhat common for this and other shows of that era. The high school kids drove a 1957 Dodge convertible.

Actors

James Whitmore played the Major. This was his second appearance on KST. His acting career spanned almost 60 years and featured such TV shows as Twilight Zone, Big Valley, KST spinoff Run For Your Life and The Virginian. He played a prominent role in 1970's Tora! Tora! Tora!

Tommy Sands played Riccio. Sands was, at the time, Frank Sinatra's son-in-law. He made guest appearances on such shows as United States Steel Hour, Wagon Train and Hawaii Five-0. He enjoyed a successful music career as a teen idol in the 1950's, singing in an episode of Kraft Theatre in 1957.

Star Trek connection

Peter Duryea played Palchek - one of Riccio's teenage friends. Little more than one month after this episode aired, Duryea began filming his role in Star Trek's first pilot episode - "The Cage." Duryea is one of many actors from that particular episode to be featured in KST.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kraft Suspense Theatre; Museum TV; Once Upon a Savage Night

Commenter Nick Hall of the Zoom Boom has alerted us to the availability of Once Upon a Savage Night (# 1.21) on Museum.tv.

Museum TV features four episodes of KST. There appears to be an intention for more episodes to appear in the future. You will have to look at the archive/search page to see what I mean.

The episodes appear in black and white (or possibly very faded color) for reasons that I do not know. The black and white appearance gives the episodes an air of more advanced age than the other episodes.

The episodes use the original Kraft Suspense Theatre title instead of the syndicated "Crisis" title that appears today on RTV and was used in the 1970's. The episodes appear with the original Kraft food commercials.

The episodes are even downloadable using RealPlayer or a similar program.

I have already fully reviewed three of the four episodes that appear at Museum.tv. I provided only a speculative review of Once Upon a Savage Night because I had never seen it before. I will update that review shortly.

Museum TV features many other programs, including news and documentaries, that aired in past decades. There seems to be an emphasis on Chicago based programming.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kraft Suspense Theatre; Operation Greif; Robert Goulet; Claude Akins; Claudine Longet

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #2, Episode #2

Operation Greif
Original Air Date: October 8, 1964. This episode, whether by design or otherwise, aired a little over two months before the 20th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

Setting/Time: Western Europe, World War II, 1944/1945. This is the third episode that took place during World War II.

Plot/Review/Discussion -

"Operation Greif" appears, on its surface, to be a war story. In fact, the real story is deeper. This episode is more of a mystery story than a war story. The writer, Jerome Ross, had numerous writing credits to his name - many of which were for crime/mystery shows while none that I know of were military in nature.

The story is based loosely on the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in Western Europe as the allies were preparing their final push toward Germany and victory in the European war. The setting for the episode is the German attack, although we hear few references to the actual battle. The viewer hears nothing about "Bastogne," "Nuts" or other familiar words from that famous battle. The episode appears to take place in warm weather under clear skies, while the actual battle took place in heavy snow and cloud cover.

The story is not about the larger battle, but about five soldiers traveling together in a Jeep while the battle rages around them. Stock war footage is inserted at various transition points. The soldiers discover that the Germans have sent spies to infiltrate the American forces and disrupt allied operations. The soldiers begin to suspect each other (with some justification).

At this point, the episode is not merely about the action or even the mystery. The show is about the choices that the soldiers must make. Sergeant Henning has picked up the other four soldiers (in his Jeep) during the chaos of the battle at random locations as he rides to rejoin his unit with needed blood. None of them know each other. Each of them, especially the Sergeant in command, must make decisions as to whether to trust the other men in the Jeep. They face this decision repeatedly as they confront snipers, repair the Jeep and mingle with local farm residents.

At this point I will be vague as I try to avoid plot spoilers. The main characters are written and acted very well. Upon seeing this episode for the second and third times, I noticed that the characters are introduced to the story seemlessly in a way that the veiwer cannot fully appreciate until the end. One can almost recreate the writer's thought process as he works backwards from the basic story line to the details that establish the main conflict.

The plot was similar in some ways to the Twilight Zone episode, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street." The KST episode was superior because it did not contain a hidden political message.

"Operation Greif" featured a tight plot while developing strong, entertaining characters with which the audience could identify. The plot advanced briskly toward a realistic conclusion.

Actors

Robert Goulet plays the pivotal role of Private Brubaker. Goulet was fresh from his success in Broadway's Camelot, whose 2+ year run had ended a year earlier (and which would be briefly revived with Goulet in 1993). Goulet would later win a Tony for The Happy Time in 1968. Goulet also enjoyed television and movie acting credits spanning nearly fifty years. He was married for 18 years to Carol Lawrence, who starred in one episode of KST during Season #2.

Claude Akins was perfect for the role of the gruff sargeant stereotype. Even though he was playing a stereotype, the role and character worked. His short commands and inquiries got to the point, advanced the plot and made the viewer believe that the story was real. Akins avoided the pitfall of overdoing the role with exaggerated gestures and mannerisms, as many of the more modern stereotype sargeant roles tend to do. His acting career spanned 40 years, including an uncredited role in 1953's From Here to Eternity, a part in 1959's Rio Bravo and many roles as military men, policemen, sheriffs and western gunfighters. He landed guest roles on such shows as Bonanza, Wagon Train, Dragnet, Big Valley, Guns of Will Sonnett, The Lucy Show and many, many others. He starred in two series of his own in the 1970's and early 1980's - Movin' On and Lobo. It is mildly ironic that in 1960, Akins played one of the leading roles on Twilight Zone's "Monsters are Due on Maple Street."

Claudine Longet played the teenage/20+ farm girl. She was known for numerous guest roles in the 1960's and 1970's. She was married for a time to Andy Williams. In 1976, she shot and killed her olympic skier boyfriend. Following a sensational trial, she served a 30 day jail term. That event now overshadows her entire career.

Peter Helm played the soldier muted by battle fatigue. He had previously starred in Season #1's "Are There Any More Out There Like You?"

Linden Chiles played Private Buttel. He continues to act today after more than 50 years in show business. I recall his guest role in the Time Tunnel when he played the main character's father at Pearl Harbor.

Don Dubbins played Corporal Shale. He acted for nearly 40 years, including an uncredited role in From Here to Eternity, guest roles in Big Valley, The Guns of Will Sonnett, Dynasty, KST spinoff Run for Your Life and other shows.

At least five of the actors in this episode appeared in more than one program/movie that took place during World War II. This fact helps show how influential that War was on film fiction for at least the following twenty years - influence that has waned following the 1960's. How many actors today can claim more than one World War II based credit?

Cars - The only vehicles in this episode were military vehicles such as the Jeep that carried the five soldiers and stock footage of tank battles inserted briefly at transition points in the story.