Monday, July 5, 2010

Kraft Suspense Theatre; Long, Lost Life of Edward Smalley;

Season #1, Episode #8

The Long, Lost Life of Edward Smalley

Original Air Date - December 12, 1963

Setting/Time - The main story takes place in a modern office building. The flashback (occupying most of the show) takes place at the end of World War II as the allies march through Western Europe.

Plot/Review/Discussion -

This episode presents a challenge to review because the real plot is more subtle than simply waiting to see the outcome of the trial.

James Whitmore plays J. Marvin Bean, a modern attorney that cares only about winning. We see him in the opening scene upbraiding his employee for caring about right-and-wrong instead of winning. That dialogue sets the stage for the plot of the episode.

Bean is then confronted by an armed visitor to the office (Smalley), whom Bean has forgotten. Smalley tells Bean and his associates (at gunpoint) the story of Bean's representation of Smalley during World War II. The action switches to Smalley's flashback of World War II Europe, as Smalley shoots his superior officer. The issue in Smalley's court martial is whether he intended to shoot the officer or whether it was an accident. Bean is appointed to represent Smalley.

It becomes apparent through the flashback that Bean cares little for the actual truth, a position that is consistent with his instructions to his young associate in the beginning of the episode. But he develops an effective strategy for winning the case, relying on technicalities and strategy instead of anything that reflects faith in Smalley's story. That Bean was concerned only with winning weighs heavily upon Smalley, as he apparently lacked any other source of validation in the two decades since his trial. Bean was thus forced to confront the issue of a client's actual guilt or innocence, instead of a mere checkmark in the win or loss column.

While Smalley was the main/title character, Bean's confrontation with his entire approach to clients and the practice of law provided the main conflict in the story. That conflict was more important to the final resolution than the outcome of the court case. Rather than simply waiting to find out who wins in court, the viewer sees the attorney forced to confront the truth. That is a much more interesting conflict.

Cars - Vehicles played no part in the episode, except for possible military vehicles.

Actors -

James Whitmore starred as attorney Bean. Whitmore starred in film and television from the late 1940's through 2007. This was the first of two KST episodes for Whitmore. His credits include many of the well-known television shows from the past generation, including Twilight Zone, Big Valley, Bonanza and KST spinoff Run For Your Life. He had a commanding presence and often played military/authority figures, including Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Richard Crenna played Edward Smalley. Crenna worked as an actor and director from 1950 until his death in 2003. His most famous role came as Luke McCoy in The Real McCoys.

Ron Hayes enjoyed a long career that included a second KST episode in season #2. Philip Abbott, John Alonzo and Arch Johnson also starred in season #2. Alonzo and Abbott both starred in "Once Upon a Savage Night."


  1. Outstanding, provocative and at times painful courtroom drama, well acted by all. It's more of a dramatic episode than a suspenseful one, as was the case with many entries in the series, and IMO it's one of the best.

  2. Smalley did not shoot his superior (Sergeant Bender.) Smalley was asleep in the wrong fox hole and when the sergeant awakened him, Smalley stabbed the sergeant with a bayonet.