Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kraft Suspense Theatre; My Enemy, This Town; Scott Marlowe; Diane McBain; Barbara Nichols; John Zaremba

Click here for my previous episode review.

Season #1, Episode #15

My Enemy, This Town

Original Air Date - February 6, 1964.

Setting/Time - a small California town (Santa Marta) in the present.

Plot/Review/Discussion -

Of all of the first 15 episodes (not counting ## 1 and 2 which I have not yet seen), this one is my least favorite, mainly because this episode lacks a strong plot.

Scott Marlowe plays a man recently released from prison. He returns to the home town where he was wrongly convicted of assaulting a local woman. He is rebuffed by his family and everyone else in town.

The story consists mainly of a series of confrontations/arguments between Marlowe's character and (1) his family, (2) the sheriff and his deputy, (3) a realtor, (4) the woman that falsely accused him, (5) the woman's husband, (6) his parole officer and (7) local thugs paid to assault him.

All of these confrontations follow a similar pattern, with Marlowe indignantly yelling at the people that want him to (1) leave town, (2) stop being indignant, (3) pay too much money for an apartment, (4) stop painting pictures of his victim (or at least paint better), (5) violate his parole so they can "get" him again, etc.

These confrontations are somewhat random and interchangeable - the order in which they occur is not terribly important. The plot does not follow any sort of progression until near the end when Marlowe's character is falsely accused again (by a different woman) and placed on trial.

The story also plays the race card to a certain extent by making Marlowe's character hispanic and playing slow spanish guitar music when Marlowe drives into his old neighborhood to see his parents. The deputy sheriff came across like the stereotypes of old southern lawmen persecuting the minority, with the victim's husband playing the "Boss Hog" role. (These stereotypes, of course, were played much more subtly than in programs like the old Dukes of Hazzard.)

The music score is far less subtle than in most KST episodes. The music tends to walk the viewer through the expected emotions/reactions of some scenes a little too awkwardly. The Spanish guitar at the beginning is one example. The worst example occurs in the fight scene involving the local thugs. Each blow that Marlowe lands is accompanied by a blast from the trumpets (or some brass instrument) that make the scene vaguely reminiscent of a Batman episode.

Marlowe's character was in error when he told the realtor that the realtor could not refuse to rent to him. Even today, landlords are permitted to perform background checks and are not required to rent to people with criminal records.

Despite these shortcomings, the confrontations were well acted, as was the plot when it finally showed up. I found myself rooting for Marlowe's character, but that could just be my own anger issues bubbling to the surface.


Scott Marlowe played the part of Johnny Baroja, the main character. This was the first of his two KST episodes. He acted for nearly 50 years, including both regular series work and guest starring roles on shows such as Star Trek: TNG (although that does not count as a Star Trek Connection).

Twenty-three year old Dianne McBain played the role of the original victim. She would later act in KST in Season #2. She received work as a guest star on major television programs through 2001, including roles with future KST actor Jack Kelly on Maverick in 1959.

William Smith played the deputy sheriff. He has worked since 1942 in various roles, including a well-known part in Red Dawn.

Barbara Nichols played the second false accuser. She was usually typecast in similar roles calculated to take advantage of her voice and physical appearance. This typecasting garnered roles for her in a few major movies and television programs from the 1950's through the 1970's.

The defense attorney was played by John Zaremba who acted for nearly 40 years. His most famous role came with his regular part on The Time Tunnel (along with KST actor Whit Bissell and others) 2 years after this episode aired.

Cars -

Marlowe drives a light blue tutone 1955 Ford convertible. While this car would undoubtedly attract much attention at a car show today, it would have been decidedly second hand in 1964.

The viewer can glimpse a mid 1960's Ford Thunderbird during one of the outdoor scenes.

Lessons I learned from My Enemy, This Town.

  • Even in California towns with hispanic names, stereotypical southern good ol' boy sheriffs are in charge.

  • Hispanic men must drive cars from the mid-1950's, but those cars can be convertibles.

  • Deputy sheriffs frequently moonlight as art critics.

  • If everyone is against you, just yell at them until they change their mind.

  • If you are in a fistfight, trumpet blasts can be substituted for those Batman word bubbles announcing each punch.

  • You know that you have reached the hispanic section of town when you hear the slow, melancholy spanish guitar music in the background.

  • If a strange woman walks unannounced into your home, apologizes and then starts tearing her own clothing, it is not exactly a prelude to a romantic evening.
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