Friday, July 16, 2010

A Truce to Terror; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Steve Forrest, John Gavin, Frank Silvera, William McGivern; Michael Ansara

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #1, Episode #12

A Truce to Terror

Original Air Date - January 9, 1964.

Setting/Time - Los Angeles in the present.

Plot/Review/Discussion -

A businessman finds himself in an altercation with a hispanic man on a downtown street, resulting in an injury to the businessman. The businessman decides to seek revenge. We see the businessman's attempts to find the hispanic man in East Los Angeles. The situation escalates as his search intensifies. The plot culminates in a gun battle on the street and in a basement near the businessman's office.

In this episode, the businessman faces a choice between hunting down his attacker or forgetting the issue. The police, his business partner and a local community leader advise him to let it go. He presses on anyway. We see and hear his decision making process as he resists and ignores everyone's advice. The suspense is more about his decision than about the action that follows. There is no right or wrong decision, but we see the consequences as he presses forward and the conflict escalates.

The story is essentially an anti-war message, as reinforced by the written text on the screen at the conclusion of the show. The politics of the show detract from the plot. The message comes across as naive in light of the events of the past five decades.

The running gun battle/chase scene near the end is the closest (in the entire series) that KST comes to literally recreating the action and the atmosphere of the silhouette images in the opening credits.

William P. McGivern was the writer. He was mainly a crime novelist and mystery writer (even though this episode was not a mystery). He had been a police reporter and was noted for his realistic protrayal of urban life. That background comes through in this episode. This was the first of three episodes that he wrote for KST. He also wrote for police dramas such as Kojak, Adam-12 and other shows.

Cars - I did not recognize most of the vehicles, as they were older models from the 1940's in the hispanic section of the city. I did see the obligatory 1963-1964 Plymouth Fury taxi.

Actors -

Steve Forrest plays the businessman in the first of his two KST appearances in this episode.

John Gavin plays Forrest's hispanic antagonist. His most famous roles were in Psycho and Spartacus. Gavin later served as Ronald Reagan's ambassador to Mexico in the 1980's.

Frank Silvera plays the policeman that advises Forrest to abandon his search. His dialogue with Forrest in their second conversation is crisp and entertaining. He later starred in "That Time in Havana" with Forrest in the second of each of their two KST appearances. Silvera guest starred in many of the major television programs of the 1960's, including Rawhide, Hawaii Five-0, Gunsmoke, Hitchcock, The Flying Nun and KST spinoff Run For Your Life.

Star Trek Connection - The Star Trek connection is Michael Ansara, who plays the community leader/bar owner in the Mexican neighborhood. He advises Forrest's character to back off of his search (somewhat more forcefully than Silvera's character). He also helps Forrest's character and advises him as the situation escalates. Ansara played Kang on the "Day of the Dove" Star Trek episode. His other roles included small parts in Ten Commandments and Julius Caesar as well as larger roles in what seems like every major television program of the past sixty years, including a reprise of his Kang role on various Star Trek spinoffs. His original role on Star Trek, once the only thing I knew of him, now seems minor in light of the body of his work.
click here for the next episode review.


  1. From a President Kennedy speech to the UN ,
    September 25, 1961

    "Let us call a truce to terror. Let us invoke the blessings of peace. And as we build an international capacity to keep peace, let us join in dismantling the national capacity to wage war."

    "And unless man can match his strides in weaponry and technology with equal strides in social and political development, our great strength, like that of the dinosaur, will become incapable of proper control--and like the dinosaur vanish from the earth."

    At the end of the Kraft episode, the two men shoot each other and it is not clear if either will live or not. I think we will be entering another highly dangerous age of war technology in the next few decades, plus we still have plenty of the traditional nuclear weapons.

    I watched this Kraft episode tonight. Another thing I saw on TV tonight showed the desolation of Easter Island, with those spooky large human head statues left behind, after the ancient inhabitants killed off most of the native plants and animals. We might end up with the whole world in a similar state - the Easter Island phenomenon on a larger scale.

  2. See for the President Kennedy speech that the quotes in my previous post came from.