Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Portrait of an Unknown Man; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Clint Walker; Robert Duval

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #1, Episode #22

Portrait of an Unknown Man

Original Air Date - April 16, 1964

Setting/Time - A western mountain sheep herding town in the present (in October).

Plot/Review/Discussion

Clint Walker plays a very tall man (David Wolfe) who is new in town and wants to be left alone for reasons that are unclear. As he arrives near the town, he abandons his broken down car to roll down an embankment along the road. He shows up at a general store in the mountains and orders many supplies but refuses to say why. Walker then loads his supplies on a burro and begins a 3 hour trek up the mountain to his newly rented cabin.

The following clip picks up the action after Walker has ditched his car (and just after the locals have called the sheriff to find out who won the world series after their radio broke):


video

This event begins constant gossip among the townspeople over what Walker is doing up in his cabin three hours away. Several of them even walk up there (!) to visit/spy on Walker. Much of the plot involves additional scenes/confrontations in which the townspeople seek answers from Walker, while Walker remains secretive and professes his desire to be left alone. The suspicions of the local residents were based on the fact that Wolfe paid for his purchases with a one hundred dollar bill.

The story is very much like "My Enemy, This Town" (1.15). There is a constant series of confrontations between one man and the local residents, in which the man repeats the same theme over and over again. These confrontations are much milder in this episode than in "Enemy," but the repetitiveness still makes for an inferior plot.

This'll learn ya' to use 100 dollar bills!














There is a related plot involving the general store owner and his daughter. That conflict/plot had been brewing under the surface for years prior to the events of this story. Apparently the father wanted his daughter to marry the man who molested her when she was underage. Walker's arrival in town helps bring the secondary plot to the forefront, while the secondary plot helps bring the main story to a resolution.

There are small points where the plot is difficult to believe. The writers went to great lengths to isolate Walker/Wolfe in his mountain cabin. While that isolation reinforces Wolfe's character, it makes it difficult to create additional confrontations/interactions between Wolfe and the townspeople. The writers' solution was to have townspeople take a three hour hike (each way) to visit Wolfe so that new confrontations could advance the plot.

Miscellaneous - The exterior set would be reused in "The Long Ravine" (2.24).

Cars

Clint Walker drives what is most likely a 1952 Ford at the beginning of the episode. He then proceeds to push a different 1952 Ford down the hill (either it was different or things were removed on the exterior before it was released to its destruction). This car was difficult to identify due to the beat up condition. Aside from broken windows and many dents, the only problem with the car seemed to be a broken hose - until it rolled down the embankment.

The Sheriff drove a 1964 Ford Galaxie.

Actors

Clint Walker plays David Wolfe. He was active in TV and movies for more than 40 years. He played the title character in Cheyenne for seven years. He played a small role in The Ten Commandments.

Robert Duval in "Portrait of an Unknown Man"







Robert Duval plays in one of his earliest roles as Harvey the handyman. He remains active today after more than 50 years in Hollywood. At the time this episode aired, TV guest roles were typical for Duval instead of the movie roles that he would get regularly in the 1970's and beyond.

Mala Powers played the store owner's daughter. Her acting career began with the help of Ida Lupino, when she played a rape victim in Lupino's Outrage. She guest starred on numerous television series, including Cheyenne with Clint Walker.

Quote of the Episode -

Robert Duval/Harvey (shouting indignantly): "Wait a minute! You think you can come down here, hand an order in and then just fill it?"

Clint Walker/Wolfe (matter-of-factly): "Yes."

Lessons I Learned from "Portrait of an Unknown Man."

  • If your car breaks down, just dispose of it by letting it roll down an embankment. No one will mind.


  • Sheriff's deputies, in addition to their duties as art critics, also provide sports updates.


  • You can come down here, hand an order in and then just fill it.


  • Don't trust any man who has a 100 dollar bill.


  • If your daughter is single, marry her off to the first child molester that becomes available.


  • If you are curious about a stranger in town, spend six hours walking back and forth to his house so you can check up on him.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Once Upon a Savage Night; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Nightmare in Chicago; Robert Altman, William McGivern

Click here for the previous episode review.

[I am updating this review on April 9, 2011, as I have recently seen this episode for the first time on Museum.tv - as I explain here. The updates appear in brackets.]

Season #1, Episode #21.

Once Upon a Savage Night

Original Air Date - April 2, 1964. There is some question as to whether this episode was a two parter. Episode 1.22 would air two weeks later on April 16, 1964. There is no entry in the IMDB.com episode list for April 9, 1964. [Update - this episode was not a two parter. Near the end of the Museum.tv posting of this episode, there appears an original commercial for the Perry Como musical special that often appeared in place of KST during its original run. Perry Como would replace KST on April 9th with guests Bob Newhart, Ray Charles and others.]

Setting/Time - Chicago in the present [Update - the episode takes place near Christmas].

Plot/Review/Discussion - I have never seen this episode, so this part of the review will be difficult. [Update - I have now (March 2011) seen this episode at Museum.tv. See this link for an updated explanation.]

According to The Encylcopedia of Television (p. 82), this episode was intended as a pilot for a new series. That plan did not work out, but the episode was later released as a TV movie called "Nightmare in Chicago."

The episode is a crime story about a serial killer. The story is told from the point of view of the murderer. There also appears to be a secondary story about transportation of nuclear missiles on the highway.

This was the third and final KST episode written by William McGivern. This story appears to be based on his novel, Death on the Turnpike. McGivern was a prolific crime writer whose stories often appeared on television police shows, such as Kojak and Adam-12.

Robert Altman directed this episode. This was the final episode of KST that he directed.

[Update - This story was, in fact, the story of a serial murderer who played cat and mouse with the police as he tried to escape on the Illinois Turnpike. The existence of the military convoy complicated the plot, as it hampered police efforts to capture the killer, while the manhunt interfered with the convoy.

The convoy looked impressive as it rolled with flashing lights down the highway at night. The convoy's imposing appearance added to the drama.

The conflicting goals of the police (catch the killer v. protect the convoy) constituted the secondary plot, which complicated the main conflict while helping to provide the resolution.

This episode tried to present a psychological explanation for the killer's actions. The explanation was confusing and incomplete.

Despite the plot and psychological complications, the story's race to the climax was simple and effective. All of the complicating factors were resolved with the completion of a simple physical task.

Despite the sometimes seedy nature of the story, this episode (much like the other KST episodes) showed class. Everyone (including the killer) wore a suit and tie and drove big American cars.]

Miscellaneous - This episode's title is not to be confused with "A Cruel and Unusual Night" (episode 1.28). This is another pairing of KST episodes with confusingly similar names, with both titles sounding like they were written by Snoopy.

Cars - I do not know what cars were used in this episode, but there were undoubtedly many opportunities to see classic vehicles. This opportunity provides a reason that I hope to see this episode one day.

[Update - The cars were difficult to discern, as most of the action took place at night and musuem.tv's version is black-and-white. The killer drove a 1964 Chevy station wagon for a time. The police drove a 1964 Chrysler. During the highway scenes, one could spot the back of a 1960 Chevy going through a toll booth.

At one point, the killer caused a major accident in his attempt to stall the police. The cars in that accident were all from the mid to late 1950's. The KST producers were hampered in this regard by the great difference in appearance between 1950's cars and 1960's cars. The producers could not destroy a large number of new cars (for budgetary reasons) so they were forced to stretch the viewer's credulity by staging an accident in which the cars all happened to be obviously older than the cars from the rest of the episode. Today, that problem does not exist, as ten year old cars look very similar to new cars.]

Actors

Philip Abbott played the murderer. He acted for nearly 50 years until his death in 1998. He starred earlier in KST episode The Long, Lost Life of Edward Smalley (1.08) along with John Alonzo (who also appeared in this episode). Abbott's longest running role was on The F.B.I. , in which he both acted and directed.

Ted Knight starred as (I believe) a police official. He would later become famous for his role in Mary Tyler Moore. [Update - After seeing Knight for so long as Ted Baxter, one has to fight to remember that he is not playing his KST role for laughs. Once I forgot about Ted Baxter, Knight's role as the police commissioner was relatively strong, as he struggled to balance his duties to catch the killer with his need to see that the convoy proceeded smoothly.]

Charles McGraw played in the first of his two roles on KST.

The IMDB.com entry for this episode lists Andrew Duggan and Carroll O'Connor, but one of the reviews of "Nightmare in Chicago" states that these references are erroneous. [Update - O'Connor and Duggan did not appear in this episode.]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Knight's Gambit; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Eleanor Parker; Roger Smith; Mountain Greenery; William Faulkner

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #1, Episode #20.

Knight's Gambit

Original Air Date - March 26, 1964

Setting/Time - The Spanish Riviera in the present. [I realize there may not be an actual place known as the "Spanish Riviera," but this episode takes place on the Spanish Mediteranean coast and bears certain specific similarities to KST's two other "Riviera" episodes (see below)].  [Update - April 28, 2013 - Knight's Gambit takes place on a Spanish island just off the Mediterranean coast.]

Plot/Review/Discussion -

This is the second of three KST episodes that take place on the Riviera. The characters are wealthy and do not seem to work for a living. They have plenty of spare time for the drama that unfolds. Except for this episode's location in Spain instead of Italy, the action could have taken place in the same town as "The End of the World, Baby." The atmosphere (but not the plot) was the same.

The phrase "Knight's Gambit" refers to a chess move. The reference is appropriate for this episode. The plot is not nearly as complicated as the chess reference would imply.

"Knight's Gambit" is also the name of an old collection of William Faulkner mystery stories. As Faulkner's Amazon.com reviewer noted:
The mystery at the heart of each story is not found in actions, though some of the plots are puzzling, as much as in the characters' hearts and souls.

This description is appropriate to this episode. The best KST episodes, in general, focus more on the conflicts within the main character than the external action. The Amazon reviewer continues:
The tales in this collection range from the haunting "Tomorrow," which reminds us that no one ever knows where "love or lightning either will strike," to the title selection, in which Stevens (the Knight) captures his Queen after a twenty years' quest spent translating the Old Testament.

There was no twenty year quest or translation of the Old Testament in KST's episode, but this description gives some hints as to what is in store for the KST viewer.

In KST's "Knight's Gambit," a wealthy playboy arrives on the Riviera flying his own private airplane. He begins romancing the secretary of an American diplomat [Blaine], but he turns out to have ulterior motives. I am going to be vague about the story partially to avoid spoiling the plot (in particular, the playboy's ulterior motives) and partially because I have not seen this episode in well over a year.

The secretary suffers from her own internal conflicts. She resists the playboy's advances because she feels guilt about some crime of hers in the past (and about which she is reluctant to speak). As I recall, she has resolved herself to spinsterism working in her boss' mansion in order to escape her own past. [Update - April 28, 2013. The main conflict is the struggle of the playboy to make the secretary come to terms with her past so that he can pursue his own agenda.  There are other conflicts that this conflict sets in motion.]  The secretary's part of the story is the most interesting aspect of the plot and I look forward to seeing this episode again for this reason.


video

The writers do a good job of tying in the diplomat, the playboy's ulterior motive and the secretary's past as the mystery unravels.

At one point, the playboy plays (and sings) a small portion of "Mountain Greenery" on the diplomat's piano. This performance was not presented as a separate musical number such as you would see on Broadway. It flowed nicely with the dialogue in that scene and appeared as a natural part of the plot progression. "Mountain Greenery" is an old song dating back to the 1920's and, together with the Riviera atmosphere and the performances by the actors, it lends class to this episode. (Only by looking up some of the lyrics was I able to discover what the character was singing and playing.)

Actors

Eleanor Parker played the secretary. She is most well-known as the "Baroness" in The Sound of Music. She played opposite Frank Sinatra in The Man with the Golden Arm. She received 3 Oscar nominations in her 50 year career.

The playboy was played by Roger Smith, star of 77 Sunset Strip and Mr. Roberts, although he is best known for being married to Ann Margret.

Cars - I cannot remember the vehicles in particular, but I seem to recall the playboy driving a red sports car (of course) and the secretary driving a large blue American car (from the late 1950's). This is another reason I want to see this episode again so I can test the accuracy of my memory. [Update - April 28, 2013 - the playboy drives a dark sports car.  The Secretary drives a light blue 1964 Ford Thunderbird (probably the same one from episode 1.17. One can also briefly glimpse a late 1950's - early 1960'a Citroen DS at several points in the story.  The use of the Citroen at several points is relevant to the story. The diplomat - and others - ride in a 1964 Chrysler Imperial. At the very end, one of the characters rides off in a 1961 Cadillac]


video


video

[Update - April 28, 2013 - The episode ends in a car chase that detracts from the main conflict, although it is visually appealing.]

video

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Cause of Anger; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Brian Keith; Nancy Powell; Anthony Caruso

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #1, Episode #19

A Cause of Anger

Original Air Date - March 19, 1964

Setting/Time - A modern western desert highway between California and New Mexico.

Plot/Review/Setting -

A teenage boy suffers from anger/emotional problems, but is academically gifted to the point of being a genius. His father arranges for a private detective/bodyguard/off-duty cop and a counselor/nurse to take him to an institution where he can be treated.

The plot of this episode is somewhat weak, as certain things are not explained and the conflict and resolution result in somewhat of a letdown.

The plot appears to be based on the basic premise of the old Wagon Train series (which I am sure was based on prior western movies and fiction), where small groups face dangers as they travel across the desert in covered wagons trying to reach a remote destination. The trio in this episode (cop, nurse, teenage boy) are heading by car to an institution in Kansas (as best I can recall). The journey requires them to travel on desert highways across western states. During the trip, they face unknown dangers from breakdowns, other travelers and local residents.

In particular, the cop notices a mysterious car following them. When the cop's car breaks down, the drama is heightened. The mysterious followers now have their opportunity to do harm, while the boy's emotional problems will affect the trio's interaction with local residents. (The drama is better than I am making it sound, as I am trying to avoid plot spoilers.)

The contrast with Wagon Train is made clear early in the episode with an overhead shot of the proverbial congested, interlocking Los Angeles highway system. Thus the Wagon Train theme is brought forward into the 20th century. The writer of this episode, Richard Wormser, was known for his work on westerns (as well as other television programs).

The trio ends up in confrontations with locals and other travelers, but the resolution appears to be rather anticlimactic.

Greater conflict occurs with the boy's struggle against his own emotional problems. He frequently becomes enraged at various points in the trip and must be physically restrained. We watch as the boy comes to terms with these problems and their causes. We see how these problems place the trio in greater danger from locals and the mysterious car following the trio. The writers do a nice job of wrapping up all of the conflicts (both physical and emotional) in the same resolution. The acting, writing and story, despite my reservations, are superior to most of modern television.

Miscellaneous

Whenever the boy flies into a rage and has to be restrained, the viewer hears particular background music to accompany the action. The musical score sounds like the type of Keith Mansfield/Syd Dale jazzy production music that appeared in many movies and in NFL Films highlight reels in the late 1960's. The exact same background score can be heard in "Are There Any More Out There Like You?" (episode 1.5) as the college students were driving over the pedestrian. The music seemed to work better in that scenario than in "Cause of Anger."

Actors

Brian Keith played the cop hired to take the boy across the desert. Viewers may remember his starring roles in multiple television series, such as The Crusader, Family Affair, and Hardcastle and McCormick. He made numerous additional guest and regular appearances in movies and television for more than 70 years, including Wagon Train (and other westerns), Hitchcock and many, many others.

Nancy Malone plays the nurse in the first of her two KST appearances. She acted for over 30 years, including guest roles on Twilight Zone and Kraft Mystery Theatre. She also worked as a director and producer in recent years, directing numerous episodes of Dynasty, Melrose Place and two episodes of Star Trek: Voyager (although I don't count that as a "Star Trek Connection").

Robert Crawford Jr. played the teenage boy. His acting career spanned 15 years, followed by work as a producer or associate producer on well-known movies like The Sting.

Norman Leavitt played in the first of his three small roles in KST, while Douglas Henderson played in the first of his two KST roles.

Cars

Brian Keith drives a 1964 Chrysler Imperial. The main villains were following in a 1964 Colony Park Mercury station wagon. At various scenes along the highway, the producers used the same Mercury Comet, the same Valiant (1960-1962) and the same big finned late-1950's car to complete the background traffic. The viewer also sees the same Ford Thunderbird in traffic at various points.

Star Trek Connection

There are two Star Trek connections in this episode. Anthony Caruso played Bob Cuero, the local deputy. Caruso would later play Bela Oxmyx on Star Trek's "A Piece of the Action," as well as many other roles in his 50 year career. Caruso played in many westerns, including three episodes of Wagon Train.

Oliver McGowan played Dr. Martin. McGowan was the "Caretaker" in Star Trek's "Shore Leave."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Threatening Eye; Kraft Suspense Theatre; Jack Klugman; Annie Farge; Phyllis Thaxter; Ida Lupino; Coleen Gray

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #1, Episode #18

The Threatening Eye

Original Air Date - March 12, 1964

Setting/Time - Present day California [update April 13, 2013 - in March in a medium sized town.]

Plot/Review/Discussion -

I saw this episode once over a year ago (which means that RTV should be getting ready to re-run it again, but only after another 5 airings of "My Enemy, This Town"). I don't remember much of the detail, but I recall the basic plot.

"The Threatening Eye" was generally unique among KST episodes because the main plot involved a mystery. A middle aged man was pursued romantically by an attractive young woman. The reasons for this pursuit were unclear. We watch as the young woman does her best to wreck the man's marriage. Eventually, the young woman resorts to illegal means to pursue her goal. (Pardon my vagueness, but I am trying to avoid plot spoilers.) We share the man's puzzlement as he tries to explain/understand the woman's attraction to him and her anger at his rejection of her advances.

The plot thus combines both the pursuit (by various means) and the mystery. The underlying reason is not revealed until the very end. I recall the reason, but I do not recall that reason even being foreshadowed during the episode. In fact, the viewer might not even realize that a mystery exists until the answer to the mystery is revealed.

Much of the plot focuses on subtle manipulation and deception. The actual resolution of the mystery (and the lack of foreshadowing of such resolution) is less important than the subtle drama that takes us to that resolution. Of course, the plot and the young woman's tactics become less subtle as the story unfolds.

This snippet (midway through the episode) summarizes the mystery that the audience and Klugman's character struggle with until the final scene. 


video

The title comes from Shakespeare's "King John." Shakespeare's quote reads, "When Fortune means to men most good, She looks upon them with a threatening eye." -King John, Act iii. Sc. 4. This reference might be the closest the episode comes to foreshadowing the explanation to the mystery.  [Update - April 27, 2013 - This is the second of at least three episodes with a Shakespearean quote in the title.]

The episode was written by Howard Browne, who was well known for crime, mystery and action writing, including 1967's St. Valentine's Day Massacre, numerous television episodes, two later episodes of KST and his work editing a science fiction journal in 1952.

[Update - April 27, 2013 - There is an interesting line early in the episode that is a subtle reference to work-related sexual harrassment.  Dabney Coleman's character, in describing the sexual harrassment of a female employee, tells Farge's character,  "It seems that her boss figures a secretary should perform two functions - one of which is to be a secretary."]

Actors -

Jack Klugman plays the middle age businessman. He is most famous for his starring roles in The Odd Couple and Quincy M.E. in the 1970's and 1980's. Klugman has been visible in recent years for his appearances on numerous syndicated Twilight Zone reruns from the early 1960's. "Threatening Eye" was the first of his two KST episodes. Klugman remained active for more than 50 years.

Annie Farge played the pursuing secretary. Farge had played the title role in the sitcom Angel in the early 1960's. I could find no reference to her, either at IMDB.com or elsewhere, that post-dated 1964, even though she was young at that time. She appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson less than a month after this KST episode aired. Her final known acting role occurred in the fall of 1964 on Perry Mason. [Update - April 27, 2013 - Wikipedia reports that Farge returned to France in the mid-1960's and died six months after I posted the initial version of this review.]

Phyllis Thaxter plays the victimized wife. She enjoyed a 50 + year career in theatre, tv and movies. Her first movie was Thirty Seconds over Tokyo in 1944. In 1948, she starred with future KST actor Robert Ryan in Act of Violence. She acted in her share of Hitchcock episodes and one Twilight Zone episode. By the late 1970's she would play Clark Kent's mother in Superman. She often played similar roles to that of the wife in this KST episode - the patient and overshadowed victim of the more flambouyant villains. Her ex-husband, James Aubrey, was, at one time, the President of CBS-TV.

Pat O'Brian played the first of his two roles as a policeman on KST. Dabney Coleman made the first of his two KST appearances in this episode. [Update - April 27, 2013 - Coleman played a private detective early in the episode.]

Ida Lupino directed this episode. She had starred in Season 1's "One Step Down."

[Update - April 27, 2013 - Coleen Gray played another employee of Jack Klugman's company, whose friendship with Klugman played a pivotal role at various points in the show.  Her career spanned 40 + years, including recurring guest roles on such shows as Perry Mason, McCloud and Ironside, as well as a guest appearance on KST spinoff Run For Your Life.  For many years, she was active in Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship.]

Cars - I cannot recall the cars used in this episode. I recall only that they played an important role at one point in the plot and that interesting models were used. 

[Update - April 27, 2013 - Jack Klugman drove a light blue 1964 Ford Galaxie (one of two 1964 Galaxies that appeared in this episode).  The stalking secretary drove a 1961 Ford Galaxie.

Phyllis Thaxter's character drove a 1954 Ford - probably a "Crestline."

A snippet of one Galaxie following another (with a third Galaxie passing by).


video


1954 Ford Crestline


video

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kraft Suspense Theatre; Doesn't Anyone Know Who I Am?; Cornel Wilde; Kathryn Crosby; Malachi Throne, Willoughby

Click here for the previous review.

Season 1, Episode #17

Doesn't Anyone Know Who I Am?

Original Air Date - February 27, 1964

Setting/Time - Most likely the present [update - April 26, 2013 - the present in [1] a suburb of Seattle and [2] a small northwestern town some hours away].

Plot/Review/Discussion

I have not seen this episode, as I do not believe RTV has run it over the past two years. IMDB.com includes the following plot description:
An overly stressed, financially strapped, high powered businessman goes on a sales trip and wakes up suffering from amnesia after being assaulted. He settles in a small town, meets a nice girl and gets a simple satisfying job. Then his memory returns. He goes back to his old life and finds unhappiness. What will he do?

This description makes me want to see this episode. It appears from the description that the main character will face a choice. The best episodes feature difficult choices between right and wrong.

The description makes the episode sound like it could qualify as an episode of Twilight Zone or Hitchcock Presents. But I have higher expectations for "Doesn't Anyone Know Who I Am?" Hitchcock episodes always suffered from self-congratulatory cleverness, which reduced the realism of the program. Twilight Zone would have used some unexplained supernatural event to create the predicament that faces the main character. While I am all in favor of science fiction being used to create dramatic situations, KST plots result from naturally occurring scenarios that are resolved through difficult choices of the characters instead of cleverness or supernatural intervention. We can identify with KST episodes more easily as a result.

I hope only that this episode lives up to its description.

[Update – April 26, 2013 -  I have now seen this episode (twice). I can say that it does live up to its description.

This episode is one that makes the viewer envy the main character (despite all that he went through). He was able to disappear into a small town, leave his troubles behind him, and start a whole new life with a new wife and a less stressful job. All of the responsibilities of the old life were gone – so long as he preferred it that way.

Cornel Wilde plays Eric Blaine/George Press, the executive that finds a new life in a small town with a new girlfriend and a new job after being assaulted and suffering amnesia. The main conflict in this story is internal to Eric/George. The plot is basically as described at IMDB.com (quoted above). Eric/George spends the episode fighting against himself. After the amnesia takes away his past, he struggles to remember his old life, but he refuses to take steps that would help him learn the truth. Specifically, he refuses to go to the police and access their records (which pale in comparison to modern databases, but which are considerable nonetheless). He visits a psychiatrist (Malachi Throne), but resists Throne’s advice and seems impatient with Throne’s techniques for accessing old memories.

By visiting a local doctor, Blaine/Press discovers that he has very high blood pressure – to the point of being uninsurable. He later learns that his blood pressure has become perfectly normal after he has become acclimated to his new life. There are hints that his refusal to go to the police may result from fear of what he may find out about his real past (and maybe fear of whatever caused him to develop high blood pressure).

While amnesia has been a common theme of television shows in the past, amnesia is only the tool for the writers to create a conflict for the main character in this episode. When Eric/George later learns the truth, he must choose between his two lives – thus continuing the George v. Eric conflict. The amnesia makes it possible for the character to face such a choice. KST is best when the characters face difficult choices instead of mere physical danger or other such confrontation. Without the amnesia, Eric’s/George’s choice would not have been possible unless he had willfully abandoned his family and committed adultery. Amnesia thus helped the writers maintain audience support for Eric/George while letting the writers open up this whole new world for him.

This episode reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode entitled, “A Stop at Willoughby,” in which an executive dreams of a fictional, peaceful small town where he can get away from the people and problems that make his life miserable. In this KST episode, Eric/George does more than dream and Willoughby is a real place. While the “Willoughby” episode was satisfying and complete, it left the audience wanting more. This KST episode takes the next step and allows the audience to experience life in “Willoughby.” Where the audience would be sympathetic to the executive in “Willoughby,” the audience might be envious of the executive in this KST episode.

This episode has also been compared to a 1949 movie named Impact, which I have not seen.

The title has two meanings. Not only does George/Eric need to know his real name, he needs to know who he really is. Even after regaining his memory (and thus his name, address, executive position, etc.) he still must discover his true identity and where he belongs in this world. A name and other matters of record are not the same as what establishes and creates a true identity.  Eric/George must learn what makes him truly happy, productive and healthy.  The answer to those questions will determine which life he will choose for himself.


video


Eric’s/George’s situation is truly enviable. Whichever life he chooses, he has a ready-made job, wife, friends, family, etc. waiting for him. Even if he chooses a new life, he does not need to spend years of uncertainty before he makes a stable, comfortable life for himself. That level of security exists no matter which life he chooses.  Both lives are waiting for him. He need only choose where he truly belongs and discover who he truly is.]

Actors

Cornel Wilde appears to play the main character. [Update - April 26, 2013 - Wilde, indeed, plays the main character - Eric Blaine/George Press.]  He acted in TV and movies for over 50 years, including guest roles in several well-known series in the 1980's.

Kathryn Grant (AKA Kathryn Crosby) played a major role also - [update - April 26, 2013 - Crosby played the new girlfriend in the small town where Eric/George ended up after the assault that caused the amnesia]. She is the widow of Bing Crosby. Her acting since the late 1970's was limited to the stage until 2010. A new movie in which she appears is now in post-production.

Martha Hyer plays in the first of her two KST roles. [Update - April 26, 2013 - Hyer plays Eric's/George's original wife in the suburb of Seattle.  She is a gossip who brags about her husband's career and the status it brings.  She is bitter, petty and vicious when her status is in jeopardy.]

Charles Alvin Bell makes the second of his two KST appearances in a small role.

[Update - April 27, 2013 - Paul Newlan played Doc Pierson (see the film excerpt above). Newlan's 40 year included many movies and television roles, including guest roles on Twilight Zone and KST spinoff Run For Your Life.  His longest running role was as a police captain on M Squad  in the late 50's and 1960.

Barney Phillips played a co-worker of Eric/George.  He played many, many roles in movies and television from the late 1930's until his death in 1982, including regular guest work on Ozzie and Harriet, Have Gun Will Travel and many others.  What I consider his most famous part (and the one for which he is usually instantly recognizable) is his role as a three-eyed lunch counter attendant on Twilight Zone.]

Cars

[Update - April 26, 2013 - Before he lost his memory, Eric Blaine drove a white Lincoln from sometime between 1962 and 1964.  An identical car can be seen parked on the street of the small town later in the show, but it was not intended to be the same car. Eric/George sees what appears to be a black Lincoln from the same era later in the episode, but it is difficult to tell, as viewers do not get a good look at most of the cars in this episode.  One also sees a blue 1964 Ford Thunderbird parked on the street near the white Lincoln. 

One car that is seen clearly is (probably) a 1953 Chevy driven by Crosby's character.  The difficulty in identification comes from damage and wear to the car's exterior - especially the front grill. The following excerpts and photos are from this episode.]


video



video










Star Trek Connection

Malachi Throne is this episode's Star Trek connection. Throne made the second of his three KST appearances here. Throne's Star Trek role is more prominent and historic than that of most guest stars. As I wrote in my review of The Machine That Played God:
He portrayed the voice of Star Trek's first villain in the original pilot ["The Cage"]. His voice was dubbed out before that episode aired, but Throne played a more pivotal role in the final product, which became Star Trek's only two-parter.