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. 

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 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).

1954 Ford Crestline

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