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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just love these 1950's series. In truth, the episode of Rendezvous
that Patrick McGoohan appeared in, 'The Executioner', was made in 1960
but it has the flavour of the Fifties, if not the Forties.
McGoohan plays Gilbert Stoner, known as Gil to his friends. He is an Irish-born lawyer who, years before, had been a starry-eyed idealist. Back in 1944 he had parachuted into occupied France to show the Resistance fighters how to use their new guns that he accompanied. His past came back to haunt him when the magistrate Martell called him to Paris to help with an investigation. By the time Gil arrived his old friend was dead, murdered, with a clover-leaf as evidence.
This curious symbol resonates with Shamrockian Irishness but Gil knew it's real significance. Determined to resolve the murder of his old comrade he 'takes to the Hills', accompanied by the local police chief. Leaving the police to await his return at the bottom of the mountain, McGoohan's Gil heads up to pursue his fate.
He is spotted by two men, and despite his pugnacity is soon subdued by a clattering rifle-butt wielded by none other than Michael Ripper! These two men take Gil to a mountain-hut retreat. Inside is another successful British theatrical name from the Fifties: Michael Gough. Gough is an old friend of McGoohan and warmly welcomes him to his mountain-top lair, castigating his men for beating up on his old friend. Gough's unpronounceable character, Scionneau, is however not the brave wartime leader that he has made himself out to be. he has a dark secret that he probably tries not to admit, even to himself. He has been sending his men to assassinate old wartime Collaborators, and succumbed to the temptation of naming Martell as one. McGoohan's Gil Stoner challenges the man's authority to kill. He also knows Scionneau's dark secret and that Martell had discovered it too.
The play becomes a verbal battle between the two men, with the four watching and listening ex-Resistance assassins as both witnesses and jury. Neither can quite prove the case until Gil makes an audacious bluff. This panics the jittery Gough, who snatches for a pistol to shoot his adversary. The increasingly suspicious witnesses have however been waiting for a crack in either man's story and Gough is foiled. McGoohan agrees to the Fighters request that he precede them down the mountain, so that they can follow and surrender with honour to the waiting police. Scionneau never arrives, he has slipped over a precipice on the way down the track. As McGoohan's lawyer character is informed by the Fighters - it was an accident, they will all bear witness for one another......
The play finishes as it began, with McGoohan's Gil explaining to the laid-back American narrator of the programme that his role was bitter-sweet; in obtaining justice for one old friend, he had prompted the Execution of a second old friend.
Oh, if you were wondering what my title was about.... The narrating 'star' of the series Rendezvous was actor, Charles Drake, playing the character, John Burden.
McGoohan, Drake, John.... What a perfect combination ;)
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