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Jack Hawkins played Ben Manfred, a member of Parliament. Andrew Keir
("Quatermas and the Pit") played his young assistant Jock.
Dan Dailey played Tim Collier, an American foreign correspondent working in Paris. Tim lived on a houseboat in the Seine. Honor Blackman ("Pussy Galore") played his lovely associate Nicole.
Richard Conte played Jeff Ryder, a professor of law at a New York City university that looked like Columbia. Ryder's office had a spectacular view of Manhattan. June Thorburn was his pretty secretary. (Thorburn died in a plane crash at 36.)
Vittorio De Sicca played Ricco Poccari, the owner of a luxury hotel in Rome. Lisa Gastoni ("Cuore Sacro") was his shapely young assistant.
The Four Just Men had worked together on a mission during World War 11, and they pledged at that point to dedicate their lives to righting wrongs. I think this was shown in the pilot episode, which I haven't seen.
This 30-minute series was syndicated in 1959-60. In New York City, it played Thursday nights at 7:00 on WNBC.
Each episode had only one of the four stars, although occasionally there would be a scene where the hero confers briefly with one of the other just men.
This was a production of ITC and Sapphire Films. Sapphire's other series included the superb "Adventures of Robin Hood" with Richard Greene and "The Buccaneers" with Robert Shaw as pirate Dan Tempest.
Sidney Cole was the producer. Cole had produced "The Adventures of Robin Hood", and would go on to produce other first rate ITC shows like "Danger Man/Secret Agent" with Patrick McGoohan and "Man in a Suitcase" with Richard Bradford.
Basil Dearden directed thirteen episodes of "Four Just Men". Dearden was a fine director whose films included "Victim", "Sapphire", "Khartoum", and "Woman of Straw".
"The Four Just Men" is based on a movie that was made in 1921 and then remade in 1939. The movies were based on a novel by Edgar Wallace. In the novel, four British veterans of World War l pledge to use their different professional specialties to fight injustice. They decide that the British Foreign Minister, whose policies they consider dangerously weak, must go. This vigilante aspect of the heroes was not used in the TV series. There is an interesting summary of the book in a review of the 1939 movie on this site.
While it is sadly mostly forgotten today, THE FOUR JUST MEN was in its
day an important and influential television series. As one of the
earliest productions released by ITC, it established the formula that
would lead to a string of successful, and more well remembered,
programmes in the 1960s. Taking its name from the popular novel by pulp
fiction author Edgar Wallace, the series rejected the ruthless
vigilantism of the book, opting instead for an entirely different
approach to the basic concept.
The opening episode of the series establishes the premise. When four friends, journalist Tim Collier (Dan Dailey), British MP Ben Manfred (Jack Hawkins), law professor Jeff Ryder (Richard Conte) and wealthy hotelier Ricco Poccari (Vittorio De Sica), who have not all been together since World War II, arrive for a reunion at the country home of a fifth friend, Colonel Cyril Bacon (Anthony Bushell) they discover that Bacon has died and left them a unique bequest. Bacon believed that four just men could change the world, and has bequeathed his fortune to the others so that they may use it to pursue the cause of justice wherever they find it. The newly christened Four Just Men take up this call to arms, dedicating themselves to a battle that will carry them across the next 38 episodes, and over a territory that varies both geographically and thematically.
If one word was required to sum up the concept of the programme, it would be "diversity". With Collier based in Paris, Manfred in London, Poccari in Rome and Ryder in New York, the series offered our heroes a wide range of venues in which to operate. The generous amount of location work prefilmed in Europe and Britain featuring the regular cast and inserted into the episodes throughout the run certainly helped to give the series the look of a high budget production and maintain the cosmopolitan atmosphere. This international flavor would become a trademark of later ITC productions such as DANGER MAN, THE SAINT and THE CHAMPIONS.
The adventures the Four Just Men undertook also varied widely in nature. There were, of course, the usual assortment of murderers, swindlers, thieves, gangsters and foreign agents that one expected in such a series. However many episodes discarded such explicit villains and instead probed into the greyer and often grimmer areas of social injustice and human frailty, including racial hatred, moral intolerance and the persecution of the innocent by the ignorant.
Even the cast varied week by week. Each episode featured only one of the main stars in a central role, with maybe one or two of the others appearing briefly in a, usually literally, phoned in cameo. Each lead also had his own supporting cast member. Future AVENGERS star Honor Blackman appeared as Collier's girlfriend and assistant, Nicole. Hammer film actor Andrew Keir was Manfred's private secretary, Jock. Beautiful Lisa Gastoni featured regularly as Poccari's secretary Giulia, and June Thorburn occasionally appeared as Vicky, one of Jeff Ryder's law students. For the record the tally is Dailey 22 episodes, 10 as the featured lead, Hawkins 23 episodes, 9 as the lead, Conte 23 episodes, 10 as the lead and De Sica 15 episodes, 9 as the lead. Honor Blackman appeared in 10 episodes, Andrew Keir in 7, Lisa Gastoni in 6 and June Thorburn in only 4, plus one early appearance in another role before she was recast as Vicky.
The guest players were also an impressive assortment of familiar faces and future stars, including Cec Linder, Sheila Allen, Laurence Payne, John Van Eyssen, Patrick Troughton, Charles Gray, Jane Asher, Jack May, Judi Dench, Anthony Bushell, Ronald Howard, Ronald Leigh Hunt, Donald Pleasence, Kevin Stoney, George Pastell, Lionel Jeffries, Michael Ripper, Ewen Solon, Ferdy Mayne, Robert Shaw, Richard O'Sullivan, Philip Latham, Paul Eddington, George Pravda, Roger Delgado, Geoffrey Keen, Brian Worth, Alan Bates and Mai Zetterling. Special mention must be given to future ARE YOU BEING SERVED star, Frank Thornton who seemed to turn up in just about every second episode playing such characters as Desk Clerk, Auctioneer, Estate Agent, Police Constable, Hotel Manager, etc In one or two episodes his character even got to have a name.
Undoubtedly due to its black and white filming and half hour format, THE FOUR JUST MEN did not enjoy the same extensive syndication other ITC series did after its initial release, and has unjustly faded into dimming memory and near obscurity. Fortunately the entire 39 episode run has recently been collected into a superb DVD release, so that modern audiences may enjoy and appreciate this classic television series.
Why is so little information given? This was a 1959 Sapphire Films television production made for ITC Entertainment. The stars were (in no specific order) Vitorrio De Sica, Richard Conte, Jack Hawkins and Dan Dailey. All the information given is available on Wikipedia and should be credited to Wikipedia. I feel that it was an interesting and rather brave television series for it's time. The main star,generally speaking, changed every week over four weeks; hence the four different stars. This was because the adventures were based in London, Paris Rome and New York. Honor Blackman, later of The Avengers, played an occasional supporting role. One of the things that was important, for me, was that this series used (in my opinion), seriously experienced, talented and world renowned, actors.
Somebody should help me out with this as there are absolutely no clues
or mnemonics in the title page. After all, it was over 40 years ago
when I saw the series.
OK. There are four men chosen by an international convention (The International Court of Justice? Interpol?) to track down criminals all over the world. They are policemen and judges. They are not even armed nor are they martial arts experts but they get their men through sheer physical courage, their knowledge of police work and the law. I particularly enjoyed the episodes with Jack Hawkins and Richard Conte.
Although I have seen Jack Hawkins in less than heroic roles (as a thief in a Playhouse 90 episode and as a cynical General Allenby in Lawrence of Arabia), I have never been dismayed when I saw him portraying rather unsavory characters. But I got a jolt when I saw Richard Conte after so many years as a Mafia Don in The Godfather because my memory of him was as one of the Four Just Men.
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