Half Hour to Kill (1958– )

TV Series  -   -  Mystery
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Appears to be half hour mystery show, with episodes hosted by Vincent Price, and occasionally starring him, as well. The episodes were probably written by different writers, and served as a... See full summary »

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Title: Half Hour to Kill (1958– )

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 Gene Wolcott
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 Joyce Field
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Appears to be half hour mystery show, with episodes hosted by Vincent Price, and occasionally starring him, as well. The episodes were probably written by different writers, and served as a format for their works to be seen. For Episode "Freedom to Get Lost" - Vincent Price gets lonely, picks up a stranger, and takes her back to his VERY quiet apartment. Their conversation indicates that he may have killed a psychiatrist with the same name as his guest. But is she who she claims to be? For a 27 minute episode, some modern TV shows should be jealous of this good a story! Written by Jeremy Trout

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Mystery

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1958 (USA)  »

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Unsold pilot for a proposed but unrealized television series, released to the home movie market as 'Freedom to Get Lost' (1958). See more »

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HALF HOUR TO KILL: Freedom To Get Lost (Paul Stewart, 1958; TV) ***
20 May 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This 30-minute program starring (and hosted by) Vincent Price was an unsold pilot for a prospective thriller series (the title, of course, contained a double meaning); I guess the reason it did not take flight is because there were already several others like it – since, taken on its own merits, it is quite well done (incidentally, the director is a notable character actor who had famously debuted as Orson Welles' butler in CITIZEN KANE {1941}). In a way, it is a companion piece to the recently-viewed PLAYHOUSE 90 episode, FORBIDDEN AREA (1956) – which had actually inaugurated that particular series as well but, in its case, proved a success (and, eventually, a household name) – in view of the fact that it deals with people cracking under the strain of overwhelming government jobs.

Here, Price is a nuclear physicist who escapes the compound where he had been working (obviously in utmost secrecy), not because he is a defector but rather because he craves a normal existence if only for a short spell (hence the episode's title)! However, he is immediately shown as unbalanced as he literally accosts a woman demanding companionship; after the initial (and understandable) fear, she goes with him to the apartment he is staying in (which he says belongs to a friend). Anyway, they have a drink and start to talk – when she tells him her name is Joyce, this strikes a chord with the man, saying he knew another Joyce once but that now she is dead. Gradually, they begin to relax and even prepare to have breakfast together, having talked all through the night (though the woman had made attempts to leave, citing the lateness of the hour, Price had somehow persuaded her to stay and even offered the sofa if she needed to take a nap!).

Their conversation frequently returns to the other Joyce and, eventually, it transpires that she was the compound's psychiatrist, to whom Price was referred. The two became lovers but he got wind of the fact that she was spying on him and, having quarrelled, she left suddenly in her car and fell off a cliff! The denouement, then, unleashes two revelations: one that the first Joyce really loved Price and that her death was caused primarily by a broken heart rather than by the protagonist's suspected tampering with her engine; also, we realize that her new namesake had been similarly appointed by his superiors to 'ground' the elusive physicist. When he goes upstairs to rest, she makes contact with them but he happens to eavesdrop on the phone call and, needless to say, goes berserk – resulting in the violent death of another Joyce! Incidentally, the tale unfolds within the framework of a sea voyage where we ultimately see that Price is flanked by plain-clothed Military Police officers. The program even concludes with the star-as-host supplying a teaser into next week's show which, naturally, would not subsequently materialize!

By the way, this was included as an extra on the All Day Entertainment DVD of VINCENT PRICE: THE SINISTER IMAGE, an hour-long 1988 interview with the horror icon moderated by David Del Valle (and with which I should be closing off my centenary tribute to the versatile star). Also on hand here is a half-hour episode entitled "3 Skeleton Key" (and obviously featuring Price) emanating from 1950 as part of the radio program "Escape", which had run from 1947 through 1954; for whatever reason, this particular tale (scripted by future Oscar winner James Poe) had already aired in 1949 and would again in 1953, not to mention being incorporated in the "Suspense" radio series in both the 1956 and 1958 seasons (with Price reprising his role in each)! He is one of three crew members (another is played by actor Jeff Corey) of a boat who happen upon a derelict ship in mid-ocean; going aboard to investigate, they are met with a veritable invasion of hungry rats, which they are subsequently forced to fight off. However they try to seal themselves away from the rodents' reach, the ravenous creatures' advance is relentless…so much so that Corey eventually goes off his rocker! Then, one fine morning, the trio wake up to find the assailants had bafflingly retreated…though only so that they could sink their teeth into an approaching (and completely oblivious) vessel! This program is necessarily descriptive and talky but, once the rats come into the picture {sic}, the vivid claustrophobia and anguished intensity it manages to create genuinely evokes the horror stories of Edgar Allan Poe (which Price would actually get to inhabit in 10 years' time!), while the mysterious finale has a striking whiff of H.G. Wells' "The War Of The Worlds" to it!


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