A shy young construction worker is troubled by the fact that, while his fellow construction workers--including his beefy, aggressively macho brother--engage in all sorts of "manly" ... See full summary »

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Cece Whitney ...
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Eddie Guardino ...
Angie (as Danny Guardino)
William Bramley ...
Lloyd
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A shy young construction worker is troubled by the fact that, while his fellow construction workers--including his beefy, aggressively macho brother--engage in all sorts of "manly" activities like drinking, brawling and chasing women, he has no desire to do any of that. He begins to think that that he may be a homosexual, and comes in for help and advice. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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21 October 1963 (USA)  »

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Dr. William Raymer: Are you saying the boy has no disturbance in this area?
Dr. McKinley Thompson: Of course he has a disturbance. It's gonna be a long time before he can approach a relationship with a woman with any degree of confidence. But, Will, he came to us because he was troubled and all he ask is what's wrong with me and everything he says leads to the same question: What is a man?
Dr. William Raymer: Well if you saying the boy's problem isn't homosexuality, what is it?
Dr. McKinley Thompson: I've lived through it and so have you... and so has every American male over ...
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Bing Crosby Productions and the American Broadcasting Company wish to thank the American Medical Association and its Physicians Advisory Committee on Radio, Television and Motion Pictures for their assistance in the production of Breaking Point. See more »

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Ecce Homo: Behold the Man!
22 December 2016 | by (Omaha, Nebraska) – See all my reviews

"The Bull Roarer" is yet another excellent episode in this fledgling series, one that stands out from the rest in its addressing a still vital and deceptively simple question: What is a man? When pressed for an answer by Dr. McKinley Thompson, young and confused Paul Knopf lists off wince-worthy descriptions like being strong, tough, able to fight, and to "move in fast on a girl." Paul's model for masculinity has been his loutish big brother Murray, a construction worker who spends his off hours fighting and picking up cheap whores in dive bars.

It's the old story. A fatherless home with a mother struggling to raise a 16-year-old and his 10-year-old brother. When Murray moves out after a fight with his mother, she smothers young Paul, crippling him emotionally and robbing him of a healthy home and healthy image of masculinity. Paul later gets bounced from the Army on a nuero-psych discharge and is sent to a mental hospital. Paul is encouraged to continue psychiatric care, but Murray discourages it: "You don't need any lace-handkerchiefed psychologist to cry to. You need to act like a man!"

Murray lands his kid brother a job on the construction gang, where thuggish behavior like fistfights, wolf calls and other displays of bravado are standard operating procedure. Is this what being a man is all about? Murray is the antagonist of the story, but not the villain of the piece. Everything Murray does--and he does a lot--is with the wholehearted intention of helping Paul fit in and enjoy life like he does. There's no malice on Murray's part; he simply is what he is. Conversely, Paul is sensitive and thoughtful, eager to learn. But Paul can't reconcile his instinctive kindness and consideration with the brash boorishness of his big brother. With Murray as the standard, Paul falls short, and by default fears he must be a homosexual, a self-diagnosis debunked by Dr. Thompson.

Onto the stage steps beautiful Betty Lorimer. Murray's groping of her is sharply contrasted with Paul's treating her with deference. That is until Betty's complimenting Paul on being different than the men on the construction gang is mistaken as an insult, spurring Paul to behave in a shockingly ugly and perverse parody of Murray. It's a heartbreaking scene.

Things come to a head in a session when Paul expresses regret at not being able to show Murray he was a man. Dr. Thompson loses it on Paul, frustrated that Paul just isn't getting it, and shouts: "We've been kicking this around for weeks, so let's get it out on the table, shall we?" I've never seen the imperturbable Dr. Thompson so perturbed. Following an outburst from Paul that I suspect Dr. Thompson deliberately provoked, the psychiatrist takes an exotic implement from his wall, a wall which for this episode is inexplicably full of exotic implements. He takes his now primed-for-a-breakthrough patient to the rec room and begins the work of exorcising Paul's misconceptions about masculinity.

The exotic implement is the bull roarer of the title, a gift from an anthropologist friend who got it from a primitive tribe in New Guinea. It's a wooden box on a length of rope. Dr. Thompson has Paul whirl the bull roarer while he launches into his monologue about masculinity, tribal rites, and how men mask their doubts and fears. The bull roarer makes a racket, but it's only air whistling through wood. It was a climactic scene, even if rather stagy in its presentation. But the object lesson worked! Paul, disabused of bad beliefs, armed with insight, and emboldened with a newfound self-confidence, heads to work at the construction site.

It hadda happen: Murray and Paul play out their inevitable conflict. There's no villain here, just irreconcilable worldviews in collision. It's telling that Murray's default solution to what he can't understand is to punch it, as he does to Paul's mouth when its voicing increasingly uncomfortable truths. Murray tried to be a good brother to Paul, and is understandably confused by Paul's rejection, and I'm sure it pained Paul to have to make the break. But with Betty tending to his wounds--physical and emotional--we know Paul is going to be better than he ever was.

The acting in this episode was the best thus far in the series, with the underrated Lou Antonio doing the heavy lifting and carrying the episode as Paul. I'm embarrassed to admit that for too long a time I only knew him from his cheesy appearance in STAR TREK's "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." But my impression of Antonio changed completely after he awed me in THE FUGITIVE episode "See Hollywood and Die," which aired just a few weeks after this episode of BREAKING POINT. He played a very different character in THE FUGITIVE, a testimony to his range. As great as that performance was, however, I'm now considering "The Bull Roarer" to be Antonio's tour de force.

Ralph Meeker always gives a strong performance, and usually as the heavy. Here he got to play a more nuanced heavy, one well intentioned in his own ignorant and buffoonish way. I liked Murray as much as I was repulsed by him. Mariette Hartley as Betty had a smaller role, but an all-important one as the woman who showed Paul a more excellent way, a life of learning and of books and of love. I'm an unrepentant Trekkie and yes, Hartley will always conjure up Zarabeth in my mind, but I've seen her in so many other things now, including her standout role in RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, and appreciate her acting abilities as much as I do her beauty.

Speaking of science-fiction, as a longtime fan of the 1950's radio drama X MINUS ONE I enjoyed seeing two of its greatest writers reunited for this episode of BREAKING POINT. George Lefferts was the series producer and Ernest Kinoy provided the script for this outstanding episode. Bravo to all involved!


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