Breaking Point (1963–1964)
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There Are the Hip, and There Are the Square 

One of Dr. Thompson's patients dies in an accident, leaving his girlfriend to mourn. Reassessing sessions with him, the Doctor determines discussions about the man's past indicate he may ... See full summary »

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Evan Price
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Evelyn Denner
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Mrs. Price
Gilbert Green ...
Mr. Price
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Witchdoctor
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Mr. Denner
Jimmy Joyce ...
Salesman
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Storyline

One of Dr. Thompson's patients dies in an accident, leaving his girlfriend to mourn. Reassessing sessions with him, the Doctor determines discussions about the man's past indicate he may have killed himself on purpose and may have been in a suicide pact with the girl, whose miserable childhood left her in psychological turmoil. Written by WesternOne

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Drama

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14 October 1963 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Quotes

Evelyn Denner: I'm a coward, Doctor. If I could kill myself I would have done it long ago.
Dr. McKinley Thompson: You're not a coward. Suicide is neither cowardice nor courage. It's just a break with reality.
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Crazy Credits

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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It's Hip To Be Square
21 December 2016 | by (Omaha, Nebraska) – See all my reviews

A Cinderella story with the fairy tale stripped away leaving only harsh, ugly reality. Rich boy falls for poor girl with a troubled past. This latter-day Romeo and Juliet run with a motorcycle gang led by a drug-dealing, pimping hepcat named Witchdoctor. John Cassavetes fans will be crestfallen to learn he dies before the opening titles! But he reappears in flashbacks and on tape recordings of his sessions with Dr. McKinley Thompson, the rookie psychiatrist who lost his patient to suicide and strives to save the girlfriend from joining him. While Cassavetes enjoys top guest star billing, the spotlight shines upon Carol Lawrence, excellent as Evelyn Denner, the grieving and guilt-ridden girlfriend to the late Evan Price.

Evelyn was a passenger on Evan's motorcycle as it tore along the beach and ended as a fireball tumbling into the rocks. The star-crossed lovers apparently had a suicide pact, but Evelyn survived the accident, suffering only bruises and shock. Once she awakens in the hospital and gets her wits about her, she slashes her wrists! Enter Dr. Mac, determined to stave off a double tragedy. But Evelyn proves an immoveable object requiring all the irresistible force Dr. Mac can muster. And whaddaya know--something gives.

What's interesting is that something gave only because Dr. Mac went with his gut and against the counsel of his mentor Dr. Raymer. Evan entrusted Thompson with a locket of a ballerina. When Thompson proposes delivering the locket to Evelyn's apartment, Raymer ominously intones, "We have a nasty phrase for what you're suggesting--therapeutic enticement." Admirably, Thompson shuffles of the straitjacket of his training and goes. When Evelyn sees the locket her resistance falls--at least momentarily--and Thompson makes a breakthrough. He learns of Evelyn's mother dying giving birth to her and of her drunken sailor father who put her into the foster care system where she bounced from the frying pan to the fire until one caring family introduced her to dancing. That bright spot in a bleak life was short lived, however. Her story explains even if it doesn't excuse Evelyn spiraling into a life as a heroin-using prostitute.

That scene in Evelyn's seedy apartment is the highlight of the episode, and Carol Lawrence carries it well, never letting pathos slip into bathos as a lesser actress would. Another strong scene comes near the end when the Witchdoctor pimps her out to a salesman so she can earn fifty dollars to buy heroin. Actor Jimmy Joyce gets a nod for playing so convincingly a lust-crazed john who only emerges from his testosterone-fueled madness when Evelyn threatens him with a broken beer bottle. It was the salesman fingering her locket that allowed Evelyn to recall times when she was loved and to know she deserved better than the sordid scene she was enduring. And from that scene she flees to the clinic, warmly welcomed by Dr. Thompson, who is relieved that Evelyn has abandoned all intentions of suicide.

Scripter Mark Rodgers, whose only BREAKING POINT story this would be, had a year earlier wrote a memorable episode of WIDE COUNTRY titled "Our Ernie Kills People." That story was a similar exploration of juvenile delinquency that showed the difficulty in affixing blame. Is society to blame? Wealthy but emotionally distant parents? The individual him or herself? It's a thorny and complex question that defies an easy answer. Knowing that I bristled watching the consultation between Drs. Raymer and Thompson where Thompson says the Prices "felt they had an impossible son they'd done everything for." Raymer responds that the tragedy is "they deserted him emotionally in childhood," foisting the blame on the parents.

Fortunately,the unfolding story vindicates the parents and proves out that despite their shortcomings the biblical proverb holds true: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." In a flashback scene we see Evan growing out of his "rich boy rumspringa," telling Evelyn that he's ready to get a job and settle down. She mocks the idea, saying she doesn't want a house and a station wagon. She'd much rather go to the Witchdoctor's party, knowing there will be heroin there, of which it is later implied she's a user. She wasn't ready to grow up, maybe because she never had a childhood.

The surrogate family she falls in with is a motorcycle gang of misfits and juvenile delinquents led by the horribly miscast Woodrow Parfrey as Witchdoctor (think Harold Lembeck's Eric Von Zipper crossed with Arte Johnson's LAUGH-IN Nazi). I could never really believe that Cassavetes would cast his lot with these losers. And speaking of credulity, it was a stretch to accept 33-year-old Cassavetes and 31-year-old Lawrence as a couple kicks-seeking J.D.s, but they pulled it off convincingly. J. Pat O'Malley appears in one scene as Evelyn's estranged father, whose Scottish brogue didn't square with his daughter's distinctly Italianate features.

I felt a little sorry for series co-star Eduard Franz, who is afforded little opportunity to act. His character Dr. Raymer appeared in several scenes, but always just to consult with Dr. Thompson. I was hoping for a scene of Raymer admitting to Thompson he was wrong, but that didn't happen (alas, it never does in real life either!). The imperturbable Paul Richards gets all the action scenes, such as they are. I'm enjoying seeing these two character actors headline a series and thus far each has done an admirable job and proved himself worthy, aided and abetted by adult stories and the best actors and actresses of the era.


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