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"The Heat of Passion" features fine performances by Dorothy Malone and John Dehner but Doug McClure steals the show with a hilarious Burt Lancaster send-up. McClure's Jed Sills arrives at a country inn posing as a demanding and rather vacuous producer. As to why the character sounds and acts like Lancaster I can only guess. Lancaster was at the height of his fame when this episode was filmed with Elmer Gantry having been a major hit the previous year. McClure's impersonation is very good as he captures both the speech and body mannerisms of the iconic actor.
The story here is of the well worn "young beautiful female marries older sick rich guy" formula but with a couple of twists that help to make it interesting and more complex than usual. Malone does a wonderful job of portraying a woman who must choose between a young former boyfriend and an ill husband. Dehner is strong in a role that manages to pull him outside his usual range. My only major criticism is that the storyline had a rushed feel to it and could easily have been made into a two part episode. After keeping us guessing as to the ultimate outcome, the ending is both satisfying and ambiguous.
A really good production is one that can make us forget that we are watching "make believe" and cause us to consider how we might react in a particular situation. "The Heat of Passion" does that and does it well.
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