There was a time when superb drama was presented on television...by shows like Playhouse 90 and the Du Pont Show of the Week. Admittedly, I'm prejudiced because back in that golden era, I served as the Du Pont series publicist. And among its best plays was Roger Hirson's brilliant allegory, "The Outpost." The tale centered on a group of soldiers, played by Keir Dullea, Richard Conte, Everett Sloane and Neville Brand, sent to a desert outpost, each having committed an act of brutality or cowardice. Commanding the outpost was Claude Rains as a character simply labeled "The Colonel." Claude had been seriously ill and just before a major scene, while we were lunching in the commissary at NBC's Brooklyn studios, he suddenly began to weep. I asked what was wrong and he said, "I shouldn't have taken on this role. I'm too sick. I can't remember one damn line of the next scene. I'm going to humiliate myself." He was a wreck by the time he was called to the set where he proceeded to give a magnificent performance in the climatic scene in which the Colonel breaks down and confesses that he is the worst villain of the five. Over drinks afterward, I asked him "What was that all about, all that hysteria." He smiled at me and said, "Read 'An Actor Prepares" by Stanislavsky. You'll understand." We became friends and remained so until his death just a few years later. If you ever have a chance to catch "The Outpost," do so. You'll see acting at its best.
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