"You Can't Beat The System" according to the original laboratory film leaders printed on this episode, this is not Ep 3 (as often listed) but Ep #4. Not quite sure why this should be, but could have been a political decision or something to do with the order chosen by the producers when the program first went to air.
This Ep presents a most interesting, and quite challenging script, intelligently written by Robert Van Scoyk. The writer is evidently well versed in the classics, with his central character constantly quoting from a litany of great authors spanning several centuries.
Van Scoyks main character represents a considerably damaged soul, a veteran from the Korean war. As result of his own actions in the 'field of duty' he has spent the past decade in self imposed exile, penned up within a tiny apartment situated in Neil Brocks designated N.Y.Community help district. Following a deliberate altercation with Brock (the great George C.Scott) he then proceeds to challenge Neil to 'release' him from his endless torment.
This main 'guest' role is given to Joseph Turkel (A.K.F: 'Paths of Glory'~ 'The Purple Gang'~'King Rat'~'The Sand Pebbles', etc) He is fully convincing as the war torn 'killer' unable to adjust to domestic 'civilisation' and post war trauma. Neil Brocks co-worker, beautifully played by Elizabeth Wilson, unwillingly agrees to allow Broc to attempt an integration program by allowing this volatile veteran to perform volunteer work around the office. The beautiful and very talented Cicely Tyson has a very good scene with Turkel, while training him for filing duties.
Having access to the personal files of other welfare recipients, allows Turkel's character to cause considerable friction when he interferes in the lives of a drunkard wife beater (played by a straight out of acting school Martin Sheen). Sheen shamelessly demonstrates his 'Method' style with a carbon copy performance~crossed with James Dean and Marlon Brando. Enter the lovely wife of drunkard Sheen, played by none other than dark eyed Janet Margolin. It gets pretty tough for all concerned from this point on.
Atmosperically shot on location, in stark black and white by Jack Priestly('Naked City')and ably Directed by Jack Smight ('No Way to Treat a Lady' - 'The Illustrated Man' etc) this episode ranks as one of the series best. A down side for some, might be an episodic approach, but as the story unfolds, it all fits together in the final wrap up. Well worth catching, that is, if you can find this brave, neglected series. David Suskind took considerable risks bringing this realistic work to commercial television during a little prepared early 60's America.
It all eventually proved too strong for the Columbia Broadcasting System, who gave in to pressure from other networks, superficial sponsors,and public splinter groups. CBS pulled it after one season. Strongly recommended for study groups.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?