This episode is from the long running (1952-57) anthology series, FORD THEATRE. It stars Peter Lawford, James Whitmore Sr. and Marie Windsor.
Lawford, complete with suit and tie, is sitting in the top bunk of a N.Y. City jail cell. A rather disheveled James Whitmore is soon tossed in with him. The two get to talking and an upset Whitmore tells Lawford about being tossed in jail over 80 cents. His boss had beat him out of the said amount on his pay. So Whitmore had decked him. "The principal of the thing" he tells Lawford. "Now I have to pay a $25.00 fine. I could not pay a $2.00 fine"!
Just then, Lawford's lawyer, Regis Toomey shows up with Lawford's release papers. Lawford wishes Whitmore good luck and heads out.
Back at Lawford's hotel suite, we find out the reason for Lawford's incarceration. He was arrested for non-payment of alimony and child support. His wife, Marie Windsor is a heartless (rhymes with witch) woman who uses their son, Lee Aaker as a bargaining tool.
Lawford tells Toomey that Windsor has cleaned him out. His rent is paid till the end of the month and then it is the street. Toomey hands him $2,000 in cash. "I'm returning your fee from the divorce. Use it to get away from her".
Lawford thanks the man and sees him out. Lawford then sits at his desk with his head in his hands. He opens the desk drawer and pulls out a revolver. He looks at the gun and then sets it on the desk.
Several hours later, Whitmore is sprung from jail by Lawford. He invites Whitmore to his rooms. He offers him a shower and a shave and some decent clothes. He orders up a big steak with all the trimmings for Whitmore.
Lawford waits till Whitmore is all cleaned up and has finished his meal. He then asks Whitmore if he would be interested in making 2 grand? Whitmore's eyes go wide, and he asks, "Who do I have to kill?" Whitmore then points a finger at a picture of Windsor. "I bet it has something to do with the dame with the stone cold kisser!"
Lawford explains his money problems with Windsor and how she uses their son. "I want you to kill me". Says Lawford. "I have plenty of insurance and it will go into a trust account for my son at 21. I need your help. It is the only way I can help him."
"2 grand" says Whitmore. "I could buy that bit of land back home in the mid-west and farm it." He then tells Lawford he needs some fresh air to think about the offer. He will return in an hour with an answer one- way or the other.
Whitmore had seen Windsor's address on some papers on the desk and heads straight there. He manages to get in to talk to Windsor and tells him about Lawford wanting to die. Windsor just laughs and tells him to leave. Windsor's butler-driver, Charles Watts, hears the two talking. As he is showing Whitmore out, he whispers for Whitmore to wait out front. He will bring the boy Aaker and they can all visit Lawford.
Whitmore returns to Lawford's rooms and tells Lawford that he cannot do as he wants. He then calls in the boy. Aaker runs to his father and tells him how much he misses seeing him. The two are all smiles as they talk for several minutes. Driver Watts now interrupts and says he needs to get the boy back before Windsor notices. "That is why you need to live!" Whitmore tells Lawford. Lawford agrees and tells Whitmore it is time to hit the road. He is going to join Whitmore and buy that bit of farmland.
Rather interesting story that really starts out great. The weepy ending I could do without, but then again, it was 1953.
The director, Arnold Laven, is well known to noir fans. His film work includes, DOWN 3 DARK STREETS, VICE SQUAD, SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE, WITHOUT WARNING and the dusters, THE GLORY GUYS and ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO. Laven also helmed dozens of television series such as, THE BIG VALLEY, HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, THE DETECTIVES, SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE, WAGON TRAIN, RIFLEMAN, THE BOLD ONES, MANNIX, POLICE WOMAN and THE ROCKFORD FILES.
The d of p was noir regular, Burnett Guffey. His work include the noir, MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS, NIGHT EDITOR, SO DARK THE NIGHT, JOHNNY O'CLOCK, FRAMED, SIGN OF THE RAM, KNOCK ON ANY DOOR, UNDERCOVER MAN, THE RECKLESS MOMENT, IN A LONELY PLACE, CONVICTED, SCANDAL SHEET, THE SNIPER, HUMAN DESIRE, PRIVATE HELL 36, TIGHT SPOT, THE HARDER THEY FALL, THE BROTHER'S RICO and NIGHTFALL. (b/w)
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