Four Star Playhouse (1952–1956)
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The Squeeze 

Willie Dante begrudgingly lets the son of the district attorney play dice in his illegal gambling hall, under threat of exposure. Willie kicks him out anyway when he finds out that his ... See full summary »

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Episode cast overview:
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Willie Dante
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Stanley Warren
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Police Lt. Manny Waldo
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Monte
Joan Camden ...
Susan Warren
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Boss Deres--misspelled Deras in on-screen credits
Karl Lukas ...
Ernie
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Storyline

Willie Dante begrudgingly lets the son of the district attorney play dice in his illegal gambling hall, under threat of exposure. Willie kicks him out anyway when he finds out that his checks are bad, but a gangster under indictment robs Dante of the boy's checks, in order to blackmail the DA. Written by thesemann

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Comedy | Drama

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1 October 1953 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Some bum checks
2 August 2015 | by See all my reviews

One of the first big screen film stars to recognize the permanent arrival of television as a place for work was Dick Powell. In addition to being one of the Four Star partners in Four Star Playhouse, Powell starred in several of the episodes. In The Squeeze Powell plays Willie Dante, gambler and restaurateur who runs an illegal dice game in his back-room. It was a character he repeated in a few more episodes. In fact the Dante character would have made a good one for a television series of his own.

The title certainly says it all. In this half hour episode Richard Jaeckel the DA's son comes in to gamble and Powell with some reluctance lets him. Then his sister Joan Camden comes in and threatens to spill tales of Powell's back-room to her dad if he doesn't stop Jaeckel. But Jaeckel is losing heavily and Powell's okayed some bum checks for him. Really this kid belongs in Gambler's Anonymous. Finally big time racketeer Mario Siletti comes in and takes those checks at gunpoint to have something over the DA who's about to indict him.

Of course with the help of trusty bartender Herb Vigran Powell does get out from under and squares accounts with all. His motive? Well I think he was thinking in addition to everything else a little nookie from Joan Camden might be in order. I've seen men do more for such rewards.

This episode proves that early television was indeed the training ground for a lot of talent that went on to the big screen. Ironic that fading film star Powell not only gets a new lease on life on the small screen, but this episode showcases the writing of Blake Edwards and the direction of Robert Aldrich a couple of powerhouse film names in the future.

This could have made the basis of a decent feature film as well with some elaborations. And it holds up well after over 60 years.


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