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Good Premise Loses its Nerve

Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
14 December 2011

Paladin is hired by a tyrannical father (Armstrong) to save his innocent son (Marlowe) from hanging at the state prison. But Warden Bullock (Birch) is bent on the execution since it was his son who was murdered.

The premise poses all sorts of dramatic possibilities, but the opportunities are mostly squandered by clumsy direction (the escape from the gallows), an overly pat ending, and cheaper sets than usual. What appears a gutsy screenplay challenging TV conventions of the time (an unjust execution, a chicken-hearted chaplain), unfortunately loses its nerve in several highly contrived scenes. Too bad that the good dramatic set-ups weren't handled more imaginatively. Then a really memorable entry would have resulted instead of this missed opportunity.

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