Karen Edwards, her older sister Joan, and Joan's husband Bart rob motels by using trickery rather than violence. Their robbery of the upscale Monticello Hotel goes awry when the manager returns to the office unexpectedly and Bart is forced to shoot him. Though critically injured, the manager is able to give Dan Mathews essential information about the perpetrators. At Karen's urging, the increasingly reckless Bart goes ahead with his plans to rob the Eagle Motel at gunpoint. Joan is fearful of facing a murder charge and gives a description of Bart and his vehicle when she and Karen are stopped by a Highway Patrol officer. Dan Mathews spots the car, and is ultimately forced to face Bart in a man-to-man gun battle. Written by
Dan Mathews is seen driving a 1956 Buick Special throughout this episode, but stock footage of another car is used in the film to show him traveling quickly from place to place. See more »
To criminals seeking new sources of revenue, the motel, prosperous and often isolated, presents an inviting target. As a prelude to crime, early one Saturday morning, Karen Edwards checked out of a plush motel and headed for a nearby rendezvous.
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Strong episode of Highway Patrol has a really compelling plot with an interesting dynamic among three criminals responsible for a string of successful resort/motel robberies across a certain section of California. The set up is simple yet not: Joan's (Marilyn Buferd) kid sister, Karen (Lynette Bernay) stakes out hotels, puts together a layout of them, pays attention to how intelligent the operators of them are, and gets these details to master robber, Bart (Rhodes Reason). Bart and Joan is an item; Karen's gung-ho embrace of the crimes really impresses Bart while Joan is somewhat oblivious to her sister's enjoyment of her part of the jobs. As the jobs continue to get more dangerous, Joan is aware that the trio should stop while they're ahead, but Bart and Karen seem totally fine with keeping on even though the police have a witness who can describe all three a Monticello hotel operator shot by Bart when caught in the act due to the ringing phone inside the business office. What happens is that while Joan follows the hotel operator to a potential room, Bart has a suitcase believed to hold clothes but is instead meant to house the money stolen from cash registers, pried open by him. While fifteen or so robberies had went seemingly without a hitch, this Monticello job was their death knell. Shooting the operator but not killing him allowed him to give Chief Dan Matthews (Broderick Crawford, always a gruff but dedicated Patrol head) details needed to locate his motel thieves. With an all-points bulletin out and motel clerks now notified of Bart, Joan, and Karen's descriptions, highway patrolmen now have a fighting chance of finding and arresting them. Joan knows, though, that Bart (with a gun) is not above using violence to save his own skin; this Dan will learn all too well in a shootout once he encounters Bart who tries to flee on foot and pulls the gun in an effort to keep from an arrest. What I like about Highway Patrol is the off-sets feel of the show. Location shooting is just a breath of fresh air, and the wide scope in this episode is a fine example of that. You really get this sense that those involved in the story are all over the place, not driving around Hollywood sets. I think this episode really works because of that. Also, Reason's Bart is a bad dude; that glimmer in his eye at the next job (the vicarious thrill of success) and cocky confidence is all there. Karen is a real lioness, too. She is up for any job and could very well have slid right into Joan's place willingly. It would be the guilty-conscience Joan that would lead to Bart's "capture". Anytime you tune in for this show, it was almost guaranteed Crawford would bark at somebody. In this episode, he questioned a clerk regarding why he didn't think to see what the robbers were driving. It was amusing seeing the clerk looking mighty annoyed at being damn near interrogated after this couple had just robbed him blind! Good scene has a reluctant Dan having to question an injured, barely-awake clerk after being shot by Bart; this necessary questioning to get details on those responsible need to be brought to justice, but that doesn't mean it is an easy task.
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