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Although Vincent Gardenia and Jan Merlin are supposed to suggest menace
in this Ironside episode these two come off like a Batman type villain
and his henchman. By Batman I mean the television version with Adam
A pair of performers James Farentino and Susan Saint James have a singing act which closely resembles The Carpenters who hadn't quite made it at that point are the act when the Ironside squad goes to a club. Neither of these two sound like they're going to hit the big time no matter what the show says.
In any event Farentino has a gambling problem and is into Gardenia for 32 large. Naturally Farentino can clear up his debt by helping in some illegal activity. It's Saint James who goes to Raymond Burr for help.
Try as I might I could not take these two seriously. But you'd have to see how they dress and act to know why. I will say that Merlin's character will leave you with one creepy crawly feeling.
But not enough to save this episode.
***SPOILERS*** Special Police Consultant Robert T. as in Teddy Bear
Ironisde, Raymond Burr, takes on the city's loan shark racket targeting
Mister Big himself King of the Loan Sharks Roy Faber, Vincent Gardenia,
who's always one step ahead of the law. What Ironside and the D.A's
office need is someone who's willing to testify against Faber in open
court and that person is night club singer and guitar player Tommy
Cusack, James Ferentino. It's Tommy who's being squeezed by one of
Faber's flunky Luther Zahn, Jan Marlin, for a $32,000 debt that he owes
him. Tommy has been playing the ponies at the Golden Gate race track
and losing big in doing that. Now with his head in a vice the only
thing left for him is to testify against Faber or end up working for
him as, like Zahn, a debt collector and head beaker. Something which as
Ironside warns him is a fate, in him ever getting caught and busted by
the SFPD, far worse then in testifying against him.
Not knowing what to do, to testify or not to testify, Tommy is offered around the clock police protection from Faber's goons who later get to him by first working him and his bodyguard Det. Sgt. Ed Brown, Don Galloway, over and later finding his singing duet partner his wife Verna, Susan Saint James, missing and possibly kidnapped by Fabers goons from the couples apartment. Not quite knowing what to do Tommy is assured by Ironside that Verna is all right and like himself under police custody or protection but still he knows that he's a dead men if he ever testifies against Faber.
****SPOILER*** After a heart to heart talk with wise Ol' Robert T. Ironside Tommy decides to do the right thing in spite of the consequences he's to face in doing it. And him finally having the guts to do the right thing that soon has the what at first looked like untouchable Roy Faber get indited by the D.A's office for loan sharking and intimidation. And then seeing that some 23 victims of Faber's loan shark racket suddenly get the guts themselves to testify, like Tommy did, against him! What this Ironside episode shows is that when your not intimidated by mobsters like Roy Faber your word is far more effective then their fists blackjacks and even bullets delivered by their goons. And by doing that and having his many victims willing to testify against him Farber will now spend the next 15 to 20 years in a jail cell away from society in the scenic and tranquil surroundings of San Quentin prison.
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