According to PBS's American Masters series web site, this drama was so popular that it became the first live drama in television history to be broadcast twice due to popularity. The drama was broadcast as both episodes 16 and 20 of season 8. Both broadcasts were done live, not on kinescope, videotape, or film. See more »
Rod Serling's first major success is a gritty story about the coldness of the corporate world.
Like so many of the best films of the 1950s, this one started out as a teleplay that was broadcast live on television. While the idea of doing live original theater on TV may seem impossibly daunting, there were many wonderful TV shows of the era that did just that--broadcasting brilliant scripts and starring some of the best actors available. Fortunately, some of these still exist, as they were copied using a Kinescope for rebroadcast on the West Coast (due to time zone differences). However, these Kinescopes are pretty ugly copies--but at least they do exist. Oddly, however, very few of these are available on DVD today and I am thrilled that Criterion has released this small collection of the best of these shows.
I have already seen the movie version of "Patterns" and was surprised that much of the cast repeated their roles on film. Aside from a lead change (the TV version starred Richard Kiley and the movie starred Van Heflin), the other two main roles (Ed Begley and Everett Sloane) were reprised--which is fortunate, as both were terrific. Oddly, Begley played a very sad and likable guy--a bit of a departure from his usual parts. As for Sloan, he played a despicable man--and did a great job of it.
The teleplay begins at a corporation. Sloan is the boss and is making various decisions--one after the other. Then, the scene abruptly switches to Kiley--who is preparing for his first day as an executive with the corporation. He's eager but nervous. However, his nervousness soon turns to horror as he watches the boss behave in a cruel and vindictive manner--attacking the sweet-natured guy played by Begley. What has Kiley walked into here?! See it for yourself, as it's a very dark and gritty piece--and one of the best teleplays. In fact, I even think it's a bit better than the subsequent movie. Exceptional acting, writing and direction--this is some production. You'll particularly like watching Sloane's amazing performance.
This show was so well received when it aired that it was re-aired just a few weeks later--something unheard of at the time. In addition, the writer, Rod Serling, received an Emmy for the show and the film version came out just a year later.
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