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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is precisely the kind of story that made this series a legend
during its early years.
A politically weighted Councilman is found murdered in the streets. It doesn't take long for Serreta and Logan to determine that the man was gay and that he was being blackmailed. The pol had exchanged graphic letters with an inmate at Sing Sing and the letters had been sent to some newspaper dedicated to gay rights and outing those in the closet.
The prisoner and his accomplice are nailed apace, but their conviction turns on the testimony of two witnesses. Neither witness is willing to testify about the blackmail business in open court. One of the witnesses is a victim of the scheme who, like the politician, exchanged overly friendly letters with the gay man in prison. The guy has played pro ball but was never a big star, and now is reduced to running a sports equipment store in New York, a business which would collapse if it were ever made known that he was gay. He'd rather go to jail.
The second witness is the father of the murdered politician. He knows about the blackmail and has even paid off one of the demands out of his own pocket. He won't testify either. It would involve an admission that his son was gay. He'd rather see his son's murderers walk.
These are personal stories, of course, but lurking behind them are a few more general issues. One, for instance, is the question of free speech. Can a newspaper devoted to the welfare of gay men and women publish the names of gays who don't want their identities revealed? Isn't there something a little ironic about an organization that promotes collective welfare by destroying individual lives? I mean, is it okay? Then, too, if you love someone -- say, a son -- should your own shame prevent you from seeing to it that those who murdered your son are properly dealt with? Stone, the DA, strides through the entire affair in pursuit of what he is certain constitutes justice -- but that doesn't make the issues any less complicated.
This episode has its roots in films like Victim with Dirk Bogarde and
as far back as the trial of Oscar Wilde. The closet even today is a
horrible place to live in with the constant fear of exposure that you
might like to kanoodle with the same gender.
A young city councilman is murdered on the street and what superficially looks like a robbery seems more like a contract hit. The victim, son of one of the city's movers and shakers George Martin was being blackmailed and refused to pay any more.
The blackmailers are a lawyer James Sutorius and a convict Joe Aufiery. The problems for this case for Michael Moriarty and Richard Brooks are witnesses who won't come forward and a publisher in the gay press Reed Birney who is in the business of outing.
There's also Martin who is an old fashioned sort and not happy to have had a gay son. His attitude is the biggest stumbling block the DA's office has.
A great story about the terrible demoralizing effects of the closet.
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