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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tony Franciosa had been one of the stars of THE NAME OF THE GAME as the
investigative reporter, but in 1970 he was fired from the series. His
role went to a series of actors as other reporters for the magazine
owned by Gene Barry and edited by Robert Stack. Here it was Clu
Gallagher. He is assigned to an article involving the current murder
trial of an artist named Early McCorley (Roddy McDowall) who murdered
Dakota, a famous artist who McCorley had a grudge (possibly due to
mental illness) against. Defending McCorley is a nationally famous
attorney named Benjamin Franklin Bristow (Jose Ferrer). Flamboyant and
masterly in court, it would seem that McCorley has a first rate defense
in the making here.
But Gallagher soon has reason to question this immediate reaction. He is noticing that for a brilliant attorney, Bristow is making too many risky and odd maneuvers in his courtroom work. Instead of insisting on the obvious (an insanity plea), Bristow is making it a case about the artist and society and statements. McCorley is not impressed when the reporter approaches him about his doubts - to the defendant the attorney cannot do wrong. Yet there just is something missing. A visit to Bristow's expensive mansion begins to suggest what it is.
This episode of NAME OF THE GAME was actually rather off-beat. Roddy McDowall had played so many madmen and villains the viewer was lulled into a sense of accepting what was going on as normal for Roddy's character. And Ferrer gave one of his typically smooth and seemingly normal characterizations as well (by the way, his name - for what it's worth - is the same as a once well known Secretary of the Treasury reformer who sought the Republican Presidential nomination in 1876). Ferrer can be very tricky, and his clear, intelligent voice can hide this for a long time. Everything he says seems so straightforward. It is just the atmosphere around him that finally tips off what is going on to Gallagher as the episode concludes. All I will add is that the episode explodes in the conclusion, and one ends sympathizing with a person you never imagined you would.
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