This is the 27th episode of the 1957-1958 suspense series, PANIC! Each episode was a story about a person involved in an incident of stress and panic. The series ran for a total of 31 episodes. Each episode starts with narrator saying, "You are about to witness a moment of panic in the life of a man".
This particular episode is headlined by Robert Vaughn. Vaughn is driving to San Francisco for a job. He stops off at a small town to spend the last of his cash on some food. He parks and enters a small café. He does not notice a man watching him from another car. The man, Ronnie Burns, exits his automobile and strolls over to where Vaughn parked. He hides something in the back seat of Vaughn's car.
Burns now pulls his hat down, then enters the same café and grabs a seat at the counter and orders a coffee. A few minutes go by and Burns opens up the newspaper he brought with him. He nudges the man sitting next to him and points to the Police artist's sketch in the paper. It is a man the Police call the smiling bandit. The suspect has pulled a string of armed robberies up and down the highway. The last one has been a store owner in town who had also been pistol-whipped. Burns then nods at Vaughn who bears an uncanny resemblance to the drawing.
Burns soon has the café patrons put the grab on Vaughn and hold him, while he makes a quick call to the local constabulary. No one seems to notice that Burns also fits the sketch in the paper. Burns then slips out before the Police arrive. Vaughn of course protests that he is innocent. The town copper, Tom Wilde arrives and slaps the bracelets on. Vaughn's car is now searched and the item, a leather coat that Burns had hidden is found. Needless to say, the jacket matches the description in the paper.
Vaughn is hauled off for a visit to the hospital. The last victim is still in recovery from the pistol whipping. The man, Forest Stanley, has a look at the jacket and Vaughn and id's both. Vaughn is of course at a loss as to how this is happening and again insists he is not the hold-up man.
The cop, Wilde takes Vaughn to his car and loads him in for the trip to the jail house. The car will not start, so Wilde takes a look under the hood after cuffing Vaughn to the steering wheel. Now Burns walks up and offers to help. "I'm a mechanic, let me take a look." Burns of course is the one who fiddled with the car while Vaughn and Wilde were in the hospital. Burns now fixes his bit of sabotage. He has the cop shut the hood while Burns tries the key.
The car starts up, Burns jumps in and floors it knocking the cop down. Burns drives out of town at speed as he tells Vaughn a tale of a hold-up man. Burns is the real hold-up man the Police are looking for. He has been waiting for someone to come along that matches his description. Vaughn is going to be the fall guy for Burns' crime spree. Burns intends to kill him, figures this will close the book on the robberies. Burns kept his face turned from the cop so there will be no new description of "Vaughn's" accomplice.
Vaughn, still cuffed to the wheel, does not like this idea in the least. He grabs the wheel and causes the Police car to swerve into a power pole. Burns is thrown from the car and gets trapped under the wreck. Burns comes to and proceeds to start digging his way out from under the car. Vaughn is spending his time trying to break the now damaged steering wheel. Burns smiles and tells Vaughn that he is now going to make his death painful.
Vaughn finally gets the steering wheel off and bolts for the highway. The first car he flags is a Highway Patrol unit out looking for the escaped from custody Vaughn. Vaughn has better luck this time, as he shows the Police who the real killer is.
This one is a quick, and to the point suspense episode that keeps the viewer wondering how Vaughn will save himself.
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