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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
PANIC! "The Boy" 1957
This is the third 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.
In this episode, a young boy, Billy Chapin has just seen his widower father, Ross Elliott, off to work. Several minutes later his pet cat runs under the house, Chapin likewise crawls under the house to fetch the pet.
A car then pulls up and two men get out. The two walk up to the house and start pounding on the door. Before Chapin can call out from under the house, one of the men says, "He must be at work down at the lighthouse. We can catch the rat there, and then we'll fix him." Chapin remains silent as the two men take their automobile and drive off. Chapin never saw the pair's faces, but one had a big slit on his right shoe.
Chapin may be young, but he knows that the two are out to harm his father. He heads for the phone to call his father. But it is too early for his father to have reached the lighthouse he works at. Chapin calls the Police but hangs up. "What if his dad gets in trouble with the Police." He thinks.
He dashes off to a nearby neighbour's house. He asks if the woman, Paula Winslowe could drive him to the lighthouse. The woman tells Chapin her husband has the car. He then asks if he could borrow her son's bicycle. Needless to say the son is off somewhere with the bike. He hotfoots down the road intending to hitchhike the 8 miles.
Luck is with Chapin and he soon gets a lift. The two men in the car are lost and need directions to a nearby lighthouse. A quick look at the footwear of the men confirms that it is the two men from earlier. Chapin, a quick thinker, gives the two, Michael Granger and Jack Lambert the wrong directions to the lighthouse. He then has them drop him off down the road. He hotfoots into a handy corner store and tries to call his father. No luck as Elliott is outside the lighthouse doing some work.
Chapin again starts running towards the lighthouse. He meets up with the neighbour boy with the bicycle. The kid is most reluctant to let Chapin borrow his wheels. Chapin fists up and drops the kid, then takes off on the now stolen bike. Chapin's bad luck holds as he quickly finds the bicycle has a flat tire. He drags the bike to the local service station and pumps up the tire.
Lambert and Granger now pull in. They ask the gas jockey for the "correct" directions to the lighthouse. Lambert sees Chapin and tells him, "You stupid kid! You gave us the wrong directions." Chapin mumbles sorry.
Lambert has the gas jockey fill up the car. Chapin sneaks to the back of the car and loosens one of the car's tire valves. Chapin then hops on the bike and pedals away as fast as he can. By the time Lambert and Granger's car is fuelled up, the one rear tire has gone flat. The gas jockey points this out to Lambert. The less than pleased Lambert gets to work changing the tire.
Chapin is nearing exhaustion as he pedals for the lighthouse. He stops and moves a road closed sign hoping that will also slow down the thugs. By this time, Lambert and partner are closing fast on the lighthouse. Chapin takes a shortcut through a patch of trees still hoping to beat the two men.
Chapin and the two men all arrive at the same time. Lambert quickly clues in that Chapin must be Elliott's kid and makes a grab at him. Chapin leads the two on a chase into the workshop. He then sneaks out and locks the two in. Then it is off to find his dad. A surprised Elliott listens to Chapin's tale and reaches for the phone to call the Police.
Lambert is busy with a crowbar breaking the lock on the workshop door. Just then, a prowl car with two Policemen pulls up. They would like a word with Chapin about the bicycle he stole. Elliott soon has them going after Lambert and Granger. The two are captured and tossed in the prowl car. Now the viewer finds out that Elliott was a witness against Lambert and Granger in a murder case. They wanted to eliminate Elliott to stop him from testifying.
A real jack-rabbit paced tale that never slows down. The director was veteran television man, Sherman Marks. Marks also wrote the story for this episode. The look of the episode is excellent with three time nominated, and two time Oscar winning cinematographer, Hal Mohr at the controls. His film work includes, CAPTAIN BLOOD, DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE BIG NIGHT, WOMAN ON THE RUN, RANCHO NOTORIOUS, THE BOSS, THE GUNRUNNERS, BABY FACE NELSON and THE LINEUP.
Some might recall Billy Chapin from the superb film noir, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) with Robert Mitchum.
If ever there was an actor born to play a thug, it was Jack Lambert. The downright evil looking Lambert played criminal types in many a film and television episode. He had bits in films like ABILENE TOWN, THE KILLERS, THE ENFORCER, THE UNSUSPECTED, FORCE OF EVIL, THE GREAT GATSBY, BORDER INCIDENT, SECRET OF CONVICT LAKE, 99 RIVER STREET, DAKOTA LIL, VERA CRUZ, RUN FOR COVER, KISS ME DEADLY and countless others.
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