"Route 66" A Cage in Search of a Bird (TV Episode 1963) Poster

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11/29/63 "A Cage in Search of a Bird"
schappe15 February 2016
Zap! We're back in Colorado again for an episode featuring Stephanie Powers as a dodgy young beauty who steals $600 from a crooked card game set up by her boyfriend Alex Viespi, (Cord). She escapes by jumping into the corvette when the guys are stopped at a stop-light, (much as Suzanne Pleshette did in "The Strengthening Angels" and Roger Mosely in "Somehow, it Gets to Be Tomorrow").They don't have much time to be shocked: they drive off when they see a guy with a gun coming after her. They wind up a diner where a distinguished looking Dan Duryea overhears them and helps out when the cops show up, claiming that she is his niece. He sort of takes her under his wing and develops an affection for her.

It turns out he's a crook from the old days, who once pulled off a robbery of the Denver National Bank, (which we see in flashbacks- a rare device in this show). He is now dying and wants to leave life by doing something positive. The money from the robbery is gone but there's still a $25,000 price on his head. He instructs her to turn him in so she can have that money and maybe make something of her life. She doesn't want to do so. But Alex beats her to it, wanting the money for himself.

There's an excellent sequence where the old man gives his young charge a tour of Denver as he knew it, complete with flashbacks. This is the sort of 'organic' thing that is totally missing from "I'm Here to Kill a King".
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No Great Story...But, Stephanie Powers!
AudioFileZ20 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In 1963 as Route 66 was approaching its end viewers did not always get the finest episodes delivered. That said, this isn't by any stretch one of the finest. What it is, however, is a memorable performance by the young Stephanie Powers. Playing a young woman who throws caution to the wind in search of something she hooks up with a conman, but she turns the table on his fixed card game absconding with $600. She's quite out of her realm it would seem as she approaches Tod and Linc for a quick getaway.

Naturally, problems ensue in the form of the con artist attempting to have her arrested for the theft of his money. As it happens an aging on-the-lam bank robber steps in as her uncle taking her by bus to Denver. Once there she hopes to hook back up with Tod and Linc - unknown to them she hid the loot inside a hubcap on their Corvette. The twist in the story is whatever she's running from can't be worse than what she is heading into. It seems she is has been picked by the aged criminal to turn him in and collect a fairly substantial reward. Does the senior bank robber seek to do one good deed in his desperation to end his painful past? Plus, there's still the question of the con-man's money as he is stalking Ms. Powers.

The story seems muddled and, put more plainly, weak. This episode isn't a stellar one except that the screen presence of Ms. Powers is such that despite the tepid story her performance actually lifts it. One could say that it largely due to her outstanding good looks, but that would be wrong as she delivers the mysteriousness of her character brilliantly. The viewer never really knows what to make of her so it is quite requisite to keep watching for answers. In the end there really is not much resolution to that, yet her performance is compelling enough to stay on board.

Route 66 is known to explore the darker side of the human condition. This episode seeks to do that in that youth can be fleeting and if one doesn't treat it as precious the regret of old-age can be very painful. The punch line is that only by losing yourself in that significant other do you find meaning for your own life. That would mean eschewing the self-centered conning of your fellowman. Does the protagonist get the message? Who knows...The story is open for interpretation. Nonetheless, this episode has its strange affection centered on Stephanie Powers.
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