Driving immediately after a fight in which her husband Joe hints at divorce, Helen Barton becomes distracted and strikes a pedestrian. She panics and flees to her parents' home, and her strong-willed mother Irene decides to try to protect the emotionally fragile Helen by confessing to the crime herself. Physical evidence found at the accident scene proves that Irene could not be the culprit, so Dan Mathews begins interrogating all of the family members. Helen's father Ted realizes that the charade is hopeless and tells Dan all he knows. He then advises Helen as to the reality of the situation, but her grip on reality remains tenuous. Hoping to somehow belatedly help the victim, Helen returns to the scene, where a witness to the crime refers to her actions as "murder". Although the victim has not actually died, this encounter so upsets the disturbed young woman that she becomes suicidal and threatens to jump off a nearby bridge. Dan finds that he must use guile, warmth, and psychology ... Written by
God, Lies, Oldsmobiles, Bad Edits and obeying Godwin's Law
I love Highway Patrol! And I love this episode because it captures the pure essence of the Series.
1) It's so-o-o-o 50's! Authentic backgrounds, clothes, cars, it's all so real. (Well, of course it is -- it was produced and aired during the 1955-56 season.) Still, it's a wonderful reminder of what things were like in the West a half-century ago.
2) Consider Dan Matthew's closing monologue. When Helen Barton, our suicidal hit-and-run protagonist, claims "This is my own life (to end)" Matthews (Broderick Crawford) gives rebuttal. "No it isn't," he counters. "It belongs to your mother and your father and your husband." "Remember," he sighs deeply to the distraught woman, "God giveth and God taketh away." Today, this dialogue might be taken as provocative by atheists, feminists and Randians alike. But it's pure, wholesome '50's-speak. Bravo!
3) Oldsmobiles. They made the Merry Olds for over 100 years (1903-2004) so it's hard for many of us Baby Boomers to wrap our minds around the fact they're now gone. But Oldsmobiles were in full bloom back in the '50s and our hit 'n' run gal drove a '41 coupe that actually smacks into a telephone pole. This is the only time I recall in the 4 years of Highway Patrol that a car is actually crashed in real time.
4) Lies: When Irene Tewell tells Dan Matthews that she, not her daughter, is responsible for the hit and run accident, the Chief sees through the ruse right away. Good police work trumps even a mother's protective instinct. But what about this at 14:00: Matthews: "How old is your car?" Irene Tewell: "Well, I got it new .. (pause).. about nine years ago." LIAR! That's a '41 Olds, not a '47 or '48. Inexcusable!
5) Bad Edits: Highway Patrol never won an Emmy and certainly would not have for editing. The series frequently shows Matthews leaving HQ in a Buick, speeding down the highway in an Olds, then arriving at the crime scene in the Buick again. Or vice versa. In the closing scene (25:00) we see a dark sedan pulling into a parking space it already occupied earlier moments before (22:54 and earlier). And the bumper of the aforementioned '41 Olds is miraculously straightened when Helen Watson gets out to examine her damaged car and mangled victim.
6) Lastly, it adheres to Godwin's Law. That's the internet era axiom that states "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." Thus we take a closer look at Bobby Watson, who played role of Ted Tewell, Helen Barton's well-meaning but weak-willed father, and viola. Turns out Watson (1888-1965) portrayed Adolf Hitler in 9 different feature films. And that's a record, folks!
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