FIRESIDE THEATRE - "Prime Suspect" - 1958
JANE WYMAN PRESENTS - THE FIRESIDE THEATRE, was a series that ran from 1955 to 1958. A total of 93 episodes were produced. Many top film stars guested on the series.
There has been a series of brutal attacks of women in city parks. The attacks take place only on moonlight nights and the victims are always blonde. On this particular night the man pounces on a couple in the park. He kills the man and starts to strangle the woman, Nita Talbot. As he is doing this, he whispers to Talbot, "You are dirty and no good".
Wailing Police sirens frighten the man off before he can finish the job. First on the scene is Captain of Detectives, Bill Ryan. Ryan, played by William Bendix, quickly assigns the other cops to search the park. Bendix's partner, Claude Akins gathers up Talbot and takes her to the hospital. While Bendix and Akins are waiting to speak to Talbot, Bendix has a talk with the staff psychologist. "What kind of a man are we looking for? Why is he doing these things?" asks Bendix. The doctor, Addison Richards, tells him it is a man with a deep hatred of blonde women. "The man was probably turned down or hurt by a blonde woman in his past. This led to a need to strike back at the same".
Talbot it turns out is not badly hurt and is soon interviewed by Bendix and Akins. "I never saw the man's face, but I'll never forget his voice as he whispered in my ear." The police round up the usual suspects for a line up. They have the men approach Talbot from behind and whisper, "You are dirty and no good". None of the men fit. "Are you sure that is what the man said ?" as he repeats the phrase. Talbot's eyes open wide as Bendix mouths the words. Akins takes note of Talbot's reaction. Bendix it seems has been the first cop on the scene for most of the attacks.
His wife had recently died and she was a blonde. Akins takes Bendix aside and tells him that if he was not a cop, he would be the "prime suspect". We now find out that Bendix's wife had been stepping out with a younger man. The man and Bendix's wife were killed in a car wreck on a moonlight night. Bendix admits to having stress and sleep problems. Could he be coming unglued and not know it? This of course does not help his stress.
Bendix visits Talbot at her apartment and tells her of his fears. Talbot comforts him and lets him sleep on the couch when he finally passes out. Talbot decides that Bendix is not the man and heads back to the park. She sits on a park bench and waits. Bendix wakes with a start, bolts out the door and likewise heads for the park. Just as Bendix arrives, John Mitchum pops out of the woods and attacks Talbot. Bendix makes short work of him, saves Talbot, and solves the case.
A quick and nasty half hour bit of noir television.
The director of this episode was Allen Miner. Miner worked mainly in television with the odd low budget western also on his resume.
The d of p was Oscar nominated (PSYCHO) John Russell. Russell's work includes, MOONRISE, CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS, HELL'S HALF ACRE, MAKE HASTE TO LIVE, DOUBLE JEOPARDY and WHEN GANGLAND STRIKES.
The screenplay was by Steve Fisher. Fisher had a hand in I WAKE UP SCREAMING, JOHNNY ANGEL, DEAD RECKONING, LADY IN THE LAKE, THE HUNTED, I WOULDN'T BE IN YOUR SHOES, ROADBLOCK, THE BIG FRAME, THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS, VICKI and TERROR STREET.
Our man Bendix was in, THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, THE GLASS KEY, THE BIG STEAL, LIFEBOAT, THE DARK CORNER, THE BLUE DAHLIA, CALCUTTA, THE WEB, RACE STREET, COVER UP, THIEVES' HIGHWAY, DETECTIVE STORY, MACAO and CRASHOUT.
Talbot had roles in THIS SIDE OF THE LAW, CAGED and ON DANGEROUS GROUND. John Mitchum was in KNOCK ON ANY DOOR, BORN TO BE BAD, NIGHTMARE, 5 STEPS TO DANGER and DEATH IN SMALL DOSES. He was also Det Frank Di Giorgio in the first 3 "DIRTY HARRY" films.