This one is an episode of the long running anthology series, GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER. The series ran between 1953 and 1962 and totalled 300 episodes.
Eddie Albert and Ruth Roman are busy packing their bags for a trip out to Palm Springs. The two are looking forward to a relaxing weekend away from the kids. The babysitter has arrived and it is time to go. A hug and a kiss for the kids, then off they go with only a last stop at the drug store for some odds and ends.
Arm in arm they return to the car and head off. Not a block from the store and up pops Robert Armstrong from the back seat and sticks a gun in Albert's ear. "Drive up a couple of blocks, hang a left and stop!" Albert does what he's told and follows directions. A few blocks later he pulls over and Dane Clark piles into the front seat.
Albert is instructed to drive and not ask any questions. Miss Roman of course is anything but quiet and soon finds herself on the end of another piece. Clark and Armstrong need a ride to the border and the couple better help or else. It seems the two gunmen had held up a store and blasted the clerk when he was less than cooperative.
They soon come up on a roadblock. Clark says it's the gas chamber already for Armstrong and himself so they have nothing to lose by killing Albert and Roman. Behave and they just might live to see the morning. The cops are looking for two suspects so they wave the four of them through. Half an hour down the road and Clark notices the gas needle hitting on empty. They stop at a small station for fuel.
But they only manage a quarter tank before the gas station radio starts with the gunman's description. Clark throws some cash at the gas jockey and starts the car. Roman pulls out her lipstick and Clark cracks, "the world's coming to an end and all you dames worry about is how your face looks!" Roman scribbles a quick note to drop to the gas jockey but Clark spots her play. Clark gives her a couple of sharp ones to the face and say's "naughty, naughty!"
It does not take long till they go through the quarter tank and Clark pulls over into a farmyard. He leaves Armstrong to watch over Albert while he shoves Roman along to the farmhouse door. "Ask for some gas and be quick about it!" Clark hides in the shadows while Roman bangs on the door. The farmer is not happy with the late night wake-up, but comes out to help. As the jerry can is being filled Roman whispers to the farmer about the gunmen and to phone the police. The farmer hands the jerry can to Roman and asks if Roman had said something. "I never had a chance to put on my hearing aid so I can't hear a thing."
Roman starts back to the car and is soon joined by Clark. "Good thing the old geezer was deaf, or I would have had to plug him. I heard what you said to him." Back at the car, Armstrong, who has been nursing a bottle all night lets his guard down and is disarmed by Albert. When Clark and Roman show up with the gas, Albert hauls out his gun, points it at Clark, pulls the trigger. Nothing happens. Clark laughs and barks. "You think I would leave a loaded gun with that useless old drunk." Armstrong mumbles that he is sorry and that he had dozed off. Clark pulls out his own gun and shoots Armstrong dead. "Now it's your turn!" he says to Albert.
But as Clark takes aim he feels a barrel to his own back. It is the farmer with his 12 gauge planted firmly in Clark's spine. Off in the distance a howling police siren is drawing closer. It seems the farmer had heard every word Roman had said. He had noticed Clark in the shadows and played it cool. As the siren's wail gets louder, Albert steps up and drops Clark to the ground. "Hear that punk! You are being paged."
Excuse my somewhat enthusiastic review here, but I found this to be one of the best bits of 50's television noir I've ever come across! A tight story, great acting and a look that makes one believe they are watching an A class film.
One look at the people behind the camera and I know why I loved this episode. The director is none other than Jacques Tourneur. One can see his hand all over the episode. OUT OF THE PAST, CAT PEOPLE, NIGHTFALL are just a few of his films.
The D of P was Oscar nominated (Sayonara) Ellsworth Fredericks. Fredericks was D of P on several low-rent mid 50's Bill Elliot crime films like SUDDEN DANGER and DIAL RED ľO. He is better known though as a cameraman on classic Warner Brothers films like, TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE , KEY LARGO, THE DAMNED DON'T CRY, FLAMINGO ROAD and THE BREAKING POINT.
The screenplay was by Mel Dinelli. Dinelli worked on THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, THE RECKLESS MOMENT, BEWARE MY LOVELY, HOUSE BY THE RIVER and JEOPARDY. The story was by Charles (BLUE GARDENIA) Hoffman.
This is top-flight bit of noir entertainment! I loved it! (b/w)