GIRL ON THE RUN – 1958
This television movie was used as the basis for the popular P.I. series, 77 SUNSET STRIP.
This one starts with a labour union boss tipping a few in a night club. He gets a call that his wife has been in a car accident. The man, Charles Cane, rushes out to the parking lot to grab his car. As he starts to drive away, a man steps out of the darkness and fires several rounds into him, killing the man.
Also in the parking lot is the singer, Erin O'Brien, from the night club. She had stepped out to have a quiet cigarette. Then the lights in the parking lot snap on. O'Brien finds herself looking straight into the face of the killer, Sheppard Strudwick. Strudwick beats the feet as more people come running to see what the shots were about.
O'Brien heads home, packs her bags and heads for L.A. to hide out. Some weeks later, P.I. Efrem Zimbalist Jr is hired to find a woman for an out of town client. The woman is of course Miss O'Brien. Zimbalist is given a cock and bull story about a runaway wife.
O'Brien has changed her name, cut and dyed her hair, but is still working as a singer. Zimbalist soon tracks the woman down and makes friends with her. They hit a few night spots of their own and O'Brien seems at ease with the man. Zimbalist lets his employer know that he has found the woman.
The next thing you know, a hit-man, played by Edd Byrnes, shows on the scene. After an attempt on O'Brien just misses, Zimbalist realizes that he has been played for a chump. He quickly hides Miss O'Brien, but not too well, as again, Byrnes makes another attempt to eliminate the woman.
Zimbalist decides to backtrack to the man who hired him. The problem here is that all the info trading was done over the phone. He head out of town to see what he can uncover. After much digging, Zimbalist finally tracks down Strudwick. When he contacts the Police, they all get a good laugh out of the accusations. Sturdwick happen to be the local D.A.
Zimbalist keeps at it and soon captures hit-man Byrnes. He leans on him with some rather forceful, third degree. Byrnes cracks and spills everything he knows. Everything starts to fall into place as Zimbalist gathers enough info to have a local cop, Ray Teal, look into the matter. Strudwick is soon identified by O'Brien and Byrnes. He is grabbed up and soon caves and admits everything.
It seems Strudwick had been taking kickbacks from the unions and such. He had killed Cane because Cane was going to testify at the upcoming crime commission hearings. Cane was going to name names.
The film moves along fairly well under the hands of big screen veteran, Richard L. Bare. Bare is best known for the film-noir, FLAXY MARTIN, SMART GIRLS DON'T TALK, THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET and THIS SIDE OF THE LAW.
The story was by Roy Huggins. As a writer, producer and director, Huggins, was involved in many series such as, CHEYENNE, MAVERICK, THE BOLD ONES, THE FUGITIVE, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, TOMA, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, HUNTER and THE ROCKFORD FILES. On the big screen he wrote the story or screenplay for, I LOVE TROUBLE, THE LADY GAMBLES, WOMAN IN HIDING, TOO LATE FOR TEARS and PUSHOVER.
Edd Byrnes, who played a killer in this one, was brought back as a series regular for the run of 77 SUNSET STRIP. He played the popular parking valet with the great name of, "Kookie".
A much better bit of television than I am making it sound like.