FORD TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE THEATRE
The Fugitives 1954
This is an episode from the long running anthology series, FORD THEATRE. The series ran for 195 episodes between 1952-57.
Raymond Burr plays a cop-killer who is on the lam after breaking out of death row. He has only one thing on his mind. And that is to get even with his ex (Mary Beth Hughes). Hughes had ratted him out to the police, which of course had not amused Burr.
Barry Sullivan is a newspaper reporter who gets the assignment to do a story on Burr. Sullivan has a wife, two young boys and is flat broke. For a $100 bonus, he tells his editor (Douglas Dumbrille) he will find Burr and get an exclusive story. The boss agrees. Sullivan uses all his police and underworld contacts to narrow down Burr's possible hideouts.
The police find Burr first, however. They have him cornered in a run-down rooming house. Sullivan rushes to the scene hoping to salvage enough for at least an article. The police are reluctant to close in as Burr has taken Mary Beth and a young neighborhood girl (Patsy Weil) hostage.
Sullivan needs that bonus, so he offers to take a message from the police into Burr. He figures he can help the police and get his story at the same time.
Sullivan enters and finds Burr armed with a rifle. Burr is quite prepared to go out in a blaze of gunfire. Sullivan soon realizes that Burr is off his rocker and a story is the least of his worries. Sullivan unsuccessfully tries to persuade Burr to release the hostages. Burr then begins to beat Mary Beth.
Sullivan decides to take a more physical approach and jumps Burr. A well-staged dust-up ensues with Sullivan getting wounded and Burr getting his well-deserved comeuppance.
This episode has noir fingerprints all over it with cast and crew all being noir veterans. We have a story by Robert Hardy Andrews, who worked on I MARRIED A COMMUNIST. Then there is the director of photography, Burnett Guffey, who worked on many noirs, including NIGHTFALL, THE HARDER THEY FALL, HUMAN DESIRE and IN A LONELY PLACE (just to name a few)
Next up is the director, Phil Karlson. His films include 99 RIVER STREET, SCANDAL SHEET, HELL'S ISLAND, BEHIND THE MASK, TIGHT SPOT, 5 AGAINST THE HOUSE, THE BROTHERS RICO, THE PHENIX CITY STORY and KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL.
A well done bit of Noir television. (This episode aired on 1/7/1954.)