Signal Thirty Two 1953
This is an hour-long episode of Westinghouse Studio One from 1953.
A pair of rookie cops just out of the academy are sent to the 23rd precinct in New York. One is straight as an arrow, the other, not so much. The first, Joe Maross, is assigned to ride in a prowl car with long serving veteran Roy Roberts. The second, Gene Lyons, is assigned to foot patrol.
After a few night shifts, Lyons invites Maross home for a home cooked meal done up by his sister (Joan Copeland). Maross falls for Copeland and they start dating.
Several months later, foot and car patrols are called to an apartment about a fire. It seems a tenant had left a pot of coffee brewing which had overflowed after he went out. The police shut off the gas and have a quick look around the place. Lyons sees a nice collection of Scotch on a shelf.
The police leave and the sergeant tells Lyons to make sure the door is locked. Lyons shuts the door without locking it. The others leave and Lyons hotfoots it back to the apartment. He slips in and heads for the stash of scotch.
He pockets a bottle and then sees a 45 automatic behind the bottles. Just then, someone turns the door knob. Lyons slips behind the curtains as a man enters and goes right to where the pistol is hidden. Lyons steps out and says. "Police! Drop the piece!" Shots ring-out and both men are hit by rounds.
The neighbors call the police who find Lyons wounded, and the other man dead. As Lyons is put in the ambulance he is asked by the Captain (Robert Middleton) what was he doing there? Lyons gives him a story about coming back to make sure he had locked the door. The dead man had appeared and pulled a gun, forcing Lyons to defend himself.
The dead man turns out to be a fugitive wanted for a state cop killing. Lyons is now a hero and is promoted to Detective 3rd class.
Several months go by and Maross and Copeland are going hot and heavy, while Lyons seems on top of the world.
The next night, Maross and Roberts get a call about a break-in at an upscale apartment building. "A place with an elevator would be a nice change, says Roberts. The elevator boy whips them up to the burglarized suite. The tenant, (Jacqueline Susann!) came home and found her door to the fire escape kicked in. She is missing cash and all her jewelry.
Detectives Lyon and Jay Barney show and take over the investigation. Lyons has Barney interview Susann while he has a look around. He goes through Susann's purse and finds her bank statements. He smiles when he sees she is flat broke. He has a look at the lock on the fire escape and sees it was jimmied from the inside. He figures Susann is pulling an insurance scam. He replaces her papers and returns to where Barney is questioning her.
"Will you be in tomorrow?' Asks Lyons. "I would like to look around the place during the day." Susann says she will be out till 3 the next afternoon. Lyons grabs Barney and tells Susann he will see her tomorrow.
Lyons returns to Susann's apartment the next day an hour early. He picks the lock and enters. Lyons starts a search of the apartment and soon finds a small bundle of jewels. He pockets the jewels, has a seat, lights up his pipe and waits.
Susann returns. Lyons pulls out the jewels and starts with a bit of 3rd degree. Susann soon folds and breaks out in tears. "My husband left me and I was broke." She sobs. "I needed the insurance money." Lyons tells her to calm down. "There is a way out of this for you". Lyons tells her he can either pocket the jewels himself, arrest her for fraud or have her claim the insurance and split it. "Or there is another option," he says as he hands the jewels back to Susann.
Lyons grabs her and pulls her in for a kiss. Susann resists and swipes her nails across Lyons' face. Lyons drops her to the floor with a solid punch. Needless to say she cracks her head on the table. Lyons grabs his hat and bolts out the door.
Some time later, Roberts and Maross get the call to see about an assault at the building. They find Susann unconscious in a heap on the floor. The ambulance is called and the boys have a look around the apartment again. They figure perhaps the same burglar had returned for a repeat visit. Maross sees Lyons' pipe sitting in the ashtray. He pockets it without Roberts seeing him.
Back at the precinct, Maross confronts Lyons with the pipe. "I know you were there today. I know because I saw you "here" this morning with this pipe!" Snarls Maross. "I'll give you an hour to come clean with the bosses." Lyons denies everything and says he left the pipe last night. Maross tells him: we will find out for sure when Susann recovers.
Just before Maross and Roberts are to head out on patrol again, Maross is called to the Captain's office. Maross is told he will be there a while, so Roberts is sent out alone to deal with a traffic snarl-up.
Maross hits the Captain's office and sees Lyons there as well. The Captain tells Maross that Lyons has come clean about the whole incident. Does Maross have anything to add? Maross fills in the Captain on what he believes happened.
Just then, a signal-32 comes over the intercom. A cop has been shot and killed. It is the partner of Maross (Roy Roberts). Roberts had been alone because Maross was here dealing with Lyons' mess. Everyone's eyes narrow as they all turn and look at Lyons.
The episode was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, who became one of the most prolific and celebrated TV directors in the 1950s. In addition to directing 110 episodes of STUDIO ONE, Schaffner also directed 248 episodes of Edward R. Murrow's celebrated interview show PERSON TO PERSON. He rounded out his TV directing career with 19 episodes of PLAYHOUSE 90 before moving into feature films such as THE STRIPPER, THE BEST MAN, PLANET OF THE APES, PATTON and others.
Fletcher Markle, the creator of STUDIO ONE, had a varied career as writer/producer/director in television during the 50s/60s, and for a time was married to actress Mercedes McCambridge.
Writer Stanley Niss supplied stories and adaptations for dozens of TV shows in the 1950s before turning to producing in the 1960s. His final writing credit was the interesting crime drama PENDULUM (1969), which starred George Peppard as a police captain accused of murdering his wife.