This is an episode of the one season run of the anthology series STAGE 7. The series ran for 25 episodes during 1955. The headliner in this film noir-like episode is Maria Riva.
Maria Riva was a ex-gangster's girl who is in trouble with her ex (Don Haggerty). Haggerty is up on some murder charges and had gotten Riva to give him an alibi. Riva though is not sure she could take the pressure if it goes to court. She wants out. Haggerty hears of her jitters and has one of the "boys" (Gene Roth) bring in Riva for a late-night chat.
Riva explains that she just wants to split town with her new boyfriend (Michael Emmet). She is afraid that she might cave if put in the witness box. Haggerty explains that there is five grand in it for her, or a quarter ounce of lead applied behind the left ear...her choice. When Haggerty also threatens to off Riva's new beau, Riva reacts. She shoves Haggerty, knocking him over and bolts for the door.
Once outside, Riva hot-foots it into the darkness trying to think of what to do next. A car pulls up and the driver tells Riva to jump in. Riva assumes this is one of Haggerty's men and keeps running. The last city bus of the night pulls up and Riva reaches it just in time. The bus pulls away just as Haggerty and his boy Roth arrive. They see Riva drive off. Roth heads back to make a few phone calls to some of their people while Haggerty jumps in his car and tails the bus.
The very rattled Riva knows that she must get to Emmet and warn him of Haggerty and his bunch. Needless to say she had not mentioned this particular part of her past. As it so happens, this bus does stop a block away from where Emmet is working the late shift.
Now of course everyone who gets on the bus gives Riva the chills. Could they be some of Haggerty's mob? At one stop, two people, a man and a woman enter the bus. The man (Tony Barrett) takes a seat beside Riva. The woman (Ellen Corby) takes a seat up a row. The man turns out to be nothing but a masher looking for a good time. Riva moves up and sits with Colby.
Riva decides that maybe she should get off at the next stop and flag a cab. As she starts to exit, a rather tough looking man (Robert Bice) steps up to the bus. It is the same man that had tried to get Riva into his car. Riva decides to remain on the bus. The man, Bice boards and has a seat. He then does nothing but stare at Riva. 'What to do! The man must be one of the mob guys!" Riva thinks to herself.
As they approach Riva's stop, Ellen Corby pulls a .38 and pokes it in Riva's ribs. "We are getting off here for a little bit." Corby is to hold Riva till Haggerty arrives. Corby is a mob employee who had been called by henchman Roth. She happened to live near the bus line.
As the bus stops, Riva belts Corby and flees the bus for the service station her man Emmet works at. Just then, Haggerty pulls up, jumps from his car and takes aim at Riva, several shots ring out, but it is Haggerty who goes down in a bloody heap. The man off the bus (Robert Bice) steps up with a gun in hand. It seems the man is really a cop. He had been assigned to watch Riva ever since she gave Haggerty the alibi. He had been the man who tried to pick her up outside Haggerty's after she bolted.
Corby is grabbed up and the morgue boys called for Haggerty. Riva now knows she must come clean with Emmet about her past life.
This is a pretty good episode with plenty of tension and violence throughout.
The director of this nifty noir episode was Reginald Le Borg. A long time b-film director, Le Borg is best known for "The Mummy's Ghost" and the low budget film noir, ``Fall Guy".
The d of p here is noir veteran, George Diskant. His work includes, "Desperate", "Riffraff", They Live by Night", "A Woman's Secret", "Port of New York", "Between Midnight and Dawn", "The Racket", "On Dangerous Ground", "The Narrow Margin", "Beware my Lovely" and "Kansas City Confidential".
I could not shake the feeling that I had seen Maria Riva before, but could not quite place where. It is because she is the daughter of screen legend Marlene Dietrich. She really looks like her mother.
Ellen Corby of course went on to play the grandmother on the long running series, THE WALTONS.