NOT FOR HIRE – The Soldier's Story – 1959
This 1959 to 1960 television series starred Ralph Meeker as Sgt Steve Dekker. Dekker is an Army investigator with the Criminal Investigations Division of the US Army. CID investigates serious crimes committed by or against army personnel. Dekker is based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Meeker seems to be channeling his Mike Hammer persona (KISS ME DEADLY) in this series. He plays the character as hard-nosed as they come. This episode is the first of the 39-episode production run.
A soldier on leave is grabbed up by the local Police and tossed in the cells. The man (Terry Cooke) has had way too much alcohol. He figures he is being collared for drunk and disorderly. That idea fades fast when CID man (Meeker) arrives. It turns out there has been a jewelery salesman robbed of $50,000 in merchandise. The salesman had also been killed, and the soldier Cooke's wallet was found at the scene.
Cooke swears he never did the deed, and that his wallet had been lifted at a club in a rather seedy part of town. A beautiful blonde had put the moves on him. She had invited him to her room for "drinks". Next thing Cooke knew he was being rolled by several large anti-social types.
Meeker decides to look into the matter and hits the same club that night. Sure enough, a less than bashful blonde (Mari Blanchard) invites him upstairs for some clutch and grab. They hit the room and presto change-o the same two anti-social types step out of the shadows. A sound beating is applied to Meeker and his wallet lifted (of course, he'd left his real ID in the office). The somewhat battered Meeker gets on the horn and calls the MPs and the Police. This is done so as to establish Meeker as a real GI who'd been robbed.
Once Meeker has been repaired, he heads back out to track down Miss Blanchard. The viewer now finds out that Blanchard works for a bait and rob racket run by Stanley Adams. The muscle is supplied by John Vivyan and various other assorted thugs. They also pull the odd big time robbery including the jewelery salesman. They had dropped the soldier's wallet to throw off the cops.
Meeker hits the club again and makes a nuisance of himself with the bartender, etc. He accuses the man of setting him up with the blonde bimbo. He wants his wallet, and the 80 bucks inside back. Another B-girl (Roberta Haynes) overhears Meeker and offers to tell him where Blanchard is. It never hurts to thin out the competition a bit, Haynes tells him. Haynes gives up Blanchard's address and then offers our boy Meeker a taste if he wants. Meeker refuses the offer.
Meeker now hotfoots it over to Blanchard's apartment for some "light chatting." He forces his way in on the surprised Miss Blanchard. Fork over the wallet and cash please, Meeker strongly hints. He also wants info on all the other soldier types Blanchard and company have blackjacked.
The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of thug Vivyan. This time Meeker is not holding back and gives the swine a proper curb stomping. He mops the apartment up with poor Vivyan's face. He collects his wallet and 80 bucks and leaves.
Later, back at racket boss Adam's place, Vivyan and Blanchard fill in Adams on what happened. Adams has also heard from the bartender at the club about Miss Haynes giving up Blanchard's address. Adams sends Vivyan out to eliminate the over-talkative Miss Haynes.
And as it so happens, Meeker is at Haynes' little apartment promising the woman protection. Meeker wants the woman to spill all she knows about the racket. Now, thug Vivyan shows up for another go around with Meeker. Vivyan bursts in and knocks Meeker down.
He yards a pistol and goes for Miss Haynes, who flees out the back and into the nearby woods. Vivyan, lets fly with several rounds, then gives chase after the quick-as-a-rabbit Haynes. Meeker has by now picked himself up, and likewise joins in the pursuit. Haynes, knowing it will be a lead overdose if she's caught, dives into the water at the end of the path and swims for all she is worth.
Gunman Vivyan comes up now and takes careful aim. Just as he is about to let loose, however, he's tackled by Meeker. Into the water they both go. There is another full-fledged round of flying fists, elbows and knees to various body parts before Vivyan is finally put down for the count.
Needless to say Miss Haynes is now more than happy to testify. Vivyan, Blanchard and Adams are all arrested and given some heavy third degree. In a short time, they all rat each other out hoping for a better deal. The soldier in custody is released.
This is a very enjoyable bit of television. It features a good story, fine guest stars, a jazzy score, hard-nosed dialogue and more than enough violence. The look of the episode is excellent with long-time TV man John Florea directing. The director of photography is big screen veteran William Margulies. Margulies is known to film noir fans for his work on, CRIME AGAINST JOE, HOT CARS, GIRL IN THE BLACK STOCKINGS and REVOLT IN THE BIG HOUSE.
Plenty of great lines in this one:
--Meeker, after his beating, asks for, "A glass of iodine on the rocks."
--Blanchard cracks to her boss Adams, "If I did not fill these clothes the way I do, you guys would all starve." Blanchard damn near steals the show in this one. What a dame! And of course the pretty Miss Haynes is also easy on the eyes.