Posted by Don Malcolm on 6/11/2020, 10:03 am
Gord is on it again, with one of the darker turns in the highly-touted but short-lived anthology show Richard Boone headlined during the 1963-64 TV season. There are other episodes that would comfortably fit into the TV noir classification; at some point, we'll try to dig them out and continue exploring the details of this intriguing show.
For those interested in some of the wonkier details that have surfaced about the show, you are referred to the work of eminent classic TV historian Stephen Bowie, who writes about the story development aspects of The Richard Boone Show here:
This includes a look at the instability in the process that centered around the show choosing Clifford Odets as its story editor, which moved from problematic to all-out-crisis when Odets unexpectedly passed away in August 1963, creating increasing production difficulties for the show. His replacement, William D. Gordon, had transitioned from acting only recently, and he rode out some tough times as Boone increasingly intervened in the story development process. "Run, Pony, Run" is a show where Gordon polished the work of two relatively novice screenwriters: it is not an episode that Bowie particularly admires, but his research details are undeniably superb--after reading Gord's writeup, you'll be unsurprised to discover that Robert Blake pushed hard for this script, having been tipped off to it from a pitch made for it at the Boone company's weekly workshop session.
Bowie's article is fascinating "inside" reading that captures the unique "pressure cooker" atmosphere involved in making a weekly television series. A more general introduction, with added details about the actors in Boone's "repertory company" and the processes involved in the actors' workshop, can be found here:
Be sure to check it all out--it's quite a story in its own right.
THE RICHARD BOONE SHOW "Run, Pony, Run" 1963 (screened 2/21/1964)
THE RICHARD BOONE SHOW was an American anthology series that ran for 25 episodes during 1963 and 1964. The shows all featured the same "company" of actors in each episode with a couple guest stars thrown in. The regular cast is, Richard Boone, Harry Morgan, Warren Stevens, Bethel Leslie, Guy Stockwell, Robert Blake, Ford Rainey, Laura Devon, June Harding and Lloyd Bochner.
This episode is the 21st of the production run.
Robert Blake headlines this episode. Blake is a drug addict who gets caught in the middle of the night burgling a drug store. He hotfoots it out the back to where he has a stolen car parked. Outside, he runs into another Policeman. He pulls a gun and shoots said Policeman. He now speeds off as the second cop fires at him. An all-points bulletin is sent out and a Police prowler is soon on Blake's tail.
Blake manages to throw the tail and parks at an all-night supermarket. There, Blake car-jacks a woman waiting in the parking lot for her husband. The woman, Laura Devon, says nothing as Blake has a gun shoved in her ribs. They drive right past several Police cars that have just arrived.
Blake drives to the nearest alley and rifles through Devon's purse. All he finds is a lousy 3 bucks in singles. He needs cash to get a fix as he is starting to go through withdrawal. He slaps Devon around and says he needs some cash. She takes him to her office. She tells him there is a box with some petty cash in it. They hit the office and Blake finds a whopping 27 more dollars.
The night guard, Warren Stevens, shows up wondering who is in the office so late. Devon tells Stevens that she is there getting some important papers ready for the boss. Of course she is only saying that because Blake has the gun on her.
While all this is going on, the wounded policeman has been rushed to hospital in serious condition. The detectives have also arrived on the scene. The two, Ford Rainey and John Wesley talk to the second cop getting a description of the suspect. Rainey says it must be one of the local hop-head types.
By this time the husband of the missing woman, Devon, has called in the Police. The detectives figure that the two events are tied together. They quickly find the car Blake dumped and call in the fingerprint boys.
Blake has by now discovered that there is a safe in Devon's office. Devon tells Blake that it has a time lock and can't be opened till 8 in the morning. Blake hauls Devon to his fleabag rooms in a rundown apartment. At the apartment is Blake's girl, June Harding. Blake intends to keep Devon there till the time lock opens.
Blake leaves a tied up Devon with Harding while he goes out to see if he can score. The police are out in force grabbing up every dealer they can find in order to get a lead on Blake. Blake's dealer, Harry Morgan is collared by the Police just as Blake arrives.
Blake is really starting to come unglued from the lack of any new drugs. He heads back to the apartment just as withdrawal hits him big time. He is soon bouncing off the walls as his girl Harding tries to calm him. Devon manages to free herself, grabs her stuff and makes for the door. She stops as she watches Blake thrashing about the floor etc. The Police are soon kicking in the door and putting the grab on Blake. His dealer, Morgan, has given up Blake's address to the Detectives.
This is a fairly hard hitting episode for 1963. Blake is quite convincing as the druggie losing control.