Leaving New York City behind, Tod and Buz begin their search "to catch a star" and find themselves in a nightmare right out of "Bad Day at Black Rock." The unfriendly, suspicious, and ...
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Leaving New York City behind, Tod and Buz begin their search "to catch a star" and find themselves in a nightmare right out of "Bad Day at Black Rock." The unfriendly, suspicious, and violent residents of a tiny Mississippi town have a long-held secret--and they will kill to protect it.Written by
The original title of this pilot episode was "The Wolf Tree," which is what appears on Stirling Silliphant's 78-page script dated October 27, 1959. At the time, the series was to be titled "The Searchers." See more »
[speaking of Tod and Buz]
And I say they did it. And I say we gonna swing the pair of 'em higher than a buzzard can fly.
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Buzz and Todd get trapped in an isolated southern town hostile to strangers.
The entry starts off well with the boys trying to get their damaged Corvette fixed. But then the screenplay appears unsure where to go resulting in a patchwork 60-minutes, despite good turns from Sloane, Bissell, and Patty McCormack of the notorious The Bad Seed (1956). Looks to me like the script was a hurry-up effort that leaves big holes in narrative development, e.g. Todd's almost getting lynched with very little set-up. It also looks like the writers fill up time with a lot of fist-fights, from which Buzz emerges looking like the spiffy cover of Gentleman's Quarterly. Note too how a key story element, Jenny's supposed rape, is only vaguely implied. But then this is not yet the permissive part of the decade.
On the positive side, Sloane delivers an ace performance as the town tyrant, while the location filming shows seedy, yet atmospheric, areas of the US seldom seen on post-war TV. And, catch a strapping George Kennedy as a local thug.
All in all, it's a disappointingly awkward screenplay not up to the series' usual superior standard.
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