Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

KRAFT SUSPENSE THEATER: SEASON ONE

Nina Foch and Katherine Crawford in "End of the World, Baby"

















KRAFT SUSPENSE THEATRE aka Suspense Theatre. Season 1. 1963.

Kraft Suspense Theatre was the anthology series that began each week with stylized, Dali-esque drawings of running, furtive figures while intense, dramatic music blared in the background. The first two episodes, "The Case Against Paul Ryker," were quite good and were later spliced together and presented in movie houses as Sergeant Ryker. The third episode, "End of the World, Baby," had a mother and daughter (Nina Foch and Katherine Crawford) both involved with the same gigolo (Gig Young), and was mediocre if well-acted. I've seen most but not all of the first season episodes and generally the series was not in the league of, say, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but there were some episodes that were quite memorable. In "One Step Down" Ida Lupino wants to find out who her dead husband's lover was, unaware that it's somebody she already knows (Gena Rowlands). Tourists Julie Harris, Julie Adams and Virginia Gregg get involved with a Latin hustler (Robert Loggia) in "The Robrioz Ring." "Are There Any More Out There Like You?" stars Robert Ryan and features Katherine Ross and Great Old Movies' favorite Jay Novello in a powerful story of a man whose disaffected daughter and friends are involved in a deadly hit and run. "The Threatening Eye," directed by Ida Lupino, is a truly excellent tale of a businessman (Jack Klugman) whose life is turned upside down by a sociopathic fellow employee (Annie Farge) whose motives at first seem hidden. "A Hero for Our Times" stars Lloyd Bridges as a philandering husband who witnesses a murder during an assignation and wonders how he can tell what he knows without compromising himself or his lover. While many other episodes were all but ruined by really stupid endings, they were almost always extremely well-acted.

Verdict: Some gems among the junk. **1/2.

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