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The Court of Last Resort - The Frank Clark Case

episode 1.19

USA 1958
produced by
Elliott Lewis for Paisano Productions, Walden Productions/NBC
directed by James Goldstone
starring Lyle Bettger, Harold J.Stone, Virginia Vincent, Dan Barton, Stanley Adams, Joseph Granby, Marian Seldes
written by Stanley Niss, series created by Erle Stanley Gardner, Harry Steeger

Court of Last Resort

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Frank Clark (Dan Barton) is found guilty of robbery and murder and sentenced to 99 years, but his sister Roberta (Marian Seldes) is convinced of his innocence, mainly because she is his alibi - and she doesn't seem to be lying either, so the Court of Last Resort takes up investigations. The court's investigator Sam Larsen (Lyle Bettger) interviews Clark, and he has the whole thing mapped out: It's the arresting officer (Harold J.Stone) and the woman who saw him at the scene of the crime, Eleanor (Virginia Vincent), who try to frame him. Investigating further, Larsen finds out Eleanor has been off some huge debts the day after the murder - but where did she get the money from? Larsen questions Eleanor and now she admits the money must have been the dead man's which the robber dropped while making his getaway, and she still has the moneyclip to prove it - but she claims she didn't have anything to do with the actual murder. Roberta later identifies the money clip as Clark'sbut still stands by her claim that her brother was with her during the time of the crime - but then Larsen finds out she has taken sedatives on that very day and must have simply dozed off when Clark was out committing his crime. When Clark is confrontd with these facts, he admits to everything - but insists his sister wasn't consciously lying, and just happened to give him an alibi without him even asking her to ...


The best thing about this episode is probably the ending, which for a change isn't about saving an innocent man but proving a convict's guilt beyond any reasonable doubt - which comes rather unexpected. The rest of the episode is at best so-so though, there is little in terms of tension or suspense, too many clues are given away too soon, and the matter-of-fact seriousness of the whole thing is a bit annoying. Just average 1950's crime television, I suppose.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
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... and for the life of it,
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD