» » Studio One Sentence of Death (1948–1958)

Studio One Sentence of Death (1948–1958) HD online

Studio One Sentence of Death (1948–1958) HD online
Language: English
Category: TV Episode / Drama
Original Title: Sentence of Death
Director: Matt Harlib
Writers: Adrian Spies,Thomas Walsh
Released: 1948–1958
Duration: 1h
Video type: TV Episode
A woman witnesses a murder during a store robbery but claims the accused man is not the killer. After he is convicted and weeks away from his execution date, she sees the real killer, but the police are reluctant to reopen the case.
Episode credited cast:
Gene Lyons Gene Lyons - Sgt. Paul Cochran
Betsy Palmer Betsy Palmer - Ellen Morrison
Ralph Dunn Ralph Dunn - Sgt. MacReynolds
James Dean James Dean - Joe Palica
Virginia Vincent Virginia Vincent - Mrs. Sawyer
Tony Bickley Tony Bickley - Tommy Elliott
Fred J. Scollay Fred J. Scollay - Harry Sawyer (as Fred Scollay)
Henry Sharp Henry Sharp - Mr. Eugene Krantz (as Henry Sharpe)
Eda Heinemann Eda Heinemann - Sylvia Krantz (as Eda Heineman)
Charles Mendick Charles Mendick - Lugash - District Attorney
Frank Biro Frank Biro - The Man (as Barnet Biro)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Betty Furness Betty Furness - Herself - Commercial Spokeswoman
June Graham June Graham - Herself - Substitute Commercial Spokeswoman

Broadcast as Westinghouse Studio One Summer Theatre.

Furs by Fredricka.

Gowns by Samuel Winston.

Reviews: [5]

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    Were it not for the fact that James Dean as the alleged accused killer was in it, Sentence of Death would probably not mean much in the history of TV entertainment. Dean is the most memorable of the performances in a story that seems to be patched from various detective movies and TV shows. As the socialite who thinks Dean is not the killer, Betsy Palmer also should be commended for the various emotions she pulls throughout the hour. If you've seen various film noir pictures, you should be able to predict what happens in the end but I definitely won't reveal here. Included with vintage Westinghouse commercials. For James Dean's performance alone, this one is definitely worth seeking out!
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    Glamorous socialite Betsy Palmer (as Ellen Morrison) goes into a "lower class" drug store for a turkey sandwich, but gets ham instead. While accustomed to champagne and caviar, pretty Ms. Palmer decides she likes tasting how "the other half" lives, and makes a call to arrange to have one of her dinner parties at the drug store. While Palmer is in the telephone booth, the pharmacy is robbed - and, the proprietor is shot dead, in front of his hysterical wife. From the telephone booth, Palmer sees the murderer.

    Palmer and the victim's wife are joined as eyewitnesses by a couple who saw the killer exit the drug store. When detectives Gene Lyons (as Paul Cochran) and Ralph Dunn (as MacReynolds) arrange a police "line-up", Palmer is late for the party. In her absence, the witnesses identify the killer - it's James Dean (as Joe Palica). Young Mr. Dean has a record, and cannot account for his whereabouts on the night in question. But, Palmer, when asked to corroborate, isn't sure Dean is the killer she saw. Still, Dean receives the "Sentence of Death".

    With Dean's execution approaching, Palmer insists he is the wrong man - especially, after seeing, in a bar, the man she claims in the actual killer. The authorities won't revisit the case, but Palmer's insistence causes one of the detectives, Mr. Lyons, to re-investigate, on his own. Palmer's life may be in danger, and Lyons' job is on the line. And, if Dean didn't kill the druggist, can he be saved in time?

    This is an intriguing and well-preformed teleplay. Palmer is the star, and she is exceptional. With pages and pages of script to deliver, Palmer has but one faltering moment, which she manages quite nicely. Of course, Dean is the remaining cast's stand-out. He has a featured role, as the accused killer receiving the "Sentence of Death". Dean evokes the sympathy required for the character very well, and with his inimitable style. The ending is a little too rushed and contrived, but this is a very nicely done "Studio One".

    ******* Sentence of Death (8/17/53) Matt Harlib ~ Betsy Palmer, Gene Lyons, James Dean, Ralph Dunn
  • avatar

    blac wolf

    This show stars Gene Lyons (a name few would recall, but an excellent TV actor), Betsy Palmer and James Dean. It's about a murder case in which there sure seems to be a rush to judgment. Three witnesses finger a young guy (Dean) for the killing--though none are especially reliable witnesses. Two are elderly and seem more interested in getting their names in the paper than anything else and one is the grieving widow. A fourth witness says that Dean is definitely NOT the killer--but because she's a Paris Hilton-type party girl, no one believes her. Plus, her story gets in the way of a conviction--so she is pretty much ignored. Later, when Dean is on death row for the killing, she recognizes the killer when she's at another store. She tells the cops, but one is angry at her for saying anything and the other also dismisses her first. All this leads to a wonderful ending.

    This is a terrific live teleplay from "Studio One". Fortunately, it was saved--using the Kinescope process, though it did make for a rather blurry and ugly print. But look past this nasty looking print--because it is among the best of these teleplays I have seen. Considering how good it is and that it featured Dean, I am shocked it didn't isn't more famous. It features nice writing and acting, but more than that, it brings up exceptional points about the justice system--how it can be more focused on winning than the truth AND the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. You've see this one.gotta
  • avatar


    This is a "live" episode from the long running anthology series, "WESTINGHOUSE: STUDIO ONE". This series ran for 467 episodes between 1948-58.

    Betsy Palmer is uptown society dame who stops by a drug store for cigs, a sandwich and to make a phone call. She has just started her call when a man, Barnett Biro, walks in, shoots the owner, rifles the cash from the till and dashes out.

    The owner's wife, Virginia Vincent, looks at her dead husband, Fred Scollay, and starts screaming.

    The Police detectives arrive and start questioning the witnesses for a description. Gene Lyons and Ralph Dunn play the detectives. Besides Vincent and Palmer, there is a older couple, Henry Sharpe and Eda Heineman, who saw the crime.

    From the description, the Police round up the usual suspects and anyone they find out that night.

    At the lineup, Vincent points to a man, James Dean, then cries out, "That's the man! That's the killer!" Sharpe and Heineman join in and the cops slap on the cuffs. Palmer is not sure Dean is the shooter and says so.

    Dean of course denies he had anything to do with the shooting.

    Within 6 weeks, Dean has his trial and gets sentenced to the chair.

    Detective Lyons thinks they might of moved a bit to fast here and tells his partner, Dunn. He pays a visit to death row to see Dean. He looks Dean in the eye and asks if he is guilty. "No", is the answer.

    Lyons now decides to question all the witnesses again. Vincent starts weeping when asked if Dean is the right man. She gives him the evil eye and throws him out of the drug store. Lyons then questions the old couple. They simply repeat the same details as Vincent did. Were they just parroting Vincent at the trial?

    As all this is happening, Palmer, taking in a late drink at a bar gets a fright. It is the man "she" saw that night at the drug store. He has one drink and then leaves.

    Palmer calls the detectives and the D.A. to inform them. The D.A. and detective Dunn blow it off as Palmer having a drink too many. Detective Lyons is not so sure.

    With only 2 weeks before Dean gets the big voltage, Lyons and Palmer decide to stake out the club.

    Several days later, the man, Biro strolls in for cold one. Lyons and Palmer trail the man back to a nearby apartment block.

    Lyons tells Palmer to stay back in the shadows while he knocks on the door. Biro answers. Lyons flashes his badge and tells Biro he is asking about a sting of burglaries in the neighbourhoods.

    Biro responds that he knows nothing about it. Lyons bulls his way in and whom does he find in the apartment? None other than Vincent, the darling widow of the murdered man, Biro tries for the door but several jabs and a right cross end that idea.

    It seems that Biro and Vincent were having an affair and decided the husband needed to go. Vincent had fingered Dean at the lineup because they needed a patsy for the crime.

    Dean is set free and the two lovers locked up.

    The episode is a pretty intense example of live television.

    Matt Harlib was the director of the show. The screenplay was by Adrian Spies. Spies wrote for series as varied as, Hawaii 5-O, T.J. Hooker, Dr Kildare, The Walter Winchell File, Felony Squad, Wagon Train and The Untouchables.
  • avatar

    Elastic Skunk

    Original air date - August 17th, 1953. Good luck timing allowed me to catch this early James Dean television appearance from Studio One, a CBS TV presentation on Turner Classics the other evening. Interestingly, Dean's name doesn't appear in the opening credits, reserved for principals Gene Lyons and co-star Betsy Palmer. My only recollection of Ms. Palmer is from her appearances as a panelist on the TV game show 'What's My Line' when I was a kid in the Fifties, so that provided an added bonus for this viewer.

    Palmer's character here is a socialite up town girl who witnesses a murder and robbery in a neighborhood café while making a call from inside a phone booth. The wife of the coffee shop owner and an elderly couple pick out Joe Palica (Dean) as the killer from a police line-up , and the cops, in an effort to call this an open and shut case, quickly arrest him. He's convicted in a matter of weeks and is sentenced to death, with a newspaper headline taking up the entire front page - 'DRUGGIST SLAYER GETS CHAIR'.

    Ellen Morrison (Palmer) however, isn't convinced the real murderer was arrested, and takes her story to the cops who booked Palica, Sgt. Cochran (Lyons) and MacReynolds (Dunn). Both cops begin investigating her story after the fact and off duty, and in more than one scene that are almost comical by present day standards, they criss cross their presence off screen to make further inquiries of Miss Morrison one right after the other. When the real killer (O.J. would be proud) is spotted by Morrison in a local bar, she summons Cochran and they both manage to follow the man (Frank Biro) to his apartment. The unexpected twist occurs when the widow of the coffee shop owner is revealed as the murderer's accomplice. Joe Palica was a mere pawn in their plans to get away with murder by pinning it on an innocent man.

    Except for Dean's appearance in the early part of the story when he was apprehended and grilled for what he knew about the crime, he doesn't have much else to do and doesn't even appear for the resolution of the story. Instead, the finale offers the hint of a romance about to blossom between the young police sergeant and the up town girl who stuck to her story to defend an innocent man.