Clocks everywhere tell the time (this is a live television production), the image is a large New York corporation hiring a young executive to replace another of long standing.

It coincides with, or rather expresses, the highly-diversified company’s latest growth spurt.

Serling has the experience and temper for this. Cook watches it all happen adroitly.


Preferably, the Less-Used Arm
Ben Casey

Panic in the Streets (dir. Elia Kazan), with smallpox.

A case for mobilization, if need be. A chancy business, one that must succeed (thus the surrounding reflections of the theme, a simple intoxication, a limping gambler, a dying man whose son the U.S. Navy flies in to see him).

“Smallpox germs are airborne,” or as James Joyce says, “I opened the window and In Flew Enza.”


A Big Hand for the Little Lady

A Texan swindled in a land deal gets the money back in a Laredo poker game with five cutthroat businessmen after sixteen years.

A pure masterpiece, looked on somewhat askance by Robert Alden in the New York Times because he couldn’t appreciate the puzzlement of it.

The biters bit, the takers took, and all to their good.


Prudence and the Pill

After the algebraic contrivances of pill and vitamin and aspirin, it unvexes itself like the father of waters to a magnificent comedy of errors or Eros, proceeding directly from Crabtree’s Hindle Wakes, one should think.

In fact, the ending is rather like Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander, and there’s an end.

“A lousy idea to begin with,” says Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), “an incompetent job.”

“Basic flaw of the film,” said Variety, and so forth.

Judith Crist was, to use Halliwell’s term, po-faced.


Eagle in a Cage

Napoleon on St. Helena.

The situation is imaginary, purely fictitious. The English occupy France after the wars, there is revolution brewing. Nappy might be brought back to Paris to defend the nation and attack Prussia, nothing more.

That was the wish of Hitler, he saw the future of Britain on his side against the Russians. The assassins who failed to kill him wanted nothing more.

Old and new on St. Helena, a mistress fobbed off, one just gained.

Sir Hudson Lowe is a gourmet cook and a frustrated military commander. Lord Sissal, a figment, is hyperbrilliant, a thing of air and economy. Napoleon, a general and a statesman and a wit, is ill.

An extremely witty production, very astute on Europe, handsomely mounted, perfectly filmed on location with an ideal cast (Haigh, Gielgud, Richardson, Whitelaw, Hale and so forth) and a fine score. It was dismissed as pure rubbish by the reviewers of Time and the New York Times.


Seize the Day

Hollywood and the commodities market. One should be rich and famous. A raid of sorts on the inarticulate.

One leaves the Jewish wife and sons (“a marriage that made you physically sick,” the Catholic mistress remembers). The boss hires his son-in-law.

No jobs in New York (1956). Comex, lard covered with rye, no dice. It’s an old man’s game, speculation.

Lumet’s Bye Bye Braverman comes to the same conclusion.


The Member of the Wedding

Cook eschews too-direct contrast with the film, his telefilm is a period piece in color, enough to be going on with.

It serves as a crucible for eliciting the mania of young genius in the heat of fruitless inspiration, and there is a moment when the perspective all of a sudden shifts from the air of expectation to anything but realization, “that dream” out of the gate of ivory to “this other one”.