2020 Paley Archive Elements 3840x1536 Banner2
Continue searching the Collection



One in this dramatic anthology series.

Ansel Gibbs has been in retirement for ten years after serving the United States government as an international diplomat involved with several notable events. The government is now offering him a new position, "Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament," which would grant him the status of a cabinet member. However, he would first have to pass the scrutiny of a special Senate committee in order to receive the appointment. His old friend Porter Hoye convinces him to return to Washington D.C. despite Ansel's reluctance to become a public figure. The Senate committee is unsupportive of Ansel's nomination, in particular one Senator Edward Farwell, who accuses Ansel of hubris and criticizes his seemingly hermetic lifestyle. Ansel arrives in Washington accompanied by Porter and Anne, his daughter. Anne works for a charity organization in New York City helping impoverished families.

Anne reveals that she has recently become close with Robin Tripps, host of a television interview program. Robin is the son of Rudy Tripps, who was once Ansel's dearest friend. Robin visits Anne at her office and proposes to her, which she appears to accept. Ansel's sister Louise throws a party for him, and Anne returns just after its conclusion. She convinces Ansel to speak to Robin. They talk to each other about Rudy's fate; he committed suicide ten years ago and Ansel feels somewhat responsible for it. Eventually Robin asks Ansel to appear on his television program alongside Senator Farwell and Ansel agrees.

On Robin's television show, Ansel and Senator Farwell start debating with each other and it isn't long before their discussion becomes more heated and hostile. Senator Farwell criticizes Ansel for the statement "I am civilization," which was attributed to him in a magazine. Ansel's attempts to explain himself are met with further biting criticism from Farwell. Soon Farwell asks questions of a more personal nature and Ansel elaborates on his background, including the fact that his wife died from illness while he was away on a diplomatic assignment. Furthermore, Farwell gets Ansel to admit that he retired due to Rudy's death. Rudy had been brought on to help in a political capacity during an important conference in London, but Farwell implies that Rudy inadvertently exposed state secrets there which caused him to be fired, leading to his eventual suicide. Soon Ansel and Farwell assault each other's character, and Robin remains impartial. The show ends before either of them can resolve anything.

Back at Louise's house, Ansel, Louise, Anne, and Porter contemplate what to do next. Anne believes that Robin invited Ansel onto his show specifically to humiliate him on air, believing that he blames Ansel for his father's death and this was a form of revenge. The others don't agree with this statement and Anne gets frustrated and upset at her father's seeming lack of emotion over the affair. She runs off and Ansel comes to the realization that he doesn't really know Anne. Louise remarks that despite everything, Anne is still in love with Robin. Motivated by his daughter's reaction to the situation, Ansel decides to visit Robin in an attempt to straighten things out. However, he finds Robin's mother Sylvia at his apartment instead, and Robin is long gone. He asks her whether Robin deliberately set him up to fail on live television, but Sylvia doesn't give him an answer and indicates that she is still bitter about her husband's death. She compares his suicide to the death of Ansel's wife, how they were "eaten up" by trying to be included in their lives.

When Ansel returns, Louise also comments on his treatment of his wife. He decides to seek out Anne, who is busy helping out at a charity bazaar. Robin arrives and attempts to confront Anne but she avoids him. Robin decides to help the bazaar himself by serving as the target for a carnival game. Ansel arrives searching for Anne but finds Robin instead. Enraged at him, Ansel topples the entire stand on top of him before leaving. Later, Anne goes to Robin's apartment with him and they curl up by the fire, her anger at him subsided. Anne finally asks whether or not Robin brought Ansel onto his show as a form of revenge and Robin relates a story from his childhood demonstrating that while he was often embarrassed of and angry at his father, he still loved him. He also reveals that he felt partially responsible for his father's death by not paying enough attention to him in his final days. He reveals that his reason for bringing Ansel onto his show was purely for showmanship, so that he might offer a challenge to Ansel's seemingly "incomparable" public image. However, Robin admits that Ansel was "magnificent" and that he actually admires him. Anne, surprised that her estimations of Robin's intentions were false, calls Ansel so Robin can let him know, but Louise answers and tells them that Ansel has left for Washington to meet with the president to refuse his appointment, leaving a letter stating his belief that he has failed those around him.

Anne, Robin, and Porter all attempt to convince Ansel not to resign again. Ansel does not wish to become a "public sensation," but Robin argues that avoiding his meeting with the Senate is cowardly. Porter gets Senator Farwell on the phone, who promises to cease his personal attacks on Ansel. When Robin accuses Ansel of trying to protect his sense of pride, Ansel notes that despite their disagreements he and Robin are going to have to learn to live with each other. When Senator Farwell attempts to reach a compromise with Ansel, he becomes outraged and angrily responds that he will face the Senate after all. Despite their initial opposition, the Senate approves his nomination to the cabinet. Ansel holds a press conference where he gives a speech about not deriding political figures merely due to their intelligence, and says he needs to be "in the thick of things," concluding by stating that "we are civilization, all of us together." Includes commercials.


  • DATE: August 13, 1959 9:30 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:27:59
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: B:43693
  • GENRE: Drama
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV series, 1956-1961
    • TV – Commercials – Allstate insurance
    • TV – Commercials – American Gas Association
    • TV – Commercials – Camel cigarettes
    • TV – Commercials – Kleenex paper towels
    • TV – Commercials – Renault automobiles
    • TV – Promos – "Playhouse 90"
    • TV – Promos – "Stripe Playhouse"


  • John Houseman … Producer
  • Charles H. Schultz … Associate Producer
  • Russell Stoneham … Associate Producer
  • Ralph Nelson … Director
  • David Davidson … Writer
  • Frederick Buechner … Based on the novel by
  • Rod Serling … Host
  • Melvyn Douglas … Cast, Ansel Gibbs
  • Diana Lynn … Cast, Anne Gibbs
  • Earl Holliman … Cast, Robin Tripp
  • Mary Astor … Cast, Sylvia
  • Loring Smith … Cast, Senator Edward Farwell
  • Ilka Chase … Cast, Louise
  • John Hoyt … Cast, Porter Hoye
  • Vito Scotti … Cast, The Barker
  • Felipe Turich … Cast, Dr. Rodrigues
  • Margarita Cordova … Cast, Mrs. Valdez
  • Art Kevin … Cast, TV Commentator
  • Tommy Wade … Cast, Reporter
  • Michael Pataki … Cast, Reporter
  • John Milton Kennedy … Cast, Announcer
  • Carolyn Horn … Cast, Woman Reporter
  • Drew Handley … Cast, Stage Manager
Continue searching the Collection