BOB HOPE PRESENTS THE CHRYSLER THEATRE {UNIVERSAL STAR TIME}: GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY (TV)

Summary

One in this anthology series sponsored by the Chrysler Corporation.

The story begins in New York City in 1964, where an old woman is mugged in an elevator by an unknown assailant. Another woman overhears this and tries to wake her husband Gregg Collier, but the attacker manages to get away. Chief Assistant District Attorney in charge of Investigation Andrew Dixon refuses a bribe in order to indict a mobster for extortion before he goes to see the Colliers, who have been brought in for questioning as witnesses to the assault. The Colliers are concerned because Dixon is not prepared to go through with an indictment, due to the suspect’s, Reeser’s, alibi. Gregg insists that they proceed, and that Reeser’s alibi is clearly a lie, but Dixon is morally obligated to uphold the limits of the law and must regard Reeser’s alibi as correct for the time being, although he promises an indictment as soon as they can determine his alibi’s veracity. Gregg fears for his family’s safety with Reeser on the loose, but Dixon and his assistant Ralph Belmonte try to assuage his worries. This does nothing to comfort Gregg, who indicates that he feels the legal system has betrayed him and that he is willing to take the law into his own hands.

Early the next morning, Dixon receives word that Gregg has organized a sort of citizen’s police to patrol his block for crimes, and Dixon encounters some members of the organization. He encounters Gregg giving an interview to a television news crew, stating that the committee was formed as a response to the rise of violent crime in the neighborhood, and expresses his dissatisfaction with the police and legal system. Gregg then speaks with Dixon, who believes that Gregg, while well-meaning, should allow the police to do their jobs. Gregg wants to keep people off the streets until they’re safe again, and gets into an argument with Dixon; Gregg believes that there is a “criminal mentality” behind some people which makes them more predisposed to committing crimes, something Dixon disagrees with. Dixon points out that Gregg’s committee are violating the law against disorderly conduct, warning that the police will have to arrest them if they continue their activities, which leaves Gregg furious.

Dixon and Belmonte visit an older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, on board their boat. Mr. Cunningham has supported Reeser’s alibi, and Dixon is there to question him. He claims that on the night of the assault, he and Reeser were at a show together. Dixon points out some discrepancies in his story before he and his wife become adversarial and eject Dixon and Belmonte off the boat. Gregg tells his wife that he intends to put the committee back on the street that night, knowing that they all may get arrested. She intuits that he has not told the other men about his encounter with Dixon, and suspects that he wants to get arrested. He prevents her from spreading the truth, but ultimately decides not to put the committee on the street.

That night, another mugging takes place in the same manner as the first. The next morning, Dixon and his children go out on his boat, accompanied by his friend Catherine Rogers, in order to keep surveillance on the Cunninghams. He receives a call from Belmonte informing him of the mugging. Reeser has been brought in again, but this time the victim was killed, and he is being held on a murder charge. Dixon interrogates Reeser, who claims that it would have been idiotic to perform the exact same kind of crime in the same spot twice in a row. He is held on suspicion of homicide while they contact his lawyer. Dixon returns home to find Catherine waiting for him; she informs him that Gregg gave a telephone interview following the Reeser arrest where he lambasted Dixon. He talks to his son Peter, who has his doubts about whether Dixon took the correct course of action. Peter understands his father’s position but also believes Gregg has a point when he says that the police aren’t effective in fighting crime.

Belmonte calls Dixon to tell him that he has a number of witnesses placing Reeser in a bar during the time of the murder. Dixon has no choice but to release Reeser despite the inevitable backlash from Gregg. Gregg calls for a return to action from his committee, and they agree, although some only tentatively. One of the members of the committee, Stafford, visits Dixon and tries to argue the semantics of criminal law with him as a pretext for holding Reeser for the initial mugging. Dixon refutes his argument, and Stafford reveals that he is afraid of both Reeser and of Gregg’s committee. Gregg continues to organize his committee, all while his wife Margaret continues to criticize his actions. She believes Gregg is only organizing it to benefit himself, and considers withdrawing her identification of Reeser in order to stop the committee. On the night of the mugging, Gregg insisted that Margaret refrain from calling the police, and she considers telling the media about this. They get into an argument, and Gregg vows that Reeser will be back.

The next day, Gregg tracks down Reeser and follows him. Dixon meets Margaret in Central Park to discuss what to do about Gregg. She discusses the recent problems in Gregg’s life, such as their inability to have children and his being passed over for promotion. Meanwhile, Dixon tracks Reeser to a bar and calls him from a nearby payphone. He tells him about his wife’s decision to recall her identification and apologizes to him for all the trouble. He asks to reach a monetary settlement with him out of court to prevent a lawsuit. They agree to have Gregg hand over the settlement money in cash and in person in the basement of their apartment building. That night, Dixon tracks down Mr. Cunningham without his wife, and questions him about Reeser. Cunningham and Belmonte track down the actual murderer in a pawn shop, who says he got the idea for it after reading about the initial mugging in the newspaper.

Reeser arrives at the basement and Gregg orders his committee to cut off his escape. He convinces them that Reeser is there to kill Margaret, and Stafford kills Reeser by bludgeoning him with a can of paint. The police arrive to investigate along with Dixon. Stafford says that he didn’t mean to kill Reeser, and the police reveal that Reeser was unarmed. Dixon suspects that Gregg is guilty of entrapment, revealing that Cunningham told him about Gregg setting up the meeting with Reeser, and that Reeser is not guilty of murder. Dixon has Gregg and Stafford arrested for acting in concert to murder Reeser. Commercials deleted.

Details

  • NETWORK: NBC
  • DATE: March 9, 1966 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:46:17
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:49354
  • GENRE: Drama, mystery/suspense
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Crime and criminals
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1963-1967
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Richard Lewis … Executive Producer
    • Robert Costello … Producer
    • David Lowell Rich … Director
    • Guthrie Lamb … Writer
    • Roland Kibbee … Writer
    • Johnny Williams (See also: John Williams) … Music by
    • Robert Ryan … Cast, Andrew Dixon
    • Richard Beymer … Cast, Ralph Belmonte
    • Leslie Nielsen … Cast, Gregg Collier
    • Diana Hyland … Cast, Mrs. Collier
    • Leif Erickson … Cast, Ben Stafford
    • Robert Duvall … Cast, Frank Reeser
    • Pippa Scott … Cast, Catherine Rogers
    • Billy McNally … Cast, Peter
    • Pamela Toll … Cast, Alicia
    • Frank Campanella … Cast, Mr. Cunningham
    • Elizabeth Lawrence … Cast, Mrs. Cunningham
    • Alfred Hinckley … Cast, Herb McQuillan
    • Henry Hamilton … Cast, The Interviewer
    • Louis Criscuolo … Cast, The Dock Attendant
    • John Cecil Holm … Cast, The Resident
    • Bill Zuckert … Cast, Dan Gerringer
    • Elise Baker … Cast, The Elderly Woman
    • William Bryant … Cast, The Emissary
    • Harvey B. Dunn … Cast, The Old Gentleman
    • Laura Mason … Cast, Mrs. Stafford
    • Don Gazzaniga … Cast, The Bartender
    • Paul Fagan … Cast, The Boy
    • Richard Venture … Cast, The Man
    • Luke Saucier … Cast, The 2nd Man
    • John Newton … Cast, Harry White
    • Sandra Williams … Cast, Policewoman
    • Lincoln Kilpatrick … Cast, Plainclothesman