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Suspense - Death Drum

episode 4.20

USA 1952
produced by
Robert Stevens for CBS
directed by Robert Stevens
starring Herbert Berghof, Ian Keith, Maria Riva, Wright King
story by Geoffrey Household, screenplay by Victor Wolfson

TV-series
Suspense

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Occupied France, 1940: Durand (Herbert Berghof) has betrayed a whole Résistance cell to the Germans, and now they are shot dead one by one - which tears out his heart, and yet he doesn't do it for the money ...

The Germans aren't ungrateful, so when Durand's work is done, they fly him out to a neutral country. There he meets Polish Liza (Maria Riva), a traitor just like him (or so she claims) - who ultimately lures him into a trap and he's kidnapped and flown to London, where a rich "sponsor of justice" and his 17 year old assistant both try to execute him but can't after they hear Durand's story: his son fought on the side of the Résistance, but he was the only one of his group who was captured and executed ... so he swore to avenge his son by bringing his whole group to justice - cruel German justice that is. When both his would-be executioners fail to kill him though, Durand shoots himself dead ...

 

One of the episodes of Suspense that actually tries to tell a profound story - tries and fails though. The main failure of the story is that Durand's motivations are never fully comprehensible: He wants the Germans to shoot his son's accomplices because the Germans shot his son? Really?

Second of all, there's a bloodlust in this story that's simply despicable (even if it seems to be rooted in the American "an eye for an eye"-understanding of justice): The whole story only builds up to Durand's death, and to the question at whose hands he's going to die, his motives for the crime he has commited might be explained but are never properly explored (which would have added actual depth to the story). So in the end, the whole complex of topics this story might have carried is reduced to a mere game of crime and punishment - in other words, a wasted opportunity.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD