Monday, October 13, 2014

31 Days of Suspense: "A Little Piece of Rope"

The content of Suspense was a mixture of scripts adopted from other programs (such as "Four Hours to Kill"), scripts adapted from motion pictures (such as "Odd Man Out"), scripts adapted from classic literature (such as "The Moonstone"), scripts adapted from the popular literature of the day (such as "Donovan's Brain"), scripts drawn from real events (such as "The Truth About Jerry Baxter") and this, an original script.

I've already spoken of Cornell Woolrich when presenting his episode "The Black Curtain;" as I noted, Woolrich had a gift for stories where the protagonist is unable to trust others because of the nature of their dilemma. Author Virginia Cross had something similar in mind with her script "A Little Piece of Rope," which aired October 14, 1948 with star Lucille Ball. You may download the episode from here.

In this episode, Ball portrays a young woman whose slight stature results in her constantly being mistaken for a teenager. In need of money, her solution is to employ her natural gifts: pose as a schoolgirl, lure wealthy men into offering her a ride, then slug them over the head and rob them! This scheme succeeds for a long time until she chooses as her victim a man who happens to be a serial killer!

I'm not a terrific fan of Lucille Ball but she did tremendous work in her six Suspense appearances. Her sly, streetwise voice suits this particular character and the conflict - serial robber versus serial killer - is kind of ingenious. As in Woolrich's stories, we have a protagonist who can't involve anyone else in their trials - because in this instance, she's as much a criminal as the person she's battling!

Tomorrow: "If it hadn't been for that kitten--"

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