Thursday, June 20, 2013

"What Makes Sammy Run?" on tv

Merrill plays a society vamp to the hilt
In the early—and often halcyon—days of live television, meaty dramas with top actors, writers, and directors were weekly fare on the networks. Precious few were preserved, and some of these have found their way onto DVD, including 1954's Twelve Angry Men (in its pre-Hollywood incarnation) and What Makes Sammy Run? The excerpts below from the 1959 NBC "Sunday Showcase" broadcasts of Budd Schulberg's play star John Forsythe as Al Manheim, Dina Merrill as Sammy's wife, and Larry Blyden as the ruthless Sammy Glick, whose steady rise while stepping on all and sundry we watch with the appalled fascination of a Nature documentary. Other cast members include  Barbara Rush as Al's fellow screenwriter and Monique van Vooren as Zsa Zsa Gabor–type actress Zizi Molnari. (Broadcast in two one-hour segments on September 27 and October 4, 1959, the teleplay by Budd and Stuart Schulberg was directed by Delbert Mann.) Besides the impressive caliber of the acting and the script, it's fascinating to watch how the director moves the camera around and between sets, with just commercial breaks to change costumes and setups. This New York Times article describes the story of the second act's "lost footage," which was eventually discovered at the Library of Congress.

1 comment:

  1. I never saw "Sammy" but it sounds like "Patterns", the teleplay that made Rod Serling famous. I must have seen the remake, because I remember Van Heflin in the part that Richard Kiley played.
    Sponsor interference with scripts made Rod Serling turn to sci-fi as The Twilight Zone, which has a cult following today.
    Whatever happened to the NBC White Papers, a documentary series that did serious expose work? Television nowadays is more "panem et circenses", with a head firmly planted in the ground.