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Schlitz Playhouse

"A Thing to Fight For"
Episode 8.1 (Sept. 26, 1958)

Rod Taylor plays Boyd Harland, a slick southern lawyer in this installment of a 30-minute CBS anthology series. The episode stars Rod Steiger and also has Martin Landau in a small part.

"A Thing to Fight For" features quality performances, good southern accents, tense action and does a good job of depicting a chase through a Florida swamp, complete with wildlife footage. The only false note comes early, with the opening card that says "Florida 1860," but Rod Steiger's character is supposed to be a Civil War veteran. It's more likely set in the 1880s.

Rod Steiger plays Hume Searcy, who has been hired to manage an orange grove. He has arrived from Alabama with his wife, Eleanor (Marianne Sheridan), and son, Del (Kim Charney) and hopes that trouble has not followed them once again.

His hopes are soon dashed by threats from the Jaurines, a  local family of ruffians who keep running off the caretakers of the grove. They want to claim it for their own, but lost the fight in court. Neither the family nor their lawyer, Boyd Harland, will give up.

Boyd Harland uses all his charm to ingratiate himself with the family. While the Jaurines try to bully the husband, Harland befriends his son and woos his wife. He seems sincere in his pleas for her to follow him to New Orleans, but it's likely he's just trying to break up the family so that the Jaurines can take over the grove.

In a touching scene, Hume Searcy explains to his son why he tries to avoid violence. He had been a sharpshooter for the Confederate Army, but later came to see that the hatred did no good. Eventually, however, he has to stand up to the Jaurines and defend his family and livelihood.

The episode was directed by John Brahm, who is credited on dozens of other episodes of great TV shows of the 1950s and '60s, such as "The Twilight Zone," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Bonanza," and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."  Brahm also directed Rod in "The Story of Marjorie Reardon."

Sponsorship of this anthology series alternated between "Schlitz Playhouse" and "Lux Playhouse." The "coming next week" previews in "A Thing to Fight For," promoted another Rod Taylor appearance in "Best House in the Valley."




IMDb (Schlitz)

Full episode on YouTube




Lux Playhouse

"Best House in the Valley"
Episode 1.1 (Oct. 3, 1958)

Rod Taylor plays Lee Carl in the debut episode of this 30-minute anthology series that aired on CBS.

Polly Bergen plays Lamy, a young widow who attempts to maintain a house under the trees for herself and her daughter, Mimi (Dana Dillaway). Lamy thinks it's the best house in the valley, but the townspeople disapprove and want to drive her out and separate her from her child.

A wealthy rancher tries to make her see reason, but then his son (played by Rod) falls in love with the poor-but-proud widow.

Rod's performance is touching as he builds trust in the wary woman.

The show was directed by Jules Bricken, who was producer/director for "Dateline: San Francisco."




IMDb (Lux)

Full episode on YouTube