Friday, January 29, 2016

The Eleventh Hour: Along About Late in the Afternoon (1962)

Franchot guest starred in episode 12 of The Eleventh Hour's first season. Before watching Franchot's episode, I was not familiar with this television show. For those of you like me, here's a bit of background info on The Eleventh Hour. The show ran for two seasons from 1962 to 1964 and starred Jack Ging as the young, compassionate psychologist and Wendell Corey and Ralph Bellamy as his mentors. As the psychologists provided healing to patients with mental issues, anxiety, and depression, the show also dealt with corresponding fictional court cases.

In Along About Late in the Afternoon, Franchot stars as an aging newspaperman Leo Haynes. Leo's newspaper has just gone under and with it, Leo's position and his sense of self-worth. As Dr. Bassett, Wendell Corey sums up Leo's predicament this way:
"A man who was on top of the world and suddenly, someone kicked the world out from under him, maybe."

After he is treated poorly due to his age in a bar (a younger protégée insists he's a failure) and in the parking lot (a group of teens throw a bag of popcorn at him and call him "pop") and sees the emptiness of his now-defunct newspaper office, Leo decides to end his life. With the car running in a closed garage, Leo's head slumps onto the steering wheel causing the horn to sound. The attempted suicide attempt is what lands Leo under Dr. Bassett's care and Franchot delivers a moving speech from his hospital bed:

"It's the same world. It's just as good and just as bad as it always was. The Record was dying…I am not a cub reporter anymore. Ted, I'm not mad at anybody. We all grow old. It's nobody's fault but my own. You're right. The trouble is I was on top…too long. I was too important. You get to depend on importance and suddenly, I'm not in it anymore…the center where things are born. Ted, it's my life. If I don't like it anymore, I can stop it. That much stays with me."
*spoilers in this paragraph*The specialists are eager to rebuild Leo's confidence and zest for life, and find the perfect person to get Leo's blood pumping again…the man whose crimes Leo has been exposing for years, criminal Frankie Morrison. Played by veteran actor Chester Morris (Redheaded Woman, The Divorcee), Frankie has finally been arrested for murder and Leo's determination to keep him behind bars fuels his desire to keep working and living.

Chester Morris as Frankie Morrison
This episode is currently streaming through the subscription site Warner Archive Instant. See it while you can!

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