First aired: 10/18/60
Starring Everett Sloane, Frank Silvera, John Marley.
Written by John Vlahos.
Directed by Jules Bricken.
Three boys from the slum grow up to be three disparate men: Cesare Romano (Silvera) morphs into Charlie Roman, syndicate boss; his brother Tony (Marley) a respected doctor; and Lou Adams (Sloane) becomes Charlie’s consigliere. In 1960, Roman decides he wants to go legit and dump all ties to drug trafficking, which raises the blood pressure of some of the other mob men , in particular, Charlie’s nemesis, Harry Gans (Jay C. Flippen). Gans has no intention of losing out on the millions that narcotics brings into the syndicate and he stages a coup.
PE: Where to start? How about that it’s nice not to have to look up new words for “claptrap” in my thesaurus. (Don't be alarmed, he doesn't really have a thesaurus. -JS) "The Guilty Men" is heavy on dialogue, light on action, a little too preachy at times, it goes on approximately 30 seconds too long but, by God, this is a good show. Am I just floating on a cloud because the first five shows were so forgettable? (Yes. -JS) Maybe, but I found this episode to be an enthralling prologue to The Godfather (Marley, of course, appeared in The Godfather as Jack Woltz, the movie producer who wakes up to unexpected company in bed) enriched by the solid performances of the three lead actors, Silvera in particular. In his final confrontation with Gans, the actor literally shakes and writhes with anger.
JS: Interestingly enough, Peter overlooks the fine performance of Everett Sloane, who was amazing as the downright evil boss in Rod Serling's Kraft Theater production of Patterns five years prior to his stint on Thriller (reprising the role in the film version the following year). (Actually, Scooter, I did mention him in my above paragraph. -PE) It was nice to see him portray a more layered character, although even I will admit when confronted by his wife about his syndicate ties, the scene doesn't entirely ring true. Imagine Michael and Kay Corleone having their post baptismal discussion and Michael answering, "Yes, Kay, it's all true. I've been a very bad man."
Not to rain on Peter's parade, but I also think the accents leave something to be desired, both in the prologue and for the adult Charlie Roman (Silvera). (When I get together with my Italian buddies, I speak-a just-a lik-a Charlie Roman. -PE) And the minute his adult brother Tony speaks, it's hard not to be transported to Woltz Studios. Actor Marley's voice and speech patterns are so familiar, anyone familiar with it cannot help but be reminded of The Godfather. But don't be dissuaded by these very minor issues - this is by far the most enjoyable episode we've watched to date. And just when you get to the point of saying, "yeah, this is a good show, but what makes it a Thriller..." it takes a turn to the dark side.
PE: Now I know just how the Septic Tank man feels when he’s gotten that nasty blockage fixed. I feel the sunshine beating down on my face after the rainstorm. I’ve deleted Yoko’s songs from Double Fantasy and I’ve got a great record! Something tells me this is my day to try skydiving. (Peter will be taking a couple days off now. -JS)
JS: And to think, after this, we get the first Halloween episode - as horror comes to Thriller with "The Purple Room"