Airdates: November 23rd, 1961 and June 7th, 1962
Written by George Eckstein
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Produced by Del Reisman
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star James Gregory
Co-starring Bruce Gordon, Cloris Leachman
Featuring Bernard Fein, Joe Perry, Alan Baxter
”At 11:30 on the night of September 14th, 1932, after the completion of a successful speakeasy raid, Eliot Ness visited the Odeon Theater. His purpose was not entertainment.”
The Nitti mob, facing a new threat from a tipster working for Eliot Ness, who passes information to him at a local movie house, hires Walter Trager (James Gregory) to ferret out the stool pigeon. Trager first settles an old debt with his sister’s husband by killing him off, then sets to work on the small-time punk who has been trading information for cash with Ness. When he believes his sister may also be divulging company secrets, he has her killed off as well.
Emboldened by his greed for power, Trager sets up a fake assassination attempt against Nitti to convince the Enforcer that his operation requires more manpower. Nitti, annoyed with Trager’s antics, sends a man to spy on Traeger.
Birdie, the deaf-mute, discovers that Trager has been working towards a coup and Nitti has the men lined up in Trager’s column erased.
“Through the efforts of Eliot Ness and the Untouchables, Frank Nitti had been forced to tear his empire apart in an attempt to preserve his throne. And Walter Treager would not be around to piece it together.”
James Gregory, recently out of work from his own uncelebrated Prohibition-era series, The Lawless Years, guest stars in this minor, but interesting episode as something of a troubleshooter for an embattled Frank Nitti. While it’s usually Ness running circles around Nitti, it’s nice to see him confounded and doublecrossed from within.
A very young and often improvisational Cloris Leachman teasingly portrays his indifferent sister who loses her husband to her brother’s guns and gets tangled in his web of murder and intrigue.
Marring this hour is the use of a clip from the first year’s The St. Louis Story. Bernard Fein, chased down and shot on the run as Tim Harrington two years earlier, finds himself in the same nightmare once again.