RING OF TERROR
Airdate: April 13th, 1961
Written by John Mantley
Directed by Walter E. Grauman
Produced by Lloyd Richards
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Viveca Lindfors
Co-starring Harold J. Stone, Featuring Richard Karlan, Vaughn Taylor, Sheldon Allman, John Day, Frank Wilcox, Howard Caine, Walter Burke, Russell Collins, George Garver
“Chicago Sports Arena in July 1931, was like a half-hundred other boxing rings throughout America. A place where tough young animals from reform schools and rotting tenements, were willing to sacrifice their blood for a chance to lick the twin phantoms of poverty and obscurity. It hardly mattered that, in the process, Demarcus of Queensbury got only lip service, and that the men who got the big payoffs fought with machine guns instead of gloves. In the ring, Joey McGrath, a young man on the way up. Twenty-three knockouts in twenty-five fights; a picture fighter with all the moves. A boy that the sportswriters have tagged as the next light heavyweight champion of the world. But tonight, Joey McGrath is on his way out.”
When a boxer mysteriously dies due to a suspected morphine overdose, Eliot Ness unravels a racketeer’s scheme to blackmail the boxer’s manager.
“The testimony of Mrs. Jarreau permitted her husband to expose Krasner and the ruthless syndicate operation which he controlled. Krasner died in prison a broken man. Mrs. Jarreau was subsequently tried for the shooting of Johnny Acropolis and given a five-year suspended sentence. She was deported to Budapest in 1932, where she resides with her husband.”
This is one of screenwriter John Mantley’s quiet masterpieces with little gunplay and a lot of fine drama. It is the second installment to center around the fight rackets of the early 1930s and handles the fight scenes exceptionally well. Like many of Mantley’s efforts, it is well-written and engaging, but unusually low on action and mayhem, and is a welcome diversification of Prohibition-era tomes. The first ten minutes are well-executed in such a way that show just how easily the show can adapt to different settings and circumstances without losing its characteristic style.
In his third appearance on the series, Harold J. Stone plays perhaps his most sympathetic (and largely innocent) character. No less brutish, but endearing nevertheless, Stone’s character once again finds himself plagued with immigration issues, though this time it’s his wife who is the illegal alien under threat. Ness is rarely (if ever) wrong, so it’s always compelling when he squares off against someone who he suspects he is guilty but who we know is actually under pressure from the hour’s true antagonist. Their first exchange, wherein Jarreau had previously slapped Ness across the face – allows Ness to later deliver perhaps one of his best one-liners.
NESS: All right, get your coat.
BARNEY: What are the charges?
NESS: For striking a federal officer.
BARNEY: That was yesterday.
NESS: It took me 24 hours to get mad.
• There’s a scene where the viewing audience can hear Barney’s thoughts – or at least hear the voices he’s hearing – which is a traditional narrative trick, but rarely one used by the series.
• The episode features brief cameos from actors we’ve seen previously, including Vaughn Taylor (Ma Barker and Her Boys) and John Daheim (The Unhired Assassin.) Of course, we also get a brief cameo from Beecher Asbury, too.
• Two enjoyable bits: Hobson being mistaken for Ness at the diner, and Rossi and Youngfellow being prepared to detain Krasner.