Airdate: January 21st, 1960
Produced by Josef Shaftel
Written by Charles O’Neal
Directed by Tay Garnett
Director of Photography Robert B. Hauser, A.S.C.
Co-starring Marc Lawrence. Special Guest Star Jim Backus. Featuring Dorothy Morris, Bart Bums, Jay Warren, Sal Annetta, William Justin, Tom Reese
Securing an indictment against Rinaldo, Ness sets up a demonstration of Norbert’s amazing talent for the benefit of the court. Unaided, Norbert adds an endless string of huge numbers without error, and the court rules that his testimony will be considered in the absence of actual ledgers.
”Luigi Rinaldo was convicted on six of the twelve counts. He was sentenced to serve twenty years on each count, one hundred and twenty years altogether. Unfortunately, the sentences ran concurrently. Luigi would have been out in twelve, except for a slight mishap – he died in 1939 – at Alcatraz.”
A naive, but engaging item, Star Witness is rendered so perhaps by the appearance of one friendly and unassuming Jim Backus a few years before he became lost, literally, on an island with Gilligan.
Bad Italians are everywhere. Winchell ticks them off like trains leaving La Salle Street Station: Charles “Fingers” Matsiolli, Marcus Campenello, Al Baciciano, Peatro “Little Pete” Stephano – all of them made up, but sounding like an authentic entry in the New York Times crime section.
There are more than just a couple of corny moments in this installment, but Marc Lawrence’s Luigi Rinaldo is one of those interesting, unpleasant Italians that viewers were beginning to enjoy or detest, depending upon one’s ethnic background. Lawrence has a way of conveying a stiletto-like sense of impropriety in this installment and again later in the series that is at least colorful if not authentic.
• This is one of the few episodes not lensed by cinematographer Charles Straumer.