THE KING OF CHAMPAGNE
Airdates: May 25th and September 14th, 1961
Written by David Z. Goodman
Directed by Walter E. Grauman
Produced by Lloyd Richards
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Robert Middleton, Michael Constantine, Barry Morse. Featuring George Kennedy, Jason Wingreen, Grant Richards, Jack Anthony, Jean Harvey, Ben Wright.
”During the third week in November, 1932, Eliot Ness and his Untouchables, acting on the information imparted by an anonymous tip, raided a warehouse on Lorry street on Chicago’s South Side.”
A wealthy restaurateur is talked into entering the lucrative Champagne trade by his brother-in-law, who has long made bottles for the illegal whiskey business.
”Four hours later, the new year of 1933 was ushered in. But for a large portion of Chicago’s Champagne drinking population, it was ushered in dry.”
Portions of this workaday story are rather interesting, and certainly Champagne is a new angle. George Kennedy makes a highly remarkable appearance as Birdie, a deaf-mute in the sympathetic employ of the Edmund Wald bottle plant. In that he lives quietly in Wald’s basement and goes about strangling people upon request, he makes himself rather useful. He even tries to strangle Eliot Ness a couple of times.
Barry Morse, the chap who would earn his living chasing David Janssen all over the country a couple of years later in Quinn Martin’s Fugitive, makes for a colorfully malevolent Frenchman with a good accent, even if it borders on an early Inspector Clouseau. Of the wares imported from the Champagne region of northern Indiana, he remarks, “Nawht bahd … a leetle flaht dew tew theh poohr corhking…”
• The second episode to take place on New Years Eve.