THE LILY DALLS STORY
Airdate: March 16th, 1960
Teleplay by Leonard Kantor
Story by Harry Essex
Directed by Don Medford
Produced by Josef Shaftel
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Larry Parks
Co-starring Norma Crane, Linda Watkins, Ed Nelson
Featuring Dabbs Greer, Judy Strangis, Joe Lo Presti, Gregg Martell, June Vincent, Vici Raaf.
“In the dark depression days of 1932 a man of wealth was a target for the discontented of all shades from the hungry to the criminal. Millionaire building contractor Thomas B. Randall was no exception. At ten minutes after ten, on the night of April 11th, as he entertained a party of friends at his estate bordering Lake Michigan in Chicago, the guard at the gate outside, Joe Alcott, was about to receive a bonus of death from the gang of George “Blackie” Dallas, ex-society bootlegger, now gang leader, and by reputation, ruthless murderer. With Dallas that night were Pete Appleby, formerly torpedo for the Purple Gang, Marty Stoke, bank heist expert, two months out of jail on a second rap, and Jiggs, ex-heavyweight boxer, strong-arm man. The real power behind the George “Blackie” Dallas gang is his wife, Lily, recently released from prison and now orchestrating kidnapping, murder and bank robbery.”
Under the leadership of Mrs. Dallas (Norma Crane), wealthy businessman Thomas B. Randall (Dabbs Greer) is brazenly kidnapped and held for ransom. When Eliot Ness learns the ransom money has been paid before law enforcement can intervene, he puts out the word that the money contains marked bills, rendering it useless for the kidnappers.
Learning of his imminent death sentence, Randall eyes the license plate of the gang’s car and desperately scratches its numbers into his hand. Upon positive identification of the body, Ness finds the clue and narrows down the lead to the home of Lily’s mother (Linda Watkins) and daughter Arlene (Judy Strangis). When Lee Hobson arrives to investigate, they immediately arouse.
Meanwhile, George Dallas (Larry Parks) suspects things are horizontal between Lily and gang member Marty Stokes (Ed Nelson) and steals Lily’s family into hiding. When Ness and Hobson revisit the house, they find a child’s handwriting that matches the Randall ransom note and a shade of lipstick called “Desire Me Red,” a color Ness deduces as not belonging to Lily’s elder mother.
Working through the beauty salons that sold the lipstick, Ness encounters salon proprietor Lily Dallas herself. Securing Lily’s loose alibi and fingerprints on a compact, Ness begins surveilling the salon. Spooked, Lily spurns George, courts Marty, and plots a bank robbery to enable their getaway.
Lily and George pressure money launderer Sol Figaro to take the ransom, but he refuses. Unable to stomach killing Figaro himself, Lily appropriates George’s Thompson submachine gun and murders Figaro in cold blood. Later, George threatens Lily that if she leaves him for Marty, she’ll never find her family. Marty beats their whereabouts out of him, where he reveals they’re roomed in the Hotel Trafalger.
Thanks to a clue from the salon shopkeeper, Ness learns that George visited a local toy store to have one of Arlene’s toys repaired, and a hotel bellhop is due back anytime to pick it up. After the Dallas gang executes a murderous bank robbery, the Untouchables arrive at the hotel – and come face to face with Marty and Lily. Marty immediately unloads on Ness and his men and Lily races upstairs to her family, where she meets George in the hallway, cradling “Junior,” – his Tommy-gun. Lily confidently pleads with George that they can get make their getaway and that he should forget Marty. Unappeased, George murders Lily and eventually succumbs to gunfire from Ness.
”Lily Dallas’s nine-year-old daughter was given in custody to the state and grew up to become a well-known Broadway actress. As for Mr. and Mrs. Blackie Dallas, their renewed romance had begun too late. “
Larry Parks, known for his remarkable performance as the lead in The Al Jolson Story (1946) some years earlier, and only lately returning after a nasty bout with the infamous Communist witch hunts of the mid-1950s, surfaces here as the wimpy husband of Norma Crane’s overplayed Lily Dallas, a harlot-like character based on the woman behind the notorious Machine Gun Kelly.
The hour is not without its memorable moments. The first comes early on in the second half of Winchell’s voice-over, where his staccato rhythm deftly introduces the gang and colorfully fills in their dynamics and history in classic Untouchables style.
“Kidnapping is the most reprehensible of all crimes and the most risky. It requires the planning skill of a bank robber, the dead conscience of a professional murderer, and the skill and instinct of a psychologist. Few women have those qualifications. Lily, Mrs. George “Blackie” Dallas, was the exception. Only recently out of prison, where she had served five years for armed robbery, she had masterminded bank jobs involving nearly a million dollars, long since spent. Mostly, she stayed in the background, a trick she learned from master Legs Diamond, who helped her through the awkward age, supplying furs, jewels, and know-how. Like Diamond, Lily was an executive. She hand-picked her gangs and created her lieutenants. The top talent, she often developed herself. Sometimes married. Present husband, George Dallas, was her most original invention. She had put a machine gun in the hands of a small-time bootlegger, taught him how to use it, and fostered the legend of his cruelty.”
This is actress Norma Crane’s third and final appearance on The Untouchables – and the script’s framing of her a student of “Legs” Diamond is made all the more curious by the fact that she actually portrayed Mrs. Diamond in Jack “Legs” Diamond earlier in the season! One supposes if you squint hard enough you can imagine that perhaps the drunken character of Alice Diamond eventually got her act together and perhaps changed her name.
Nevertheless, Crane eats up the opportunity to no longer play second fiddle or grieving widow (See: The Noise of Death) and does her best to outshine Ma Barker and emulate White Heat’s Cody Jarrett. Her Lily Dallas will be only the second female in the series to wield a Thompson submachine gun and her brazen promiscuity and embittered edge allow episode scribe Leonard Kantor to once again present us with another one of his prominent and unique female characters, following in the footsteps of Rusty Heller and Lucy Wagnall.
Modeled after the legend of Machine Gun Kelly and full of gratuitous violence, the story really doesn’t reveal why Eliot Ness has become involved. Of course, Machine Gun Kelly was one of those FBI cases and we needn’t go into that again. But that doesn’t mean that fictional characters can’t be modeled after real ones and thus we have charming George and Lily Dallas, shooting up various places and finally each other.
Like Kantor’s other scripts, this story also enjoys a selection of minor players, some of whom only have a moment of two of screen-time. The dispatch of fence Sol Figaro, who dies laughing in George Dallas’ face for letting a woman take over his life, is a great example where the boisterous character, his surroundings, and his contemptuous attitude are all quickly registered. In the scene, George sulks off and Lily, not one to be amused, empties a good portion of a clip into Figaro and then the rest of it on what appears to be a child’s clock – an intriguing reference to Lily’s own self-hatred over abandoning her child. Moments like this – and George’s repeated reluctance to murder someone – hint at a deeper layer of pathos that may have slowly worked its way out of the screenplay through various rewrites.
Of note, this episode appeared at the halfway point in Season 2 and as a result, its pacing, cinematography, and even its music editing feel refreshed after what was no doubt a relentless production schedule through the latter half of 1960 and early 1961. Charles Straumer is once again using mirrors, camera moves, and long takes to add variety to the proceedings – and for the first time in the series, the camera even adopts a series of motifs wherein the lens zooms in on a Tommy gun firing or an actor’s face – a technique that would not be wildly popularized until the mid-1960s and is perhaps used here not only to change things up a little but to appease the censors.
The episode is also delightfully musical and packed with wall-to-wall original cues from Nelson Riddle and various artists. Riddle’s track “Speakeasy Blues” becomes a character theme for Dallas and, unlike many of Riddle’s work, enjoyed for an uninterrupted portion (stinger versions of this cue can be briefly heard in Jack “Legs” Diamond and “Nicky.”) This sultry jazz theme was about the only track on Capitol Record’s LP release to not suffer from needless tampering and re-orchestration and can be enjoyed here in its Capitol Records format.
In addition, series music supervisor Robert H. Raff reuses a relatively new action queue (first heard in The Big Train), a burst of blaring trumpets and soaring strings, as George Dallas spins around to meet slugs from Eliot’s .38 pistol. Earlier, Raff also uses use a large portion of Riddle’s action cue “Reckless-Ness” during the gunfight outside the hotel. This track, full of brassy dodges and weaves, original to the series and rarely used, shares many similarities and an underlying rhythm with Lalo Schifrin’s Theme from Mission: Impossible, which would be written in 1966. The commercial version of “Reckless-Ness” from Capitol Records can be heard here.
Like all of Riddle’s original music for the series, these tracks remain unreleased – their whereabouts unknown by a handful of music archivists and thought perhaps lost to time. More on this later…
NESS: I have a hunch this lipstick case may be loaded.
• Poor Jack Rossman (Steve London) appears briefly and only twice without lines and is absent from the final gunfight. Absent a full-time contract for the show, he is quite literally resigned to being a background artist.
• The gunfire sound effect used for Marty’s .45 is the fourth and rarely used lower-pitched variation from Glen Glenn’s signature roaring effects library, one more commonly assigned for Matt Dillion’s gun on Gunsmoke.
• Judy Strangis, who portrays Lily’s daughter, would continue to have a career in television throughout the 1960s and would even voice a character on Batman: The Animated Series.
Cleverly adapted from the legend of Machine Gun Kelly, this episode takes several specific moments the real-life exploits of Kathryn Thorne and George Kelly Barnes. The Kelly Gang kidnapped wealthy oil tycoon Charles Urshel and held him for a $200,00 ransom. Urshel was careful to leave clues at the gang’s hideout – the home of Thorne’s mother – and kept track of enough anecdotal information during captivity to help investigators locate it afterward.
Like Winchell’s description of Lily Dallas, Kathryn was originally attached to a bootlegger from which she learned the trade, married around, and was fond of embellishing and emboldening her new husband’s bloodthirstiness. She’s also credited with gifting George his own Tommy gun. Eventually apprehended for the Urshel crime, George would be sentenced to Alcatraz. After enjoying her own stretch in prison, Kathryn quietly slipped away to private life.
The Kellys were notorious gangsters throughout the great state of Texas and it’s not difficult to determine where writers Harry Essex and Leonard Kanter acquired the surname for their fictional gangsters: Dallas.
AND NOW SOME SCENES FROM NEXT WEEK’S SHOW
The trailers for each new episode of The Untouchables were one of the most significant – and never mentioned – reasons for the show’s success. Perfected by the Second Season, the trailers, or promos as they are more commonly called, were nothing like their contemporary counterparts that featured several short sound bites and two or three disjointed scenes jammed together lasting often as little as ten seconds. Promos for The Untouchables were expensive, elaborately packaged little affairs lasting a full minute and a half, complete with a billboard of co-stars and animated pages turning between scenes to imprint the right-from-the-book fantasy. Showing up at the end of the network hour, just before the credits and appearing more like theatrical trailers, they were often cleverly edited, had their own musical theme and featured alternate takes of scenes, selected before the cut of the episode itself was locked.
These trailers would largely vanish after 1963 when episodes entered syndication or would be broadcast out of order and many have not been seen since their original network airing and failed to appear in the so-called collector’s edition video cassette made available in 1991, which excluded the main titles and other portions of the original format.
These trailers could make weak programs like The Otto Frick Story seem far more absorbing than they actually turned out to be and outstanding ones like The Purple Gang so horrific it virtually guaranteed a large audience. As part of The Untouchables Retrospective, we’re endeavoring to collect, telecine to a 4K video archive, and make available numerous interesting Untouchables finds, including this episode trailer for Murder Under Glass, which originally aired on March 16th, 1961 at the conclusion of The Lily Dallas Story.