Season 1 Episode 18

The Frantick Rebel

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 12, 1964 on NBC
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Episode Summary

The Frantick Rebel
Dr. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell become involved in espionage activities in eighteenth-century London.

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  • In 18th-century London, a girl newly arrived from the American colonies is suspected of being a spy for the rebels. Dr. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell investigate...

    A rare comic episode for this series, this was the second one to be directed by the great Michael Powell - although, most curiously, it has often been left out of Powell's filmographies, even when they include his other "Espionage" episodes (see his two autobiographies, for example). Also, the episode has from time to time been bizarrely credited, not to Powell, but to series producer Herbert Hirschman! This despite the fact that Powell's involvement garnered the show much publicity at the time - it reunited him with one of his favourite actors, Roger Livesey, nearly twenty years after their last film together,and in supporting parts you will see his two young sons, Kevin and Columba, and even his wife, Frances (Frankie) Reidy. The story's bawdy and outrageous jokes suggested, at the time, that someone had been to see "Tom Jones", 1963's biggest movie hit. It's the least interesting of Powell's three "Espionage" episodes, but it's quite good fun.moreless
Stanley Baxter

Stanley Baxter

James Boswell

Guest Star

Jill Bennett

Jill Bennett


Guest Star

Max Adrian

Max Adrian

Dr. Driffield

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • The brief appearances of director Michael Powell's wife and two young sons in this episode are uncredited.

    • This episode was first screened in Britain, where it was made, on Saturday, February 1st, 1964.

    • Perhaps because of the 18th-century setting and the light-hearted tone, the usual music behind the opening credits sequence is replaced (for this one episode) by something rather more "period". However, Malcolm Arnold's usual theme is heard behind the end credits.

    • The very brief appearance of the eminent character actor Wilfrid Lawson (as one of the inmates of a lunatic asylum) was uncredited.

    • Although this episode was critically acclaimed in 1963, director Michael Powell did not care for it. In his second autobiography, he writes: "It was one of the few occasions on which I have directed a film for personal reasons, and the result was as disastrous as one might expect..."

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (1)

    • This was the only episode of "Espionage" to be based on extant story material, being adapted from one of the several short stories by Lillian de la Torre to feature Dr. Samuel Johnson as a detective figure. These stories mostly appeared in "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine" in the 1940s, and were collected subsequently in two volumes, "The Detections Of Dr. Sam: Johnson" and "Dr. Sam: Johnson, Detector".


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