Ironside

Season 2 Episode 5

Robert Phillips vs. the Man

1
Aired Thursday 8:30 PM Oct 10, 1968 on NBC
8.2
out of 10
User Rating
12 votes
2

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Episode Summary

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Robert Phillips vs. the Man
AIRED:
Robert Phillips, a black rights activist is arrested for murder, and San Francisco's Black community threatens to take to the streets in protest. Commissioner Randall asks the Chief to investigate the case in an attempt to prove Phillips' innocence; but certain citizens do not appear to want to co-operate.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The Chief agrees to help a man who would not be helped. Chief Ironside sets a great example of selfless and honorable service.

    7.0
    Robert Phillips is a radical civil rights leader with a chip on his shoulder the size of San Francisco. He is accused of murdering a white shop owner during a black riot incited by Phillips. When it becomes clear that the evidence points towards Phillips and the city is at a boiling point, Commissioner Randall asks Ironside to prove Phillips innocent. He wants to be absolutely sure of Phillips' guilt before arresting and trying him.



    Despite Phillips' obstinance and outright hostility towards the Chief, and the black community's refusal to cooperate with the investigation, the Chief pursues his task. The Chief's efforts are a testament to his honor and integrity as he is able to set aside all personal feelings towards the accused and his revulsion at the racism he encounters from the white community to do his usual excellent job.



    I'm a little too young to remember desegregation and MLK and the civil rights movement, but I thought this was an excellent portrayal of what life must have been like in the 1960's and the racism that was prevalent across the country.moreless
  • Helping a man who doesn't want to be helped.

    8.7
    The late Paul Winfield plays a radical civil rights leader accused of the murder of a racist shop owner. What complicates the investigation is Winfield's own hostility towards the police and his compatriots' refusal to provide any evidence that could exonerate him.



    For a 1960s crime drama, this episode of "Ironside" does a better-than-expected job of examining racial tensions. How the police are viewed by African-Americans, and how African-Americans on the police (such as Mark) are seen by their peers are handled tastefully and in a real manner. It's great to see Ironside stand up to the pressure from all sides (the blacks, the brass in the department, the racist citizens' committee), not only because he has a job to do, but because he is genuinely repulsed by their racism. Burr gets some great moments in this episode, getting to tell off the two businessmen who accuse him of "turning his back on his own kind" and the widow of the victim, who refuses to let Mark into her home.



    What makes the episode above average for me is the interplay between Raymond Burr and Winfield. Never do they have a "hug and make up" moment. They exit the episode with practically the same amount of disdain they had for each other at the beginning. Winfield knows that there is still tremendous work to be done, and Burr hopes that he succeeds, but that he changes his tactics. Surprisingly deep and thoughtful, moreso than what you might expect to see on a modern prime-time drama.moreless
Don Galloway

Don Galloway

Detective Sergeant Ed Brown

Don Mitchell

Don Mitchell

Mark Sanger

Barbara Anderson

Barbara Anderson

Officer Eve Whitfield

Raymond Burr

Raymond Burr

Chief Robert T. Ironside

Paul Winfield

Paul Winfield

Robert Phillips

Guest Star

Jack Hogan

Jack Hogan

Ted Barnard

Guest Star

Diane Shalet

Diane Shalet

Mrs. Staveley

Guest Star

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons

Commissioner Dennis Randall

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The projectionist at the beginning, using what appears to be 16mm film and a projector, somehow manages to do a zoom on a projected image.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Commissioner Randall: That's it, Bob. I want you on the case.
      Ironside: Why? Porter knows his stuff.
      Commissioner: If Phillips is guilty of that murder, I want it to be without a shadow of a doubt, before we bring him to trial. We'll get a lot of reaction on this arrest, and a lot more if he's convicted. Now, if we are going to have a violent reaction, I don't want it needlessly. I want to know that we're absolutely right.
      Ironside: Porter's men are good men. They'll uncover anything I could find to prove his guilt.
      Commissioner: I don't want you to prove his guilt, Bob. I want you to prove him innocent.

    • Ironside and Mark arrive at his office to find Phillips lounging in the barber's chair)
      Robert Phillips: Next thing you know, you'll have us carrying you around on our backs.
      Ironside: My name is Ironside. I've been assigned to prove your innocence.
      Phillips: I have my own lawyer.
      Ironside: I'm not a lawyer, I'm a cop.
      Phillips: A cop? A cop who can't walk?
      Ironside: That's right.
      Phillips: (laughing sarcastically) A cop who can't walk assigned to prove me innocent. Wow. That shows where they're at. Just exactly how are you going to do that, Mr. Cop who can't walk? I mean, shut my mouth Mr. Whitey Policeman. I guess I just ought to get down on my knees and be grateful, sir.
      Mark: Why don't you just shut up and listen?
      Phillips: Well, now. Do they allow you to talk? Do the master allow that, boy?
      Mark: You don't have an exclusive right to violence, Mr. Phillips, and if you keep it up you're going to get a demonstration.
      Ironside: Mark, we have an obligation to protect all prisoners. Mr. Phillips, I suggest you drop this playacting and get down to business. Murder is no joke.

    • Phillips: (to Ironside) Let me put my cards on the table. Do you know what you are to me? You are all the things I've hated all my life. You're all the things I've fought all my life. You're the long blue arm of the white man's law who grabs a kid who's just walking down the street. You're the muscle that beats up on people just to keep them in line. You're the paid gunman of whitey to hold us down and, baby, to me you stink.

    • Ironside: You're an articulate, educated, idealistic, persuasive bum! You're the one who incites to riot, urges civil disobedience, gets people's heads broken, gets kids arrested, gets innocent people hurt or worst, while you stand in the background watching it all, waiting for a chance to call your next press conference and pass yourself off as the only great hope. Well, to me you're a phony.
      Phillips: You're not going to prove me innocent!
      Ironside: I hope not, but the fact is I'm going to try.

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