Studio One

Season 5 Episode 46

Sentence of Death

Aired Sunday 7:30 PM Aug 17, 1953 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • James Dean plays a man suspected of murder while the real killer walks free in "Sentence of Death".

    Studio One brings you another classic episode called "Sentence of Death" released on home by VideoServicecorp. This is a classic starring the rebel icon James Dean, and longtime actress Betsy Palmer. Most people will recognize Palmer as the mother of Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th!!! Palmer is legend that doesn't get much notoriety nowadays. She is quite beautiful here as the sexy blonde.

    Aside from stars involved this is a great story with real life overtones here. An innocent man gets mixed up as the killer in a drug store robbery. The cops assigned to the case are quite arrogant, inept and frankly stupid to do any real detective work. They have the man, Joe Palica (James Dean) painted as guilty till proven innocent specifically since Joe has a record of grand larceny and other small crimes.

    You know if even what this episode teaches us is that shoddy police work mixed with a lot of shady testimony leads to many cases like this to not get the full investigative effort they deserve. In this case there is no physical evidence that Joe did the murder. No fingerprints just eyewitness testimony which later gets proven as unreliable. Later on the police try to coerce the witnesses into retooling their shady testimony just so they can wrap up the case.

    Betsy Palmer plays Ellen Morrison the only eyewitness brave enough to go against what the police and other witnesses say that Joe (Dean) didn't murder anybody. The performances by Dean and Palmer are excellent. Dean in a way played himself, shy but intense always giving a memorable performance. Palmer shows that she was more than just a beautiful face playing a determined woman who is going to be swayed by pressure to go along with putting an innocent man behind bars.

    There is a nice twist at the end but as mentioned the story itself is compelling enough along with the stars of Dean and Palmer to make this a must watch.

    VideoServicecorp released several episodes of "Studio One" on VHS and DVD and luckily this is one of the episodes that still survive in print to this day.