The 20th Century-Fox Hour

Season 1 Episode 7

Man on the Ledge

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Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Dec 28, 1955 on CBS
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Man on the Ledge
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Sure and it's a fine St. Paddy's dawn in New York City, and beat cop Bragan is finishing up his all-night midtown shift and heading back to his family. Mrs. Bragan is making waffles today, and there's no school for young Mike, and they're all looking forward to the big parade. It's Bragan's day. He's got his buttons already polished. But he won't make it home after all. A scream pierces the daybreak, and Bragan looks up and gasps: Way up high, near the top of one of the avenue's fine hotels, there's a guy standing on a ledge, clinging to a cornice, looking down, teetering. Jumper. Bragan breaks into a run, straightaway gets up to the hotel's 15th floor, collides with the manager who's fretting that his suicidal guest is going to bring unwelcome publicity. "This is the worst possible thing that can happen to a hotel!" the manager moans. Bragan disgustedly shoos him out, and now he's alone with the man on the ledge, the first cop on the scene, and he leans out the window, high over the dizzying canyons. The jumper is a nice-looking young man, nervous, distraught, sweating. "Hey," Bragan says easily. "That's kind of a dangerous thing you're doing there, kid! You might fall off and hurt somebody!" They seem to make a connection, the two of them. It's clear to Bragan that the kid probably doesn't want to jump at all. He's just at some breaking point, needs to talk to somebody he can trust. "I'd hate to see you make a bad mistake," Bragan says. But now the brass hats have arrived, and they know how to handle situations like this, they don't need Bragan. "Back to your traffic," a captain barks at him, and Bragan reluctantly follows orders, going downstairs to help handle the crowds of gawkers and gogglers who are quickly filling the streets along with the radio reporters and the newsreel crews. He's a grand public spectacle, the man on the ledge, and suddenly half the town is here, clucking, standing vigil, snickering, making bets, waiting for him to decide if he's going to jump or not, whatever his problem is. The guy's name is Robert Cosick. He's got family issues: His overbearing mother has made it plain all his life that she never wanted him, and his old man is a hopeless lush, and he blames himself for everything. "I'm no good to anybody," he sobs. But he won't talk to anybody but Bragan, who struck him as a decent guy. Get Bragan back up here, the brass hats decide. And now it's just the two of them again, the cop and the jumper, on the ledge, talking things over, as all New York watches the unfolding drama on live TV.moreless

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    • TRIVIA (1)

      • One difference between the tense 1955 CBS television production "Man on the Ledge" and the real-life 1938 incident it was based on was that, while live TV crews did, in fact, broadcast the riveting episode, nobody but the engineers saw it because in 1938 nobody at home had a TV yet. But the story of John Warde was all over the radio that July day when Warde, a 26-year-old former mental patient who had halfheartedly tried to kill himself twice before, climbed out a 17th-floor window of the Hotel Gotham, on 55th St. at Fifth Ave., and perched for 10 hours and 48 minutes, chain-smoking, trying to make up his mind what he was going to do.

    • QUOTES (2)

      • (Conversation between Virginia and Robert.)
        Virginia: Robert, I
        Robert: I told you, I told you, I don't want her to have anything to do with this. I want to keep her out of it. I don't want her to see me.
        Virginia: Robert, I love you, I really truly honestly love you. Robert don't you love me? Robert, I want you to love me. Robert I kept the poem you sent me in your last letter, it was beautiful. I tried, to understand what it was about, I learned it all by heart. 'You were gone Virginia, and I remember the empty doorway, the soft dark shadows that said goodnight. The anguish heavy on my shoulders, I look at the awkward hands that could not touch your beauty. When I hear the footsteps, ending in the silent street, forgive me Virginia, I am empty.'
        Robert: That's not all.
        Virginia: Oh no Robert, I didn't understand.
        Robert: I am caught like a kite on the cold disparing branch of Spring, that crazily comes before the Winter of my years. I have tasted the wind, I have tasted the earth, there is nothing in between. Nothing but empty anger below.
        Virginia: NO!
        Robert: No glow, no glow, except the restless lanterns of death.

      • (Officer Bragan to Mrs. Cosick and Dr. Benson)
        Mrs. Cosick: He doesn't mean it! He doesn't mean it!
        Officer Bragan: Yes he means it Mrs. Cosick, all the hysteria and tears and getting sick and all the other malarky isn't going to work anymore! He's quit letting you make a cripple out of him, he's quit feeling he owes you his whole lifetime! And he's quit hating his father because now he knows you drove the poor guy out. But best of all he's found out that Virginia really loves him and that's all that matters. So he hasn't been out there on that ledge for nothing. So why don't you leave, why don't you go home or wherever it is you go. Maybe he will come in if you leave, he won't as long as you stay.
        Dr. Benson: I agree with Officer Bragan.
        Officer Bragan: So if you want to kill him stay here, is that what you want?
        (Dead silence as she turns and leaves.)

    • NOTES (2)

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