The Rack

  • 1956
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

With so many excellent TV plays being written by Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, and Rod Serling, it's no wonder that the studios turned to the tube to make some films. In this case, it's an expanded version of a court-martial teleplay Serling wrote. Stern, who was later to write RACHEL, RACHEL for Newman, did the adaptation, and the results were haphazard,...read more

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With so many excellent TV plays being written by Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, and Rod Serling, it's no wonder that the studios turned to the tube to make some films. In this case, it's an expanded version of a court-martial teleplay Serling wrote. Stern, who was later to write RACHEL,

RACHEL for Newman, did the adaptation, and the results were haphazard, although this picture and the almost simultaneous release of SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME made Newman a full-fledged star after a disastrous beginning in 1954's THE SILVER CHALICE. It was only a couple of years since the end of

the Korean Conflict, and there was a question as to why so many Americans collaborated with the enemy. Serling's TV play laid the blame on dark psychological reasons in the protagonist's history, and the traitor is depicted sympathetically, while the men who withstood the brainwashing and the

torture are almost clods. Newman returns from Korea to face trial by his military peers. His father is Pidgeon, a career Army man, and his younger brother was killed in the war. Corey is the military prosecutor who would rather not try the case, and O'Brien is Newman's defense attorney. The case

is conducted in front of an Army jury. There's no doubt that Newman is guilty, but O'Brien tries to convince the jury that Newman was on a rack every bit as painful (in a psychological sense) as anything during the Inquisition. O'Brien makes a good case and it looks as though Newman will get

off, but then the picture takes a twist as Newman, after hearing all the evidence, incriminates himself by saying that he should have been able to take it. Francis does a small bit as his widowed sister-in-law, and Marvin is one of the men who testifies against Newman. If you don't blink, you'll

see Robert Blake (then known as Bobby), Dean Jones, and Rod Taylor in small roles. The fact that Newman's mother died when he was a child and that his father was cold and unfeeling is not enough to make the soldier a Benedict Arnold. In the end, Pidgeon finally gives Newman the affection he'd

wanted all those years, and that adds a slightly upbeat end to the tragedy.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: With so many excellent TV plays being written by Paddy Chayefsky, Horton Foote, and Rod Serling, it's no wonder that the studios turned to the tube to make some films. In this case, it's an expanded version of a court-martial teleplay Serling wrote. Stern,… (more)

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