You know those kind of twisted people who have more compassion for murderers than they do the victims? Well, they aren't anything new as we see in this episode, which was filmed over 50 years ago. A young female newspaper reporter (what else?) says "Det. Frank Ballinger" (Lee Marvin) is exercising "legalized murder" by going after two killers with a "dead or alive" label on them.
These "poor boys who probably had a bad childhood" are to be pitied and handled with care, she says. Frank isn't buying it. "The dead part is the last resort," he tells her, "and try feeling a little sorry for the widow of the bartender who were shot down in cold blood, along with another guy."
Two punks had committed their fourth robbery at a bar and just show down two people at pointblank range, just for kicks. They also took an ailing old man as a hostage. "Mary Burnett" (Judi Meredith), however, this the police are overreacting. In the end, you just know Frank's common sense (said with some cutting remarks) will prevail.
The fact is one of the thieves is a vicious killer and the police have to stop him. The episode does a good thing by having what is normally seen only in the end - a shootout - just before the halfway mark. That adds some suspense to the second half and makes the story more intense.
Note: Bill Erwin, the guy who plays "Roger Jessup," the father of the psycho-murderer, is 96 years old and going strong, having acted in a "My Name is Earl" TV episode in 2006 when he was a sprightly 92-year-old! That psycho, by the way, "Alvin," is nicely played by Tom Pittman.
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