Steven Spielberg showed greatness even before "Duel"
Steven Spielberg's stunning direction of this brilliant episode put him on the map, and he never looked back. Roy Thinnes had the title role of "The Psychiatrist". Guest star Clu Gulager (giving his finest performance) played a professional golfer who was an old friend of Thinnes. Gulager is dying of cancer, and Thinnes tries to help him deal with his emotions during the last days of his life. Joan Darling played Gulager's wife, who felt she wasn't pretty enough for him. No melodrama and no big life affirming ending. Amazingly adult for 1971, or now. It is hard to understand why Spielberg wasn't nominated for an Emmy. I wonder if the producer even submitted it. Maybe there was some jealousy or competition involved. Somehow Spielberg's work was head and shoulders above other directors. Maybe he went over budget and over the time allowed, but if he did it was worth it. It was clear to anyone watching this episode that the director was someone to watch. Spielberg's next job after this was the Jack Cassidy/Martin Milner episode of "Columbo" and again it was amazing how much more stylish his direction was than the other first season directors, even though they were all much admired professionals. Spielberg had the magic touch from the beginning. A DVD of Spielberg's two superb episodes of "The Psychiatrist" would be a fine footnote to film history, and great entertainment.
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