Based on the Edgar Wallace series. The show updates it from the original storyline which started in 1905. In 1925 Wallace changed it to “The Three Just Men.” The show’s scenario has the four meeting in World War Two while fighting in Italy. They fight for truth, justice and all the rest of it.
The show only lasted for thirty-nine episodes in spite of its great cast of Dan Dailey, Richard Conte, Jack Hawkins and Vittorio de Sica.
Opening episode: September 17,1959 – “The Battle Of The Bridge” – The four all received a telegram from their old commander Major Cyril Bacon. He’s dead and has left a tape for them to hear. He flashes back to their mission to blow up a bridge.
When they land they’re met by partisan fighter Ricco Picarri (Vitorrio de Sica). He has a young boy named Guido who will guide them to the top of a cliff. There’s a German sentry. Guido says he’ll distract him and ends up getting shot. The sentry shortly has a knife stuck in him.
Time to wire up the bridge. There’s another sentry. Since they’re about the same size war correspondent Tim Collier (Dan Dailey) takes his uniform. A patrol comes by and it looks like they’ll keep going. One of the Germans calls something back to Collier who doesn’t speak the language.
Now it’s a firefight and Collier is wounded. The charges are finally set. They have to wait for another German patrol to show up. When it does Jeff Ryder (Richard Conte) pushes the plunger and everything blows up. When the smoke clears a priest leads a group of children out of a cave.
Back to the present.
Coming out of another room in a wheelchair is Guido. He says Bacon was his adoptive father. The tape rolls and Bacon continues to talk about justice. Guido hands them a note from Bacon that says money has been left for them in a bank account to carry on the fight against injustice wherever it occurs. Tim is now a foreign correspondent, Ryder is a lawyer, Ricco works with children and Ben Manfred (Jack Hawkins) is a member of Parliament. Guido says they’ll be referred to as the Four Just Men.
The screenplay was written by Gene L. Coon, one of the creative forces behind “Star Trek.”
November 5,1959 episode: “Dead Man’s Switch” – Richard Conte is featured is this dull episode. Thanks to a throwaway weekly newspaper bigotry against Puerto Rican immigrants runs through the New York neighborhood. At a boys club a punk named Frankie stabs Joey Rivera during a brawl. A copy of the newspaper is found on the floor.
The publisher is Garnes (Bill Nagy). He gets a visit from lawyer Jeff Ryder (Richard Conte). Garnes sticks by his editorials. Joey’s father goes to Garnes’ apartment. His wife lets him in. Rivera has a live grenade with the pin pulled. When Garnes comes home Rivera says if his son dies then he’ll take Garnes with him.
A cop comes in and tries to take Rivera out at gunpoint. He’s shown the grenade and Rivera lets him leave. Jeff shows up and tries to talk sense to him. Fueling the fire is Garnes who isn’t backing off from his bigotry.
Joey’s operation will take six hours. A psychiatrist is allowed into the apartment. He says Rivera is for real. Rivera lets Mrs.Garnes leave. Next in is Rivera’s priest. He joins Garnes and Jeff in being trapped with Rivera.
The original Wallace books are so much better and the series is just his core idea rather than anything close to his suspenseful writing. It doesn’t matter how old something is. If it’s good then, it’s good now. Maybe they should have stuck with the time period of the books.