Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963–1965)
3 user

The Long, Lost Life of Edward Smalley 

20 years after a WW II court-martial, a vet pulls a gun on the ruthless attorney who defended him, when the cynical mouthpiece, who doesn't even remember his former client, refuses to see ... See full summary »


Robert Altman


David Moessinger (teleplay), David Moessinger (story) | 1 more credit »


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Episode cast overview:
James Whitmore ... J. Marvin Bean
Richard Crenna ... Edward Smalley
Arch Johnson ... Sergeant Myron Bender
Philip Abbott ... Major Charles Wheeler
Ron Hayes ... Luther Hobbs
Chana Eden ... Madelon Bauvais
John A. Alonzo ... Cpl. Jack Osante (as John Alonzo)
Cal Bartlett ... Webber (as Calvin Bartlett)
Nancy Jeris Nancy Jeris ... Miss Mannis
Françoise Ruggieri ... B-Girl (as Francoise Ruggieri)
Charlotte Lavande Charlotte Lavande ... Chanteuse
Bernard Kates Bernard Kates ... Army Chaplain


20 years after a WW II court-martial, a vet pulls a gun on the ruthless attorney who defended him, when the cynical mouthpiece, who doesn't even remember his former client, refuses to see him. So the shaken gunman recounts the story of accidentally fragging his commanding officer. Written by David Stevens

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Plot Keywords:

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Crime | Drama | Mystery







Release Date:

12 December 1963 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Roncom Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color | Color (as color by Pathé)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

The Brutal Truth, A Lost Life
12 December 2009 | by telegonusSee all my reviews

The Long, Lost Life Of Edward Smalley is a far above average episode from the Kraft theater, thanks to good character development, excellent performances, first rate direction by Robert Altman, his big screen breakthrough still several years away. The story begins when a man named Edward Smalley enters a law office, demands to see a lawyer, Marvin Bean, is asked to leave, confronts the lawyer, whom he claims to know, and who doesn't remember him, pulls a gun on Bean, proceed to tell his story.

Flashback twenty years, to World War II, Smalley is serving in the army in France, seems confused as he and his infantry division surround a farmhouse where some German soldiers are holed up. Smalley doesn't seem to know what to do, doesn't take orders well, shoots a German who has surrendered, has his hands up, for no good reason. The sergeant, furious over Smalley's erratic behavior, berates and threatens him. Later that night, when awakened by his sergeant, Smalley, half-asleep, unaware of what's going on, stabs the man to death. He is jailed, brought to court martial, which is where the drama really begins. The army lawyer assigned to defend Smalley is Marvin Bean. Smalley claims to have killed his sergeant accidentally, having mistaken him for a German. There's considerable pressure on the prosecution to have Smalley found guilty and executed, as there have been a number of similar incidents in recent months and the army wants to use Smalley's conviction to set an example.

Defense counsel Bean, no idealist but a dogged attorney, believes his client and recognizes that he's suffering from a major mental illness, is telling the truth as he knows it, did not intend to kill his sergeant. The tactics he uses to defend Smalley are ruthless and yet in the end effective. Smalley wants to testify on the witness stand, tell the story his way. Bean brutally tells him the truth: that his demeanor, his manner of speaking, the look in his eyes, mark him out as an unstable individual, that no one will believe him. This is the most dramatic and moving scene in the episode, and essentially its climax, as it sums up what it's all about.

The Smalley story is not warm and fuzzy television. Allowing that some dramatic license is taken, it's a harshly realistic episode. No punches are pulled; and it doesn't have a Hollywood ending. The actors are beyond praise. I've never seen James Whitmore give a better performance. He generally played tough guys, some decent, others unscrupulous. Here he plays a man who has innate decency and is yet will to sacrifice scruples to get a job done. Unfortunately for Whitmore, the show belongs to Richard Crenna, known mostly for his work in comedy, here trying to establish himself as a serious dramatic actor, and doing a good job of it; he seems to be "favored" in every scene he's in. Crenna was a good actor, but not so good as Whitmore, and I found this "favoring" off-putting at times. In a key supporting role, Philip Abbott was outstanding. Overall, this episode is a downer, more of a drama than a suspense piece, and as such a solid piece of work.

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