Yes, some observers say we’re in the midst of a second golden age of TV drama, but we’re talking about the first one, in the 1950s.
Back in 1955 Rod Serling wrote two dramas that went a long way to establishing his reputation as one of the best TV dramatists. One was "Patterns," about climbing the corporate business ladder, that appeared on the "Kraft Television Theater."
The second show he wrote that year that garnered a lot of attention was "The Rack" for the "U.S. Steel Hour." At the time TV reviewer J. P. Shanley called it "controversial and compelling."
Both these acclaimed programs were made into motion pictures.
Tomorrow (Saturday) TCM is showing the motion picture version of "The Rack" with Paul Newman. The movie has never been released on DVD, so this is a rare opportunity for you to watch it.
It’s on TCM at 6 a.m., ET– and earlier in all the other time zones — so we’d suggest you set your DVR.
This motion picture version of "The Rack" has a screenplay by Stewart Stern, based on Serling’s teleplay. Though Newman did a number of TV roles at the beginning of his career, he was not in the TV version of "The Rack." The part Newman plays in the movie was played by Marshall Thompson in that TV version. Thompson is best remembered as Dr. March Tracy on the 1960s-era adventure TV series "Daktari."
"The Rack" is a courtroom drama. Newman plays a Korean War veteran on trial for treason. In only his second starring role, Newman received many kudos for the part.
In his Nov. 6, 1956, review of the movie, New York TImes film critic Bosley Crowther raved, "A brilliantly detailed performance by Paul Newman….He truly achieves in this picture a remarkable tour de force. In his facial expressions, his gestures, his pauses and his use of his voice, he makes apparent in one figure a singular personal tragedy."