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The smart suit brigade of early Sixties telly

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: December 28, 2006

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Many classic TV series have been born out of best selling novels. One such was the series entitled The Four Just Men , based on the characters in one of Edgar Wallace's famous thrillers of the same name. Alan Keeling looks back at a TV film series which was one of the first to show the main characters on a rotational basis:

"In 1960 The Four Just Men brought together four individuals from all over the world under the unified umbrella of justice. Jack Hawkins played M.P. Ben Manfred from London; Dan Dailey starred as an American journalist called Tim Collier based in Paris; Richard Conte was lawyer Jeff Ryder in New York; and Vittorio de Sica was given the role of a wealthy Italian hotelier in Rome, called Ricco Poccari. The pilot episode, entitled Battle of the Bridge, was directed by Basil Deardon and included all four of the main characters, who meet in Italy during the last stages of the Second World War. They are summoned together to hear a posthumous message, recorded by a late colonel, urging them to join forces in the name of justice, and to help with their challenging quest they are left sufficient money to carry out their pursuit of law and order.

"Young acting rookies like Alan Bates, Judi Dench and Jess Conrad made early appearances in some of the 39 episodes, which were produced by Sapphire Films for ATV. The series had a final re-run almost forty years ago when ATV in the Midlands used its noon day slot during the 1968 Olympic Games to once again screen The Four Just Men.

"Harry Lime and the Harry Lime Theme Tune are titles that many early TV viewers will be familiar with, and of course Mr Lime is the main character in The Third Man, a series based on Carol Reed's spy-thriller film of 1949 vintage starring the master himself, Orson Welles.

"The television series was filmed at both Shepperton Studios and in Hollywood with Michael Rennie playing the lead role. The gist of the story is that former spy Harry Lime no longer works for the secret service and has become an international business tycoon, private detective and general freelance trouble-shooter, and like the character The Saint, is on hand to help people in distress.

"The 77 monochrome half-hour episodes were filmed in 1959 and premiered on the BBC on a Sunday evening in 1960, before ending their run on a Saturday night at 11.15 following That Was The Week That Was. Incidentally, Lime's assistant Bradford Webster was played by Jonathan Harris of Lost in Space fame. In 1988 the BBC gave a couple of dozen episodes a final re-run."

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