WESTINGHOUSE STUDIO ONE “The Case of Karen Smith.” CBS, 60m. 26 March 1951 (Season 3, Episode 31), Teleplay by Mona Kent, based on a story by Viola Brothers Shore. Felicia Montealegre, Leslie Nielsen, Annette Carell, Paul Potter, James Westerfield, Jean Casto, Director: Lela Swift. Available on DVD and Amazon Prime.
Studio One began as a radio series but was converted into a television series very early on, beginning in 1948, where it continued on under slightly different titles through 1958, for a grant total of 467 episodes. As an anthology series, it featured all kinds of drama, including mysteries, and hundreds of well known actors and actresses, some very familiar, others making their debuts on the show.
A good many of the episodes can be found here and there on the Internet. I discovered “The Case of Karen Smith” streaming on Amazon Video, for example. I can’t tell you want prompted me to watch this particular one. It certainly wasn’t the name factor, but when looking up the credits afterward, several of the players had a long list of appearances on early TV; others only one or two.
The story is a strange one. A police detective (a very young Leslie Nielsen) encourages his girl friend, a night club pianist named Karen Smith (Felicia Montealegre), to go with a not-so-gentlemanly gentleman admirer to go with him to his apartment after a late night performance. Why? He won’t tell her, but to be on the lookout for another visitor. Not understanding, but agreeing, she is on hand to see her would-be date for the evening being shot and killed by a former jilted lover.
The twist comes when Karen Smith leaves evidence to incriminate herself, and then sets out on a trail that’s easily to a deserted beach where she commits suicide. We the viewer don’t believe this for a minute, but just what it is that’s going on? The story twists itself into contorted knots trying to explain, including a twin sister, and just barely succeeds. Maybe.
It’s still enjoyable enough to watch, but perhaps only to fans of early television to begin with. It certainly won’t convert anyone under the age of fifty to become one.