Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Passed for White (1960)

Sonya Wilde plays Bernice Lee, a young light-skinned woman of mixed race lineage who falls in love with and marries a rich young white man, Rick Leyton, played by Franciscus. Bernice loves Rick and never musters the courage to tell him about her mixed parentage, deciding that the important thing is that she loves him. But when Bernice becomes pregnant with their child, she worries obsessively about it "looking black" and betraying her secret.

 Bernice then schemes to run away with a female confidante to give birth to the baby and if the baby "looks black", she plans to give Rick the opportunity to have nothing more to do with her or the child. But fate intervenes and in an emergency, she is taken to the hospital, where she delivers the baby. In a post-partum delirium, she asks a nurse if "the baby is black", unaware that Rick is in the room. Rick tells her that the baby did not live; later, she is allowed to see the dead baby, which obviously looks white.

Rick misunderstands the situation and assumes that Bernice's worry about the racial characteristics of the baby were because Bernice had an affair with a black man. She admits to lying, but insists that the baby was Rick's. Unable to believe her, Rick leaves to stay overnight at a hotel and think about their situation. Bernice goes to the airport and returns home to her family, with Rick remaining ignorant of the truth of her lineage.

Wagon Train - "The Benjamin Burns Story" (1960)

In this episode of one of television's longest running and best-loved westerns, Franciscus plays John Colter, a city dude who is engaged to become the grandson-in-law of elderly mountaineer Benjamin Burns (J.Carroll Naish). When the wagon train becomes desperate for water after hitting two dry wells, they find themselves in the position of having to investigate the veracity of a story told by old man Burns, who claims to know the location of an Indian spring. The Major (Ward Bond) sends out a scouting party, guided by Burns, to see if there is substance to the myth.

Although he is skeptical about the old man's story, Flint McCullough (Robert Horton) leads the party, including Colter, into the desert in search of this legendary water source. However, Burns becomes seriously injured, and McCullough agrees to stay behind to wait for help, although in all probability they are just waiting for Burns to die. John Colter stays behind as well, even though as a city slicker he is terrified of the dangers of the rugged environment.

While hiding from an Indian hunting party, McCullough must attempt to kill a rattler to prevent the scared Colter from shooting it and alerting the Indians to their position. But McCullough is bit by the snake and spends the next several days delirious. Upon regaining consciousness, he is told that Burns is dead. Colter and McCullough return to the train, but chance upon the water supply on the way back. But now McCullough is accused of murdering the old man.