» » Producers' Showcase The Petrified Forest (1954–1957)

Producers' Showcase The Petrified Forest (1954–1957) Online

Producers' Showcase The Petrified Forest (1954–1957) Online
Original Title :
The Petrified Forest
Genre :
TV Episode / Drama / Musical / Comedy / Family
Year :
Directror :
Delbert Mann
Cast :
Humphrey Bogart,Henry Fonda,Lauren Bacall
Writer :
Tad Mosel,Robert E. Sherwood
Type :
TV Episode
Time :
1h 30min
Rating :
Producers' Showcase The Petrified Forest (1954–1957) Online

Gabrielle Maple works in a dusty desert gas station-café, but yearns for the life of an artist in France, knowing there must be something finer than the provincial dead-end she is trapped in. A hitch-hiking writer, the disillusioned Alan Squier, appears and revitalizes her dreams of a better place, and finds his own sense of worth refreshed by this vital young girl. When Duke Mantee and his gang, wanted killers, show up and take hostages, Gabrielle falls in love with the poetic Alan, and Squier begins to see a way to give Gabby the life she deserves. {locallinks-homepage}
Episode cast overview:
Humphrey Bogart Humphrey Bogart - Duke Mantee
Henry Fonda Henry Fonda - Alan Squier
Lauren Bacall Lauren Bacall - Gabby Maple
Paul Hartman Paul Hartman - Jason Maple
Jack Warden Jack Warden - Boze
Richard Jaeckel Richard Jaeckel - Ruby
Joseph Sweeney Joseph Sweeney - Gramps
Natalie Schafer Natalie Schafer - Mrs. Chisholm
Richard Gaines Richard Gaines - Mr. Chisholm
Jack Klugman Jack Klugman - Jackie
Dick Elliott Dick Elliott - Commander
Steven Ritch Steven Ritch - Lineman (as Steve Ritch)
Morris Buchanan Morris Buchanan - Pyles
Julia Montoya Julia Montoya - Paula
Frank London Frank London - Radio announcer (voice)

Lauren Bacall's television debut.

One of the very first television programs to use helicopter shots.

Survives only in black and white.

User reviews



This is a real gem if you can find it. Almost 20 years later, Bogart reprises his role as Duke Mantee in the made for TV movie. Bacall is in the Bette Davis role of Gabby, and Henry Fonda plays Alan Squier, the role made famous by Leslie Howard.

It's not perfect. Bacall and Fonda don't have the chemistry that Davis and Howard had. They're older, and the the whole film skews darker because of it. But Fonda knows how to act, and he holds his own. The romance may not work, but he still plays the part well enough.

But it's a lot of fun to see Bogart step back into the role of Duke Mantee one more time. The menace is there, and with his age, there's an added air of tiredness as well, but it works for the part of the gangster on the run. How often do you get to see a legend step back into a role like this???

If you're a Bogart fan, this is a must see - especially if you're a completist!


In the 1930s, "The Petrified Forest" was a smashing success on Broadway--so much so that Warner Brothers bought the rights to this play and made a movie out of it starring Leslie Howard. Unfortunately, Howard was killed during WWII, so he could not reprise his leading role. However, the villain in the play and film, Humphrey Bogart, was available and reprises his role of Duke Mantee--the leader of a murderous gang of bank robbers. And so, on May 30, 1955, this play was recreated live on American television for "Producer's Showcase".

The setting is a combination filling station and restaurant in the desert near the Petrified Forest in the American Southwest. For the first half of the film, characters are introduced, you learn their back stories and an important relationship begins between a lonely waitress, Gabrielle (Lauren Bacall) and a drifter (Henry Fonda). The pair are on odd match--she is a woman aching to leave her humdrum life and travel to France and he is a world-weary man who has very little left to show for himself after he traveled to France and became a writer. Then, about midway through the production, Mantee and his compatriots arrive--looking to meet up with the rest of the gang as well as to hide out during a huge police dragnet. Soon they take over the joint and begin barking out orders. What's next? I won't spoil it--see the film.

Had I not already seen and enjoyed the Warner Brothers movie, I would have been much more impressed by this TV teleplay. Now this is NOT to say it's bad--in most ways it is excellent and very compelling (aside from the cheap sound effects for gunfire). But, it's not original--and that I always hold against remakes. However, it IS good enough to see and recommend. And, if you do see it, also look for some interesting appearances by Jack Warden, Natalie Schaffer as well as small parts by Jack Klugman and Richard Jaeckel and Mantee's sidekicks.


Robert E. Sherwood's play was very much of its time, when social and political unrest seemed to make the world a completely unpredictable and tenuous place, more so than at any point in modern time. Intellect versus brute strength, romanticism versus cynicism, community versus individualism, all swirling in conflict with no ready resolution. Humphrey Bogart reached a turning point in his career as gangster Duke Mantee in the original stage production and did the same for his film career with the 1936 movie. Now, near the end of his too-short life, he revisits the role in a live TV production, also starring his wife Lauren Bacall and Henry Fonda. Condensed but still containing parts of the play that were omitted from the film, this production is staged very much like a theatre production, something that was par for the course in the days of live television. The production suffers less than one might imagine from staginess, and tension and action are scarcely less dramatic than in the movie. The ages of Fonda and Bacall work against complete success, as while Fonda, at fifty, has the proper world weariness for the disillusioned Alan Squier, he seems too old to be just coming to these conclusions about life. And Bacall, while still a young woman, is far too mature for the just-blossoming girl who could inspire Squier to make real for her the dreams he can no longer believe in. But for all that, it is still a fine production, and Bogart retains the menace, style, and irony that made him such a hit in the original versions. Joseph Sweeney is fine as Gramp, the teller of tall tales, and Richard Jaeckel and Jack Klugman give real color to the roles of Mantee's henchmen. This is a quick production, sometimes a little rushed in the dialog, but overall it is a very successful live example of the Golden Age of television.


So what if the print is grainy. So what if much of the original play has been cut out to fill this in a 90-minute television slot. This is an example of how television in its infancy could do amazing things on a tiny budget. It was the last combined effort of the legendary team of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, ironically not paired in a romantic sense but in a reverse situation that they found themselves in the classic film Noir "Key Largo". This time, Henry Fonda is in the shoes that Bogart filled in that 1948 masterpiece. Bogart repeats his role from the original Broadway play and the 1936 movie where Betty Davis played the Bacall part, ironic considering that years later, McCall would play Davis's role of Margo Channing in the Broadway musical "Applause".

Once again, Bogart is notorious criminal Duke Mantee, on the run and desperate, knowing his days are numbered and not afraid of taking anybody else down with him. Call, working in the roadside Dive restaurant, wants desperately to get out but has no source to be able to do that. Along comes the soft-spoken but extremely intelligent Henry Fonda, almost poetic in his speech and filled with ideals that immediately attracts Bacall to him. Unfortunately for her, Fonda has a death wish and with the entrance of Bogart into the restaurant, he might just get what he wants.

80 minutes, this is a very tense melodrama, and fills the television screen nicely. Indeed the print I watched of this was grainy and would not be acceptable to most modern audiences but I was enthralled not only due to the excellent cast but by the way it was directed and presented as well. In important supporting roles, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman and Natalie Schafer stand out. Initially coming off as a dotty socialite wife, the future Lovey Howell shows some impressive dramatic skills. This is proof that there should be more vintage television available, superb in every way.


Gosh, I saw this together with "Key Largo," and it made that wooden project look good.

There's some history here. The 1936 movie was of a play that featured Bogart and Howard. Edward G Robinson was cast in the film for Bogart's role, but he bowed out -- giving Bogart his first chance in movies.

Twelve years later, a reshuffling of the thing was made as "Key Largo" but with Bogart as the good guy and Robinson as the creepy gangster. Bacall was the nice girl. It would be the last joint movie appearance for the two.

But wait! Along comes this, a simplified remake of "Petrified Forest" for TeeVee. Bogart is back as the gangster, and Bacall the nice girl. This would be their actual last joint appearance. Henry Fonda was the good guy this time.

It gives the impression of being a taped live performance, staged as the original play must have been. Bogart is tired, so tired. He may have already known he was dying. The rest of the players are stilted. Clearly, there was scant rehearsal and poor or no direction. So the actors all just run through their lines with the minimum of emotion and total lack of collaboration.

Its a sad, sad disaster. All the intended power of the original play (and some of the movie), those metaphors that played up communism and hit at moneyed privilege, were muted into oblivion because of the red-baiting of the time. The performance is much like the lives of the play. Wasted.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.