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Studio One: The Defender

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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(Jun 06, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

A live television courtroom drama first shown in 1957 as a two-hour special. A CBS "Studio One" presentation, this was the pilot for the series that would feature Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford and others who would become stars.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Martin Balsam, Ralph Bellamy, Steve McQueen, William Shatner
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Video Service Corp
  • DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006RJHB
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,673 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bennet Pomerantz VINE VOICE on March 24, 2006
Studio One made a name for itself doing teleplays for television. These plays were preformed like stage shows for the camera. Most were shot on video live. In the late 1970's CBS destroyed most of these viseo tapes.

The Defenders video tape survived. I know how nor why. If you are a Star Trek Fan, this 1957 tele-play has the acting talents of William Shatner, long before he donned the Star Fleet uniform of James T Kirk and beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise. He plays the son of a father and son legal team. You see, even before he was Denny Crane of TV's Boston Legal, he was a lawyer

This teleplay also starred Ralph Bellamy (as Shatner's Legal eagle father), Steve McQueen (before he was in TV's Wanted: Dead or Alive and the movies The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape) and Martin Balsam.

This was the age of Live TV. However, You could not find a flub in these two episodes of live TV. Nor could you find a bad preformance in these shows

If you are fan of TV history, The Defenders became a regular TV series in the 1960's. Bellamy's father role was played by E.G. Marshall & Shatner by Robert Reed (TV Brady Bunch).

If you are a fan of old TV, a good collection to showcase classic Television

Bennet Pomerantz, AUDIOWORLD
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This was really good and enjoyable. Seeing as it was made back in the late 1950s says a lot about the television industry. Steve was good and the ending was unexpected. He plays the part well but you could tell he was at the beginning of his career. There is a big difference between this and WANTED: Dead or Alive. When they actually put "The Defenders" on weekly television I had no idea this had been made. It was a good storyline and it wasn't sad...but it was suspenseful!

Robert Redford appeared in one of the weekly episodes and he played well. If you are able to find the series "The Defenders" you can compare the two and see how it was improved upon. Steve put his heart into the part and you can tell. You really feel for him and his mother in their scenes. If you LOVE Steve McQueen, get it and enjoy it as much as I have!
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Studio One was one of the better drama shows ever made. Created around 1948 it featured a multitude of young stars that would become Hollywood Legends like Natalie Wood, Charlton Heston, John Forsythe to name a few. This episode features three great stars: Richard Bellamy, William Shatner and Steve McQueen. Bellamy was already an established actor while Shatner and McQueen weren't even in their acting prime.

This is before Shatner's career arrived on Star Trek and McQueen became a big Hollywood star. In fact his acting on this probably broke upon his career as well as Shatner's (nine years before Star Trek). Shatner plays a lawyer, Kenneth Preston, defending a man, Joseph Gordon wanted for murder (McQueen). Ralph Bellamy is Walter Preston and Kenneth's dad. Kenneth believes in Joseph's innocence but Walter does not especially since Joseph is prone to violent outburst. It also does not help the fact that several witness (including Joseph's ex-girlfriend) point him as the bad guy.

Nevertheless, both father and son team do a great job in poking holes in witness testimony, and raise reasonable doubt and give the young Gordon a chance to survive.

Like I said great acting by all three. Shatner has been known to overact his roles (including Star Trek) but he is rolling on all cylinder showing the young brilliance that he also shown in TV episodes of the Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

After this great episode there is a great documentary on the history behind Studio One that is really worth checking out.

Parts of this episode were used for BL "Son of the Defender" but really that episode doesn't do justice to how brilliant this two part episode really was. Forget about that episode and see this video today.
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Ah, the heyday of LIVE television. Though the story is really Ralph Bellamy's, it's a hoot seeing William Shatner and Steve McQueen share screen time. Though McQueen's performance is a little one note, it's not his fault, the character was written that way. Shatner was gave a very controlled and subtle performance, though you can see what later will become his "Shatnerisms" show through.

NIce work, generally well written. directed and acted.
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Good black/white courtroom drama. Actors actually memorized their lines. Single camera the size of a refrigerator used to record the action. Nevertheless a good study of early television. Did anyone notice Edward Asner on the jury? Would like Netflix to put all the Studio One and Chrysler Theater live shows on their list.
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This two-part episode of the legendary TV series, Studio One, stars Ralph Bellamy and William Shatner as defense lawyers who defends an accused murder played by Steve McQueen. I think this is probably one of the great courtroom dramas ever made. For once it's not about if the defendant is guilty or not guilty, it's about taking the path you choose in a court of law. Bellamy is convinced from the start that Mcqueen is guilty of murder and though he continues to defend him, he can't bring himself to believe his innocence. Surprisingly the tension and drama all comes from Bellamy and Shatner, they are a father and son who clearly never saw eye to eye. Shatner believe's McQueen is innocent and though he never really convinces his father it's the prosecutor who tells him that you can't think of guilt or innosence, you just have to do your job because it's your profession. Today's courtroom dramas aren't like this that operates on this clear logic.
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