"The Virginian" (1970)
Character: Stephanie WhiteEpisode: "Nightmare"Duration: 90 minutesPremiered: January 21, 1970 (NBC)
Stephanie White (Joan Crawford) is a former palm reader turned married lady of the house. After a month of marriage, her husband, John (Michael Conrad), plans to make a last will and testament leaving Stephanie his entire estate, which includes the family business. News of this angers his younger brother, Billy (Steve Sandor), and they argue. That night someone tampers with the wheels on John's wagon, which causes it to flip over the following day, injuring John to the point that he will never walk again. The Virginian (James Drury) helps the couple after the accident, and attempts to be vigilant in protecting them. Stephanie becomes her husband's nursemaid, while an old acquaintance, Frank (Warren J. Kemmerling), begins making inappropriate advances towards her.
Later one night, Stephanie goes outside to investigate strange noises, and while she's outside a fire suddenly breaks out in the house.
Stephanie rushes back in, but is unable to save John. However, she manages to get a glimpse of the person who set the fire as the perpetrator runs past her on his way out of the house, which Stephanie believes is John's brother, Billy. While recuperating from the ordeal, Stephanie is given a note supposedly by Frank asking her to meet him, claiming he has proof of Billy's guilt in John's death. When Stephanie goes to Frank, she discovers it's a trap and she and Frank are shot at by an unknown person, with Frank being hit and killed. Despite her pleas of innocence, the sheriff arrests Stephanie and charges her with Frank's murder. Believing she murdered Frank due to thinking he killed John.
Stephanie stands trial, however, due to the evidence against her, and the certainty that she'll be found guilty, The Virginian convinces her to plead 'not guilt by reason of insanity' until he can prove her innocence. The Virginian decides the best way to prove her innocence is to give Billy the chance to attempt to kill her again. The Virginian's plans works, and when it's time to transfer Stephanie from jail to a mental hospital, Billy arrives to take Stephanie.
Instead, Billy uses the opportunity to attempt to kill Stephanie. He taking Stephanie back to her house and plans to set it on fire with her in it, with the claim she escaped his custody. The Virginian discovers Billy has taken Stephanie, and tracks them back at her house. In the house, the Virginian finds Stephanie and gives her a gun for protection. After he is knocked out by Billy, Billy attempts to shoot Stephanie, but she shoots him first with a gun the Virginian had given her. The episode closes with Stephanie working on the books of her late husband's business and thanking The Virginian for his help in saving her life.
Cast & Crew:
Director: Robert Gist
Written By: Gerry Day and Bethel Leslie
Joan Crawford - "Stephanie White"
James Drury - "The Virginian"
Michael Conrad - "John White"
Steve Sandor - "Billy White"
Warren J. Kemmerling - "Frank"
Joan began filming this project on November 17th, 1969 on the Universal Studios Lot in Los Angeles, California.
During the filming, Joan resided her in bungalow on the lot.
One day during filming, Joan and James Drury stopped production as so they could take a telephone call from seven American GIs in Vietnam who had requested to talk to some movie stars.
The episode was released as a theatrical feature in some parts of Europe in 1970, with the title of "Nightmare."
This was Joan's second collaboration with Sara Lane. Lane had previously co-starred with Joan in the film "I Saw What You Did" in 1965.
This was Joan's final collaboration with director Robert Gist. Joan had previously been directed by Gist on the pilot "Royal Bay" in 1963, on her two appearances on "The Hollywood Palace," and was scheduled to be directed by Gist in "You'll Hang My Love" in 1967 before to the project's financing difficulties caused it to never begin filming.