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Tonight We Make Them Cry (8 July 1968)

Appearing as Russ Faine

Broadcast 8 July 1968 on CBS television network.

Synopsis by Curator@JMDigitalScrapbook.com:

Grand Lake is a small town with a big problem -- but one young police officer has had enough. After unsuccessfully trying to break through the wall of corrupt officials sanctioning the town’s illegal gambling ring, Russ Faine (James MacArthur) seeks the help of investigative reporter Pete Lassiter (Burt Reynolds).

Coming to town disguised as ex-Vegas blackjack dealer Eddie Clark, Lassiter quickly hooks up with bar girl Joanie Meers (Sharon Farrell). Lassiter then ingratiates himself with Charlie Leaf (Nicholas Colasanto), owner of The Brass Button. With a sharp eye, Lassiter detects that a Button blackjack dealer is working a scam with a shill player/partner, and bilking the Button of hundreds of dollars. When Leaf tries to give Lassiter $100 as a reward for reporting his discovery, Lassiter asks for the dealer’s job instead.

At first reluctant to hire a complete stranger, in spite of the favor he’s just done Leaf and the Button, Charlie agrees only after Lt. Dave Brandon (Gerald S. O’Laughlin) intercedes on Lassiter’s behalf. Brandon is impressed by Lassiter’s shrewdness and apparent willingness to do whatever it takes to get ahead, presumably including shady dealings and other nefarious schemes.

Back in his hotel room, Lassiter receives a visit from Faine. The young officer explains the town’s problems more fully, then warns Lassiter away from Brandon, explaining that aside from his duties with the police department, Brandon “runs muscle” for the Button and is also their bagman.

Despite Faine’s warning, Lassiter agrees to meet with Brandon at his office, where the two men work out a partnership agreement. Brandon needs to be sure Charlie Leaf isn’t cheating him, and Lassiter agrees to act as Brandon’s spy within the Button. While at the police precinct visiting Brandon, Lassiter meets District Attorney Stanley Marchek (Cameron Mitchell), who appears very wary of Lassiter.

Later, Marchek and Lassiter meet privately; it turns out they had met years before when Lassiter was investigating an unscrupulous politician for whom Marchek worked. Marchek has followed Lassiter’s career ever since, and wonders what investigation he might be working on in Grand Lake. Deflecting the query, Lassiter accuses Marchek of following in his predecessor’s footsteps and being part of the problem in Grand Lake. Marchek hotly denies it, explaining that while he’s aware of the corruption and gambling, he doesn’t have the evidence to do anything about it without risking his own job and life. He warns Lassiter to watch his step with Brandon and company.

Lassiter then learns from Joanie that Brandon has a secret file containing the names of everyone associated with his corrupt organization, and detailing when and to whom payoffs have been made. Meeting again with Faine, Lassiter explains his plan to have Faine break into Brandon’s office to find the file while Brandon is away from the precinct. Overcoming his qualms, a nervous Faine succeeds in locating the file, only to be caught in the act by Healy, one of Brandon’s police officer henchmen.

Returning to his hotel later that night, Lassiter discovers Faine’s lifeless, badly beaten body dumped in his room. Mourning the tragic death of the young officer, Lassiter’s mission to break up Brandon’s illegal operation hardens into steely resolve. Realizing he’s about to be framed for Faine’s murder, Lassiter flees the room and meets with Marchek in the bus stop coffee shop. Dismayed to learn of Faine’s death and his involvement with Lassiter, Marchek reluctantly agrees to help Lassiter.

Taking the bull by the horns, Lassiter confronts Brandon in his office. Brandon tells Lassiter that a search of Faine’s apartment has blown Lassiter’s cover. Turning down Brandon’s offer of a large cash bribe, Lassiter uses Faine’s gun to force Brandon to give him the list Faine died trying to obtain. When Brandon goes for his own gun, Lassiter knocks him unconscious and flees the police station.

After turning a copy of the payoff list over to Marchek, Lassiter appeals to Joanie for sanctuary until he can get his article off to his magazine and Marchek can begin to expose the men involved in the illicit operations in Grand Lake. Unfortunately, Joanie has been badly frightened by Faine’s death, knowing that it was his involvement with Lassiter which exposed him to the danger. Pretending she is calling a friend, she instead informs on Lassiter, who is quickly arrested.

Back in Brandon’s office, his henchmen have just started their strongarm tactics on Lassiter, when Marchek bursts in, accompanied by two police officers who were friends of Faine’s. As the honest cops haul away Brandon and his cronies, Marchek tells Lassiter that the wheels are now in motion to rid Grand Lake of its corrupt officials and illegal gambling dens. If Lassiter writes the kind of article Marchek has seen in the past, Grand Lake will soon return to the kind of town its better citizens deserve. Lassiter promises he’ll do his part; it’s the least he can do to honor Faine’s sacrifice.

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James MacArthur, Burt Reynolds

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Burt Reynolds

James MacArthur, Burt Reynolds

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur


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