Court Martial

1965 | United Kingdom, United States

Court Martial was a British made production co-funded by ITC (in the UK) and Roncom Productions (in the USA) which aired on ITV in 1965 and on ABC in 1966. 

In order to secure the US money the two leads were played by American actors Peter Graves (later of Mission Impossible fame) and Bradford Dillman. Quite fitting, considering the series was actually a spin-off from a 1963 two-part Kraft Suspense Theatre story entitled The Case Against Paul Ryker. The original story was set in Korea, as Army Lawyers prepared the trial of a Sergeant accused of being a traitor. Ryker was played by Lee Marvin. Also in the cast were Vera Miles, Lloyd Nolan and Norman Fell with both Graves and Dillman as Major Frank Whitaker and Capt. David Young, respectively, two characters retained for the series but now relocated to England, and time-shifted back to the Second World War. Here they work for the US Army Judge Advocates General's Office, (Whitaker as chief prosecutor and Young as defending barrister) where they are tasked to bring to justice perpertrators of war crimes. This often meant they had to be sent into the fields of war-torn Europe before returning to the UK for the climatic court martial itself. 

The original Kraft Suspense Theatre production is often cited as the 'pilot' for the series - however, the gap between this story and the series being made, plus the original tale being set in another war (which began some years later), would not make it a 'pilot' in the true sense of the word. The series won the 1966 British Society of Film and Television (later known as BAFTA) TV award for Best Dramatic Series.

Published on December 5th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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