|Girl on the Run|
|Directed by||Richard L. Bare|
|Produced by||Roy Huggins|
|Screenplay by||Marion Hargrove|
|Story by||Roy Huggins|
|Starring||Efrem Zimbalist Jr.|
|Music by||Howard Jackson|
|Cinematography||Harold E. Stine|
|Edited by||Harold Minter|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
The film is (in truth, although not in legal fact) based on characters and situations created by writer Roy Huggins in a series of 1940s novels and novellas. The picture was directed by Richard L. Bare and aired on ABC as the pilot for 77 Sunset Strip after an initial, brief theatrical release in the Caribbean.
This trip to the Caribbean was legally significant. Huggins' claim to the characters and situations of 77 Sunset Strip was strong, since he had created them in a series of 1940s novels and novellas, but his relationship to this, the first episode of the upcoming series, was comparatively weaker. Marion Hargrove, and not Huggins, had written the script and called it Girl on the Run. Since he had been writing under an episodic television contract, Hargrove had no rights to the series whatsoever. By releasing the project theatrically under the episode title, Warner Bros. emphasized Hargrove's contribution at Huggins' expense. When it was thereafter aired on television, it was not legally the debut of a new series, but the television premiere of a theatrical film. This made it possible for Warner to argue that the resulting television series was based on the film, which it wholly owned, rather than Huggins' literary work.
Beyond the creator rights struggle, the film is also important for allowing one of its guest-stars to graduate to the regular cast. In Girl on the Run, Edd Byrnes played a vicious killer, Kenneth Smiley, who compulsively combed his hair. When the youth audience reacted favorably to his performance, he was given a new, recurring character to play in the series proper. In 77 Sunset Strip, Byrnes became "Kookie", a comically hep carhop--who also compulsively combed his hair. Because of the narrative improbability of a killer becoming a trusted ally of Stu Bailey, Byrne's appearance in Girl on the Run was addressed directly in the series. At the beginning of the episode which followed Girl on the Run, Zimbalist broke the fourth wall with the announcement:
We previewed this show, and because Edd Byrnes was such a hit, we decided that Kookie and his comb had to be in our series. So this week, we'll just forget that in the pilot he went off to prison to be executed.-- from the pre-credit sequence for the episode "Lovely Lady, Pity Me"
The film also featured the talents of singer/actress Erin O'Brien, whose performance as a singer required no dubbing; she appeared as a featured solo singer on six episodes of The Steve Allen Show during this same period. Veteran character actors Shepperd Strudwick, Barton MacLane, and Ray Teal rounded out the supporting cast.