On December 1, 1935...
Mrs. William Starkwell, the wife of a New Jersey handyman... gives birth to her first and only child.
It is a boy, and they name it Virgil.
He is an exceptionally cute baby, with a sweet disposition.
Before he is 25 years old, he will be wanted by police in six states... for assault, armed robbery, and illegal possession of a wart.
Growing up in a slum neighborhood... where the crime rate is amongst the highest in the nation is not easy.
Particularly for Virgil, who is small and frail compared to the other children.
Virgil Starkwell attends this school where he scores well on an IQ test... although his behavior disturbs the teachers.
We interviewed Mrs. Dorothy Lowry, a school teacher who remembered Virgil.
I remember one time, he stole a fountain pen.
I didn't want to embarrass him.
You know, teachers have ways of doing things... so I said to the class, We will all close our eyes...
"and will the one who took the pen please return it?"
While our eyes were closed... he returned the pen.
But he took the opportunity of feeling all the girls.
Can I say "feel"?
Spending most of his time in the streets, Virgil takes to crime at an early age.
He is an immediate failure.
He barely manages to escape with a gumball machine stuck on his hand.
With both parents working to make ends meet...
Virgil becomes closest to his grandfather... a 60-year-old German immigrant... who takes the boy to movies and baseball games.
Then tragedy strikes.
At a Washington senators' game...
Virgil's grandfather is struck in the head by a foul ball.
The blow causes permanent injury to his mind... and he becomes convinced he is Kaiser Wilhelm.
Here are some rare photos of him with other patients on the sanitarium grounds.
When he is 15 years old, amidst the violence and poverty of the slums...
Virgil receives a cello as a gift.
He is fascinated by the instrument... and for the first time in the Starkwell house, music is heard.
We spoke to Mr. Torgman, his first and only cello teacher.
There is not very much to tell... because his cello playing was just terrible.
He had no idea about tone production.
He would just saw it back and forth... just scratch the instrument to such a point... it would drive everyone who listened to it absolutely insane.
He had no conception of the instrument.
He was blowing into it.
He loved his cello.
And I think he stole to pay for his lessons... but he would not apply himself one iota.
Virgil steals to pay for cello lessons... and although he does not achieve greatness on the instrument... he is soon good enough to play in a local band.
A jungle, however, Is no place for a cellist... and Virgil soon learns the facts of life.
At 18, Virgil is lonely and confused.
Unable to concentrate In school, he has long since dropped out.
He wants nothing more than to belong, if only to a street gang.
It is here, he thinks, he will prove his manhood.
Under constant economic pressure...
Virgil turns to the local pool hall as a means of making a living.
'Tm going to be a pool hustler," he tells his friends.
Virgil tries to join the navy but is psychologically unfit.
That looks to me like... two elephants... making love to a men's glee club.
Mr. T.S. Foster, Virgil's first probation officer, remembers him vividly.
He was a trustworthy kind of person.
You had to remember certain idiosyncrasies that he had.
Like not always telling the truth.
He didn't always tell the truth.
Sometimes, he exaggerated the truth.
Sometimes, you know, he just plain lies.
He does have a criminal record, yes... but that doesn't mean that the boy was all bad.
Unable to fit in with any aspect of his environment...
Virgil strikes out on his own.
In an effort to shed some light on this period of his life... we spoke with his father and mother.
They are ashamed of their son's criminal record and so wear disguises.
He was a good boy.
Come on, if he was a good boy, why are we wearing these?
He's rotten, he's a gangster.
How can you say that? He was so bright and he was so talented.
What "bright and talented"? He loved music.
He was an atheist. He could've been a musician.
I tried to beat God into him but it was too tough.
He was trying to get away from us, and be independent, make his own life.
Be a human being on his own. I mean, you're a very dominating person.
What? You are, and He was trying to find himself.
Me? I'm... Yes.
I'll talk to you later about the whole thing. What do you mean, "later"?
Vowing that he will never serve his full term...
Virgil plans an elaborate escape, using a bar of soap and some shoe polish.
You got to take me to the infirmary.
What's the matter? Don't ask.
Virgil's attempted escape is dealt with harshly.
His sentence is extended an additional two years.
1956 is a happy-go-lucky year for most people.
Virgil sees none of it from his tiny cell.
He marks time by reading.
Until one day, a new opportunity arises.
We need volunteers for an experiment.
The doctors want someone to be inoculated with a new vaccine.
It's never been tried on humans before... so we don't know what the side effects may be.
To be honest... you'll be taking a chance.
As reward, there's a parole.
I'm sure there are some among you brave enough to take the risk.
With parole as inducement, Virgil submits to the vaccine test.
It is a success, except for one temporary side effect.
For several hours, he is turned into a rabbi.
And so, the reason we celebrate... the Passover holidays by eating the matzo... is to commemorate the time... that Moses led the children of Israel... from Egypt-
He has so many good qualities. I mean...
Yeah, name 'em.
He had all sorts of mechanical abilities, he was artistic.
Remember the painting he did for you on your birthday?
A no-good atheist was what he was.
I used to hit him and try to teach him about God... but would he listen? No.
Virgil leaves prison, apprehensive... but with some hope that he can begin a new life.
Instead, he finds a world difficult to cope with.
Ashamed to go home, he rents a cheap room in a strange city.
Desperate and broke...
Virgil tries to support himself with small crimes.
Here, he attempts to rob a local pet shop.
I hope you haven't been watching me. I'm not very good.
I was strolling down here just now... and I noticed that you were drawing something and I thought...
You can look at it if You want to. can I?
It's not very good.
I wouldn't say that. I think that it's wonderful.
It's not very good.
I think that it's very good, actually.
I think you could probably make cash. are You an artist? No, of course I'm not.
I'm not an artist.
What do you do?
I'm a laundress.
Yeah, I wash clothes, primarily.
No, it isn't.
I like it, but it's not particularly interesting.
What's your name? Louise.
What's yours? Virgil Starkwell.
What do you do?
What do I do?
I play the cello.
That's fantastic! Yes, I'm a cellist.
It's a wonderful job. are You with the Philharmonic?
Yes, I am, actually. That's fantastic.
Yes, I'm with the Philharmonic group.
Quite a good group.
I dress like this because I'm just off work now. can I interest You in going for a walk at all? Okay.
I know I was in love.
First of all, I was very nauseous.
I had never met such a pretty girl, and I guess I'm sensitive... because real beauty makes me want to gag.
Plus, I don't know how to act with girls.
You know, I'm shy and I'm just nervous around women.
I have a tendency to dribble.
The only girl that! had known was a girl in my neighborhood... and was not an attractive girl.
I used to make obscene phone calls to her collect... and she used to accept the charges all the time, but nothing ever happened.
And here I am lying through my teeth.
I can't tel! Louise that I was in jail... and that I rob and steal, and never did an honest day's work in my life.
A lot of people hold those things against you.
She was so sweet. We just walked in the park... and I was so touched by her that... after 15 minutes, I wanted to marry her.
And after a half hour, I completely gave up the idea of snatching her purse.
I wanted to tell her that I wasn't with the Philharmonic... but she was so impressed by it.
Once, she asked me some questions about Mozart... and she got suspicious because, for a minute, I couldn't place the name.
Don't know, when it comes to women...
In prison, I remember the psychiatrist asked me if! had a girl, and I said, "No."
And he said, do I think that sex is dirty... and I said, 'Wt is, if you're doing it right."
All I know is, my heart was really pounding... and I felt... I felt a funny tingling all over.
I was either in love, or I had smallpox.
You wanna have dinner tonight? Sure.
You're very beautiful. I really mean that.
Does it embarrass you when I say that?
That's a pretty hat.
I see them all over town. do you?
You know, feather and the white.
I haven't seen many. They're on sale downtown.
I passed them as I was walking around the streets.
There are millions of them. You know, in one of those bins.
Is that so?
I could watch you eat all night.
But why? I don't know.
You're so pretty when you...
After dinner, we went for a walk.
I asked her for a lock of her hair.
We didn't have a scissor, so I tried pulling it out.
She was a good sport, I tell you.
When she got excited, she stuttered.
I think she was so cute that way. I like a girl who stutters.
They tum red, they' re always gasping for breath.
It's really sweet looking.
She was an expert on laundry. She was fantastic.
I offered to let her do my shorts, and she was very moved by that, I think.
She knew everything about underwear.
I never saw anybody who knew so much about socks and T-shirts.
She was some kind of genius that way.
Good night, Virgil.
Continuing his deception, Virgil sees Louise more frequently.
When she questions him about his cello playing, he avoids the subject.
In order to better understand Louise, let us examine her background briefly.
Adopted at age two from a cruel and impoverished orphanage... by a career military man and his wife... she was subjected to an upbringing of extreme discipline... which left her shy and withdrawn.
Never having a real home, she lived on army bases... while her father pursued a brilliant military career... that after 30 years catapulted him to the rank of corporal.
Her mother, an alcoholic, turns to religion for comfort... and quickly becomes a fanatic.
She responds to Louise's need for love by beating the child... and claims to have conversations with God... in which they discuss salvation and interior decorating.
Destitute and in love, Virgil attempts to change his life with one bold stroke.
And if you'll just take this to Window 9.
What does this say?
Can't you read that?
I can't read this. What's this, "act natural"?
It says, "Please put $50,000 into this bag and act natural."
It does say "act natural."
I am pointing a gun at you.
That looks like "gub," that doesn't look like "gun."
No, it's "gun." No, that's "gub." That's a No, that's an It's G-U-N. That's "gun."
George, would you step over here a moment, please?
What does this say?
Please put $50,000..
Into this bag and abt natural.
What's "abt"? It's "act."
Does this look like "gub" or "gun"?
Gun. But what's "abt" mean?
It's "act." A-C-T. "Act natural."
"Please put $50,000 into this bag and act natural."
I see. This is a hold-up. Yes.
May I see your gun?
You'll have to have this note initialed by a vice president... before I can give you any money.
I'm in a rush.
What? I'm in a rush.
I'm sorry, but that's our policy.
The gentleman in the gray suit.
That's G-U-N. "I am pointing a gun at you." But that's a That's "gub."
That's a That's "gub." No, excuse me, that's Miss Frank.
I am pointing a gun at you, abt natural.
What is "abt"? No, that's "act."
It couldn't be. That's a plain No, I'm afraid not. That's "act natural" and "I'm pointing a gun at you."
I am pointing a gub...
No, that's "gun." That's G-U-N...
That's "gun." "I am pointing a gun at you."
It looks like a "b," but it's an
Of course it is. That's "gub." No, it isn't.
It couldn't be. it has to be.
We discussed this inside, a short while ago.
Listen, I can't make our date today.
I've got to go up to Boston to give a concert.
Why don't I give you a call in about...
About 10 years.
Virgil Starkwell is apprehended in the act of bank robbery.
He is given 10 years at the state's strictest maximum-security prison.
It is here that he mingles with hardened criminals for the first time.
A prison has not been built that can hold me..."
Virgil tells another inmate, And I'll get out of this one... if it means spending my entire life here.
After all, what a child becomes is according to what his environment is... what his background is. Let's face it, it was our fault.
Would you let a man say a word or two?
I knew. There was a day when I said, This kid is rotten.
You know the expression "a rotten kid"? That's what this kid is.
I knew when He was... Whose genes did He have?
What genes? and chromosomes?
What? Don't talk fancy in front of the man... because, you know, you'll make an impression...
The time passes slowly for Virgil... who works hard and tries to adjust to prison life.
He becomes a model prisoner and is put to work in the laundry.
Visitor, Starkwell. for Me?
I'm not with the Philharmonic.
I'm sorry. It's okay, Virgil.
You don't mind that I came to see you, do you?
No, I'm happy to see you.
God, how'd you find out I was here?
I called up your landlady.
She told me where you were. She said that...
Did you rob a bank?
I did not rob a bank.
If I had robbed a bank, everything would be great.
What did You do? I tried to rob a bank, that's what happened.
And they got me. I misspelled the note.
Can you bake?
I need a cake.
A big cake, like a chocolate layer cake.
You're allergic to chocolate.
I need a cake with a gun in it.
I'll bake you a cake but I won't put the gun in.
Then I'd like about a dozen chocolate-chip cookies with a bullet in each.
How long are you going to be here?
I estimate in the neighborhood of...
What's today, Monday?
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... Ten years.
Is it possible that you could wait for me?
Yes. If you want me to.
With Louise to inspire him...
Virgil works hard and becomes more optimistic.
She comes frequently for the next few months.
He complains about the food, and she brings him home-cooked meals.
Louise's impact on Virgil is discussed here by Dr. Julius Epstein... one-time prison psychiatrist who recalls Virgil.
Louise meant a great deal to Virgil.
From a psychiatric point of view... his love for her was the healthiest thing in his life.
It was genuine and clean.
Not like some patients I know.
She ain't gonna wait, Virgil.
They think they can, but they never do.
You know, I become eligible for parole in a year and a half.
Yeah? That's nice.
With any luck, in maybe two or three years, you'll get out of here?
It could be a lot shorter.
What do you mean?
He means we got this proposition we wanna talk over with you.
What kind of proposition?
Like next week, five of us are gonna make it out of here.
We need an extra man.
It's all set. By next week, we could be miles away from this zoo.
You guys have got to be kidding. We'd never get out of here, they'd kill us.
We got out of rougher places than this. Why don't you just think about it?
Ain't no broad gonna wait around for years for you.
No matter what she tells you in that visiting hall.
I think the conflict in this personality disorder... sort of started from his formative years.
I think that it gave evidence in his choice of the cello, for instance.
Studying the cello at the age of six.
He was coming out of the formative years, but the conflict is there within the choice... because it's generally assumed that the cello is a phallic symbol.
I mean, with the grasp...
But the lower structural form is certainly feminine... and, if anything, motherly.
In fact, the utilization of the bow, I would imagine... is the sublimation of stroking a torso.
So, between the grasping of the phallic... and the stroking of the torso would create, I would imagine... great conflict even at the age of six.
Virgil Starkwell becomes part of an escape plot.
His every move becomes tense and strained.
Take the guards on our floor with us, so be ready if there's trouble.
I don't understand how we're gonna get past the main tower.
We're gonna be dressed as guards.
That's why Friday at noon, because you work in the laundry... you're gonna steal the guard's underwear. What?
We already got some uniforms stashed in a dark room.
I don't understand. Why do you need the underwear?
We want to do this as realistically as possible.
I'm known for my detailed work.
Forward in twos!
Sir, we can't find our underwear. I think something's up.
We better keep our eyes open.
The warden knows something is up. Better call off the break.
I said the warden knows something's up, we better call off the break.
It's all set for tonight.
It's too risky. We can't take a chance.
Tell Virgil. I'll tell the rest of these guys.
The break's off. The Warden knows something's up. We'll try it again next week.
The Warden wants to see you.
What for? Come on!
Michael Sullivan, an ex-convict and one of the leaders of the break... describes that fateful day.
I told all the other guys that the break was off... but I forgot to tell Virgil.
I don't know why I forgot.
Nobody ever told him.
all ready. What?
There's a break in the north cell block. Notify the warden immediately.
Where is everybody?
We've called the break off!
You called the break off? Yeah!
Why didn't somebody tell me?
Virgil's out there by himself!
Could somebody possibly sneak downstairs and let me back in?
All right, Warden, I got your daughter! Please hold your fire, men!
Let me go, or she gets it!
What is she doing down there?
She was kissing Kowalski. is Kowalski a midget? No!
He's not a midget. What'd he say?
He's not a midget.
can I have a taxi, please? First one in line's next.
On July 11th, Virgil and Louise marry.
It is a simple ceremony, following what he later described... as a deeply moving blood test.
This was the happiest moment of my life.
I just wish my parents could have been there.
We weren't aware of it.
Am I right? Say it, be honest.
He turned out to be a punk.
They take up residence in another state... and living on Louise's small savings... they move into a cheaply furnished flat.
They are poor, but for the moment at least, safe from the law.
When these innocent pictures were taken... they were both unaware of the incredible series of events... that were to come.
What's the matter, Virgil? I got a cramp in the arch of my foot.
A little hard ball came out in the arch of my foot.
Why does that always happen every time we make love?
As a wanted criminal, Virgil finds it harder than ever to find employment.
He secures a little work, selling encyclopedias door-to-door... but the job proves too much for him.
He is forced to take to the streets... and for a while he earns a meager living selling meagers.
We're going to have a baby.
Get out of here. No, we're going to have a baby.
I went to the doctor. We're going to have a baby.
That's my present for Christmas.
All I needed was a tie.
Aren't you happy?
I don't believe it. Virgil, really.
How did it happen?
What do you mean, how did it happen?
You mean because... of that night when the two of us...
And that's what happened?
In the spring, Virgil and Louise are blessed with a son.
They name the boy Jonathan Ralph Starkwell, after Virgil's mother.
Virgil and Louise move to a new state and try to start over.
Virgil has the usual trouble finding work.
Finally he hears of an opening in an insurance office... and, his back against the wall... he attempts to lie his way into the job.
Please sit down.
John Q. Public.
Mr. Public, have you had any experience working in an office before?
Yes, I have.
What kind of office was it?
Have you ever had any experience in running... a high-speed digital-electronic computer?
Yes, I have.
My aunt has one.
And what does your aunt do?
I can't recall.
You said before you worked in an office. did You deal in products or services? Products.
Is this something found in the home?
No, it's not. It's one down and nine to go.
Is this product edible?
No, I'm afraid it wasn't.
I think our time has run out... and I'm sorry to say you haven't guessed my occupation.
So, I'm going to flip all the cards and tell you what I used to do.
I used to manufacture escalator shoes... for people who were nauseous in elevator shoes.
I'm sorry you didn't actually get my occupation... but you did win $10.
I want to thank you very much. Better luck next time. You're a good sport.
Hiding his past from his fellow employees...
Virgil does well at his first decent job, the mail room.
His past catches up with him, however... as a fellow employee learns of his criminal record.
What are you doing for dinner, Mr. Public?
Miss Blair! I'm having dinner with my wife. Why?
We're having dinner, Mr. Public.
No, I said I was having dinner with my wife.
I found this picture in a magazine.
One word from me, and you're back in prison. Okay?
What do you feel like eating?
Virgil Starkwell becomes the victim of a blackmail plot.
Miss Blair, confident of her power to expose him... begins making small demands for money.
These increase as time goes on.
Everything that he holds dear to him is in jeopardy.
His life and family hang on the whim of an unstable woman.
He is driven to desperation... and with the responsibility of a wife and child to protect...
Virgil Starkwell contemplates murder.
What would you like to drink?
What do you have?
How about some sherry? I have some very fine sherry.
What's the matter?
Did you hurt your hand?
I'll be right in.
Disguising two sticks of dynamite as candles... he sends Miss Blair an anonymous gift.
The plot fails, however... as he makes the dynamite too thick to fit into the candlesticks.
Determined to rid himself of the blackmailer... he rents a car and attempts to run her over.
I think somebody's trying to kill me.
Don't be silly.
When I came home from work last night, there was a car in my living room... and it tried to run me over. it must be your imagination. No.
Who'd try and kill you? I don't know. I have no enemies.
You didn't tell anybody, did you? No.
You can do the carving.
Can't you wait? I mean, you eat like an animal.
It's delicious, really.
I'll get the salad dressing, we'll make a toast... and then you start on that turkey leg.
What are you doing in there?
I'm just creating the proper atmosphere, dear.
I'm a sucker for atmosphere.
Why don't you carve the turkey? Yes, of course, my darling.
Someone sent these as a gift, but they were too big to use... so I shaved off the bottom.
With law enforcement agencies on his trail...
Virgil takes his family and heads south.
Here, they manage to secure cheap lodging temporarily.
This was really a desperate time in my life. We had no money.
I tried mugging old ladies, but I got hit in the groin with a crutch.
Didn't know what to do. I tried counterfeiting for a while.
I just got the plates all fouled up and everything... and Lincoln came out smoking a cigarette.
I robbed a butcher shop. That was the best I could do.
I got away with 116 veal cutlets.
Then I had to go out and rob a tremendous amount of breeding.
Their money gone, and with food scarce... the Starkwells live like hunted animals.
You weren't very happy then? No, This was the low point of my existence.
I was thinking of getting out of crime altogether... maybe becoming a singer or something.
Must've been a very tough decision for you to make.
Yeah, it was really tough... but my family was starving, and I had already filed for bankruptcy.
What prompted you to go on?
I came up with an idea for a robbery that was so fantastic and so brilliant... that when it was over, it was considered a real work of art... by all the guys in my cell block.
They must've looked up to you. Well, You know, these guys are mugs.
I'm gonna rob a bank.
No, Virgil, not again.
Yes, I think so.
I think that our only way out of this mess is for me to...
There's a little dinky bank in Ross County... and I think if I can get two or three good men...
I can get in there and get it... and we could go down to Mexico or up to Canada or...
But What if You got killed? No, don't worry. I know how to use a gub.
No, it's "gun," Virgil.
"Gun," I'm sorry. Did I say "gub" again? Yes.
Don't turn around.
I wanna speak to you about a business proposition.
It's a bank job.
Couple of guys and myself are gonna get together... about four weeks from now. Quarter of a million dollars.
We walk in and take it like that.
It's an easy job. See, we just pull up... take it.
How long have you been...
Because I said the part about the bank.
You guys are dressing alike again.
I broke it myself.
All the boys in the neighborhood went wrong. It wasn't his fault.
We didn't have time for him. We were working.
Would you like to see my stamp collection?
What do You mean? I have a collection of stamps.
First he selects an appropriate bank.
Next, he cases the bank by cleverly concealing a camera... in an unsuspected place.
That night, a meeting takes place.
Among the ones chosen are some of the most sinister names in the underworld.
William Ommers, wanted by the police for bank robbery... assault with a deadly weapon, murder, and getting naked in front of his in-laws.
Frankie Wolf: wanted by Federal authorities for dancing with a mailman.
Abie Armstrong: wanted all over the country for arson, robbery... assault with intent to kill, and marrying a horse.
All right, boys.
We're gonna talk about the Union Fidelity Bank.
What you're about to see are films of the Union Fidelity Bank.
We're gonna see them just once.
Then, to destroy the evidence, we're gonna eat the film.
It'll be buffet style and you can help yourself. Take plates.
There's potato salad over there, and my wife made coffee.
These films could save your lives.
There's always a boring short.
He'd have the gang over for meetings.
I'd put out little trays of pretzels and bullets.
I had to. He's my husband.
We got this film camera.
We got lights, we got a truck.
The idea is we pull up in front of the bank and we look like we're making a movie.
We play the actors.
All we need is somebody to be the director.
I got the perfect guy.
An ex-con I did some time with by the name of... Fritz.
I'll be the director.
I once was a film director.
Many years ago, before movies had sound.
I worked with John Gilbert, Rudolph Valentino, and Ruth and Gehrig.
Ruth and Gehrig were baseball players.
I was also bat boy for the Yankees.
The fools in Hollywood, they didn't recognize genius.
But now, I shall wear the uniform of a director once again.
And you will be my actor.
You will enter the bank and say, Up with your hands, this is a stickup.
Thereby announcing our theme: men's greed.
Now say it. Let me hear the line.
Up with your hands, This is a stickup. No!More feeling. Again, now.
This is a bank robbery, not a movie. Yes, of course.
I will be fine when the time comes. Thank you all.
Everybody, take five.
Don't tell me you're gonna use the shower now.
Why do you do this to me every morning? I just got in here.
I'm gonna be late for the robbery.
So you'll be five minutes late. They can start without you.
They can't start without me. I'm the leader.
I made You some coffee. Jesus!
Everyday I have trouble getting in the bathroom. For crying out loud!
Honey, What shirt do You want to wear? What'd you say?
I said, what shirt do you want to wear?
I'm gonna wear my light blue.
No, you're not. It was dirty. I washed it last night.
Why did you wash it? I was gonna wear it today.
I washed it because it was dirty.
So what? I'm just gonna rob a bank.
I've ironed the beige one. Do you wanna wear that? not to a bank robbery. Why not?
Because it's light. I'll be an easy target.
I think it's a perfectly good shirt to wear. No, it isn't.
Who wears beige to a bank robbery? What are the other guys wearing?
I don't know. For crying out loud.
Why don't you call them up and ask them?
Nobody's gonna be wearing beige to a bank robbery. It's in poor taste.
June 16th, 9:00 a.m. The days of planning are over.
Virgil and his accomplices depart from his hideout... and proceed toward their destination.
Everybody get your hands up! This is a stickup.
What are you doing here?
We're holding up the bank. We're holding up the bank.
No, sorry, we're holding up the bank. We are holding up the bank!
No, we were here first.
Could you come back tomorrow? We'll be finished by then.
We've been planning this for months. We're not gonna have it ruined by a jackass!
All right, we'll take a vote.
How many people here would like to be held up by this group?
Now, how many people would like to be held up by our group?
Now beat it.
You call this a bank robbery?
I yelled "action" five minutes ago!
Is this the way to pick up money?
What's going on here? There's a million cops outside!
Let's get out of here!
Each member of the gang gets five years for his part in the crime.
Virgil gets ten.
He is taken, not to prison this time, but to a road gang... where his criminal behavior will cost him dearly.
You men come here because you committed crimes... rendering you unfit to live in decent society.
That's too bad.
I think you're gonna find you made a mistake you're gonna regret.
Our job, mine and the boys, is to see that you get some civilization in you... so that when you leave here, you're gonna think twice... about performing antisocial acts.
My advice to you... is to obey the rules and do your job.
You got any complaints, come to me.
There ain't nobody on the outside gonna help you.
We don't like complainers and we don't like troublemakers.
If things get a little too rough for you in here... you're just free to take off for Florida.
Show them which direction Florida is, boys.
Do you think a girl should pet on the first date?
I mean, if both parties involved are mature and liberal.
You think you got a good enough aim... for that hammer to knock these bracelets off me?
Man, I don't want no trouble.
Nothing's gonna happen. You think you can do it?
I've never missed yet. all right, go ahead.
Sorry, man. First time.
Food on a chain gang is scarce and not very nourishing.
The men get one hot meal a day: a bowl of steam.
All right, boys, who didn't give me a good day's work?
Come with us, Wilson!
What's the matter, Starkwell? Can't you take it?
I want you to see this so you'll know what you got to look forward to.
Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?
What do you mean?
Don't beat the shadow, you damn fool! Beat him!
The time drags by in an endless grind of backbreaking labor.
Brutal discipline is common under the hot sun.
The men are not even permitted to faint without written permission.
Virgil complains, and he is severely tortured.
For several days, he is locked in a sweat box with an insurance salesman.
Hello, I'm Joe Green, and I represent the Ajax-Witches Insurance company.
I'd like to talk to you about your insurance. You're about 30, right?
You know, I think the best thing to do is to get straight life, plus a little term.
And how about dental and medical?
We've got this major medical. It's a good deal.
At the end of each day, the men are chained to each other by the ankle... in groups of six, making movement slow and painful... and escape impossible.
Then, one day, the impossible is attempted.
See that field?
If we make it across that field, we'd be out of here.
We can take them by surprise, if we all suddenly made a break for it.
You're crazy. That's right.
I'm a paranoid schizophrenic, but I say we try it.
Ain't that right, boys? Yeah, you're right.
I'm not with them! I wanted to stay!
All right, everybody spread out!
My car broke down. Can I use your phone?
Of course. Come in.
We're gonna get out of here. I know a guy in town... who's got enough tools to get us out of these chains.
All right. You act natural and answer it or you're finished!
Who is it?
Patrolman Lynch. Can I come in?
Well, not now.
It's an emergency. I'm afraid I'll have to.
You better untie her.
Tell him we're your cousins visiting from out of town.
One false move and you're finished.
What is it?
I hear there's been some trouble up at the prison.
I'm checking the area for anything suspicious.
These are my cousins. They're visiting me for the holiday.
Did you ever hear of St. Abernathy's Day? No.
That's what we're here for.
Come here, you. Come here!
You think your cousin is safe living here all alone?
Look how close we are to the prison.
Look out here. It's just a few miles down the road.
I don't know.
You sure can't be sure when you live so close to a prison.
Wait a minute. did I see something move out there? You couldn't have.
I'm sure I saw something move. Quick. Everybody take one window and check it.
If there's somebody out there, we'll have a chance to see him.
Guess it must have been my imagination.
They're escaped convicts.
Really? They've broken in.
Didn't you notice how they all moved together closely?
They're chained together at the ankles. I thought They were just a close family.
Okay, boys, the game's up.
The old lady must have told.
You're going back to that prison and this time you're gonna stay there.
Where we gonna go? We need tools.
Let's get my wife. She'll help us out of this.
Virgil, if you'd only listened to me and gone straight.
Honey, we needed the money and I robbed a bank.
When are you going to stop doing that?
Don't you realize you're a father and you have responsibilities.
If she was my wife, I'd belt her one.
Do you mind keeping out of this, please?
I don't wanna discuss it, unless we're alone.
I wanna discuss it now.
All right you don't wanna discuss it alone. Okay.
Where are you going?
I'm going to the next room, to talk about it right now.
I can't come in alone! I'm chained to the...
We can't be alone unless we go someplace where they got some tools or something.
These guys are with me for good now.
How do you think I feel?
I'm a young woman, sleeping alone here every night.
Don't you think that means something to me?
I think back to the days when you were in the Philharmonic.
I was never in the Philharmonic!
We used to lie in bed and you used to make love to me. and You used to recite poetry... Poetry? and play with That doll You got me. Hey, Longfellow!
You guys look away for a minute.
Sweetheart, don't you know that whatever happens... you're always gonna mean the same to me.
Will you stop giggling?
You'll always mean the sun, and earth and the moon to me.
With Louise's help, the chains are removed from Virgil's ankles.
Once more the family takes flight... feeling guilty about their son's education. Louise tries tutoring him.
He's been very depressed.
I think if he had been a successful criminal... he would've felt better.
You know, he never made the "Ten Most Wanted" list.
It's very unfair voting. It's who you know.
Virgil Starkwell embarks on a series of crimes... that make him a wanted desperado.
Here, he attempts to rob the vault of a bank... but finds a family of Gypsies are living there.
By the end of six months, the FBI regards Virgil as a menace.
Although he does not make the "Ten Most Wanted" list... he does win 'Gangster of the Year" award... and is asked to speak at many luncheons and universities.
For the end of this story, we spoke to Mr. Daniel Miller... an FBI agent and author of the book, Mother Was A Red.
The FBI actually wanted Virgil very badly.
Mr. Hoover was quite upset by Mr. Starkwell and his activities.
In fact, he confided to me on several occasions.
I can remember one very well, after a bowling match on Thursday night... on which he said he couldn't sleep nights, he was smoking a little too much... and he thought that this criminal... as he put it, might very well be part of a subversive plot.
Obviously an atheist and a pinko... and trying in general to disturb our society.
We finally traced him to a cheap neighborhood... down on the Lower East Side of New York... where he was living, at the time, in a very sleazy, rundown tenement house.
Virge? I remember him. I used to live with him as a matter of fact.
In the same rooming house, that is.
One day, he told me he was a gynecologist.
He couldn't speak no foreign languages. Who was he kidding?
I thought I saw his picture on a post office...
I didn't remember whether it was on the wall or on a stamp. do You remember Virgil? Yeah.
What was He like? I don't know. Now, I think he was brilliant.
Just absolutely brilliant.
When I found out that he was a criminal, I just couldn't believe It.
I just thought I was gonna die...
'cause he just was the best cover-up job I've ever seen in my life.
I mean, unbelievable acting job.
I actually believed that he was an idiot. I really believed it.
And I wasn't the only one. Everybody thought so.
Everyone thought he was a schlemiel, and turns out he's a criminal!
Just to think that that idiot was a criminal! I just can't believe it.
I mean, you never met anybody like this in your life.
You've never met such a nothing.
I can't believe it! That there was a mind working in there... that could rob banks! It's phenomenal!
Do you know that once I said to him, What do you do?
He said, "I rob banks."
But we finally caught up to him.
I think it was April 11th. We finally captured Virgil... under sort of very odd circumstances.
An amateur photographer happened to be there at the time... and took the only known films of his capture.
I was coming down here. This is the spot where it actually happened.
As a matter of fact, I had just brought my pants in to the cleaners... and I was sort of angry with them... because last time I asked them to sew a button on and they hadn't.
Will you get to the point?
Oh, yes. Well...
I'll tell you exactly what happened this morning with me.
And about the camera. Well, back to this thing in which I became known... merely because of what happened and I had the camera.
I was having breakfast in the morning.
I think it was two fried eggs, toast... and juice, I don't know whether it was orange or grapefruit.
But at that time... It was orange juice, that's right.
Will you get to the point?
I've got them right here. I'd like to show them to you.
The very last films... of Virgil Starkwell being captured by the FBI.
All right, get your hands up. This is a stickup!
I know you. Virgil Starkwell, that's right.
Eddie? What? Haynes? That's right.
We were in the marching band together, and you played a cello.
I was trombone. First trombone.
Isn't that funny? My God!
What are You doing? I'm with the Philharmonic.
No kidding. That's great. I was just talking to someone...
Oscar Sunkin. About the great times we used to have together, remember?
They were hilarious!
Do you do you remember when we got caught... taking a shower in the girls' locker room?
I do. You know, I never saw anybody so embarrassed.
I'll never forget your face!
My face! You dropped the towel!
You dropped the towel, too!
Let me have your watch, will you?
Remember that... We painted the car yellow. right, on Halloween. That's right. It was Halloween. it was really funny. it was yellow stripes.
That's right, like a barber pole.
Keep your hands up or I'll have to shoot you.
Jesus, remember the football game? You fumbled the last play!
And you picked up the ball and ran with it.
And then I ran the wrong way. Everybody was yelling, "Go back."
And I thought they were cheering.
You can't beat the good old days!
No, or the good old nights. Shirley Sistrin. Remember?
I didn't hear you.
It's been great speaking to you, really.
It's so nice to see you. Yeah, You, too. Take it easy.
Maybe I'll see you again. Best of luck to you.
I just realized that I'm a cop.
No kidding. How's it going? It's a great job.
I Get a pension. do You remember when we...
Virgil Starkwell is tried on 52 counts of robbery... and is sentenced to 800 years in federal prison.
At the trial, he tells his lawyer confidently... that with good behavior, he can cut the sentence in half.
Now that you're caught and you're facing a very long prison sentence... do you have any regrets about choosing a life of crime?
I think that crime definitely pays... and that, you know, it's a great job.
The hours are good, and you're your own boss... and you travel a lot and you get to meet interesting people.
I just think it's a good job in general.
What about your cohorts? What ever happened to them?
All the guys you've been associated with in various gangs?
A great many of them have become homosexuals... and some of them have entered into politics and sports.
How do you manage to spend your time in prison?
Do you have any hobbies or anything?
I've been working on...
I've been doing a lot of stuff in shop, actually... and I'm very skilled with my hands.
Do you know if it's raining out?