A crowd in the face
What was it with Barney Phillips and the 'Eye' thing?
If one has to pick his most eye-popping role,
it had to be the guy behind the diner counter
in that Twilight Zone episode we all remember.
Surprisingly, when the ten most pretentious
film critics in the world were asked to name
the 'Best Denouement in the History of Film,'
it was not the the last sequence of Les Quatres Cents Coups
or The Grapes of Wrath that received their unanimous vote.
Rather, it was the end of 'Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?'
Whatever else Barney Phillips did on radio and in movies & tv,
the image that will pop up in your mind's eye and eye's mind
at the mention of his name is Barney baring that extra eye.
Crystal-strokers just talk about a third eye. Barney had it.
Mind you, this tie to an eye was not a late thing--
Barney Phillips had been working for CBS
as early as 1938, well before the logo opened its lid.
He also worked at all the other radio networks,
but like most of the Gunsmoke crew, he was a CBS man.
Where to find Barney at his best? Six answers: The Six-Shooter.
James Stewart's radio western gave Barney Phillips
the kind of roles that were given only
to John Dehner and Larry Dobkin in Gunsmoke.
If you haven't had enough of the creepiness
of 'Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?,'
travel back in tv time about six years
and watch 'The Carlsbad Big Lie Story,' an episode of The Lone Wolf.
Barney Phillips is an Air Force colonel hunting for an old man
who had sighted a UFO. Strangely enough,
Barney with his bushy eyebrows is creepier here
than in The Twilight Zone.
In 'The Emerald Ring,' another episode of The Lone Wolf,
Barney Phillips plays the same kind of minor baddie role
that he was given so many times in radio Gunsmoke.
However, he gets the rare if not unique opportunity
to do an action scene, a fun one with Louis Hayward;
and if you're looking for further signs that he's a space alien or not,
there are close-up shots of the back and side of Barney's head
that you'll never see anywhere else.
In a 1958 episode of Peter Gunn,
Barney Phillips plays a famous blind jazz pianist,
whose unseeing-ness is an integral part of his popularity.
A complacent assassin strangles a victim
right in front of Barney as he practices at his piano.
Is he correct in assuming the blind cannot testify?
Put on your eye, and witness... 'The Blind Pianist!'
If you think you are an all-seeing compleat Gunsmoke fan,
here's a question for you--
besides Howard Culver and James Nusser,
what radio Gunsmoke actor played a regular character
in tv Gunsmoke?
Answer: Barney Phillips.
He played Long Branch half-owner Bill Pence thrice in the half-hours.
A piece of advice, if you ever have to walk into a diner
and figure out which of the people in there
is the Martian who just crashed his flying saucer nearby...
Mind that eye!
The Venusians are colonizing!
June 5, 2006
Copyright © 2006-2015 E. A. Villafranca, Jr.
All Rights Reserved