Home Television Drama Lawbreaker


1 9 6 3 (USA)
35 x 30 minute episodes

Lee Marvin hosted weekly re-enactments of violent crimes from a giant console in his windowless  “control room” – which resembled a nuclear bunker.

He addressed the viewers directly but also interacted with other characters (both real people and the actors playing them) who appeared on a video screen in this early precursor to “reality television”.

Interspersed with Marvin’s segments, the episodes featured filmed interviews with police, criminals, and civilians; recreations of actual, recent crimes in the places where they originally occurred, and clips from television news coverage of the incidents in question.

While the bulk of the show was in colour (still novel on television in the US in 1963), the news footage was usually in black and white.

The recreations generally involved the actual participants and, to play the criminals (who were usually still incarcerated and unable to participate), both professional and non-professional actors.

The restaging of the crimes were the heart of each episode, but Lawbreaker cut away from them so often that it wasn’t possible to settle in and enjoy them as good stories – but the series is certainly one of the most fascinating artefacts of sixties television.

Lee Marvin