KILL ME IF YOU CAN (TV) (1977 USA)
AKA "The Caryl Chessman Story"
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The story of "red light bandit" Caryl Chessman, previously dramatized in the 1955 film Cell 2455, Death Row (based on Chessman's own book), was adapted for television as Kill Me If You Can. In a radical departure from his usual duties as M.A.S.H.'s Hawkeye Pierce, Alan Alda plays Chessman, who in 1948 was found guilty of robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault. Under the laws of the era, Chessman was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. But by studying the law and publishing four books on his plight, the brilliant (albeit still repugnant) Chessman managed to forestall his execution for 12 years. Though no effort is made in the film to make the sociopathic Chessman any better than he was, John Gay's script comes out squarely in opposition of capital punishment. Kill Me If You Can first aired on September 25, 1977.