(Edward) Rod(man) Serling J. P. Shanley - Essay

J. P. Shanley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Since Mr. Serling also wrote "Patterns" and "The Rack." two of the outstanding television plays of this year, there was reason to look forward with some anticipation to his latest script.

But "Strength of Steel" was a dreary potboiler…. No word has been received about just when Mr. Serling wrote it. It may long have antedated his better creative efforts. It seems hard to believe that the same writer had been responsible for them.

"Strength of Steel" is the story of a young Air Force wife. Her husband packs off for Alaska, leaving her to wait for him in Pittsburgh. They say good-by stickily and then the undaunted bride moves in with her father-in-law.

The old gent … is a nasty type who wants no part of his son's wife. He treats her shabbily, even after they learn that his son is overdue from a patrol flight.

Dad blames the girl for the whole thing. He tells her unequivocally: "You married him so you could get yourself out of the gutter."

The wife takes understandable umbrage at this kind of talk, but she stays around until she learns that her husband has died.

Mr. Serling resorts to a tired device to end his drama. The widow lets the old gent know that he soon will be a grandfather. Then she tells him off and that does it. They fall into each other's arms blubbering heavily as a camera dollies in for the climactic scene.

J. P. Shanley, "TV: 'Strength of Steel'," in The New York Times, June 17, 1955, p. 47.