Q & A: ABC Stage 67 – The People Trap

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

I am trying to find the name of a TV show that aired on 11/9/1966. It was about a contest where the prize was an acre of land. I never got to see it because my husband was in the hospital and I went to visit him. I have always wanted to see this show. I don’t even know what kind of story it would be considered. I think it was when environmental issues were just coming into the news. Any help you could give me will be greatly appreciated.
RZ

This was an installment of ABC Stage 67, an ambitious anthology series that included dramas, musicals and the occasional documentary. It ran for one season, on ABC, from 1966 to 1967, producing 26 episodes. Earl Hamner, Jr. wrote this particular episode, which was called “The People Trap” and was based on a short story by Robert Sheckley. In my opinion, the plot of the episode was right out of The Twilight Zone (Hamner wrote eight episodes of that series).

In the year 2067, Earth is filled up, populated by 20 billion people and there just is not enough land to go around. Stuart Whitman starred as a history teacher whose wife, played by Vera Miles, was pregnant. The two lacked the proper license to have a child so, in order to keep his wife out of prison and their child from being confiscated, the teacher decides to enter a race for one of the last free acres of land in the United states (located in Yosemite National Park).

Connie Stevens played a fellow competitor in the race who romanced Whitman’s character. Lew Ayres, Estelle Winwood, Lee Grant, Pearl Bailey and Betty Furness and Michael Rennie all had cameo roles in the episode. Much like “Murder and the Android” (an installment of NBC’s Sunday Showcase) which I wrote about June of 2009, this is something I’d love to see. Thankfully, like “Murder and the Android,” the Paley Center for Media has “The People Trap” and all the other episodes of ABC Stage 67 in its collection.

11 Replies to “Q & A: ABC Stage 67 – The People Trap”

  1. Well, I’m glad to hear “The People Trap” IS in the Paley collection! But that doesn’t help ‘RZ’ as to how SHE’S going to get to their New York [or Los Angeles] location to actually SEE it…you’d THINK there would have been a TV in her husband’s hospital room so she could have seen it then!

  2. I was an extra in that movie. Worked for 2 weeks all over Phoenix, all hours and never got paid a cent. Always bugged me, but sure was fun

    1. I was an extra in the movie and I was paid. I was one of the runners who ran with Stuart Whitman. I was a villain who a co-runner for the acre. I remember well that I never got to view the movie as it aired the night I had knee surgery..I have tried to find where to view the movie and I guess it’s in the Paley Collection. I, to can not go to LA or New York to see it I was told once that a copy of all movies made in Arizona would be available in the Phoenix Public Library. After many library trips, I was finally told sorry, “we don’t have a copy of the People Trap!

  3. Do you suppose I could contact ABC and collect? With interest back to 1966, that would be quite a chunk of change.

  4. I’m just glad to know there was a movie about this. I kept thinking maybe I dreamed it. Sure would be cool to see this again. So much of it is true today.Funny after all these years I still remember it.

  5. I remember watching it .
    I was 15 at the time .
    I remember two things mostly , being 15 , the sexiness of Connie Stevens , quite bold for TV at the time, and the last scene where Whitman and his family enjoy a picnic outdoors in their new home as the camera panned to the chain link fence behind which a mass of humanity was jammed up against as it looked on in envy at the family .

    1. Dear Richard,

      Thanks! You spared me writing *exactly* the same thing. Every word! :-D

      I’d give anything to see it (or just that last pan) again. Too bad Paley doesn’t put its collection online.

  6. Apparently, Robert Sheckley wrote a treatment initially rather than a fully-fleshed out short story, which Earl Hamner got to adapt…Sheckley’s (eventual?) story appeared in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION in 1968, and was included in the subsequent BEST FROM F&SF volume.

  7. There was a copy on Youtube a few years back but it was taken down. They used quite a few sites around Phoenix to film it, including Star Theater (now Celebrity Theater) on 32nd Street just north of Van Buren, where the race started, and the Osborne Office Building on Central and Osborne, which was used as a futuristic slum apartment building. Wish there was a copy on DVD!

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