Eldon Marsh (Martin Balsam) has just whipped his boss at golf. The boss is better at the long drives than the diminutive Eldon, but has a tendency to be a 3-putt chump. Eldon credits his putter which he dubs “The Equalizer” for the win.
At the Club that night, his boss isn’t sure he will fare too well against the strapping young new salesman Wayne Phillips (Leif Erickson (really?)). At the moment, Eldon should be more worried as Phillips is dancing pretty close with his wife Louise.
After they return to the table, the boss suggests the men-folk retire to the game-room for some Bridge. Phillips declines, mortifying the other salesmen; maybe because of the effrontery to his new boss, or maybe because he is left alone with their wives — a situation he immediately takes advantage of by flirting with another wife, making Louise visibly jealous.
That night in their bedroom, Eldon asks Louise what she thinks of the new salesman Wayne Phillips. She not quite convincingly assures her husband that she did not like Phillips. She slips off her robe and they get into their separate twin beds, as real couples did in the 1950’s.
The next day Phillips, with his salesman smile, comes into Eldon’s office. He tells Eldon what a lovely girl Louise is. Phillips accuses him not not trusting his wife, Eldon says he trusts Louise implicitly but doesn’t trust Phillips as far as he could throw him.
Phillips stands up, about 6 inches taller than Eldon and says, “That wouldn’t be be very far, would it little man?” Eldon warns him, “Don’t try to test your irresponsibility with my wife.” Eldon actually comes off as a pretty cool customer.
That weekend when Phillips misses a tee-time with the boss, speculation runs wild among the salesmen that he was playing a round with some dame instead. Overhearing this, Eldon assumes Phillips is banging his wife; especially when she does not answer the telephone (back when they were tethered to the wall and not easily transported to a Motel 6).
Later at the club, Eldon believes he sees his wife and Phillips making eyes at each other. After she leaves, he throws a drink in Phillips face, and says, ‘I want to fight this man!’ Phillips refuses to fight, but finally Eldon takes a swing at him and Phillips decks him.
At home, the real switch is that Louise admits Eldon was right. Not only that, she berates, him, “These things happen all the time. Some men have enough sense not to make a spectacle of themselves.”
He assumes she will go to Phillips now, but she blames him again. “You very nicely ruined that for me! You created such a scandal that we couldn’t possibly go on!” She does leave him, though, just not to go to Phillips.
Eldon says he could have tolerated it if Phillips had loved Louise, but he was just making her look cheap. For that, they must fight. His boss even offers to fire Phillips instead of Eldon, but it’s no good — he wants that fight.
Later at the club, as Phillips is flirting with another of the wives, Eldon comes in and challenges him to a duel. They idiotically agree to meet for a duel — 10 paces, turn and fire.
Eldon arrives for the duel, but doesn’t see Phillips. As he is looking out over the city, he hears Phillips emerging from the shadows. Before he can say anything, Phillips plugs him. Phillips dutifully calls the cops and claims self-defense. Unfortunately, Eldon is unarmed, not even bringing a knife to this gunfight.
- AHP Deathwatch: All equally dead.
- Title Analysis: The titular Equalizer is the fact that Eldon feels he has nothing left to lose, thus he is not afraid of Phillips. That would be good had they not muddied the water-hazard by Eldon earlier referring to his putter as the Equalizer rather than, say, the old Billy Baroo.
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