Studio One in Hollywood (1948–1958)
8 user

A Bolt of Lightning 

The story of James Otis, a Boston attorney and American patriot who contested the right of British troops to search colonists' homes during the American Revolutionary War.


Paul Nickell


Irve Tunick


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... James Otis
Romney Brent ... Governor Bernard
Rita Grapel Rita Grapel ... Ruth Otis
Celia Johnson ... Mary Otis (as Elizabeth Johnson)
Anne Seymour ... Mercy Warren
Harry Townes ... Sam Adams
Frank Overton ... John Emroy
Justice Watson Justice Watson ... Peter (as Rudulph Justice Watson)
Harry Cooke Harry Cooke ... William Wooley (as Harry M. Cooke)
George Ives George Ives ... Mr. Robinson
Roy Johnson Roy Johnson ... Mr. Williams
Rita Morley Rita Morley ... Emma Emroy
Marvyn Dorkin Marvyn Dorkin ... Doctor
Lloyd Bochner ... Prescott
Shirley Ballard Shirley Ballard ... Elizabeth Otis


The story of James Otis, a Boston attorney and American patriot who contested the right of British troops to search colonists' homes during the American Revolutionary War.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

12 November 1951 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS Television Network See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Sam Adams: When defense of liberty becomes treason, then, surely, treason is defensible. More - it's desirable.
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Introduction from "Le Coq d' Or"
Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
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User Reviews

Nice Historical Piece
13 July 2007 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

Westinghouse's Studio One presented this dramatization of the life of James Otis, one of America's reluctant Bostonian revolutionaries caught up in the orbit of Sam Adams. A young Charlton Heston plays Otis with characteristic patriotic zeal, and he is supported by a good cast of character actors.

The story portrays the basics of Otis' somewhat tragic life with some exaggeration, but not that much. Otis was an Advocate for the British governor who turned on the British administration because of their refusal to recognize the sanctity of private property. He produced a strong legal argument against the infamous Writs of Assistance, which permitted British agents to search and seize private property without a warrant.

The film is reminiscent of the educational films which were sometimes shown in secondary school classrooms in the 1970s, but is better scripted, performed, filmed and produced than most of these. In short - more entertaining.

The script is economical and keeps the story moving along. The cinematography is nothing special, but the directing and acting are good enough to make it work. There are a surprising number of nicely choreographed and well-acted long shots with pans which are more complex than the average 1951 TV dramatization. The soundtrack is also OK.

Recommended for those interested in the American revolution, Charlton Heston, and Legal history.

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