“Run Like a Thief,” an episode of “Philco Television Playhouse,” was Dean’s first television performance after “East of Eden” premiered earlier that year. Quickly assimilating into a role as one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs, seeing Dean in such a small, inconsequential production initially feels alien. What’s even more unfathomable is that just a little over one year later, Dean would be dead. His rise to stardom was one of such a palpable, quick ascent that seeing him in a small-time, barely primetime role reinforces how tragically fleeting it would ultimately be.
Dean’s portrayal of Robbie Warren, a protege of Alexander Ingles (Kurt Kasznar), a maitre d’ at a five-star resort, is one that doesn’t strike too many chords. It must be noted that at the time, Dean’s acting chops were still growing and as a result, his raw, unflinching delivery steals the show. Yes, he was punching below his weight class here, but, thankfully, “Rebel Without a Cause” was right around the corner for him.