The interrogated prisoner is given a prisoner of his own to interrogate, Rollin, who bowing under pressure mouths the secret plan to attack the U.S., but no sound is heard.
The ersatz interrogator must report a successful result or be shot by his superiors, it’s World War II again, back on his old job. The momentary deafness he has just experienced is perhaps psychological after all, he can remember what he has just been told, yes, he does. He tells the Hartford Repertory Company and the Impossible Missions Force all about the sub attack, which is averted by minutes.
The original interrogator belongs to neither power but a third, hostile state.
The psychological profile includes Cinnamon as the captured enemy agent’s wife, replacing the original in photos around a duplicate of the old homestead. Rollin’s persona is assigned the real wife, the original interrogator has another name and is in love with Cinnamon, etc.
Henry Silva acts this in a continual daze.
The subscription to duty in a law enforcement officer is seen in itself to fulfill the law and provide for justice. Revolutionaries rob an armory, the leader is wounded and dying. A consul for the dictatorship requests inaction from McGarrett, let the bleeder die and spare the cost of a trial, McGarrett does not agree to this at all, “we have law,” he says angrily, “not a dictatorship”.
In the end, the leader surrenders, cornered and ready to die otherwise, because he learns that his wife is expecting their child. The action takes place from morning till night on a Sunday, the parable could not be more efficient.
A minor theme reflects the major, shipment and escape cannot be made because of a dock strike, hotheads want to cross the picket line, cooler heads prevail with crates of ordnance labeled as farm machinery.
Four European military officers have stolen “a large sphere of trevanium” used for low-cost nuclear weapons. In doing so, they have split, one is dead, the trevanium is gone. Colonel Vorda has an arrangement with a bearlike mustached man who smokes Russian cigarettes and whose government will support a coup in exchange for the trevanium. Major Johan has a similar arrangement with the North Asia People’s Republic.
Col. Vorda is made to understand that the dead man is alive, disfigured in a car crash and given new features, but suffering from amnesia. By a happy coincidence, a leading expert is in the city, Dr. Anton Lumin, M.D., Ph.D., impersonated by Phelps.
The amnesiac’s girlfriend is played by Monique and cultivated by Maj. Johan, who fears discovery. The Great Paris in regression therapy is told the location of the trevanium, which is then switched by Willy and Barney.
Absorbing psychological details articulate the action, which closes with the IM Force driving away in an army truck past flowers and sprinklers.
This extraordinary three-part episode is written continuously but formally divided into three separate stylistic units, each founded on a different basis.
Part 1 combines elements of Renoir’s La Règle du jeu and Bergman’s The Magician to lay out the tale in exposition. It’s set in a land of Shakespearean imagination, because the core of the conceit is derived from an accurate study of Cymbeline.
Prince Nicolai is passionately fond of clocks, mechanical toys and the like. He successfully repairs a table clock with kissing figurines, and Badiyi cuts to his cousin Francesca kissing her fiancé, Prince Stephan, in Arngrim Prison where he is being held. General Sabattini has given out that Stephan is dead, and hopes to force Francesca into a marriage that will place the general in succession to the throne.
Another toy introduces the magician Zastro and his clairvoyant assistant, who are Paris and Tracey. The Prince greets them like Hamlet at the players’ entrance, and preparations are made for a performance on the following day, just before the wedding of Francesca and Sabattini.
Barney is wheeled into the palace by Willy, hidden among Zastro’s effects. Jim wears a false beard among the tourists of the Amsterdam Cultural Society viewing the crown jewels, replaced by Barney with fakes.
The essence of Part 2 is the fake death of Francesca at her wedding, after which Paris in disguise as Prince Nicolai orders her immediate inhumation in the palace crypt. Barney drills through the wall in time to prevent her suffocation, having himself been knocked unconscious in a fall and temporarily blinded, but now recovered. This is where Jim enters Sabattini’s office with a perfect diamond. “You have an interesting calling card, Mr. Benedict,” says the general. “Yes,” Phelps replies, “it is rather a door-opener.” Sabattini has just learned that the crown jewels are missing.
Phelps undertakes to learn their whereabouts from Prince Stephan with a briefcase full of drugs. A permeable scrim with a rear-projection apparatus in Phelps’ briefcase screens the two from the sight of the jailers, and Barney opens the wall for their escape. But Colonel Vargas, who has his own plans for the realm’s future with the aid of Asian powers, and who has been seen eyeing the crown jewels behind his spectacles, has been persuaded by the clairvoyant that Sabattini has no future, and the Impossible Missions Force has not counted on his response. Sabattini is badly wounded by an exploding clock, and Paris as Prince Nicolai is knocked unconscious and unmasked. Sabattini interrogates Paris and Tracey, figures out the plan, goes to Arngrim Prison and dies on discovering that Stephan has escaped.
Badiyi’s direction is rapid but unhurried, understated and sure. He quickly sketches in some invaluable visual material early on, the foyer demonstration in Phelps’ apartment with its vertical stripes and horizontal door carving, the tour bus passing over an arched bridge reflected in calm water, a down-angle on the checkerboard floor of the grand salon.
The falcon of the title is named Lucifer, and is part of Zastro’s magic act.
The particular fearsomeness of this exploit as planned is purely factitious and imaginary. Phelps and Paris are embassy officers in London, a loser with dice and a lover of enemy personnel. Paris’s dilemma was faced by Cinnamon once, and he too plays his part, killing drunken Phelps in a brawl at the lady’s home, and disposing of the body in the cellar furnace rigged by Barney.
Agent K is the objective. He breaks cover to offer Paris a submarine off the Scottish coast, and a new life.
Heath’s teleplay is properly derisive. “I’m not just the flirtatious young wife of an English peer,” says the lady.
The script by Wesley Lau calls for a relatively straightforward operation, which is eclipsed by a singular lapse of intelligence on the part of the Impossible Missions Force, bringing on a rapidly improvised response and the key of the theme, which involves nuclear blackmail and a defector.
It all hinges on Paris who, undisguised, is passing for the defector, an expert on minefields having designed one for a hostile power around its space program’s base on an island in the Adriatic, where an armed satellite is about to be launched. The I.M.F. know this American to have a girl, but not that she is a security agent for the other side. He suspects her and, planning to leave for Asia and more money, kills her, leaving Paris in the lurch (and Barney in the minefield).
This is of course an adaptation of Sekely’s Hollow Triumph (The Scar) in a certain sense, a source of Antonioni’s Professione: Reporter. Badiyi’s intent is to focus as much or more attention on the internal dynamics of every scene by his application of technique akin to Sidney J. Furie’s at this time, as he is to realize the mechanics involved.
A Ghost Story
The exceptionally toughminded exposition is very tersely divided between the assignment to Phelps and his analysis for the members of the IMF. The son of an American Fascist has defected to the Iron Curtain and there developed a nerve gas which has accidentally killed him. His father has buried the body on the grounds of his own estate, a tissue sample is required to assess the gas. The father’s aide-de-camp is a soldier of fortune actually in the employ of the Eastern Bloc.
The great central section is a very long and tenuous calculation on “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Badiyi is typically alive to colors and textures, and in his hands this succeeds in cultivating a spirit of Poe.
The surprising dénouement is right out of Hitchcock, particularly North by Northwest. There is a curious echo of Hamlet early on, when Phelps places drops in the sleeping father’s ear, before injecting a tiny radio receiver.
The mob’s Cordillera operation suffers many a setback, an undercover agent is blinded in an explosion. Phelps takes his place, sacked for drunkenness.
One of two rivals for the boss’s seat is also an undercover man. His opponent is led to believe that Phelps can identify the real article by the sound of his voice, and then that sottish Phelps knows nothing but will name anyone for money. The deal is made, and recorded by the IM Force.
The tape is placed in the hands of the boss. The revealed fink doesn’t go down without a fight, the boss himself is wounded—and led away for treatment by our man in the mob.
Barney also joins up as Detroit muscle. Willy works the wire, Casey runs a rooming house where drunken Phelps repairs after falling in the street.
A singer for Marathon Music Corp. wants out of her contract, the boss kills her. Is there really a tape of her talking about dummy companies and fake bank accounts? A new singer (Barney) wants in, says her tape recorder was on after her singing, during the subsequent conversation and murder.
He’s a junkie, so it’s not hard to find out from him that a crooked cop (Phelps) has the tape. The boss’s number two man is made to believe there’s a hit man (Willy) after him, sent by the boss.
The number two man buys the tape (Casey and an actor) for a fortune and plays it to the boss, who laughs. “Those aren’t the words,” he says, admitting his guilt. The Impossible Missions Force has him on tape.
The complexities are subtle and typical of the sixth season in general, but only to be expected of a script by Howard Berk before Columbo and Orville H. Hampton after Perry Mason.
The linchpin of this conscience-rousing escapade is a variation on Hitchcock’s “Breakdown” (Alfred Hitchcock Presents), a top executive immobilized and made to see the error of his ways. A drugged bee induces paralysis in a corrupt media baron, who has a vision of aliens curing him, twenty-five years after the vision that began his career, a bright light leading him to a boy fallen in a well.
Steve Forrest plays the role with a unique blend of sophistication and vanity. The baron is preoccupied with immortality, which he’s promised by the aliens only if he rids himself of the syndicate backing he had to accept at a low point in his fortunes. New York torpedoes keep tabs on him in his own home.
The stake is a statewide election, with a syndicate slate favored to win (the opening scene has him murder a reporter on one of his papers who has an exposé in the works).
Persuaded that he is ill, and with the promise of eternal life before him, the baron goes on his weekly radio broadcast to denounce the candidates he has supported. A torpedo plugs him immediately thereafter, and the last shot has him reaching toward a life-restoring apparatus demonstrated earlier by the aliens and left behind by the Impossible Missions Force.
The state is largely run by a mobster who funnels pork-barrel sewer projects to his company through the lieutenant governor, whom he owns. At a dinner party, the mobster kills a senator, but the lieutenant governor is prepared to perjure himself and swear the man simply fell off his chair. The couple who witnessed this have to be eliminated, however.
The husband is shot dead in a striking tour de force that puts the assassin’s face in a rear-view mirror for the audience while the murder happens in the background of the scene. The wife is drugged into imbecility and placed in a former prison cheaply made over, again by the mobster’s company, as a State Mental Hospital called Dyer Bay.
Barney swims in through an outlet to the sea and into the boiler room, which he rigs to overload. Casey has an extraordinary role as a psychotic fixated on her photographer uncle (Phelps), who has her committed.
The courtroom confrontation has poor distraught Casey pull off her mask, while the wife calmly takes the stand. The entire mission requires twenty-four hours from start to finish.
A few months later, Banacek came up with a brilliant image for one of those places where the house has all the odds and they call it gambling (“A Million the Hard Way”).
The image is a great deal more complicated in its presentation here, but amounts to the same thing, only the point is made somewhat more straightforwardly. A casino owner is under pressure from the state attorney general, which in turn brings pressure to bear from the other side, the casino owner’s mob employers. His plan is to buy into a Caribbean operation, and for this he needs half a million.
The IMF put before him a parolee (Phelps) whose wife (Casey) is a plunger. Barney literally siphons all the cash from the casino’s vault, and this is used to represent the parolee’s mail robbery twelve years earlier. The mob catches the owner with it, but the attorney general drives up to offer him a chance to testify.
The scene in which Barney gains access to the brand-new computerized vault is exceptionally well-staged and filmed. The double image provided overall is of money being sucked down a hole by old-fashioned holdup men.
Massive amounts, the largest ever, shipped in the base of a metalwork sculpture, a seahorse.
The artist complains of this accretion and is eliminated.
Triple-refined evidence is offered as synthetic from a lab operated by Willy. Barney is a detective sergeant bought by Phelps with a killing in “men’s cosmetics” and a key club called The Fun House where the girls dress like flappers, among them Mimi, a user.
Phelps kills her, it’s a sting, the mob lieutenant out on his own has to fetch the seahorse.
Badiyi films unusually on precise location, Century City, the CNA Building, a downtown factory, with a long lens through stained glass and chandelier to Phelps’ upstairs office.
The Dog and Pony Show
The Rockford Files
Badiyi’s prismatic style is seen to be founded on dry precision in this perfectly gauged exemplar. The script avails itself of television to float its images over the rapidly skimming surface, so that the abrupt changes of perspective make a stylistic continuum, it’s as simple and fitting as that.
The joke upon joke is about a CIA man kept under wraps in a mental institution, who is revealed to be a Mafia family brother-in-law gone bozo, rather than a man on the team that ousted Allende.
Here’s the image that works the magic: Jim Rockford and Angel Martin are arrested for transporting stolen spoons, sentenced to group therapy, where they meet a paranoid schizophrenic who isn’t.
This brings in, eventually, the CIA itself, as well as the crime boss of a Los Angeles family. They collide, with the private investigator in the middle. Not only fortuitously but amusingly, because the Agency fumbles its way into domestic action, and the boss is outside the code for his sister’s sake...
East Wind—Ill Wind
A Nobel laureate dispossessed of his country drowns like Shelley on a sunny day just off the beach, his wife suspects the secret police, she’s bugged, a dossier on torture is missing.
McGarrett interviews an emissary of the government on a hotel café terrace, he is the head of the secret police and arranged the assassination.
A silenced witness to the torture and the killing succeeds in naming him at a Pacific conference where the dossier surfaces.
A Different Drummer
The Rockford Files
One of those psychopaths who sometimes find socially permissible guises for their mania harvests eyes from the not quite dead, as arranged by himself in well-planned accidents.
It’s not for sweet charity’s sake, it’s a medical referral service, but the interest for the doctor is the same he found in burning down the house when he was nine.
Rudolph Borchert’s script is minutely detailed, with a fine comic part for Jesse Welles as the doctor’s scatterbrained secretary. The mania is revealed in John Considine’s performance only when he’s caught in the act of preparing her already-catalogued and still live body for harvesting. He’s a very friendly type, goes to the ball game with you, that sort of thing. “Adjusted,” says another VA patient (Reni Santoni, another superb comic part), from a knowing vantage.
The structure is related to McMillan & Wife: The Deadly Cure (drunken yahoos put Rockford in the hospital, where he sees the doctor at work), and the theme compares to Nicholas’ Gift (to Equus also, from another angle).
Rendezvous at Big Gulch
The neighborhood protection racket, under the sway of pet-loving Dutch Gunderson.
Drebin and Norberg go undercover at a locksmith shop.
A dance academy is the initial target, after collecting payments from the butcher’s shop and the pet shop.
The brutal racket is seen in all its degrading vileness (Norberg’s keys always stick to the ceiling as he finishes them on the buffer wheel).
The Way Back Home
A New York lawyer travels back to Florida where he grew up. The script achieves a blankness of dramatic horror by extension, grandmother Jo (Julie Harris) is recovering from a stroke, her house is desired by creditors as a valuable beachfront property, Harris mimes her anguish with unutterable feeling, the lawyer helpfully renders up a document to the bank showing the house a state historical monument, Jo drops dead.
Maude the maid (Ruby Dee) is feeling poorly, too. The weary women share a bed to read The Velveteen Rabbit.
Badiyi takes monumental pictures of Florida as background to these tragic scenes.