“The biggest illegal brewery since Prohibition began” is set up on the top floor of a six-story Chicago warehouse to avoid detection, “a Ness-proof brewery”.
Ness not only lets it be built, he requisitions pipe from Washington to finish the job. “Hey,” jokes Rossi, “what are we, the good guys or the bad guys?”
The result is a single $250,000 glass of beer for the mobster who runs the operation.
The brewery-builder or “inside man” replaced by the man from New York has a wife who’s brilliant, she knows the score and calls Ness at once, her husband has become expendable. This poor sap, defeated by Ness time and again, accepts a malted from his replacement at a candy store and gamely believes in his friendship.
Drunk, fearing the worst, he cleans out his safe deposit box so his wife should have something.
The raid comes as a “miracle”, he is alone in charge. “We’re the king”, he exults, clasping his wife.
President Roosevelt’s inauguration puts paid to all that.
The requisition brings a man from Washington, shocked. Hobson feels the same way, perched on the sixth-floor fire escape while Ness reveals his plan, but changes his mind as the vast expenditure for the brewery is totted up on a chart in the office.
The Floyd Gibbons Story
Floyd Gibbons is evoked with rapidity, skill and brilliance. He turns down an interview with Greta Garbo in Hollywood (“she wants to talk to me”) en route to Manchuria, spies a headline and drops everything to investigate the murder of a colleague and friend.
Mobsters are taking over junkyards in a grand syndicate to sell scrap metal to certain foreign powers, a pushy hood killed a reporter for taking notes. The mob looks toward the end of Prohibition and a new business, the hood is a throwback. He regards them as “soft”. The reporter’s wife was his mistress, warned him about the story.
Scott Brady takes the heroic lead to perfection, Dorothy Malone is a strikingly subdued and tender figure, Joseph Campanella works out the tough guy visibly for the camera.
Gibbons lost an eye at Belleau Wood, doesn’t say this to an inquisitive child, “I see better this way, one eye looks out, the other looks in,” and besides, he has the hotel’s Presidential Suite, “the desk clerk thinks I’m Wiley Post.”
He goes to the mob boss after death threats from the hood. $50,000 is offered him, “that’s more than I make in a week.” Old methods die hard, Ness intervenes at a tense moment.
The money goes to the Policemen’s Welfare Fund.
Search for a Dead Man
A very big case for Ness and a typically small one for the Bureau of Missing Persons are found to coincide through months of diligent police work, so that for Ness the solution is fairly easy, for Missing Persons a surprise.
Jake Portuguese is running a million-dollar shipment of bootleg whiskey from Canada, more than ever attempted. He and his younger brother Rudy argue over money, Jake keels over. Three or four weeks later, the body is fished out of the lake. A lush wreath on the pauper’s grave is the only clue.
Mobsters aced out of the shipment call Ness and turn up dead. There is a boxer’s former mistress, who sent the wreath.
“The way is greased”, trucks roll out of Canada, whither Rudy tells his buyers Jake has gone on business.
The ventriloquist’s dummy is named Little Caesar. It does its own dialogue quite independent of him, so that when his “shanty Irish” routine fails to get him any bookings around town, it leads him into a life of crime (the previous owner took up with a woman).
The ventriloquist, receiving instructions and encouragement from the dummy in the traveling case he holds in his hand, uses it to smash open a delicatessen and rifle the cash register. The last caper is a nightclub safe. “It clicked!”, says the dummy, as the ventriloquist turns the knob and they listen side by side.
They encounter a night watchman, however, and the ventriloquist is arrested after a tip from the landlady’s daughter, a nasty little girl. “I always knew you could talk,” she says to the dummy, who proposes they lam out to New York with the loot, the two of them.
Butler’s direction is full of good technique, cutting on action (from the staircase, the girl fires her toy Tommy gun at the ventriloquist crossing the lobby, who falls face-down on his bed), dollying in behind the girl as she spies on the man and tiptoes down the corridor to eavesdrop late at night, repeating the shot the next morning with her turning right to the telephone on the wall instead of left to his door.
He catches Jackie Cooper’s very touching performance in the last scene with a close-up as the ventriloquist nuzzles Caesar’s hair in a vain plea to make it tell the two police detectives in his room how it all happened, he needed money for food and rent, “we’re a team, you see”.
The Twilight Zone
Goldsmith’s teleplay re-creates the ambience of the war with Japan in its incipience, although the drama is set in the present and the scene is an attic. There are two characters, as later with Boorman’s Hell in the Pacific.
The Depression is figured in an out-of-work construction man losing his wife, to him a young Japanese cultivating work door-to-door as a gardener. Animosities develop, the homeowner is resentful, a samurai sword amid the bric-a-brac galvanizes his guest.
Neville Brand and George Takei play this to the hilt, the direction is quite wonderful.
The black-and-white pilot episode serves to introduce the several major characters and, by a plot device, the vast array of operations conducted as a military installation by the prisoners at Stalag 13, who have their kommandant’s office bugged, come and go as they please, and only stay to help the Allied war effort.
The stark opening of drumbeats and rushing feet at roll call before dawn gives a sense of Wilder’s Stalag 17, which is acknowledged by the teleplay. The Dead End Kids go to war, often in this series by way of Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be and Sturges’ The Great Escape.
The Germans place a spy (Noam Pitlik) among the prisoners. This wretch is quickly discovered by the simple expedient of gaining his confidence and asking several layers of questions about the old unit. When he fakes knowledge of a nonexistent rapscallion, Col. Hogan takes him on a tour of the establishment, including the factory and the steam room.
The spy reports to his superiors that Col. Klink’s every word is listened to by means of a coffee pot, that the prisoners are selling cigarette lighters in Paris shaped like Lugers. The tunnel is reached by pulling the cord on the water tank, which douses an incredulous German officer.
Hold That Tiger
Hogan steals a Tiger tank, has it driven into the camp and through a removable wall for disassembly and inspection within a barracks. During the preparations for this, Schultz asks Hogan what he is doing, and Hogan tells him in advance all about it. Schultz mistakes Cpl. Newkirk in a German officer’s uniform for a superior.
Sgt. Schultz is nonplussed. This is beyond his ken, he was in the family toy business. Duty calls him to report, but there is nothing to report, only the spiel of an American officer and some kind of optical illusion. “I was not here,” he says, departing, “I did not even get up this morning.”
The new weapon now blueprinted and returned comes with a Resistance fighter, also named Tiger. She just wanted to see the kind of men who run the Allied operation at Stalag 13.
Butler’s incredible speed and depth make use of all his actors’ talents in ways that are not very hard to grasp, studied more closely than a glance.
Kommandant of the Year
The Kommandant of the Year Prize must be given to Col. Klink, with special medal and Cupid-adorned scroll, so that the ceremony and acceptance speech will give a Caltech scientist time to examine and spike a new German rocket parked at the camp in violation of the Geneva Prisoner of War Convention, as Col. Hogan points out.
Three British commandos and the scientist, Dr. Schneider, are parachuted nearby and outfitted with German uniforms by LeBeau, a perfect tailor. Col. Klink addresses the camp on “a little boy in Düsseldorf” who failed at everything else and wound up in the army, on his father’s advice. Col. Hogan asks him to tell the one about the time he wangled Goering’s girlfriend away, and Col. Klink obliges.
LeBeau complains of the sign and countersign to be used, “I am the Big Bad Wolf... we are Little Red Riding Hood... terrible, no imagination!” Col. Hogan observes, “You wanted to be a writer, go in the Special Services.”
The Late Inspector
He’s extinguished in the demolition of a railroad train fortuitously carrying his person away from Stalag 13, where Col. Hogan overbade the “fear and hostility” number with Col. Klink, causing the latter’s promotion to a Berlin post in charge of every Stalag in the Reich. This is so inconvenient for operations at the camp that Gen. Von Platzen is made to see the error of his choice. The BBC is heard in a barracks (Kinch), Von Platzen’s monocle and wallet turn up on Klink’s person (Newkirk).
The inspector general is driven to the railroad station in a second staff car by inmates uniformed for undercover work, his own car having acquired a smoke bomb in its empty engine compartment, as Sgt. Schultz timorously discovers.
Col. Klink is bidden by Hogan to remember Napoleon’s star, even as Von Platzen departs for Berlin with evil tidings. The explosion is heard, Klink beams and slips his right hand inside his tunic, the commando operation delayed by the inspector general’s arrival is completed.
The Mind of Stefan Miklos
Eisenstein’s theory of montage is practically demonstrated when a sequence of representations meticulously cultivated by the Impossible Missions Force runs through the mind’s eye to produce an image of vindication. Just before this, Phelps despairs he has been too subtle.
A mole (Jason Evers, fetched up on the shoals of intelligence) is fed disinformation that is doubted by his Stateside control (Ed Asner, a worrisome bull in a china shop). Miklos (Steve Ihnat, silverhaired, smoking a pipe, three-piece suit) is the top man in these matters sent out to confirm or deny, cf. Ritt’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
“It’s been many, many years since I’ve been home. I expect it’s changed greatly.”
Rollin plays the control to Miklos and vice versa, identities are secret. An art gallery with a gas leak and a wholesale glassware boutique are points of contact. An Oriental deity of bronze hides in its base the introductory documentation, cf. Terence Young’s The Jigsaw Man.
Miklos must be fooled by his own brilliance, it’s a point of pride with him. He crows afterward in a gesture of pity for his American colleague, obviously a genius. The Americans are so eager to discredit his agent and former pupil with an elaborate subterfuge involving Cinnamon as his supposed mistress and a flight from Baltimore to Rio de Janeiro with scads of money, that Miklos realizes his bumbling, envious and eager control must be working for them.
Akenside’s “For a Column at Runnymede” in a wall safe with Cinnamon’s picture (“All my Love, S.M.”) amid incriminating memorabilia, a mistress with a brokerage account (Miklos is an IRS man with fast credentials).
Butler supplements the mental flurry with intense close-up work. Phelps takes the mission at a movie theater “Closed for Alterations”, posters for The Jayhawkers (dir. Melvin Frank) and Summer and Smoke (dir. Peter Glenville) are seen as he enters.
Teleplay by Paul Playdon, delicate editing by Jodie Copelan, score Richard Markowitz.
To eliminate the competition by murder is called “playing the percentages”, a sort of Alexandrian mathematics that even has its virtuous side. One dispatches a wife’s lover, a welcher, a ne’er-do-well. And then there is the mobster boss who won’t make you a partner, as promised.
Butler plays the complex interlacings of theme and character straight on. The plunger at the Heavenly Casino in Seoul has a fellow gambler’s wife by his side, the junket is arranged by a bookie formerly with the Hawaiian gambling lord Yoshigo, now a travel agent’s partner.
Sun and Cloud Shadow
Master Po explains rock-paper-scissors, Kwai Chang sees the light, “each conquers the others”, it is “the harmony of nature”, says the master.
Actually, each conquers one and is conquered by the other, as Halsted Welles demonstrates in his quintessential teleplay, with the same result.
Coolies work cold diggings for a modest return, offer the owner two-tenths. He agrees, letting reciprocal murders go by, but demands the girl named Cloud Shadow for his remaining son, who loves her. “I can buy ten of her in San Francisco,” says the father.
A Pinkerton man is after Caine on behalf of the Dowager Empress’s Manchu agent, he’ll take five-tenths for the body. A Chinese fight is presented, Caine dresses for it. “Faced with two evils, must not a man choose?”
The son leaves his father for Cloud Shadow.
You remember who killed the rich American in Murder on the Orient Express.
Red Skelton has a joke about a man who sits down at the Automat with a bowl of soup, gets up for some salt and finds his soup gone when he comes back. He goes for another bowl, puts it down and now he needs a spoon. The soup is gone again, he gets some more, needs a napkin and leaves a note, “I have spat in this soup.” When he comes back with the napkin, there’s an addition to his note, “so have we all.”
Which twin nephew murdered Uncle—the Democrat playboy (who has his own cooking show) or the Republican banker (who gambles in Vegas)?
Publish or Perish
The superfices of Peter S. Fischer’s script are impeccable. It develops that a publisher (Jack Cassidy), whose titles include My Home Was a House and Modern Aztec Courtship Practices, is about to lose his “pocket-sized Hemingway” (Mickey Spillane) to a rival (Jacques Aubuchon). Cassidy has taken out a standard million-dollar life insurance policy on his author, and plans to kill him. A rather frayed demolitions expert (John Davis Chandler) will do the job in exchange for a publishing contract (his book is titled How to Blow Up Anything in Ten Easy Lessons).
The essence of the plot is Cassidy’s careful incrimination of himself and simultaneous provision of an alibi. Butler films the murder with the screen split twice and then thrice so Cassidy, Spillane and Chandler are all seen at once.
The dialogue is pristine. At Aubuchon’s party announcing the signing of Spillane, the former looks up from a conversation and says, “did somebody arrive? I invited Norman Mailer.” Cassidy, drinking and belligerent, opines that “sex is our only mystery in our age of new illiterates.” Drunk, and getting himself thrown out of a bar in the San Fernando Valley while the murder is taking place downtown, he hands the bartender money and says, “here, buy yourself a personality.” Furthermore, “you, and this place, deserve to be in the Valley.”
Meanwhile, Mickey Spillane is dictating. “He knew that this must be love. If it wasn’t, it would have to do until the war was over.” Chandler, a Vietnam veteran, is drawing near as Spillane continues. “Saigon and the fighting were far away.”
Lt. Columbo is now listening to the tape at the crime scene, “d’you hear that?” Detective Sweeney answers, “they paid that guy a lotta money for writing that tripe.” The book’s title is Sixty Miles to Saigon. Cassidy, whose character’s name is Riley Greenleaf, later tells the lieutenant, “thirty years ago World War II was a gold mine. Vietnam, tch. That’s a plague.”
Lt. Columbo is quite buffaloed. “This is a puzzler,” he says, and, “I’ll be a son of a gun—well, that just about does it.”
Daylight dawns when Mariette Hartley tells him about a revision imposed by Universal for the film version. The lieutenant exits dazed and almost leaves behind his evidence (the text). “I get preoccupied, I forget my head.”
More or less veiled references to “Candidate for Crime” and Joseph Wambaugh, and a lock-switching gag from Perry Mason, complete the ambience and mechanism.
Up the Creek
A Herculean comedy that depends for its conclusion on diverting a river with which to clear horseshit from the Augean stables of an American university.