The Night of the Iron Fist
The Wild Wild West

A very epic tale of extradition, Count Draja (Mark Lenard) of Bosnia heads east from Apache Pass for trial at home, his loot is somewhere west of Santa Fe.

Countess Zorana (Lisa Pera) boards the train to greet her husband, freed by hired guns in her service. Gordon in disguise receives her.

West and the Count on horseback are beset by a family of liverymen after the reward.

Black Count Draja gave his right arm for his country, Gordon mimics the exploits of his overthrown regime by cracking a nut with one blow of a gleaming metal fist.

Sport & Stage offers Ford Rainey as paterfamilias to stable bums a provocative headline, “The Man They Could Not Hang!”.

 

The Night of the Undead
The Wild Wild West

The poles of the work are Great Expectations (dir. David Lean) for the cobwebbed marriage feast and, for the voodoo ritual, Live and Let Die (dir. Guy Hamilton).

Dr. Articulus maintains a cadre of “mock-humans” drugged by the algae they toil to collect, his vengeance claims as his bride the daughter of his former fiancÚe, now grown up.

The amusing formation is a stark mystery that begins with voodoo as a cover for the enterprise in the swamps.

The doctor’s housekeeper Phalah loves him in silence, her fortitude is salvation.

Gordon as a canal-builder is the prototype of Teddy Roosevelt.

 

The Night of the Winged Terror
The Wild Wild West

A two-part episode in two contrasting keys. A laborious mechanical operation to evoke post-hypnotic suggestion wreaking mayhem on the Southwest is trumped by another method, chemically induced, the “spectrum analysis technique”.

The last is put forward as a feint or ploy by Agent Frank Harper in disguise as its inventor, it is merely a bluff.

A secret organization of scientists, known as Raven, has it in mind to reduce the world to ashes by the initial means and rule instead of “weak leaders”, both Harper and West are subjected to it with temporary success of a kind.

The mastermind is Tycho, a freak with double the brain capacity of normal men, a tremendous bald pate, and a single eyebrow stretched between his sideburns.

 

The Night of the Bleak Island
The Wild Wild West

The mysterious agent who seeks to prevent the National Museum from accepting a bequest of the Moon Diamond is none other than Inspector Scott of Scotland Yard, a criminal out of boredom since his great nemesis has died.

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” is indicated for the Inspector’s demise, he’s forcibly trained a hound to enforce the Bleak legend, it turns on him in a moment of crisis.

A night of storm on Joseph Bleak’s island for the reading of the will, with charming relatives and a business partner in attendance.

 

All Our Yesterdays
Star Trek

The planet Sarpedon is about to expire, the star it orbits has been forecast to become a nova. A landing party from the Enterprise gives aid, but there is no populace, only the librarian (Ian Wolfe) and his several replicas.

All save him have sought refuge in the past by way of the atavachron, through which time periods recorded in the library may be physically entered.

A strange eventuality on this distant planet therefore finds Captain Kirk arrested for witchcraft in some seventeenth-century England, while Spock and McCoy sojourn in a frozen waste with beautiful Zarabeth (Mariette Hartley), exiled by an ancient warlord.

The sweet acerbity of the uncommonly good teleplay comes through the playing and the rich, luminous colors of the settings under Chomsky’s hand.

 

Phantoms
Mission: Impossible

Laurence Heath’s teleplay is grist for Luther Adler’s mill, and Chomsky provides the apparatus.

Premier Leo Vorka plans a purge of young artists. They understand nothing about time, he explains, you don’t understand it till there’s no time left. “Executions,” he cries, “I want executions!” He calmly receives an interviewer from the English Broadcasting Service, edits the questionnaire and sits down for the camera like the balmy old maniac he is.

Barney, Willy and Phelps give him eyes to see the shade of his murdered mistress (Antoinette Bower), and Paris aids in the suggestion that ill and imprisoned poet Zara (Jeffrey Pomerantz) is the Premier’s own son.

Phelps is Jan Golni, the author of a history of those times, it is about to join the Collected Works of Leo Vorka. Ivor Barry is extremely instructive as the reserved interviewer, whose cameraman is Barney.

 

Terror
Mission: Impossible

“Terror” is a simple equation, Arab terror is financed by oil. That’s all, but this is consecutively achieved with image after image, centering on Barney “refining” dynamite into its component parts, fuller’s earth and the nitroglycerine he ladles off with a spoon.

It’s transported along an ancient MycenŠan aqueduct to blow a hole in the wall of a prison housing Ismet El Kebir, the leading terrorist, held by the government of Suroq. He’s due to be hanged, but the Propaganda Minister has secretly arranged a pardon on the grounds that Kebir is acting for the people.

Phelps plays Captain Alan Lewis of British military intelligence, who goes undercover in the prison as Alan Rogers, a Cockney trader. Paris is Major Sulti of Suroq’s intelligence service, Barney is Sgt. Ahmed Mahal, a demolitions expert and a deserter, seconded by Willy.

The terror organization is temporarily headed by Kebir’s mistress Atheda. Paris meets with them disguised as the minister. His mask of David Opatoshu’s face is seen on his dressing table, a startling likeness. Afterward, Opatoshu unmasks in a small round table-mirror, while the camera tilts up to Nimoy removing the vestiges, a perfectly-achieved effect.

Suroq’s military forces are waiting outside the Iriwaddy Cave when Kebir emerges. He suicidally lobs the last of the nitroglycerine at them in an olive-oil bottle, which doesn’t even break. He is shot down, his mistress and henchmen arrested. What happened to the real nitro, Phelps asks. “I got rid of it in the aqueduct,” Willy explains.

 

Mindbend
Mission: Impossible

Political assassinations are carried out by suicides who leave no culprit, having been brainwashed by a psychopath under the control of a mobster.

These two are played by Leonard Frey and Donald Moffat, respectively. Barney goes undercover as an ex-con to take the treatment, out of Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate by way of Furie’s The Ipcress File and heading toward Pakula’s The Parallax View.

He takes a potshot at the mobster and fakes his own death. The psychopath is eliminated, and the operation quelled.

 

Run for the Money
Mission: Impossible

A syndicate enforcer and an associate of his are both put out of action in a horse race at 40-1. One owns a very fast horse named King’s Friend, the other is induced to buy Lucky Lady disguised with laser “paint” as Red Sand. The pari-mutuel board is fixed by Barney and discovered too late.

He also averts a long shot from the roof of the grandstand during the race. Red Sand wins too much to let its owner live, while King’s Friend loses too much mob money for a safe future.

Chomsky around the track is a study in relaxed or tensile sumptuousness.

 

Murph the Surf

The gentleman from Peru wants the Star of India, two surf bums go after it, jewel thieves.

The Miami beach boy who burgled the Hall of Mineralogy in New York’s Museum of Natural History with his partner, a criminal by profession.

A.H. Weiler of the New York Times found this beyond his ken and understanding, “the drives and mental make-up of the decidedly oddball principals still call for fuller explanations.”

The Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “tries to glamorize its immature hero” (as Live a Little, Steal a Lot).

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “never settles down to being comedy or drama.”

 

Tank

There are some small towns, not many but some, that are so small you get dizzy on their sidewalks. This one’s run by a crooked sheriff who keeps a tight ship by his lights. You’d best not cross him, which is what the hero of this tale does, inadvertently.

He’s a command sergeant major, which is the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer in the United States Army (under the unique Sergeant Major of the Army). An informal description of this rank, from an Army source, “the command sergeant major is expected to function completely without supervision. Like the old sage of times past, the command sergeant major’s counsel is expected to be calm, settled and unequivocally accurate, but with an energy and enthusiasm that never wanes, even in the worst of times.”

There’s a bar fight, the sheriff is miffed, he’s got the sergeant major’s boy on a work farm before the hero can say here’s your filthy lucre. There’s nothing to be done with this sheriff, so our hero levels the jailhouse with a Sherman tank, rescues his boy, and lights out for the next state. That’s after knocking down the fence around the fort on his way out (the sign on the sergeant major’s office reads “NCOIC”, an acronym for Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge).

George C. Scott’s Rage, Ted Kotcheff’s First Blood, and Robert Redford’s The Milagro Beanfield War all turn out to be related, John Huston’s Victory and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven as well (Joseph Sargent’s Of Pure Blood, too, and Costa-Gavras’ Missing). One reviewer thought it was just another “antiauthority” picture. The Monthly Film Bulletin considered it “further dispiriting evidence of the new reactionary spirit of Reagan’s America.” Many critics, without a doubt, stay for fifteen minutes and go on to the next one, if they go at all (for the provenance vd. Averback’s Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came).

James Garner is unusually tough in this, a little mean, but that’s all to the good. Shirley Jones interrupts his crackling inspection by driving up in their station wagon and honking urgently. James Cromwell as the surly deputy is like Slim Pickens on a diet, and G.D. Spradlin is also very tough as the sheriff. A town in Georgia stands in for the hellhole, with some of the local folks as extras. The price of admission buys you Chomsky’s directorial viewpoint, which is essentially rapid and chaste and altogether crushing to anything that gums up the works.

 

Billionaire Boys Club

The strange mirror of the case is Tom Gries’ Helter Skelter, even to a sense of courtroom tactics and the winnowing mind of the law.

The same sort of fearless leader with his strange mythology attracting young adherents in a totally futile version of a reality they have no part in, swindled out of their inheritance for “the BBC” and led into murders for the good of the company, which doesn’t exist in the first place and in the second reaps no benefit of any kind from any action undertaken by these “spoiled brats from Beverly Hills playing businessmen with their high school buddies.”