The Tide
Kung Fu

Caine (after “Dark Angel”) comes to a farmstead with a half-brother’s letters. He is directed to the Silver Dollar Saloon where he is arrested. The farmer claims his half of the reward and is killed by the sheriff, who shoots Caine as well.

A Chinese lady picks up wounded Caine and nurses him on her farm. She telegraphs her brother in San Francisco, who arrives by stagecoach with two strongarm men to trade Caine for the siblings’ father, a writer imprisoned in China. Caine “will not be bound”, but accedes to her wish.

The sheriff is killed by the lady after shooting her brother. Caine departs with the writer’s book.

One of the great seaside Westerns like Flame of Barbary Coast or One-Eyed Jacks, especially vivified by Doniger’s direction. An allegory of the writer’s life.


Return to the Alamo

On the graveyard shift one lengthy night, Chief Clifford and much of the staff are out with the flu, the American Brotherhood Movement is blowing up buildings, Chris Coughlin is writing a story with a feminist angle on the NYPD, a robbery suspect's brother (an addict) tries to break him out (and both are sons of an Albany bigwig named Foreman) by kidnapping the Acting Watch Commander (Sgt. Broadhurst), McCloud pulls in New York's top drug dealers in a citywide search for a junkie whose addicted newborn infant needs urgent treatment, and Sgt. Phyllis Norton is the Acting Deputy Watch Commander.

The tour de force script is a spécialité de la maison. As Foreman, Brad Dexter’s resemblance to Edward Arnold advances with great rapidity the allusion to Meet John Doe. An unspecified “big move on Albany” is menaced by his sons’ peccadillo, and his payoffs from the New York dealers for advance knowledge of raids are revealed, at least to the audience.

In all fairness to Sgt. Broadhurst, it must be said that Chief Clifford himself was kidnapped once (in “Who Says You Can't Make Friends in New York City?”). This is Sgt. Broadhurst’s second stint in command. The earlier fiasco (“This Must Be the Alamo”) is briefly discussed in terms of “a shambles,” but McCloud defends him, and Chief Clifford allows later on that “Joe Broadhurst is a good man.”

Sgt. Phyllis Norton’s commonsensicality, and a word of wisdom from Chief Clifford’s secretary Gladys (Jeanne Cooper), come to her rescue in the crisis, even though Sgt. Norton’s regular duties consist of filework (she confuses IBM and ABM) and supplying coffee and donuts. It’s at Chris Coughlin’s insistence that she’s made Acting Deputy Watch Commander, and Coughlin is still disappointed.

The American Brotherhood Movement is said to have “an unstated cause,” but the bomber who strikes headquarters (in the uniform of a Hudson Power Company employee) is merely vexed over traffic tickets.

As in the previous Broadhurst epic, headquarters is invaded, but not this time by an armed band. Foreman’s aide-de-camp Parkes (Larry Storch) and son Marty (Robert Weaver), a heroin addict whose habit led his brother Hoyt (Mark Wheeler) to join him in an armed robbery of a liquor store ironically owned by one of their father’s holding companies—Parkes and Marty bring handcuffed Sgt. Broadhurst back to headquarters to secure Hoyt’s release, but find the building empty because of the bomber’s note eked out by further information from his girlfriend, Samantha Johnson.

The actress playing this part is presumably Marjorie Battles (billed as “Lady”), certainly not Stefanie Powers, who played a weathergirl of the same name in “Butch Cassidy Rides Again”.

Doniger’s direction is rigorous, skillful and faultless.


The Adventure of the Black Falcon
Ellery Queen

This amazing study of what Professor Weber calls “the second Thirty Years War”, 1914-1945, imagines all the depredations inflicted on Germany at the Armistice and its subsequent re-staging of the march through Flanders fields as a doughboy absconding with a minor vineyard (Der Schwarze Falke), opening a nightclub, and murdered by a greedy partner whose real name is Morgenstern, providing the clue. It all takes place around a live radio broadcast from Nick & Eddie’s nightclub, and is about as fine an example of this series’ powers of abstraction as can be wished.

Tab Hunter in a boiled shirt and mustard sweater backstage waiting to go on as a jazz pianist gives an unusual picture of the age. Roddy McDowall plays an American passing himself off as a German mindreader solo, in technical parlance “a head act with no gaff”.


The Adventure of the Wary Witness
Ellery Queen

The false witness of the title is brought in to a murder trial first to advance an impossible solution, but finally to be murdered herself before testifying, and leave the case moot. That is the theory behind the proceeding, anyway.

To some extent, naturally, and in the hands of the very expert parodist Peter S. Fischer, this is a deliberate reflection of Perry Mason. A former Los Angeles D.A. once opined that a famous case would not turn out like one of Perry Mason’s with a surprise ending, not realizing perhaps that he was repeating words spoken by Hamilton Burger.


The Adventure of the Judas Tree
Ellery Queen

This is the one about the very sick traitor who’s found hanging adorned with branches of the specimen. There is a question, most amusingly, of a missionary who might not be all he seems, and the victim’s wife is leaving him for his doctor.

The solution is too good not to be described. The murder is a suicide dressed up by the absconding couple, who were meant to be framed by it in the first place for vengeance.