And a Time to Die...
Wo Fat sets up the assassination of an American agent who knows where Chinese missile silos are buried, the mission fails, a surgeon operates, his little daughter is kidnapped to force the issue.
American intelligence needs the information, or else must create the impression that it is known.
The operation is unsuccessful but leaked otherwise. Five-O traces the leak to Wo Fat’s pleasure boat and conducts a routine investigation in Coast Guard uniforms.
Wo Fat is long gone with his load of disinformation, the girl is rescued from Wo Fat’s hired guns.
Death Is a Company Policy
A deep-laid syndicate plan to put a mob lawyer in the D.A.’s office is finally uncovered by Five-O. A company based in Switzerland finances the boy’s education through its Hawaiian subsidiary, Sand & Surf Condominiums. His career is carefully molded until he’s working for John Manicote, then the markers are called in, the syndicate has a pipeline.
This is dramatically seen in a family killing that leaves behind a letter for McGarrett with damning evidence. A leak is directly found to have destroyed the evidence where indicated by the victim. Everyone connected with the case is investigated by way of the records in Five-O’s computer.
Anticipating this, Duke is found to be on the take, impossibly. As the records flash by on the screen, sharp-eyed McGarrett notes a scholarship refused by a student not well off, then the name of the company.
“The young want instant gratification,” crooked executives say, “we plan ahead.”
“V” for Vashon
The three lashings of this epic narrate the rise of a criminal fiefdom. It pilfers, it assassinates, it entraps... The impunity of its early dealings leaves it astounded at the sudden awakening. It tries a direct attack, which comes to nought. Finally it lies doggo, claiming innocence, and locks McGarrett away on a false murder charge, or nearly.
The Vashon crime family is in its third generation with a scion who harks all the way back to the days of armed robberies signed with a Vashon “V” cut into the cheek of a victim by a hard blow from a sharp ring. He and his buddies are caught and brought to trial.
Vashon père is a man of business. Lawyers are hired, witnesses are bribed. The case is dismissed.
The youthful gang’s next plan is to hit a hotel during a medical convention. The evening conference leaves all rooms vacant, they sidle in and out with ease from floor to floor. McGarrett and Five-O close the trap with a squad of patrolmen, who pick up the bundles dropped down the laundry chute. The Vashon boy fires at McGarrett and is shot, but manages to drive home before dying. His father swears death against McGarrett.
Dubin’s technique is exemplary. The camera is at the juncture of two hotel corridors, looking right it films one door opened, panning left then dollying right a bit it films another.
“V” for Vashon
He has every intention of carrying out his threat to McGarrett at once. Begrudgingly he accepts the Old World doctrine of his father. “First he must wonder, then he must know, then he must die, that is the way we do things.” As a consequence, McGarrett is one step ahead of them all the way.
A court order can’t be had on vague threats. A car bomb does that. McGarrett has Honoré under complete surveillance.
Honoré dashes to the beach for a fast helicopter ride to a rendezvous with an assassin who’ll do the job. Five-O is already sifting the world’s bombers and hit men.
The assassin studies McGarrett’s movements, sets up shop directly across from his offices, exactly as predicted.
A call girl distracts the assassin, who kills a dummy. That was no call girl, that was “a policewoman, dummy.”
The dummy assassin testifies in court, Honoré is sent to prison for ten years. His father glares at McGarrett after the verdict and whispers to “the big boss of all organized crime in these islands,” now led away, “My turn!”
“V” for Vashon
A patsy is found, a “born loser” about to be released from the state prison where Honoré Vashon is serving a ten-year sentence. On the day of his release, the patsy is summoned to Dominick Vashon’s presence. He’s a three-time pusher, McGarrett has placed 15 grams of heroin in his home, let him go and see. He does, and accepts the job of killing McGarrett.
“The most respected attorney in Honolulu,” a man pitched for the Senate, has a little blond catamite in a secret apartment. The boy is arrested for selling marijuana and goes to state prison, where he asks Honoré for protection and receives it, in exchange for the wherewithal to blackmail his lover.
A silent assassin is engaged, the stage is set. McGarrett and the attorney descend to the parking garage of the Ilikai Hotel after a conference. The pusher is waiting in an open elevator, he fires three times without effect, McGarrett shoves the attorney to the ground and returns fire twice. The pusher goes down, the elevator door closes. For thirty-five seconds it climbs to the lobby, while the assassin drops from the ceiling hatch, pockets the revolver full of blanks, stabs the wounded man through the left ear with a needle six inches into the brain, and climbs back up through the hatch. A crowd of people see an unarmed man shot dead by McGarrett. The attorney testifies it might have been a car backfiring.
McGarrett is convicted of second-degree murder, released on bail pending an appeal, and goes to stay at Doc’s beach house while Five-O pieces out the details of the killing.
Partly by deduction, partly by an exhaustive search of the attorney’s office records, this is done. “Old Nick” Vashon, whose house is for sale with his criminal empire, blows his own brains out rather than be captured by McGarrett.
The Diamond That Nobody Stole
The patience of the saints and the diligence of the critic hover around every scene, delicately shaped and polished to remove any trace of a material connection. The cat burglar is prepared or unprepared, the U. of Hawaii professor belongs to no department, Indochinese royalty is not specified further, and so on.
Polaris missile secrets are up for sale, the buyer could be Russian though the bagman is Chinese, perhaps. The seller is an international trade broker, formerly a counterintelligence agent, married to the princess in exile.
The queen intercepts the microfilm and makes the deal herself. Rather than these shabby business interests, she uses the proceeds for a return to the throne, as she envisages it.
The diamond in its gold setting (“felicitous pouring,” the professor recalls) gets purloined along with the film and turns up unreported at a pawn shop run by a fence. Torture and murder reclaim the film, but the reel is blank, substituted by the queen.
The Third Man
A warmly satirical view of the Good Samaritan, who is Caine. The victim is a gambler unloved by his wife, his lucky coin goes back on the table and wins him a pile, safeguarded by Caine.
After the two thieves, the sheriff finishes the job, seeing a pistol in the dark. It was an accident, yet he and the widow are lovers.
The mortician Eldon Riddle briefly pockets the safely hidden cash. The sheriff turns himself in, finally.
The diamond ring on the dead girl’s hand is evidence from a robbery. Two Vegas wiseguys come to town with cash for the stolen goods, a policewoman sent in as bait exposes the interest.
A small boy on a tall ladder in Kojak’s old stomping grounds, Scylar on the Hudson, sums up the mastermind who gets back nearly all the loot by assassination.
The ring doesn’t come off, a couple interrupts the attempt, it’s identified at Manhattan South and finally removed by the medical examiner.
A good deal of very clever police work catches the robbers at Security Scylar National Bank in flagrante delicto.
The Finishing Touch
The blind documents expert who forges government bonds is to be understood in precisely the same light as Paul Newman’s blind demolition man in Harry and Son.
Dubin’s long exposé of the working method is methodically detailed, to the accompaniment of Bruce Broughton’s score.
Cop in a Cage
A peculiar sort of verminous criminal whose m.o. is described by the lieutenant, a kid in a poor neighborhood gets run over, say, he reads about it in the papers and calls up the parents, “sorry about running over Johnny, for five hundred bucks I won’t run over Jimmy.”
He gets out of prison and stalks Kojak, playing the police brutality angle in public like Scorpio in Dirty Harry. Kojak pins him to a wall before onlookers. “You like poetry? If I ever see / you near me / or my family / I’m gonna scatter your brains / from here to White Plains.”
There’s a wedding in Kojak’s family, a bomb is planted on one of the rented limousines. A little dripping water suggests the car wash where Stavros stopped, the bomb squad is called. Stavros plays the bouzouki in a street dance for the bride, led by Kojak traditionally.
One Born Every Minute
The pivot of this elaborate allegory is the suicide of the victim in a clever, brazen and very cynical con game. A pretty girl with an uncle in the business invites a vacationer to a busman’s holiday, there’s a man in need of a lift, he’s got a friend with jewelry, the dealer knows the stuff is hot but has a buyer, the friend has an appointment on the mainland, leaves the jewels behind. A counteroffer can be made, put up half? The poor schnook hocks his company and goes out the window.
McGarrett draws the net, one last go-round for carfare nails a sucker who’s put wise by Five-O under surveillance.
30,000 Rooms And I Have The Key
A master key created from hotel locks, a suite of disguises, intimate knowledge of jewels hidden away in a closet shoe-pair or pearls tucked in the back of a TV set, even a microphone placed in a hotel manager’s office, these are the tools of a thief working the Honolulu waterfront.
He leaves a rose and a ten dollar bill. Interpol knows him as S.R. Horus.
The accretions of disguise have to be winnowed out of police sketches, signatures have to be analyzed for the unique character.
He dives off a balcony, attached to a safety rope, and issues an engraved invitation to his next heist, literally.
A Hawaiian Nightmare
An oil company engineer is in debt to the syndicate, he plays the horses. The wildest of his fly-by-night schemes is to extort a tidy half-million from the State by threatening to rain lava down on Hilo.
The first of Dubin’s great helicopter shots approaches the observatory in Volcanoes National Park, a small rectangle floating on indeterminate matter.
Another lands on the mob collector, who has just picked up the ransom and is running away with the engineer’s wife.
The third flies McGarrett onto the front lawn of the engineer’s suburban home, where the key to the timing apparatus of the explosives is discovered, a garage door opener.
I’ll Kill ‘em Again
A timid bookstore clerk with a phenomenal memory is inflamed by a series of magazine articles on Five-O’s victories, and reduplicates each crime to taunt McGarrett.
Dubin’s refined art is particularly attuned to the nuances of acting in the performances of Ivor Francis and Danny Goldman as proprietor and clerk. He adds slow motion in the murders to ferocious effect.
As the poet said, defining Postmodernity for all time, “to appeal to posterity is to weep over your own grave.”
Welcome to Our Branch Office
The highly significant figure of $250,000 is eventually amassed by hit-or-miss shakedown artists in a clever scheme that owes its inspiration to the lesson of Christopher Sly in The Taming of the Shrew.
The con man who masterminds it has his crew build a replica of Five-O headquarters and ape its personnel. Businessmen of all sorts new to the islands pay for protection from mob interests, one disappears, one complains to John Manicote, who opens an investigation of the department.
In the end, a confusion of real and putative catches the mastermind in his own machinations.
Adventure of the Lover’s Leap
A critique whose dénouement takes place in a Poirot-style gathering of all the suspects during a live radio program being recorded on an acetate disc, it having been noted by other writers that the characters have names associated with the genre, such as Dr. Marsh.
The victim is a wealthy neurotic being treated with hypnotherapeutic recordings. Her estranged husband, a sometime radio actor, slips one of his own onto the changer, persuading her that the events in the book she’s reading (Ellery Queen’s The Lover’s Leap) are actually happening to her, but she resists the suggestion, and dies in a fall from her balcony during an argument with her stepdaughter, whose broken watch crystal provides the author with a clue.
The essence of the solution is that the radio “detective” appreciates the first part of the mystery only, that is, the husband’s modus operandi, but dismisses the clue and cannot perceive the actual workings of the case. “Break it,” he magniloquently tells a sound man who holds up the successfully produced disc for broadcast.
The script by Robert Pirosh is an amusing theme carefully considered in its many aspects. The doctor is interviewed on his day off, and will not play without a caddy, so Ellery Queen becomes one silently for the nonce while the radio Poirot makes a talkative twosome on the fairway. Craig Stevens as the husband impersonates Don Ameche as the doctor on the murder weapon.
The Tenth Level
The famous experiment on human cruelty as a function of authority is further analyzed as cruel in itself, quite cruelly.
Shaw working Higgins working Eliza per Hirschfeld, in other words.
Under the tacit rubric of Playhouse 90, a drama by one of its authors.
The Captain’s Brother’s Wife
Captain McNeil had a brother on the force who was shot in the line of duty and made an invalid until his death. Kojak got the widow a desk job in a brokerage firm on Wall Street.
The unfortunate lady is overly fond of gambling. A losing streak beholdens her to loan sharks, she’s in to a pair of scammers laying off small bets across the country via her phone at work. The boss hears her making bets, calls Kojak.
And a mobster named Arcadia is going to trial for murder, with his own accountant as witness.
Mrs. McNeil pays off the loan sharks with the scammers’ money, claims Kojak confiscated it but can be bought, improves on her employers’ betting line but loses a small fortune, etc. She’s given to Arcadia as a hostage for the witness.
Shelley Winters models the part on Jack Carson for the con job, and on another actress for the conversion, a tour de force.
Dubin achieves many fine effects, notably a diagonal tracking shot brings Kojak to Crocker in the foreground to discuss Capt. McNeil, seen between them in the background on the phone in his office, talking to his late brother’s wife.
The opening shot of Manhattan from the south, isolated by the Hudson and East rivers, with a low curtain of clouds behind, makes a better introduction than can easily be imagined.
A coward in the Grenada invasion gets blackmailed into a cocaine distribution caper through Army channels.
So it goes, a satire on murder to silence the shenanigans, with Matlock à la Mason v. the Navy and the Air Force in more or less similarly nefarious circumstances.
This is really a work of genius, Bob Shanks has thought out the situation thoroughly, which gives him top speed, and he has a director and actors to match. No-one is better than Wayne Rogers and Valerie Harper in this kind of searching repartee, every note is hit with deadly force and there’s no time to count the bodies, the satire moves without let.
The Romantic Englishwoman pictures life with a dashing Continental drugrunner, here it’s a job as a corporate vice-president. Her husband isn’t tempted by the babysitter, he leaves his job as a reporter to manage political campaigns. Her job is meaningless to her, as such jobs often are, her family needs her. She decides to be a housewife, even though she’s dreadfully incompetent and wastes time at first in the slough of Oprah Winfrey and call-in radio shows. That’s how it is, but she gradually gets her bearings.
Meanwhile, the husband is busy electing a Creationist preacher to the United States Senate from Georgia. The firm produces a TV ad with a classroom full of kids wearing monkey masks. “Effective,” the husband comments, “horrible but effective.” He’s away from home a lot, his wife is worried about their young sons. “Who’s gonna teach them how to be men? Politicians?”
Carol Kane plays a career woman on the business side of showbiz, contemplating a “Lee Remick” nose job. One of her clients is about to remake Gone With the Wind.
This is all very serious, and had to be made in Canada under the circumstances, what with a Ronald Reagan Halloween mask and all, and seems to have ended more than one career.
In a scene worthy of Capra, the husband denounces his candidate during a televised press conference, and back home in bed watching the eleven o’clock news, asks his wife what she thinks. “I think you look great on television,” she says.