A fragment of an exploded world lands on a very small island “two hundred miles off the coast of Africa” and besets a construction crew building a base camp for oil drillers, they plow under a World War II refueling base (“OK, sweetheart, destroy!”) and then have to face the thing by way of Christian Nyby and The Fighting Seabees (dir. Edward Ludwig), “we can rough out a strip as quick as they can fly here.”
The title item has a mind of its own and a blade that is strictly from bushidō (cf. Boetticher’s East of Sumatra). “Listen you guys, we gotta do something. I mean, something’s wrong, machines just don’t run by themselves, that means there’s somebody else on this island, you know, foreign spies or something,” cf. Ludwig’s They Came to Blow Up America. Shovel and dozer meet and contend as per Life Stinks (dir. Mel Brooks), unavailing. Only power per se can squelch the killer spirit. “If it doesn’t work?”
“It has to, it’s under warranty!” From a wartime novella by Theodore Sturgeon, cf. Ray Harryhausen’s Guadalcanal.
Cavett Binion (All Movie Guide), “inventive and genuinely creepy” (he has “an ancient native temple” in the story, from the original).
Woman in Red Wagon
The Rockford Files
The script by Stephen J. Cannell (story by Roy Huggins, as “John Thomas James”) is an abstraction of Capra’s Meet John Doe and Roy Del Ruth’s Topper Returns. It’s a missing person case initiated by the daughter (Sian Barbara Allen) of a newspaper publisher. A friend of hers, who figures in the title, has disappeared after investing a large sum of money in the failing newspaper and is found to have reportedly died. Further investigation not only shows her to have absconded with money belonging to a mobster, her late lamented lover, but turns her up alive and as well as one might expect. Much ambiguity sustains the abstraction to the end. The woman claims to have been promised the money, the mobster’s son wants it back. “A new Pharaoh, who knew not Joseph.” In the end, Rockford himself doesn’t know where the money is.
London plays this close to the vest, in a style typical of this series and particularly suited to this episode. The picturesque is mainly avoided, to concentrate on the close-up magic in which objects (such as a Treasury agent) appear and disappear, or become something else. There is a good deal of sleight of hand with the woman’s coffin, which Rockford digs up in the humorous opening scene, and which figures throughout as the on-again off-again repository of the cash, putatively, in her absence.
The remarkable lassitude of the case’s real beginning as it is laid out to Rockford by a brusque newspaperwoman is a feint to match the hocus-pocus that puts him in the hospital for two weeks, after lying in the bottom of the open grave, staring up at the moon, his skull creased by a bullet from one of the junior mobster’s goons.
Reincarnation of Angie
The Rockford Files
A very efficient film noir structure lays out in sufficient detail the layers of corruption, corporate and familial, separating the little bookkeeper like a chrysalis from the light of day. One of Stephen J. Cannell’s best compositions. Girl goes to Rockford, worried about her brother, they break into his mansion. He belts a Federal agent who turns up dead and never an agent at all.
She goes into hiding at his behest, he’s set up with her brother’s body in the back of his car. The girl is kidnapped, he gets himself caught and taken to her. She’s always led a quiet life and looked up to her brother, now this.
Tour de Force, Killer
A CIA man is found dead on an airliner, and this gradually leads to the discovery that his quarry, an international assassin for hire, has taken a contract to liquidate the gathered ministers at a meeting of OPEC in Honolulu.
It’s as simple as that. The employer or contractor is obscurely seen, a casually-attired American. The assassin dispatches or repels several women in the course of business, and Ofc. Welles goes undercover as a tour guide to flush him out.
McGarrett is helplessly reduced to routine police procedure, thanks to an intelligence blackout in Washington after the agent’s death, but his connections there just manage to keep him informed, even though at one point he confesses to Chin Ho Kelly, “we’re back to Go.”
Trees, the Bees and T.T. Flowers
The Rockford Files
The trees and bees were planted and tended by Flowers on his little ranch Freedom, standing in the way of a developer who lets nothing stand in his way. A feature-length work that by dint of crowded incident and a genuine wealth of detail culminates in a real portrait of the situation, and has Scott Brady as the villain in one of the finest depictions of the breed, but above all gives Strother Martin scope for a demonstration of his skill as he is called upon to express the mortal pain of destruction and does that in a way seldom equaled, recalling Charlton Heston’s torment at the close of Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes.
The Scarlet and the Black
Rome sacked by the Germans for gold and Jews and Allies. An Irish monsignor in the neutral territory of the Vatican State, circumscribed God help us with a white line painted on the paving stones outside St. Peter’s Square.
All a matter of hiding POWs after Mussolini, nearly all, several thousand of them all told. The adversary is Col. Kappler of the Gestapo, previously depicted in Cosmatos’ Massacre in Rome, a Nazi through and through who executes a priest when the Italians won’t (cf. Rossellini’s Roma, cittą aperta).